Sunday, May 29, 2016

And the Winner Is...?

My speech teacher once told my class, "Never begin with apologies. Never! Just act like the mistake was supposed to happen." In keeping with her advice (since I ALWAYS listened to the advice of my teachers, Ha!), I will not begin this blog with an apology for trying the patience of my readers and causing them to doubt my sincerity by taking so long to announce the winner of my contest. I will not offer excuses about how so much work has been thrown into my path that as I slogged though it I could only glance longingly at my blog and wish I was there instead. I will not give you a list of reasons why, although totally unknown to me, and I'm sure to you as well, I have not had the chance to get on here and publish the results of our recent fundraising sweepstakes. I will not!

I will simply tell you who won.

Easy enough. But since I have never drawn a winner and was not quite sure how to begin, I improvised.

I wrote each name on a notecard - one card for each five dollar donation. Those who donated $30 received six entries. Those who donated $50 received ten entries. And so on.

I folded each notecard into teeny, tiny wads, threw those wads into a jar, and shook it up really well. I pulled out five random crumpled cards and tossed the remaining cards into the trash bin. I put the five notecards into the now empty jar and shook it again. This time I randomly pulled out three and, again, threw away the remainder. The hand-plucked three went back into the jar to be shaken one last time.

But before I pulled out that winning name, I stopped for a moment and offered up a silent prayer and asked God to pick the winner. This fundraising walk-of-faith has been led by Him all along and I wanted it to be finished by Him as well.

When I breathed "Amen,"

I tipped the jar upside down one last time...

And caught the first crumpled paper wad to land in my hand.

I unfolded it...

And read ...

The name...


(Congratulations! Good thing I will be seeing you this weekend and can hand-deliver it to you!)

Thank you to everyone who prayed and participated and, with God, took us over and beyond the original financial goal we had set our sights on. This has been an amazing, faith-building experience. I am so thankful to have been able to walk this journey with friends.

P.S. I still plan to tell the "rest of the story" about this fundraiser ... just as soon as I get a chance. It is amazing and made my head spin. I promise, it will be well worth the wait!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Winner, Part 1!

Last Friday I announced a giveaway..., er sweepstakes..., er lottery... er...

Well, I don't really know what we had here. Actually, a dear friend, who is way more knowledgeable about blogging no-nos, pointed out that what I did here might actually have crossed some major blogging rules. (I'm still a newbie at blogging rules.) To avoid possible trouble from any "blogging police" that might be patrolling in the nearby vicinity, I took the post down. However, five amazing people did donate a total of $185 during that time period and I do want to honor the promise I made.

I apologize for taking so long in announcing anything and for making everybody wait while I frantically try to figure out how to right my wrongs and do things legally. I will hold the drawing on Sunday, May 22, 2016. The winner will be announced Sunday evening.

Hereafter, I will do my very best to research and stay on the right side of all blogging laws.

Thanks for your understanding and patience.

P.S. I have an incredible, miraculous story to tell about how our hosting fees were paid ... over and above the amount needed. But, I'll have to do that next week as well. This week has been a whirlwind for me. I'm still trying to get my bearings.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Today Our Miracle Comes

We have done all we can do. We have sacrificed every spare penny we have. We have gone without. We have contacted our newspaper and radio stations,and requested donations from Walmart and Krogers. We did our RANDOM SMILES fundraiser and sold used items at the Flea Market. We are currently trying to raffle off a brand new IPad mini (see previous post). And, we have driven our friends and family batty with our fundraising speeches and requests. (Forgive us!)

Above all, God has blessed!

To date He has provided $3465!!! For this, I praise Him!

Today, the remaining $2335 is due. That breaks down to 467 $5 donations or 233.5 $10 donations or merely 117 $20 donations. See, it doesn't take much and every bit makes a difference.

I don't know how God is going to do it, but, in faith, I am already praising Him for providing for these precious children.

Today ... our miracle comes!

Thank you so much for your part in it.

God bless!

P.S. I realize some of you may not want to participate in the Ipad raffle. Simply donate anonymously and I will understand. Thank you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Electricity is Overrated

Our second-to-last hosting payment was due yesterday. I fundraised like a madwoman,

and some of you donated through our YouCaring link over there on the right ...


But we still fell short of the mark.

Quite a bit short, actually.

Like $1700 short.

(Yeah! I was bummed.)

Fortunately, my husband received a check over the weekend that cleared Tuesday morning ...

(He's self-employed and his payments are not always predictable, so this was a huge blessing!)

For some reason, our bank card wouldn't work on New Horizon's website and we ended up having to make the payment in cash.

As Shawn counted out seventeen crisp, green Benjamin Franklins, my eyes widened. The expense side of hosting reached out and whacked me. Hard. Doubts began to creep in.

"Should we really be doing this?"

"It's not cheap!"

