Breakfast With Santa Adoption Fundraiser

BREAKFAST-SANTASeem a little early to be thinking about Christmas? It’s not, I promise!

The holidays offer some great adoption fundraiser ideas and I especially love this one from the Teply family. They added Santa to their pancake breakfast fundraiser!

A pancake breakfast fundraiser is a great idea in itself. Families have made several thousand dollars with this idea (like the Burden family). But give a mom a chance to get her kids pictures with Santa WITHOUT going to the mall and you have hit the jackpot!! No mom wants to stand in line for an hour (or more) for the over-priced photo in which their child may or may not look totally terrified of the strange man in the beard.

The Teply’s had a great crew of friends helping them out with their fundraiser which was held at their church. They charged a per plate price of $7 for adults and $3 for kids for pancakes, sausage and a drink and then had a yummy looking topping bar!

Pictures with Santa were offered for a donation and did not require a breakfast purchase. The Teply’s asked friends and family and eventually found their Santa who generously donated his services for free. (They thanked him with a restaurant gift card.) If you’ve got someone who looks the part you could also rent a Santa Suit through a costume shop.

Someone with some good basic photography skills and a good point and shoot camera is fine for the pictures. They let people choose if they wanted to pick up printed pictures the next week at church or have the photos emailed to them. Most people chose to have the photo emailed.

They advertised the even in the local paper and on the back of their church bulletin. They also left flyers at local churches (great if you can get the flyers to the youth minister to give to parents). Jennifer also left half-sheet flyers at the restaurants that donated items and pinned flyers up on bulletin boards at the supermarkets. And of course, an event was created on Facebook. She suggested trying to distribute flyers at schools and daycare centers as well.

Around 75 people attended and the Teply’s made $1,722 with their fundraiser!! You can see some photos and read more about it on the Teply’s blog.

 

My beauty product splurge – 3D Fiber Lashes

I don’t review a lot of products on this blog, and I certainly don’t review beauty products regularly, but today that’s what you’re getting. So if you’re one of my male readers feel free to move on to the next blog post of the day now :-)

A few weeks before we moved my friend Jen was over for a late night editing session and she asked me if I had ever heard of 3D Mascara. She proceeded to fill me in on this weird sounding stuff where you put green tea fibers on your eyelashes. Say what?

Anyways, fast forward a couple months and someone invited me to an online party with Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes. It’s an all-natural two step mascara product. I realized this was the same stuff Jen was talking about and as people started posting before and after pictures, I was intrigued.

See I love the idea of a “dramatic eye.” When I realized that usually that involved fake eye lashes I even went out and bought some to try it. Um, yeah, I am ALL FINGERS when it comes to putting on fake eyelashes. Ain’t nobody got time for that!!

But obviously the 3D Lashes are more expensive ($30) than my cheap Maybelline stuff ($8). So I wanted to know it was going to live up to the hype. I watched a bunch or YouTube reviews (including this slightly loud and annoying one) which convince me to give it a try. After all there is a “You Love It Guarantee” w/ a full refund.

The first time I applied the 3D Lashes I made the mistake of trying to get the fibers on the entire length of my lashes. I felt like I had scooped the pocket lint out of my son’s jeans and rubbed it on my eyes. I went back and watched an application video and realized it was better to apply the natural fibers to the last half of the top lashes. That made ALL the difference.

The effect is dramatic, that’s for sure (see my before and afters below). But still, I’m a cheapskate. So I thought I’ll wear it once in a while. Well truth be told once I used the 3D Lashes a few times I was hooked. When I just put on my regular mascara I felt like I wasn’t wearing any at all.

If you’re interested in checking it out, I’m hosting a virtual Younique party through my friend Erica Shubin and you can check it out here. The lashes are hypo-allergenic, water resistant and wash off with soap and water.  (Plus don’t forget the 14-day money back guarantee.)

3DFiberLashes

If you want to see some more before and after shots, you can also visit my FB party page here.

And here’s a close up for ya!

2014-09-12 08.58.26

The Whole World Wants a Job

WantJob

Gallup has just published early findings from their “World Poll.”  They are literally conducting a ten-year poll of what the entire world is thinking (160 countries). Here’s a snippet from their main discovery:

“What the whole world wants is a good job. That is one of the single biggest discoveries Gallup has ever made. It is as simple and as straightforward an explanation of the data as we can give. If you and I were walking down the street in Khartoum, Tehran, Berlin, Lima, Los Angeles, Baghdad, Kolkata, or Istanbul, we would discover that on most days the single most dominant thought carried around in the heads of most people you and I see is, “I want a good job.” It is the new current state of mind, and it establishes our relationship with our city, our country, and the whole world around us.

