Monday, November 30, 2009


This word has been on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean to consume? To be a consumer? Engrossing, taking up all of one's mind or attention, buyer of goods/services...we all know the Webster's definitions. So what do I consume? What takes up my mind/attention? What do I buy? What do I eat/drink? Those are pretty hard questions to ask yourself. Really...take a sec and think about it. I'm warning you, this post is raw. I'm laying it all out there about myself and I hope you don't get offended if this steps on your own toes. I'm not judging, comparing, or trying to be holier than thou. I'm processing this within myself right now and I've got absolutely no room to judge.

After taking an honest look at myself, I'm pretty disgusted with what I've realized about my role as a consumer. For example, new clothes are my favorite thing to buy...but how do I feel about those clothes after I've washed them once? Not at all the same. And then I need to go consume some more clothes to get the same feeling again. It's bled into my child's wardrobe as well. Dressing him in trendy, expensive clothes gave me great joy for a long time. Now it makes me sad to think of how wasteful that was. How many children could I have clothed with the money I spent on clothes he wore less than 10 times?

And what about food? I consume a rich diet by most of the world's standards. I mean, I don't survive on rice three meals a day. Diet Mountain Dew and coffee make up most of what I drink. I spend more on a Starbucks venti skinny caramel latte and a muffin for breakfast than what 80% of the world's humanity lives on a day.

My attention? A consumer wasteland of worries about stupid things. Like what my neighbors think of the fact that my garland and house lights are different colors of white. Did you even know there were different colors of white? Me neither.

Do I ever worry about clean water? Being raped by militant groups? Having a family of my own? Being cold, sick, hungry??? Never. Ever.

But for OVER HALF of human beings on this earth...they worry about at least one of those things DAILY.

So what do we do? Do we just move on with life and hope it gets better? Here's what I've come to believe. I don't need to be overwhelmed by the stats...instead, I just need to move to change them!

We've started moving in this direction in a lot of ways in our house. We still have a LONG way to go. But I want to share with you something we are doing this year with Christmas giving. We have decided, on both sides of the family, to STOP the gift card shuffle. You all know what I'm talking about...nobody knows what to get anybody else because everybody has everything that anybody could ever want or need. So we all buy each other gift cards for stupid things like Starbucks, movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping malls. These are stupid gifts because if we really needed anything from any of these places we would just go there and spend our own money. Think about it...8 billion dollars worth of gift cards go unused every year. That could buy a whole lotta clean water and healthy food. Adoptions cost an average of 25K, so one of you mathematicians out there can tell me how many adoptions 8 billion dollars would fund. I bet it would knock a serious dent in the orphan crisis. And that's just from unused gift cards, people, unused gift cards.

So this year we are not buying presents. For real. No presents. For anyone. Santa will bring Clayton a few things because I'm not about taking the fun out of it for kids. But he's only getting three small gifts. Like I told him, "If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for you." And you know what the funny thing is? This is the most excited I've been about Christmas in a long, long, long time. Like probably since I was a kid. I'm so happy to not have to worry about coming up with a list of places from which I shop so my relatives can buy me a gift card. I'm even happier to not have to trek around and buy gift cards to places from which my relatives shop. But I'm most happy because our money is going to help someone build a house, help someone adopt a child, and help someone have food, water, and spiritual nurturing.

Think about it. Is it really that important that your sister get that ugly sweater that she didn't want in the first place? Do you really think your dad's life is enriched by the box of golf balls you've given him for the seventh year straight? Are you happier because you got that fruit of the month membership from Aunt Jane? Didn't think so.

If you do spend money on gifts, why not at least give gifts that help others? Below I've listed some sites to get you started.

Go.Seek.Love (proceeds from these super cool shirts go to our friends', the Dixon's, adoption fund)

Dadz Designz (nap mats, color bags, and chalkboard mats; proceeds go to another family adopting a child from Reece's Rainbow)

Just Love Coffee (helps with our adoption fund)

Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree (Christmas Ornament with every donation of $35...I'm fundraising for Victoria R6 {there is more than one Victoria}...please donate to her fund!)

Mazza Mosaic (all December proceeds go to Reece's Rainbow)

Beads For Life (I love the Katogo necklace! Jewelry is made by Ugandan women and proceeds go to help end poverty in Africa)

And then there's this cause which is just amazing:


Well, Friday was the big USCIS appointment to have our fingerprinting done. Greg's brother and sister-in-law were in town for the holidays so we made it a family affair. They walked to the nearest shopping center in search of coffee while we went in to have our prints taken. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. We'd heard everything from "it's a horrible experience" to "no big deal, we were in and out in a few minutes." Thankfully, we fell into the latter category.

I have to interject that we had tickets to the Iron Bowl for the same day as our fingerprinting appointment. Those of you who aren't from the football-obsessed south may not understand the importance of this annual event. So I will just say that it's arguably the biggest rivalry in college football-Alabama vs. Auburn. Kickoff was at 1:30 p.m. in Auburn, AL and we had a 9:00 a.m. appointment at the FBI office in Birmingham, AL (three hours away) for our prints. Obviously, getting our child would take precedence over making the game, but we sure did want to make both appointments if possible! We joked that God was testing our committment to adoption by making our USCIS appointment on the same day as the Iron Bowl. HA!