"We need that money!"

"And we have a large electricity bill due this week!!!"

This rather large withdrawal caused our bank account to plunge. My heart began to race wildly and a slight feeling of panic set in. I had to look deep within my soul to reexamine exactly why it was we were doing this in the first place.

Hosting is, first and foremost, a missionary opportunity where orphans from various countries are matched with families in America, Canada, or Western Europe for a few weeks in the summer or winter. (The orphanages close down for twice a year for six weeks to save money.) For Christian families this time is an amazing opportunity to share Christ with a child (or children) who have never heard the precious gospel message. In addition, hosting establishes contact with someone interested in the child's well-being, thus protecting them down the road from the typical pitfalls faced by so many. Statistics tell us that a high percentage (between 60% to 70%) of emancipated orphans fall victim to prostitution, trafficking, substance abuse, and/or criminal activities. Positive relationships provide an anchor of hope for orphans who might otherwise give up and join the tragic 15% who commit suicide within their first two years of leaving the orphanage. Plain and simply, orphans are some of this world's most vulnerable citizens.

Although still young, our two have their own difficulties to endure. Within the orphanage walls, bullying tears them down and leaves them feeling hopeless and forgotten. For the last three years, L has been emailing me. "When can we come to you?" she pleads. "When can we see you again?" (They were initially hosted by us in the winter of 2012.)

Really, I needed only look at the picture I carry of them to be reminded of how "worth it" this whole venture is. To see them again, to wrap our arms around them and pull them close, to love them unconditionally is worth every penny we spend. Caring for the orphan is not an option, it is a mandate! And if we spend everything we have to bring them here to share the love of Jesus with them, it will be worth it!


And, as my husband so lovingly reminded me, electricity is way overrated.

Somehow, through all of this, we will survi

Monday, May 9, 2016

Audiobook Overload! Ahhhh!


That's what freedom is all about.

The ability to choose is our sacred right.

I get that.

So why is it so stinking overwhelming!!!

Now that my book is published in both hard copy and ebook, I thought it would be good to turn it into an audiobook as well.

And then ...

I was presented with my list of options.

Who knew there could be so many?!

Do I want a male/female voice?

Should the accent be American (7 variations),
British (17 variations, not counting Irish),
Eastern European,
or even Caribbean?

(Ha! Listening to a World War II escape story from a voice sounding as if it's vacationing in paradise, should liven things up a bit. I can hear it now...

"Cho! Put dah guns down, man!")

After I choose the accent, there is the question of style. Should the vocals be velvety, raspy, spooky, perky, hip, sheepish, or perhaps wistful?

These name just a few of my options.

I can't seem to find the choice for "normal reading voice" anywhere.

Maybe if I just keep scrolling...?

And then, a friend recommended I do my own reading.

Hmmmm... yet another choice to consider.

Is nothing easy?!

Order your book or ebook HERE

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mom, Remember the Time...?

Dear Mom,

I know you don't like commercialism for Mother's Day. Your practical self won't allow us to indulge in showering you with Mother's Day cards and balloons and material mementos. No, you've always insisted that we keep these annual celebrations to a minimum. No fuss. No frizz. No flare.

But that doesn't diminish our desire to celebrate you, the woman who raised us and set our feet on the individual paths we would take in life. So today, on this one day dedicated to all mothers, I want to walk back down memory lane with you to revisit and dust off some shelved recollections that demonstrate the amazing mother you are.

Mom, remember your original desire to have a nice even four or six kids? (Sadly, you were able to carry only five out of your six pregnancies to term.) We might have caused you to regret that desire at times, but you never let us know it. Instead, you made us all feel like your special treasures.

Remember letting us press our ears and hands to your belly as it expanded with our newest sibling? Feeling their kicks and hearing their heartbeat bonded us together as a family even before birth.

Mama, remember teaching us to work? You made it sound like folding stacks of cloth diapers was the greatest thing on the planet. Because we trusted you, we believed you. And because we believed you, we discovered that work could be fun.

Remember that big yellow wooden sandbox you built for us? What kind of mom builds something like that for her kids?!? Endless hours were spent by us in that creation -- just us and our imaginations.

Mom, remember the endless stacks of homemade waffles you made for us? I make them now, but they never seem to taste as good.

Remember those cupboards?! Your perfectionist nature kept you working at refinishing them for at least ten years. We never did see the mistakes you kept finding. Although we complained frequently about not having cupboard doors for half of our childhood, we admired your determination.

You taught us to sew and embroider. I hated it, but you routinely dragged me indoors for my daily session of working a needle and thread. When I had performed my required number of stitches, I was always pleased with my progress, mostly because you made me feel like I had done the best work you had ever seen -- except for the time I accidently embroidered the picture to my skirt.

