Beauty for Ashes

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Run the Race with Perseverance

Words can't describe the way God used His people on Saturday to speak to us, provide for us, encourage, and strengthen us along in our adoption process. I am going to try to put our thoughts together because it is too great not to share!
The Hearts of Compassion 5K was an amazing picture of the Church coming together to care for the fatherless!! We were completely overwhelmed and blessed that our family was one of the 8 adoptive families benefitting from this race.. The Hearts of Compassion ministry is such an impactful orphan care ministry of Colonial Heights, and we were so blessed to get to know them & be a part of their ministry! Each family had a team of runners, and the families are in the process of bringing 8 children home from all over the world, including the US, China, Ethiopia, Columbia, and Kyrgyzstan. Some of the families have already been matched with their child and are getting ready to travel soon!!
{pictured are all the families and some of the team members after the race}
{some of the families who have already adopted and were a part of the race last year or years before, and the family on the far left just brought their son home from Poland a few weeks ago!}

555 people registered for the race!! We had 40 runners on Team Kitchens and over 100 sponsors names on stickers!!! 40 precious friends & family ran in the rain to help bring Levi home and advocated for our adoption by getting over 100 very generous sponsors.. 
Our prayer for this fundraiser was not just about the funding, although that was a huge need. We prayed that God would send people to rally around us and remind us that we aren't in this alone, that he would bring awareness to the need for orphan care, and that He would use this to provide a way for those who may not be called to adopt or can't adopt right now a way to care for orphans and be a huge part of bringing an orphan to his/her forever family.


The Lord answered this prayer in the most amazing way.. we prayed for 10 runners, he sent 40.. a few who we never even met until the day of the race... which completely blew me away!!! Each runner wore their sponsors names on Africa stickers, so there were so many names represented of people being a part of bringing our son home.. we all were leaving a trail of stickers throughout the race because of the rain! :)

    
As it got close to the race, we found out it was pretty much 100% chance of rain. The leadership team of Hearts of Compassion put so much work into the race, so they were right along with us praying it WOULD NOT RAIN!! We thought no one would show up, and after all of their hard work along with all the families, we really really prayed that it wouldn't rain. Well... it rained! And SO many people still showed up!! and even ran in the rain!! 
I don't think I even made it 0.2 of a mile without crying.. watching everyone there running in the rain with us just was an awesome picture to me.. a reminder of God's faithfulness even in the rain.. He provided every single need and He made it perfect! It was a perfect picture of adoption to me.. because adoption is beautiful, but it is also hard, comes with loss, is expensive, with lots of obstacles and waiting. It doesn't (hardly ever) go as we plan it out.. but His plans are perfect. He knew it was going to rain all along, and that was actually a part of His plan to show that He is bigger than all of that.. He is bigger than what our earthly minds can plan for our lives, SO thankful that His plans are better! He used it to show us His control, sovereignty, and provision through every circumstance. He has provided for every step of the way through our process...

{probably my favorite from the day- my mom and her friend Teresa who finished last but not least!!}

The day after the race marked 1 year since we began the adoption process.. I couldn't believe it worked out like that, but we know that wasn't a coincidence! I remember starting the process not knowing HOW in the world we would raise over $30,000 to be able to fund this adoption.. I am so thankful that we stepped out in faith on that day, because He has provided every single amount we have needed at every stage... Y'all, if He calls you to adoption or anything else that can be scary.. say YES! He really will take care of the rest and you will be so blessed and strengthened in your faith to watch Him.. I could talk for hours about the crazy ways He has provided for us, and it has had nothing to do with us. He has taught us to trust him and has strengthened our faith so much, in times where without Him coming through we wouldn't be able to move forward in the process. He has never left us through this process even when we doubted, and I know he will continue to walk us through the days ahead after we are matched with our son!

From this race, we have raised over $8,500 and counting from sponsors' donations and a matching grant from Lifesong for Orphans... and people are still donating to our fund! We are going to sell the extra Give Hope t-shirts that my awesome sister-in-law designed and our amazing small group leaders printed for us! We are very close to being fully funded for the rest of our entire adoption!! 

