Thursday, April 10, 2014

Evelyn Grace Baby Dedication

In June 2013 we dedicated Evelyn Grace to the Lord at our Church, Songtan Central Baptist Church.  I am posting the video of the dedication for those who were not able to attend.  It brought back sweet memories to re-watch it tonight, just a few months short of one year later.  We continue to praise God for Evelyn's life and don't take it for granted that she is here with us. Multiple times a day, we lift our prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord for this precious blessing who is here to enjoy life with us today.  And enjoy it she most certainly does!





Almost one year later....




Saturday, February 15, 2014

LifeSong Grant! Double your Money!

We were thrilled to hear back from one of the grants we applied for: LifeSong has offered to match all donations we receive between now and March 31 - DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR!  That means if you donate $100, they will match it and make your donation into $200....If you donate $500, it will become $1,000 (you get the point)!  There aren't many places you can double your money instantly with no strings attached so I would say this is a great opportunity!  We are very appreciative of LifeSong's response and look forward to the opportunity to raise $7,000 towards our adoption costs in the next month.

If you are interested in donating, you can write a check to LifeSong (they will collect all funds and then submit them to our agency along with the matching funds).  LifeSong is a non-profit 503(c) and all funds donated to them are tax deductible.  100% of the funds donated will go to us, there are no administrative fees or charges taken out (unless you choose to donate by credit card/online in which case there is a slight fee charged for processing).

Please mail checks to:

LifeSong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

IN THE MEMO PLEASE NOTE OUR NAME AND Account number as follows:

"Houser/#4142"


Thank you LifeSong for this great opportunity! Please let us know if you have any questions about this matching grant. Also, you may email LifeSong at info@lifesongfororphans.org if you want to know more about this organization or have any questions about donating.  Just don't forget our Name and Account number please!  "Houser/#4142"

Thank you for considering partnering with us in this way!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A little bit of recently....

 
Planking and drooling, that's some talent!
 
 
Figured out his name, by himself, without us prompting or showing
 
 
Some last days with two teeth...top ones are swollen and ready to drop any day.
 
 
Caleb's best bud Sadie and younger brother Tristan, BBQ on our roof
 
 
Starting some solids...so far, sweet potatoes and bananas are her favorite.
 
 
Enjoying Daddy time
 
 
Crawling everywhere, gaining speed.
 
 
Goofs.
 
 
We hosted and made pizza for 10 adults and 8 (young!) kids...It was a lot of fun and a lot of food. These were our 7 pizzas waiting for toppings and baking.  And this is my kitchen and computer station, smile. Now you can picture me blogging! And cooking dinner....
 
P.S. Don't ever let me hear you say your home is too small to host people or large groups at...we live in an apartment and we regularly have large groups over....It isn't about having "a big house," people.
 
 
Steve reading to Littles.
 
 
First pair of jeans.
Baby jeans are just so cute!!
 
 
Sleeping beauty baby!
 
This is not a regular scene in our home these days, the past 6-8 weeks have been pretty miserable in the sleep and nap department...a great prayer request!
 
 
Babysitting for friends, no sleep over is complete without games we were told!
 
 
Or bedtime stories...and grumpy looks, apparently.
 
 
 
I have never met someone with a bigger imagination....And he's always got a plan and a story.
Check out that ladle!
 
 
He "reads" to her (aka recites the books he has memorized)!
My heart melts!
 
 
Books!
 
 
Sibling love.
 
 
 
 Entertaining Sissy!
 
 
 
"Protecting" himself from Sissy...
She's thinking, "hmmm...how can I get past this one...!?"
 
 
His suit from Auntie Renee's wedding is his favorite thing to wear...so he "can be just like Daddy." Not sure what we'll do when he outgrows it....My handsome men of the house.
 
 
And our little lady.
 
 
Keeps me laughing!
 
 
Korean American Friendship Festival 2013
 
 
I got out for an all-day adventure in Seoul with some dear girl friends.  It was great to "get away", go shopping, enjoy some nummy food (we tried Kimchi fries!! I'll take you if you come visit me!), go shopping and enjoy good company.  It was a gorgeous fall day and a refreshing, fun time "away."
 
 
 
 
 
You only have 13 days left to buy one of these limited edition tshirts and help us fund our adoption!
We have sold 52 shirts and have 198 to go to reach our goal.
 
There are a few pictures from our recently...What have you been up to?
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

T shirts for sale!