Remember all those papers you edited? A good portion of my degree belongs to you. I never received lower than an A- on a paper because of your corrections. All students should be so blessed.

Remember all those walks around the block? You were out to get exercise (and probably some peace and quiet too), but never seemed to mind when one, or all five, (plus our five cats) traipsed along behind you.

You courageously pulled us out of school and homeschooled us in an age when homeschooling was still the new kid on the block, allowing us the freedom to develop our own personalities and identities. Your pioneering spirit infused itself into all of us. Today, none of us is a follower thanks to your trailblazing example.

Oh, and remember all those trips to the emergency room? Anne bit through her lip after her bicycle jump landed awry. John smashed his face into our driveway while attempting a wheelie on his bike, only to have the front wheel drop off at the moment he was ready to land. When the dog pulling Richard on his skateboard spied a cat, Richard's board hit a rock and became airborne. His landing on the sidewalk was none too graceful and promptly knocked him unconscious. I accompanied you on these and all other emergency room visits. (Only Linda escaped childhood unscathed.)

But, when I broke my neck in an auto accident, it was your face I longed to see come through those hospital room doors because you are comfort personified. And you did not fail me. You stayed the night (I don't know where) and remained with me the next day too. When I finally came home, you bravely cared for me even though you were terrified you might damage something ... but I knew you wouldn't.

Oh Mom, I could go on and on. You have been there when you needed to be there. You have listened when I needed a sounding board. You have taken action when I needed things accomplished. You have loved unconditionally, encouraged endlessly, and helped mold and shape me into the woman I am today.

How can I thank you enough, except to live you proud?

You are amazing and I love you!

Your daughter,


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hobby to How-to

It's hard to believe I have been blogging since 2010. Back then, I didn't even really know what a blog was but thought it would be a fun way to connect with other adoptive mamas. And, a nice way to practice my writing skills. (And, yes, that last line is an intentional fragment and not a reflection of my actual writing skills.)

Not only have I forged some amazing friendships with other families journeying along the adoption path, I have discovered a whole new world. Blogging, writing, publishing, YouTube video promos ... it has all been rather mind-blowing, to say the least. Now that my eyes have been dazzled by all of this, I have decided to dive head-first into its depths and saturate myself in its literary/technological waters.

So I'm quitting my job.

Kind of.

Well, actually I am, but not totally.

Okay, it's kind of complicated and I can't say I really understand how this is all going to work, but I did quit my teaching job.

I'm more like a free-lance educator now.

Whatever that means.

After twenty-three years of teaching, I am DONE with addressing a class, slaving over lesson plans, and stocking up on red correcting pens.

Kind of.

Mostly, I'm just done with being locked in a classroom for x amount of hours per day and released when the school bell rings.

But, I still like teaching.

Mostly, I enjoy the kids.

Love those kiddos!!!

(Most of them, at least.)

Okay, okay, ALL of them!

I think I just need a break.

And so...

...back to my original thread...

I am stepping into the blogging world to see where it takes me. In two weeks, I will launch by enrolling in a FREE blogging course called, "The Profitable Blogging Summit" from May 16 - 20.

And when I learn everything there is to learn
and get rich and famous,
you can say you knew me here first.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Everyone Should Have This Much Fun!

I once sat next to a dying woman and watched as she wrote out check after check to various individuals and charities. Her life's savings was being spent and she was smiling. With only days left to live, it was a race against time to see whether she could give away her money before her life was over. Suddenly, she chuckled. "Everyone should have this much fun!" she murmured, half to herself and half, I'm sure, for my benefit.

All her life she had lived quite frugally and, at the same time, quite generously. She denied herself little needless, pleasures so she could bless others with the extra she had saved. She was not rich, but it was amazing to see how much she had accumulated over the years. And, in her final days, she enjoyed the pleasure of giving it all away.

Since that day I've thought quite a bit about what she said and how she lived her life. She denied herself so that she could give. And she gave abundantly. Her happiness was not wrapped up in pleasing herself. Instead, her joy came from blessing others.

My biggest qualm about fundraising has always come from my reluctance to ask people to give -- even though I'm not asking for anything for myself. And yet, God seems to keep putting me in places where the need is far greater than my ability, leaving me to fundraise and pray.

This time around, however, our fundraising experience has been different for me. Because I have shared a portion of the donation money with my community, I have actually enjoyed this experience more than any other time. Not only are funds being raised to bring two Eastern European orphans to our home this summer, I am also able to spread cheer in my own community while introducing others to the needs of orphans.

Today as I write this, I have a different perspective on fundraising. I no longer shudder at the idea. I want to shout from the rooftops, "Come have fun with me!" Because, as St. Francis of Assisi so famously said, "It is in giving, that we receive..." And, as was demonstrated so beautifully to me by the woman who gave everything away with a smile, joy comes to those who give.

Everyone should have this much fun!