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Wow friends! I am overcome with thankfulness!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
YOU gave & together we can purchase 16 special baby bottles for the precious little children at Shanghai Healing Home. Nearly $500 was given in total for them. THEM. The least of these. Sweet little children just like the sweet little children in your home or the ones you know… Only you or I are able to regularly invest in and love on the sweet little children in our homes or the ones we come into contact with frequently. THEM. Thank you for loving on them. Those that don’t have a forever family. {not yet.} And how I pray that THEY will all know the love of a family. That they will learn of Jesus’ love for them.

Thank you for your kindness to them and to me. Best birthday present!

I am in awe of how The Lord works. Where to start…

About 10 years ago, I started physical therapy school. There were about 35 people in our class then at Indiana University’s PT program on the IUPUI campus. There were only a few of us that were married or got married while in PT school. Since those of us that were married were in a sort of different stage of life than others, we tended to hang together, study together. One of those people was a guy named Andrew Bauermeister. We would often see his wife, Lisa, as she was a nurse & would sometimes be able to stop & see him or have lunch. (Medical campus…) So we survived PT school (I was the girl that passed out on the first day of cadaver lab. There has to be at least one & it was me.), graduated & scattered off to work.

I know a lot of people dislike Facebook & I agree completely that you can allow it to become something evil, but if tempered with wisdom, it can also be a blessed place to connect with friends far away-other states, other countries. So I was able to see pictures of the Bauermeister clan as they added children & updates via Facebook, but otherwise we haven’t had opportunity to really connect.

As The Lord weaves a beautiful tapestry of our lives together-all of us…let me tell you a story. I’m going to copy & paste some segments from Lisa’s writings and her note to us that we received a couple days ago.

“Four years ago, my husband Andy could barely run one mile without being totally out of breath. Since then he’s ran multiple 5K’s, 10K’s, 15K’s, 50K’s, half marathons, the Chicago marathon, Bourbon Chase Relay, the Peace, Love and 50 miles trail marathon in Hell, Michigan, as well as his first 100 mile trail marathon at the Indiana Trail 100 in Albion, Indiana. When Andy first started talking about wanting to run 100 mile trail marathons, he had a strong desire to simply finish the race in the 30 hour time limit. He ran the Indiana Trail 100 in 27 hours and 30 minutes under some of the absolute worst weather conditions for Indiana in April. When he talked of wanting to run more 100 mile races, he discovered a passion to start running for a cause. We talked and prayed about it and decided his next race in Leadville, Colorado on August 17 would be a great opportunity to accomplish that goal and help bring a sweet two year old boy named Tucker home to Ryan and Amy Abell; however, God clearly wanted us to do more, so we set a goal to raise twice the amount of money that they still needed to fully fund their adoption in hopes of helping other families, as well.

On August 17th and 18th, Andy completed 100 miles in 28 hours and 44 minutes. Our friend Matt Limeberry ran 50 miles with Andy and I ran the last 5 with him. We were even able to talk with Amy on speaker phone the last half mile while we crossed the finish line. Andy wouldn’t have finished the race without the help of family, friends, many prayers, but mostly the motivation to help bring these sweet ones home to their forever families. God rocked our world when we found out we had raised all $10,000 of our goal almost right after crossing the finish line.

Read Andy’s race report for a more detailed description of the race:
http://bauies-run.blogspot.com/

Since then, we have raised a total of over $11,300 for the Abell family and five other families who are choosing to be obedient to God’s desire for their families to adopt a child. We have prayed over this money, as well as the families we feel God is leading us to bless with these funds. So many people were involved in getting us past our $10,000 goal! Over 100 #runningtuckerhome t-shirts were sold, a 12 year old girl held a China themed babysitting night for our community, doctors, nurses, children, Andy’s patients, family and friends donated to help bring Tucker and other sweet ones home to their forever families.

God put a desire in so many individuals to donate to #runningtuckerhome. Most of them have never met and will never meet the Abell family or yours. We know that adoption, whether international or domestic, is incredibly expensive, but we are so excited to help and be able to pass along these donations to your family and continue seeing your adoption process. We have written and will be mailing you a check for $1,000.”

Woe. Speechless. These people I haven’t seen in probably 8 years are sending US a check for $1000 for OUR adoption?????!!!!!! What?! How?! We are so undeserving. And yet isn’t that just how The Lord cares for us?

And I can’t wait for the day to reconnect with them, to let them meet my little girl whom God predestined for our family & to sit together basking in the joy of his peace, his plan, his purpose & reminisce how he wove our stories together.

Here is a picture of the Bauermeister family:

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If you’d like to learn more about the Bauermeister’s friends’ adoption that inspired Andrew’s 100 mile trail run you can read Amy’s blog here.