What's next?  We are waiting to be matched with our son! We have been officially on the waiting list for 4 months (even though we have been in the process for 1 year because it took time for the home study and all of the paperwork). The average wait time with our agency for a referral is 14 months.. so we have around 10 months to hit that wait time.. that would be around August-September.. It could definitely be longer or shorter than this wait time. After we are matched, we will get updates each week with pictures of Levi until we are able to travel for our court date and to bring him home!

We will always look back on this memory with a full heart, and we can't wait to share it with Levi one day!

Thank you seems so inadequate for all of your prayers, support, and encouragement along our journey.. We can't wait for you to be a part of seeing Him complete this journey he started us on and see Levi come home

Here is a recap video from the race- the end shows each family who was a part of the race and at the very end, a very special baptism


"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2

Saturday, September 26, 2015

5K Update- Run for One Less!

We want to give a quick update on our 5K Run Adoption Fundraiser coming up on Sat, October 31st! We have 20 runners/walkers on Team Kitchens so far, yay!! Each runner is getting people to sponsor them, and we will all wear our sponsors names on these stickers when we run!


How you can help bring Levi home:
Would you consider sponsoring Ben and I to run in the 5K? To sponsor and purchase a sticker, you can make a tax deductible donation of any amount here https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VMQCXSRVTUS2N or by clicking the donate button on the top right of this blog. Every dollar is doubled up to $3,000! We are praying to be close to being fully funded after this!

or you can mail a check to
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744 
Please make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans. In the memo, please note your gift preference with Family Account #5553 and Kitchens Family.
(ie: Preference 5553 Kitchens)
Let us know if you sponsor, and we will write your name on a sticker to wear! We can't wait to see all the stickers representing people coming together to bring Levi home!! Lets run for one less orphan!!
Just to update you on our adoption process- we are on the waiting list for a boy age 0-2 from Ethiopia. We have been in the process for almost 1 year and have been officially on the waiting list for 3 months. We hope to be matched with our son sometime in the next year, and then we will prepare to travel to bring him home! For those who may not know much of our story and how the Lord called our family to adoption, you can read about that here
There are 7-10 adoptive families with their own teams in the 5K, which will be at Colonial Heights. We can't wait to see everyone coming together to care for orphans! Here is a video from last year's race :)

Let me know if you want to run on our team and help us get sponsors, there is still time to sign up for the race! I will get you in our Facebook group for the team and get the information to you :)  
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Racing to Bring Levi Home! 5K Fundraiser

We are so excited to share a new adoption fundraiser coming up!!  We have been accepted as one of the adoptive families in Colonial Heights' Hearts of Compassion 5K to help bring Levi home!

We actually ran in this 5K last year for some of our sweet friends who are also adopting from Ethiopia as part of their team. It was so much fun! We are so excited to have our own team this year!! There will be 7-10 adoptive families running with their teams. 

Colonial Heights has an amazing Orphan Care Ministry called Hearts of Compassion, which is a ministry to raise awareness about orphan care and adoption and help raise funds to place children in forever families, while seeking to mobilize the church, His body, where each member can provide a unique and special service, some to adopt, some to care, and some to give. 

Colonial Heights partners with Lifesong for Orphans for this 5K, and we have received a matching grant through Lifesong. They will match up to $3,000 of what we raise, so incredibly awesome!! A huge blessing! So, every dollar given will be matched up to $3,000!
All the fundraising will go through Lifesong, which is also an amazing ministry that mobilizes the church to get involved in orphan care, adoption, foster care, advocacy, and so much more. 

Different ways you can help:

1) We need runners/ walkers on our team!! We are hoping for 10-15 people on our team! We will be getting t-shirts for all of our team members to wear on race day. Each team member will get people to sponsor them by donating toward our adoption (the goal is 10 sponsors, but you can get as many as you want!) We are going to get stickers for each runner to write their sponsors names on the stickers and wear them on their backs for the race (thanks to Abby Blackburn for this awesome idea from last year :)
There will be a place for you to say you are running on the Kitchens' team :)
Let us know if you want to run/ walk on our team! We will have more details to give to the team members who are running on how to get sponsors :) we are getting together ways for sponsors to donate through a paypal donate button directly to our Lifesong account as an easier option than checks