We are excited to announce the next phase in our adoption fund raising. Steve designed this T-shirt and we are selling it to benefit our adoption. A percentage of each T-shirt will be sent directly to Small World Adoption Agency, on our behalf, and that percentage goes up as we sell more T-Shirts. If we reach our goal, we will make almost 60% of the profits. Thank you for considering our fundraiser and if you would like, please feel free to share on your own blog, facebook page, twitter account etc. We really appreciate your support...as I write, we have 22 days to sell 220 more shirts.

Curious? Interested?  You can check out our design and our fundraising page by clicking HERE.

This is what Steve wrote about our shirts:
                               

Design Details

The design is meant to show the importance of Child adoption to our family while also reminding anyone who is in Christ of their Heavenly adoption.

The verses placed under the heart beat are there to remind us that the HEARTBEAT of every Christian is our adoption as into God's family. This adoption was so impactful that God says our HEARTS have been changed to call out to God as father. "Abba! Father!"

The words "This Family's Heartbeat" are very dear to us. Our families HEARTBEAT has always been the place we have as sons of God, and more recently our HEARTS have been molded to what we see in scripture as at the very HEART of God; caring for orphans.

So Child Adoption has become a new part of our families HEARTBEAT! Please help us in our pursuit of our child by purchasing one of these T-Shirts!


        Then once you have purchased yours,
                   spread the word for us!

             www.booster.com/familyheartbeat

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

UnPlanned

 
You know it's a good story when you receive a book on Tuesday and finish it on Thursday of the same week without an excuse of nothing to do or too much time on your hands!  "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson kept me up late, got me up early and found its way into my purse to follow me around to the park with the kids.
 
 
This past Tuesday the thrift store was giving away free books. Steve had a chance to stop over and check out the selection and this was one of his finds. I had never heard of it before but it immediately intrigued me. Half way through the first chapter I was hooked. 
 
This is the story of Abby Johnson, a former employee at Planned Parenthood.  Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on - pro-life or pro-choice - this book is worth your time.  Abby does not condemn either side.  In fact, she is quick to point out that she has friends on both sides and that there are "good people" on both sides.  she says it best in the introduction:
 
"To this day I have friends on both sides of this polarizing debate. We all long for a story that shows that "our" side is right and good and "their" side is wrong and bad, don't we?  But I testify that there is good and right and wrong on both sides of the fence. And even more shocking - we have far more in common with the "other" side than we might imagine.  But don't slam this book (or this review!) shut because of what I've just said. Read it for that very reason....

So what side of the fence are you on?  In all likelihood as you look through the fence, you see faulty thinking and harmful behavior on the other side. Here's my question for you: are you ready to look through the fence and see goodness, compassion, generosity and self sacrifice on the other side too?  Did you feel yourself just squirm? If so, welcome to my journey (pg. xx)"
 
Her point being, that a person can have good intentions and motives, even if on an opposing side of the fence.  She is quite clear throughout her story about her change of heart, that she now realizes that abortion is murder - it really is a LIFE that is being taken - but she shares that before becoming pro life her motives were not necessarily in the wrong place. She had good intentions, she just was believing a lie.  She felt duped. And she regretted not coming to her own convictions and doing her own research sooner. 

This is the beautiful story of Abby's journey into Planned Parenthood, her time spent there trying to help women and her jolting realization during an ultrasound guided abortion that pregnancy was not a mere "medical condition" but a living baby inside a living woman.
 
It is also a testimony of the power of prayer and a story filled with how prayer changes things.  For years The Coalition for Life had stood outside the Planned Parenthood building she ran.  They prayed, they were kind, they were friendly.  Daily she saw them praying and one day she realized the power of their prayers.  In her book she documents the years they prayed and how their prayers finally prevailed, changing her life.
 
Her book had several strong "take aways" for me:
 
One of which, was to consider the ways I/we go about trying to make changes or address abortion (and other hot topics).  She shared early in her story of protestors dressing up as the Grim Reaper and standing outside the clinic, of protestors shouting hurtful words and radicals slinging accusations outside her clinic.  She also talks about abortionists who were gunned down by "pro-life" members.  And she shares how un-helpful these demonstrations were.  If anything, she felt they rallied and bonded the pro choice staff in a common dislike of "the other side."  She also shares the quiet presence of faithful prayer warriors day in and day out that stood outside her clinic.  She shares of the kindness they showed.  The smiles they gave her each day. The flowers and card telling her they were praying for her.  She saw genuine care and love and concern from them and in the end, this is what won her respect.  I think it can be easy to get caught up in "I'm in the right" and share your "rightness" in ways that does more harm than good.  It doesn't matter how "right" you might be on a topic if you treat others wrongly in the process. This was a good reminder.
 