We are blessed to live in a pretty cool neighborhood. We enjoy it very much. It’s pretty “diverse.” Although sometimes it might be comforting, we aren’t necessarily surrounded by people who share the same backgrounds or viewpoints that we do, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t friends. We love where God has placed us at this time & that he gives us opportunities to act out what it means when he calls us to be salt & light. (And we REALLY love our neighbors!!) One of the cool things our neighborhood does is have a community-wide yard sale event every year. We had not had the opportunity to participate or experience it before. This year there were approximately 250 houses that had yard sales & its estimated that about 15,000 people come to the event. We had our first yard sale this weekend as part of the event. We hoped to raise a lil lump to start us off on our adoption fund. I honestly prayed (selfishly, but boldly) that we would be able to make $1000. I thought that seemed like a pretty impossible amount for a yard sale. I mean most people I talk to make a couple hundred bucks. $500 would be a great yard sale. When we added up at the end of the day the total was $1000.95. I laughed out loud. Thank you Lord! Thank you for your provision, thank you for your encouragement, & thank you for sustaining us.

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So that lump plus what we can squeak out of the budget this month plus some extra from some extra work Nick did gets us almost there for that first $2500 fee. I’m filling out paperwork to begin a lil work as soon as possible, but regardless I think by next month we’ll have that covered & get to move on to the “home study.” Hooray! Praise The Lord with us!

Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Part 3…Meet the Wickershams. A pretty incredible family. Miss Megan & I grew up in the same church. She was just enough older than me that she got to be a “chaperone” as a college student for our high school youth trip. God used Megan to show me how “real” as in “relationship” he was & wanted to be with me. I remember her telling me that God must surely smile when he looks down on me. That was really impactful to a young girl, especially coming from such a cool young woman.

Fast forward a few years. Megan graduated from college & began teaching English to college students in China. I believe she initially planned to only go for a year or two, but God had other plans. She has lived there since! (And visited “home” several times along the way.)

A few more years & Megan marries Mark. A soccer player/coach & teacher from Megan’s home state-Indiana. Then they go back to China. While there, they have added three beautiful children to their family through adoption over the past ~9 years.

First came Grace who is very close in age to our Will. Then came Rose who is a couple years older than Grace. And most recently came little Josiah towards the beginning of this year. Each one beautiful, special, & loved.

After Rose came there was a point in time where Megan had some health issues that needed to be addressed in the states. This meant an extra long stay for she & the girls. Since Megan’s parents live in the town that we lived in (before we moved to TN), we got to see them a lot. We loved that. Especially Clara. They would come over for play dates & Clara would call Grace & Rose her sisters. Even when they left, she’d call them her sisters. What a sweet time. Love grew. The girls would play & Megan would so patiently, so sweetly, so lovingly answer my questions about adoption as God began to stir this in my heart.

Slowly I began to ask God. How am I called to care for “the orphan” as it commands in his book? I know he doesn’t call everyone to adopt. But whatever he calls me to, I want him to find me obeying.

There’s more I could say about adoption & the term “special needs” & the Wickershams… But maybe we’ll save that for another time. They inspire us to love others as Christ & to be obedient to his call-whether halfway around the globe or in your own house. You can follow Megan’s blog to learn more about their family & enjoy photos & snippets of their life in China here

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Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Another story. Part 2:
Meet the Hart family. When you picture a sweet southern family, the Harts are what you see in your mind. When we moved to our new city, they were some of the most welcoming. We nearly immediately realized that both our families had started the adoption process (when we started the first time) for international adoptions. Their application was to Africa & ours to China, but I definitely felt that our paths crossed as part of God’s plan-stirring each other, encouraging one another. They have been so helpful to us in explaining different parts of the process, the “how” of details like where papers get signed, sharing their own experiences.

The timeline for the Harts has been long. They had a move that caused delay in paperwork, usual (but long) waiting through different steps of the process, then a change in country (though still in Africa) due to circumstances out of their control. But as Mary Craig has shared with me, God has sustained them through it. Even when they were matched with one little guy who was later claimed by a family member in his country. This was a very hard experience to become attached to a child, call him your own & have your other children call him their brother and when that was lost…it was such a deep loss that it felt like a death. However, they trusted in God’s plan, knowing that it was a great thing for that child to be with their birth family. Knowing God loved that child and knowing God loves them. And now they are so close! They were matched again. The country they are adopting from requires two visits to complete the process. They have just returned from their first trip where momma & daddy got to meet & love on their new son! Soon they’ll return to him & bring him home to his forever family. What a picture. A living example & experience of Jesus’ love for us. Though we are/were alone, orphaned, cast out…he comes & invites us into his family. To love us. To teach us. To guide us.

John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
(ESV)

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Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

Inspiration. Let me tell you some stories about some families that have adopted and been a part of the holy spirit’s stirring in our hearts.

Part one: The Palm Family
A sweet friend from high school went to college & met a sweet man & soon they were married. Both loved The Lord & sought after him. They purposefully & intentionally sought his will in their lives-through work, through marriage, through increasing their family by children. Theirs is not a perfect story (for no such human story exists), it is not without trial or trouble. But it is filled with the love of Jesus & they have made themselves vulnerable for his sake to share their lives & his love with others.