2) If you don't want to or can't run/ walk the 5K, you can still help by sponsoring a runner!! We don't actually receive the funds from runners just signing up for the race, but from runners getting sponsors. Sponsors can donate any amount toward our adoption! If you want to sponsor a runner, just let us know and we will get your name on a sticker! We will be running too, so you can sponsor either me or Ben, too

If you want to sponsor a runner by donating to our Lifesong Account, here are the different ways you can do that, 100% will go directly toward our adoption and it is tax-deductible: 

Give by Check
Please make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans. In the memo, please note your gift preference with Family Account #5553 and Kitchens Family.
(ie: Preference 5553 Kitchens)
Please mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40

Gridley, IL 61744
Give Online
 1. Go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate
2. Select Give to an Adoptive Family
3. Complete online form and fill in Family Account #5553 & Kitchens Family
Individual donations $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax- deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. 
3) The most important way you can help-prayer!! You can help by praying that the Lord would use this fundraiser to bring awareness to orphan care and adoption, and that it would be a huge part of bringing Levi home and many other orphans to their forever families!

Your prayers and support have meant so much throughout our adoption journey! As we are in the waiting part of our process, knowing others are praying alongside us means the world to us.. We are getting closer every day to seeing our little boy's face!

Praising the Lord for this 5K opportunity & can't wait to see what He does through it!! 

"A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:5-6

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Waiting for Levi!

As of June 26th, we are officially on the "waiting list" for our son Levi! We announced in May that it's a BOY
 


And we are naming him Levi! We have always loved the name Levi and have talked about it for a long time. One day, we decided to look up the meaning and found that Levi means "to be joined together" in Hebrew. We couldn't believe it! It is perfect because we know the Lord is moving mountains to join Levi with us and make a once orphan a forever son! We will most likely use his birth name as his middle name.

When we did the craft fair booth, a sweet man was making these name trains at the booth next to us. At the time, we had not told many people his name. We saw them and just had to get one for Levi! It is wooden and we painted it. I teared up watching him make this train that will go in our little man's room! I still tear up looking at it in our house.. It was so special when I told the man who he was making this train for

Other BIG news.. we received a letter in the mail saying that we have been given a $3,000 grant from Show Hope! We applied for this back in March. This grant was created by Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, and they have helped over 5,000 children be placed into families in 53 countries. They also have created special care centers in China to give medical care to over 2,000 orphans with special needs. We are so blessed by this.. and the Lord continues to provide in ways we never imagined! Whenever we doubt, He keeps creating the way for us to walk through. It really is true, when the Lord calls you to something and you are obedient, he MAKES it happen. The cost of adoption can seem impossible, but He provides. 
Another way He has provided for us this summer is through a precious adoptive and foster family who donated tons of beautiful jewelry for us to sell. We are overwhelmed by this family and how they are selflessly serving the Lord through caring for orphans. They have 9 children, and she makes and sells jewelry to support various orphan care ministries around the world as well as adoptive families. Such a huge blessing!! 
Thank you for continuing to pray for Levi! Now that we are officially waiting, we could technically receive a referral (pictures and information on our child) anytime. It will most likely be about 12-14 months before we see his pictures. Then, we will travel about 6 months later. We are already counting down! Adoption is so unpredictable, but we rest in the One who holds our future in His hands. 

Ellie Kate can't wait to be a big sister! We are working on saying "Levi"
 

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him." Lamentations 3:22-24


Thursday, May 14, 2015

1st Birthday Fun, USCIS Approval, and Dossier to Ethiopia!

It has been a crazy, but fun, few weeks!! Last week, we celebrated Ellie Kate turning 1! (can't even believe it) She had so much fun at her twinkle twinkle little star party!






We had our fingerprint appointment at the USCIS office downtown a few weeks ago!
Then, we had a booth with some friends (they were so sweet to let us share with them), at the Flowood Arts and Crafts Fair. It was a fun day, and we brought in just over $700 toward our adoption! From people buying at our booth and friends and neighbors seeing us working in our garage and buying crosses and frames. I think Ben lived in our garage for about 2 weeks
Since then, we have been waiting for our approval letter, and we finally received our USCIS approval on Monday! (the last piece of paperwork needed for our Dossier to be complete!)

