April 19, 2012

Goosebumps

I debated for a while whether or not I should write this post.

Not because I didn't want to, but because I'm still trying to figure out what details I'm OK with sharing with the entire online world.

However, I've found that when I read blogs written by others (especially adoption blogs), that it's when they're open and transparent that I can relate with them and learn from their experiences.

And sometimes, God just does something so cool, that it would be a shame not to share it.

When we started the adoption process in November, we had $0 in our adoption fund. We did have a fully funded emergency fund (which we consider about 4-6 months of living expenses) and some money in investments that we could get out if we really needed to, but absolutely nothing allocated toward adoption expenses. Jon was pretty nervous about this, which was a switch for us because usually I'm  the nervous one and he's completely calm and collected. But we both believed the timing was right to begin the process.

We spent several days praying about it and I really felt God was asking us to trust that he would provide. Being a type-A, I-need-everything-planned-out personality, I usually have a very difficult time with taking a giant leap and having faith that that God will take care of the details. But once again, He made it abundantly clear that that was what He wanted. I decided to bring it up to Jon and not-so-surprisingly, he had the same experience.

Earlier that week, he had done a study on 2 Kings 3:9-20. In these verses, four kings and their men have been marching through the wilderness for seven days and have run out of water. They call upon the prophet Elisha to help them. Elisha says "Dig ditches all over this dry stream bed. You will not see any rain or wind, but they will be filled with water." The next morning, water flows in and fills the ditches. And (I love this part) Elisha says in verse 18, "This was an easy thing for the LORD to do."

We had a ditch to fill. God was asking us to trust him to fill it.

We both earn extra income from side-job type things that we do: Jon's photography and my graphic design work. So we decided that all income from those two things would go toward the adoption fund. Little by little, we began adding a few dollars here and a few there to the big envelope on our fridge marked "ADOPTION." A few people gave us gifts to add to the envelope, once in a while we'd have an extra $5 or $10 that we didn't use on normal weekly expenses that would go in as well. Jon's mom and I had a booth at a craft show, and our tax return went in there too. Any free dollar we had went in the envelope.

Last Thursday, we received our completed home study copies. Included with the copies was our invoice for the first set of LARGE bills. This included the home study fees, mileage for the home study visits and adoption fees in the US.

The total amount was $8565.00.

Jon went to our office to work on the budget and total up all that we had in our adoption fund.
He came upstairs smiling. "I have goosebumps" he said.

We had $8575.00

Ditch filled. And an extra $10 for good measure.

Thank you Lord!

When God calls us to do something even though circumstances make it look impossible, what should our reaction be? How can we expect to see God move if we never give him room to act? I imagine the kings men weren't thrilled about digging ditches in the scorching wilderness with no water, but they were obedient to God and did it anyway, trusting him to provide. Obedience comes first and prepares us for what God has in store. God miraculously provided massive amounts of water. And Elisha said "This was an easy thing for God."  If that was easy we definitely should be able to trust him with our measly $8500 bill.

All of you who've let Jon snap pictures of your families, or had me help with a small design project, or just given a little extra, thank you. You were part of the plan. Thank you for letting the Lord work through you.

As you can see, every bit was very important.

April 10, 2012

Home study approved!

Finally.

It took a full three months.

But we now have home study approval!

Three completed copies are on their way to our house. One for our records, one for the dossier, and one for  USCIS.

This is a VERY good thing, because now we can move forward. We'll start by filing the I800-A (USCIS), which is approval from the the US government for us to adopt. We can also start on the dossier paperwork, and the formal application for Bethany's Waiting Child China program.

We also got the bill for the home study. Ouch! It was completely expected, but still, it's the first REALLY big bill we've had to pay since we started the process. Praise the Lord - He is faithful and has provided abundantly for us...this one is covered!

Prayers are appreciated as we move on to the next set of paperwork and continue saving for the next set of expenses.We appreciate everyone's support SO much! Thank you!