We arrived a few minutes early, without anything on us except our i.d.'s and the paper they sent us with our appointment date/time. The security guard was a jovial older gentleman who informed Greg that he was wearing the wrong colors (he had on his Bama gear and the security guard was an Auburn fan) and would be detained. He gave us each a number which was funny since there were only about three other people in the entire building. We had a good laugh with the security guard and discussed who would win the game while we waited for our number to be called.

The entire process took 17 minutes from the time we walked in the door until we were back in the truck. The lady who took our prints was so sweet and asked all about the adoption. She told me she was trying to get approval to adopt, but that she was a single mom and didn't have a lot of financial resources. I told her I would add her to my list of adoption prayer requests and she told me she would keep us in her prayers as well. Her boss had to approve the prints she took and he was equally as nice. He told me that they were all going to watch the game on the t.v. in the back because their last appointment was at noon and gave me a big "Roll Tide".

So now we just wait for USCIS approval. We also got word from our social workers at our adoption agency and our homestudy agency that our homestudy was approved by the adoption agency and was headed to DHR for state approval. We are praying that it will come back quickly. We've been told to expect a month, but we have friends who got theirs back in two weeks, so we are hopeful that it won't take that long. We will keep you updated...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

USCIS Appointment

We got our USCIS appointment in the mail on Thursday! We will be going to the Birmingham on the day after Thanksgiving to get our prints done. I was surprised they were open that day, and we will have family in town. Oh well, guess they will be taking a field trip to the FBI office in Birmingham. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what USCIS approval means, the USCIS has to give you an appointment to come get your fingerprints taken. USCIS=United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services. We have already had fingerprints done with the state of Alabama. Those were easy...go downtown to the police department, get printed, take them to the homestudy agency and they send them to the state. That is a part of the homestudy process. USCIS approval means we get another set of fingerprints done (biometric prints) and a background check is done with the FBI. This can take some time and is a big step in getting our dossier completed. We hope that since we got an appointment so quickly, our background checks will be returned quickly too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

National Adoption Day

While working out this morning I saw Nia Vardalos being interviewed about adopting waiting children in the U.S. foster care system. It was a great interview and thought I would share it for those considering domestic adoption.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Where to Begin?!?

I guess I'll start with the most exciting news regarding our adoption. Our homestudy is FINISHED and on its way to our adoption agency! YIPPEE! We also received a phone call from the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration last week to let us know that they didn't have record of our payment for our FBI background checks. Yikes! Good thing I had the receipt, which I promptly faxed to them. I was told we should receive our fingerprint appointment soon and that the appointment would likely be within the month. Yay! I'm trying not to get my hopes up since I know this part of the process can be slow, but just hearing something from USCIS made me excited.

Now for more exciting news. We were blessed to be a part of a gathering of six other adopting families that all go to our church this past Friday night. Our elders and their wives spent the evening talking with us about orphan care and praying over our adoptions. It was so encouraging to be a part of such a loving, supportive, and most of all Christ-seeking group. We all share a passion for orphans and there is not a doubt in my mind that a movement of the Holy Spirit is happening among God's people everywhere to care for orphans. I'm so thankful that our church family is taking part in orphan care and that so many families are seeking God's will for them to adopt. Since that meeting, I have learned of two other families who have committed to adopt and one other family that is strongly considering adoption-all in our church family. How awesome it is to witness first-hand and be a part of God's movement in his people! I'm humbled that God chose us to adopt. I'm unworthy and definitely unable to do it without him! Won't it be awesome for adoption to be such a normal thing for all of our children as they grow up together? I am giddy just thinking about how God is working and so excited to see who else God calls to adopt one of his precious children.

And for my last piece of exciting news. We were totally blown away by a message we received yesterday from a former student from our campus ministry program at University Church. During her time at UA, she was one of our "adopted students." (Our church matches college students with families in our church to give them a "family" while they are away from home). She is now a young professional in Atlanta and her church there received a donation of 1.5 million dollars to be given away to people in need. Each member of the church was given $1250 to give away. She told us that after a lot of prayer, she wanted to give it to us to help bring Sarge home!!! Can you imagine how emotional I am just typing that right now? Multiply that times a hundred and that's how I felt when I got her message. I was totally humbled, honored, surprised, moved to tears, etc., etc., etc.!!! What an awesome and unexpected gift. GOD IS GOOD! I'm sharing that because I really hope that if you are reading this and you are considering adoption, DO NOT LET SATAN USE MONEY AS AN OBSTACLE. Trust in God. Pray about it. If God is calling you to adopt, he WILL provide. He just will. I have been convinced that the expense of adoption is a tool of the enemy to keep orphans, children who are especially close to God's heart, from finding loving families. Don't let Satan convince you otherwise and don't let him win. How sad would it be to stand before God and find out that he just wanted you to trust him in his plans for you to adopt and you let something as meaningless as material possessions or money get in the way? I realize these are strong words, but they are not my words, they are God's. He tells us, ""Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6). Trust God to provide for your adoption and he will not fail you.