We went Tuesday afternoon to get everything else notarized and state certified, made copies of everything, and went to Fed Ex to ship it off! All 2 and a half pounds in a box... After a long day and a long 6 months of working on all of the paperwork, I wanted to hug the Fed Ex lady!! And beg her to guard it with her life :) Of course we had to get a picture!
 It looks like Ellie knows just how important that little box is!
She even took a few steps for the first time at her daddy's office making copies.. we were screaming!

Now, our agency is sending our Dossier to DC, then on to Ethiopia, and we will hear that we are officially registered and on the waiting list soon!!

Also, just another example of the Lord providing- we received a grant from our church for the exact amount we were needing to submit our Dossier, just in time to submit it. With that, our t-shirt fundraiser, and the craft fair, we had just enough! Now, we will have about a year or so to save and raise the rest before we receive our referral..

We are working on getting a new summer color of our t-shirt design and going to place another order of them soon :)  Thank you for spreading the word to your friends and getting more people wanting to buy shirts, it has been a huge blessing!!

It was a sweet Mother's Day with my little girl.. so thankful for her and can't wait to have both my babies home together! (Ben somehow managed to get her hand prints done without me noticing during all the party craziness- I will treasure this!!)

"I will look back, and see that You are faithful,
I look ahead, believing You are able,
Jesus, Lord of all."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Adoption Updates!

It's been a few months since we've updated the blog, so we wanted to keep everyone updated on our adoption process! The last few months have been filled with paperwork, home study visits with our social worker (we LOVED her!), physicals, fingerprints, adoption classes, and fundraising.
I came across this picture from the day we first started the adoption process back in November on Orphan Sunday- Can't believe how much Ellie Kate has grown since then! She is almost ONE!
Best news we have to share- Our home study is complete!!! All 14 pages.. basically our whole lives on paper!
This is a big {huge} step, and now we are in the process of the next step, which is filing for USCIS approval (US Citizenship and Immigration).  We sent this in and are waiting for our fingerprint appointment. Then, a few weeks later, we will receive our Favorable determination letter in the mail! Over the next few weeks while we wait for that letter, we will be finishing up our Dossier, which is a fancy word for all the paperwork we will send to Ethiopia to officially be placed on the waiting list! We are almost finished with it and are hoping to be on the waiting list by end of May/ early June based on the time it will take to complete everything and get it mailed off. After that, we will not have anything to do but wait and pray! The wait time with our agency is about 12-14 months to receive a referral (when we are matched and receive pictures and information on our child) once the dossier is officially in Ethiopia.. this time frame is just an estimate because international adoption is so unpredictable and depends on many things.. It has been awesome to get to be a part of seeing other people from our agency receive referrals/ travel to bring their children home! We are preparing for a long wait, but of course would be so excited whenever God's timing is

Some of the cuties sporting their t-shirts to help bring Baby Kitchens home!! It takes a village!

Keep sending us these sweet pictures- it makes our day to see them and think about how each of you have played a huge part in bringing an orphan to a forever family!

The Lord has been faithful to walk us through this process and continues to provide all that we need- even when we doubt that we will have enough to make it to the next step. We have been blessed to see Him use people to come around and support us- praying for us, encouraging us, buying t-shirts, and just the most generous ways people have blessed us.


Our house was a little crazy organizing all these shirts! A good crazy though :)

We have some extras, so let us know if you missed the order and want one!! T-shirts have been a huge fundraiser- bringing in over $4,000 and counting..THANK YOU!! We have also applied for grants and have been blessed to receive one to cover most of our home study along with more we are in the process of applying for. It is a humbling thing to have to ask for help, but God has been teaching us to humble ourselves and allow others to be a part of caring for an orphan in this way.
Love this quote because it reminds me how the Lord has opened our eyes to the orphan crisis- the need became very real to us when we were loving on this baby in the picture in an orphanage in Uganda. We know adoption is only one way to care for orphans- and we pray for more opportunities for orphan care around the world, family reunification/ preservation within countries children are born in, foster care/adoption within the US, and international adoption. All children belong in families!
We can't wait for the day (hopefully soon) that we can share our exciting update that we are officially DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) and on the waiting list for our baby! Thank you for walking with us on this journey

"Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass." 1 Thessalonians 5:24