April 5, 2012

Quick China update and possible fundraiser

This isn't going to be a very exciting update, but when a lot of people ask the "where are you now?" question when I see them face-to-face, I figure it's time to write about it anyway.

Currently, we're still waiting on our home study completion. It is taking MUCH longer than we thought it would. A couple weeks ago, it was approved at the local office and sent to the China team at the Bethany Global office in Michigan. They had it for about 10 days, then sent it back to the local office for some revisions. I spent some more time answering a few questions and clarifying some things, and I'm assuming that by now the changes have been made and it's been sent back to the China team. We're praying they'll approve it soon so we can get moving onto the next phase.

I also wanted to mention that I'm considering doing a rummage sale fundraiser in late May or early June. So, if you have things laying around the house that you just want to get rid of, but you don't want to mess with doing a rummage sale yourself, I'd love to take them off your hands. If you'd be willing to donate items (clothing, kitchen equipment, furniture, etc.) please let me know and I'll make a note to contact you when I get everything organized. All you'd have to do is drop off your items, I'd take care of everything else, and all the proceeds would go toward our adoption fund.

One last thing; my uber-techy husband convinced me that I need to step into the Twitter world, so if you're the tweeting type, you can find me @outsidethesbbox. Kinda stinks I couldn't fit my whole name on there, but you get the idea, right? Twitter and I are still getting acquainted, but I'm hoping to become proficient soon. :)

April 1, 2012

What is REAL FOOD?

People often ask us some form of this question:
"So, how do you really eat? Are you vegan or grain-free, or what?"

It's a fair question. The best answer I can give, is that we eat "Real Food." Usually the next question is:
"What is real food?"

In the simplest of terms, real food is what your grandma ate (or maybe your great-grandma, if you're more than a few years younger than me!). It's food as God intended, direct from nature, as unprocessed as possible. 

The best of examples of this are foods that haven't changed over the course of history. Things like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, etc. We also include dairy and meat in this group.

It may almost be easier though, to define real food by what it is NOT. 
Real food isn't:
1. Genetically modified
2. Grown with hormones, antibiotics or pesticides
3. Made with artificial colors or flavors
4. Preserved with chemical preservatives

Unfortunately, the modern industrialized food system has found a way to ruin nearly all real food in some way, shape or form. We have fruits and veggies caked with pesticides, farm-raised fish that eat corn, genetically altered corn or soy in 3/4 of the products in the supermarket and ammonia washed beef from cattle kept in such close confines the only way to keep them from dying is by giving them huge doses of antibiotics.

And the average consumer has no idea. We haven't been taught to question where our food comes from.

Michael Pollan sums it up well - "The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000." (What else has changed significantly in the last 50 years (or probably closer to 60 years now)? You guessed it - the health of Americans.)

For us, REAL FOOD is:


Fruits and vegetables grown as organically as possible. This varies by season, but in the summer, we buy local when we can. Otherwise we try to buy organic when the price isn't prohibitive. Some fruits and veggies are significantly higher in pesticide reside than others (apples, celery, etc), so we try to make sure we purchase organic versions of those. (A decent guide can be found HERE)


Meat from animals grown in humane situations and fed what God created them to eat. This includes grass-fed beef, free range poultry, wild-caught fish and fresh game. (Although the game may have eaten genetically modified corn from the field, we've decided this is a relatively small risk for meat raised wildly in nature).


Raw milk. I can't even begin to describe all the benefits of raw milk in contrast to the drawbacks of store-bought milk. That's definitely going to be another post. If we couldn't drink this, we'd go milk-free.


Whole grains, dried fruits and nuts grown without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer.
With these, you can make fabulous concoctions like this:

Homemade granola - my second favorite breakfast food, next only to oatmeal.
We've adapted our "real food" diet to suit our particular situation, as most people do. We aren't as strict about it as some, and probably are more strict than others. We leave room for birthday treats and the occasional pizza delivery when I'm too exhausted to think of something for supper. But for the most part, when we're home, this is how we eat. 

I hope that answers the question.
Next up - "WHY?" :)