By God’s grace, he has increased their children to nine. And as a family of 11, they have advocated for the orphan, pleaded the cause of the weak & lavishly loved the unloved in the parts of the world that The Lord has sent them.

I would do an injustice by trying to re-tell their adoption stories. My friend Lovelyn (aptly named), has a blog where she has shared their family’s adoption journeys & I’d like to share that site with you. You can learn more about their family & adoption experiences there.

http://www.momentswithlove.blogspot.com

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It has been on our hearts for some time that we’d like to adopt a child into our family. We actually had begun the process before we found out about my benign tumor last year. I think I started the application in September of 2011. (Almost 2 years ago!) Then we were led through, by God’s grace, the diagnosis, surgical removal & recovery from an acoustic neuroma. A little more than a year after completion of a series of three surgeries, I am fully recovered & we began to whisper around the house about the possibility of adoption again.

After some research & prayer, we decided to apply again, but this time through a different agency. Honestly, the first time the application took a long time to complete & a while to hear about its status. I really thought this would be similar. There are different processes, but we completed our application in 3 days. Then some additional paperwork was needed to confirm my health status due to the surgeries a year ago-again…I thought it would take a few days & miraculously it was completed in a few hours. So today the agency called me & officially approved our application! We are very excited & wanted to share this news with you! What this means is that we qualify to adopt from China & can move onto the next steps of “home study” (a social work lengthy document about our family) & the “dossier” (the formal paperwork that is submitted to the Chinese authorities.) We are thrilled & a little surprised about the swiftness. However, we thought that it would take more time & thus we’d have more time for saving… If The Lord wills it, it will be. This we are certain is true. Please be in prayer for us as we seek his best. I am seriously considering finding a job for the hours when Fritz will be in preschool soon. Please pray that I would find something that is flexible to our family’s needs.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

August 2nd 2005… The day my first baby was born. He was a little guy, 6 lb 6 oz, 19 3/4 inches long. But boy was he big in my heart.

A sweet little bundle

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Fairly recently Will unloaded the dishwasher for me. Then he decided he wanted to organize the silverware drawer. As he meticulously arranged the forks in their different sizes, he discovered the small plastic container towards the back of the drawer. In it lives all the little medicine cups & syringes, etc. Will pulls out a syringe, holds it out to me & says with tilted head, “What is this for?! I know it’s not for shots…” I explained that they are used to give medicines to babies like Tylenol, etc. Will, “Well why do WE have them?” (In a ridiculous tone) And I told him, “Because we used to have babies. And they grew. And they grew and they grew.”

And that’s a true story folks. He grew. He is still growing in stature, in intelligence, in learning what it is to love, and in his faith in Jesus. Please join me in praying for my son the same prayer I prayed over him when he was in my belly. “Lord let this boy grow to know you, to love you & to serve you.”

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Happy birthday Will! I can’t believe you are 8 years old! You could not be more loved, cherished or wanted. We thank God for granting us you as our son. XO

One year ago today….
I took a 14 hour nap. I woke up (sort of woke up) with a bandage around my head in exchange for the removal of a tumor & a startled brainstem (meaning my control centers for my voice, swallowing, balance & L arm strength). Two more surgeries & 365 days later, I am well.

I just want to praise The Lord for another year of life.
Another chance to learn.
To love & be loved.
To give & receive grace.
To teach my babies. To hug them.
For this I am undeserving & humbly grateful.

For I know the plans I have for you declares The Lord. Plans to prosper you, plans not to harm you, plans to give you a hope & a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

{As a side story… In conversation with Will last week as he is trying to get me to recall some obscure detail about a time we went to the park 2 years ago-that I cannot recall.
Will “Mom, remember when they took that ball out of your head?”
Me, “Yeah Will, I remember that.”
Will, “Well, I think they may have taken out some of your remembering with it.”
Awesome. Thanks love. ;)}

I have an old friend who does amazing things with her blog as ministry. One of the things I learned from her blog a year or two ago was that this thing called “The Cupcake Kids” existed. The Cupcake Kids started as a way for kids to support a ministry called SixtyFeet. This ministry seeks to bring hope & restoration to the imprisoned children of Africa in Jesus’ name. You can learn more at:
www.sixtyfeet.org
And:
www.thecupcakekids.org

We have wanted to do a cupcake/bake sale for the cupcake kids since, but hadn’t mustered the courage. (I am so not gifted with sales…)

This past Saturday, Clara & I were given the chance to have a bake sale at her Upward Soccer program games. We were excited to hand out flyers & sell cupcakes. It was fun to see her eagerness to help other children. She had to warm up (she’s her mother’s daughter), but once she did, she made sure all the flyers were passed out.

We hope to continue to do this every year & encourage others to join in.
Please, take the time to check out SixtyFeet. See what they are up to & educate yourself on what’s really happening in the world. Maybe you aren’t as naive as I am. Maybe you already know about the fact that there are actually children in prisons. Not for crimes. Some yes, but many…no. Go look.

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