Another was a strong reminder of the power of prayer.  This must be a theme for me this year.  Just 8 months ago, Evelyn Grace's birth and recovery was one of the most powerful examples of prayer that I have ever personally experienced.  I literally have never felt prayer so strongly around me, felt so brought before the Lord in prayer, had so many people praying for me/my family or seen it so strongly at work.  This book was another - less personal but powerful nonetheless - example of how faithful prayers do make a difference.  These people prayed for over 2 years for Abby (a stranger to them) and the clinic.  They could have easily had reason to give up and move on, as they saw no immediate answers to their prayers. Yet they persisted and saw answered prayer in the end. 
 
Whatever you are praying for - keep praying! Don't stop pleading with the Lord....He is Faithful!
 
I was also struck by how human we all are - every single one of us.  None of us is perfect. We may think we have the "right answer" or are on the "right side" but we always have more to learn, we can always grow in humility and it is important to realize those you  might "oppose" (and therefore easily villain -ize in your own mind), are only human after all. They have feelings and emotions and lives too. They have their own battles and demons and hurts.  They are likely more similar to you than you care to realize...."treat others like you want to be treated" could not be more true.  Why do we think, because someone is on the opposite "side" of us that it gives us cause to treat them wrongly?  None of that is to say that one can't share your views or talk to someone about their wrong beliefs but it is to say that there is a right and a wrong way of doing it and the motive needs to come from a right heart, a humble spirit and from genuine love and a desire to restore, not a desire to be "right."
 
Lastly, this book made me think of the unborn.  I think of abortion and the lives lost and the unborn on occasion but it isn't frequently before my eyes and therefore is something easy to forget about.  I go through phases of passionately praying or thinking of the unborn and the topic of abortion but it isn't always as lasting and consistent as I would like.  This book renewed my desire to pray (and see the importance of it).  Will you pray? Right now? This week? And continue?  Pray for both sides of the fence, for the unborn victims in it and for eyes to be opened? 
 
I encourage you to check this book out for yourself - whichever "side" you might find yourself on - and challenge yourself to a new perspective and a renewed vision.  This book is sure to draw you in, change you and challenge you!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just wow.

I ask the Lord to do things but I am still surprised when He answers my prayers.  I trust 100% that the Lord will bring in the funds we need for this adoption.  How do I know this? Because He has to.  We feel He is calling us to adopt and if indeed He is calling us to this, we know He will have to provide for it simply because we know we can't. It is a humbling and really cool place to be when you are asked to do something and you are absolutely unable to do it on your own.  The cost of this adoption is several times more than our annual income so if the child is to come home to us any time in the near future it will only be because of God's provision. And once again, He has provided in a way that I can't NOT share with you!

Our next step in the adoption process is to submit our dossier.  We have it together but did not realize that we needed an additional $2400 to be able to submit it (processing and translation fees - the entire huge file has to be translated, what a process!).  We knew we would have to pay this fee at some point but did not realize it was NOW.  This was discouraging because it felt daunting to come up with these funds and it meant delaying our dossier further, which was disappointing.

We were encouraged recently by an unexpected check that arrived at our parent's house for our adoption....it was recently deposited in our adoption account and was a generous start but where was the rest going to come from?

So this past week, I resolved to pray about it (why do we so often wait to come to the Lord?! If only we would learn...!!).  I prayed this week that the Lord would place it on people's hearts to donate. I prayed that He would unexpectedly bless people financially this week and that out of that abundance they would choose to bless our adoption fund.  We prayed and we began some fundraising plans.

This Sunday at Church some friends handed us an envelope and told us it was for our adoption.

Sundays are very busy days and we had to wait until much later that day to have a chance to open their gift.  Of course it shouldn't have surprised us as much as it did that it was a very generous check. We were completely blown away and brought to tears over this generosity and answered prayer. 

In bed last night I was thinking a lot about this....and then I had another thought.

For almost a year we have been stashing away "random" money in our adoption folder (the huge binder with all of our adoption paperwork, letters from people who have donated etc).  If we were given an unexpected gift or had earned a little extra money babysitting, money someone had gifted us or had sold something we didn't need any more, we had been sticking it in a ziplock bag for our adoption....we had intentionally tried not to keep track of this extra money, waiting for "just the right time" to add it up and use it towards our adoption.  Of course this was just that time!



And I am sure you have guessed by now that when I added those "random" gifts and "extra" income up, together with the two recent donations we received, we have the $2400 we need for our dossier sitting on our living room couch.

That's right.  Hello Dossier Submission!

We have all the funds we need to submit our dossier this week.

Wow.

Just wow.

The Lord once again has provided for the next step in this adoption process.  Stay tuned for more stories of Him bringing in the needed funds.  It is an exciting thing to watch happen!

If you would like to be a part of this story and what the Lord is doing in our family and in the life of this soon-to-be-Houser, please check out our donation page here!

Thank you to all who have donated and those who have set up recurring donations and those who will donate again and those who are yet to donate.  We pray often for you, we pray the Lord pours blessings on your head for the ways in which you have blessed us. We pray the Lord provides for your needs and that in your abundance you will help us bring our baby home.  We thank Him for the many ways He is at work and for His provision.  Thank you for joining us on this adventure.

To Be Continued....!

The Waiting Child

A Book Review!
 
The Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of one Orphan Saved the Life of Another
By Cindy Champnella
 
 
 
 
I have had a stack of books I have been trying to read through recently but when a friend leant me her copy of "The Waiting Child" by Cindy Campnella, I just couldn't resist.  I dug in last Monday and couldn't put it down all week!  I finished it Friday and thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in its pages, being swept up in this beautiful story of love, determination and adoption, and rekindling that "I-can't-put-this-down" feeling.
 
The story follows the adoption of a 4 year old girl from an institution in China.  It is her adoptive mom's perspective of the adoption, her daughter's journey and the story that began to unfold as her daughter learned English and started sharing pieces of her past.
 
It quickly unfolded that she left behind "her baby" in the orphanage:  a younger child she had taken under her wing and (at only 4 years old!) assumed the responsibility of "mother" for.  She was distraught to be separated from "her baby" and insisted repeatedly that her adoptive family must do something to help him. 
 
One thing I really appreciated about this story and Cindy's perspective is her openness of both the hardships and joys in adoption.  It is easy to gloss over many of the difficulties that come from adoption but she doesn't shy away from the harsh realities.  However, neither does she see them as deterrents to adoption.  She has a very balanced and healthy view (in my opinion) of adoption not being easy but being *so* worth it despite the difficulties.
 
I also really appreciated her view of what adoption must be like for the orphan.  Can you imagine having someone who looks completely different than you show up and take you away?  Or what it must be like to be called upon to trust a total stranger and have no say in the matter?  Or as a young child what getting on an airplane and traveling to a completely new country, becoming the minority, taking on a new culture and plunging into a language you have never heard must be like?  As a potential adoptive mom, it feels natural to focus on all your feelings of excitement and joy and welcoming a new family member into your family....But so important to realize the fear, strangeness and terror that might be involved for the child.  All those things, as well as all that goes in to that child learning to be safe with you and learning to trust you.  That is a lot for a baby or young child to take in, whether they are fully aware of it all or not!
 
The final big "take away" I took from it was the beautiful way Cindy (the author and adoptive mom) helped her daughter walk through the painful parts of her story - most prominently the abandonment of her birth mom.  I felt Cindy's approach to helping her daughter come to love her birth mom - her "China mom" as she came to call her....(in addition to her love for her adoptive mom) was a helpful approach.  At first, Jacklyn (the daughter) felt a lot of bitterness and negative feelings towards her birth mom.  Rightfully so, she felt abandoned and she felt abused by her birth mom (sharing examples of not having food to eat and being starving).  But with Cindy's help, she began to see that it was okay to have love for both her moms (in different ways and depths) and come to realize that perhaps her birth mom was doing the best she could (perhaps her birth mom did not have any food and was also starving, not intentionally starving her child) and was trying to make the best choices she could for her daughter. 
 
If you have ties to adoption or not, this book was a beautiful read.  It portrayed a depth of fierce love and also the realities of orphans around the world.  I enjoyed the read and wanted to pass along a recommendation I recently enjoyed. 
 
 What have you been reading recently?