It’s the same with the 3 billion people who live on $2 a day or less — the hungry half of the world’s population. What they’re thinking is very different from what most government agencies and NGOs understand and report. While we’re rushing them food and medicine, most of them feel the only real solution is jobs.”

You know I’m passionate about adoption, but I’m even more passionate about orphan prevention.  I believe the single biggest thing that can be done to prevent orphans is job creation! (Click to Tweet This.) That’s why I’ve been so passionate about The Adventure Project (TAP) since the very beginning. They are all about job creation – helping others step out of poverty with dignity, not handouts.

This weekend TAP launched a new project where you get the opportunity to tell one person #YoureHired.

When you give $30 per month for one year, your monthly donation provides one person with essential skills: job training, education, financial budgeting. After one year, that person will be thriving, and that family will be self-sustained.

We’re looking for 500 Angel Investors who will step up and say #YoureHired to either a farmer in Kenya or a health care agent in Uganda.

Will you join me? Go to http://www.theadventureproject.org/hire/

10457808_10152446122958311_7710337762583832525_n

What’s new in the new version of “Adopt Without Debt”

NewBook080814PinNow that the new book is listed on Amazon I’ve had a few people ask me what the difference is between the two books. So here’s the low down…

  • The first book was self-published in May 2011 and was approximately 25,000 words (152 pages)
  • The first book is out of print and only available from used book sellers who are charging an exorbitant amount of money. Please don’t go into debt to buy the book :-)
  • The first book told our story and focused only on how to pay for adoption.
  • The new book is being released by a “real” publisher – Abingdon Press. (January 6, 2015)
  • The new book title is slightly different because the old version can never really “go away” from Amazon. It is now titled “You Can Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption”
  • Abingdon wanted the book to be a “all-encompassing” adoption book that someone at the “I’m thinking about adopting” stage could pick up and it would cover A-Z
  • So, the new book is over 65,000 words (approx. 225 pages)
  • It includes 5 new chapters in the beginning that cover the different types of adoption, pros and cons of each, overview of the process and steps of each, etc. There are a couple new chapters in the last half of the book as well.
  • Tons of new fundraising ideas and stories of other families who’ve adopted debt-free.
  • Information on the adoption tax credit.
  • …and lots more.

Transitioning to Life in Small Town America

We’re here.

I haven’t written much since I posted about our impending move 3 months ago because we’ve been busy working, purging, packing, purging some more and dealing with the typical end-of-year craziness.

The boys both graduated 8th grade – Luke as valedictorian.

DSC_0116

The very next day Mark and I headed out to Ark. because I started working in the office the following Monday. It was definitely a much quicker, quieter ride just the two of us – a throwback to our college days. We had basically 24 hours before Mark headed out for Haiti but had time to stop by the rental house for a quick inspection and selfie.

2014-05-25 14.02.00

After Haiti he headed home to wrangle the kids for two more weeks before I flew home in mid June for my parents 50th wedding anniversary party and our family reunion in Payson. In that time he kept purging, packing and getting in last sleepovers and Luke’s 15th birthday party. My hero!

My parent’s party was a great success except for the fact that my mom was once again in the hospital with GI problems (no emergency but still a bummer). But she got released just in time for our family reunion. It was fun to spend several days with my parents, brothers and all my nieces and nephew. We got in some hiking, swimming, fishing and lots of eating.

2014-06-19 11.54.17  DSC_0027 DSC_0154

2014-06-18 09.12.32 DSC_0004

Then it was time for family good-byes as we pulled away. I was fine until I hugged my mom and then I kind of lost it.

But there wasn’t too much time to dwell on it. The next morning we were up bright and early to load the ABF U-Pack trailer. Or rather we were awake to greet the company we hired to load the trailer. (Best decision EVER!). By 3 they were done, the kids were shuttled off to grandparents and we spent the next 4 hours finishing up last minute stuff. Sort of. Thankful for family and friends who stepped up to finish off some stuff for us like painting and hauling away trash.

We took one last selfie in front of the house before Mark and I checked into a nearby hotel so we could pick the dog up from the boarding place in the morning before grabbing the kids and hitting the road.

2014-06-20 20.02.34-1

We had a great last visit with our besties – Dustin & Jen in the hotel lobby before our sad goodbyes. More tears.

The next morning with the dog and kids we hit the road. This was the first time Buddy’s made a road trip with us and he did GREAT! No whining, barking or vomiting so I call that success!

2014-06-21 13.32.39-1

The two day trip concluded on Sunday around dinner time with a humiliating state line photo. The kids were horrified.

Them: “What if someone sees us?”
Us: “No one knows you.”
Them: “They might see and remember us when school starts.”
Me: “Then you can tell them ‘I know, my mom is soooooo lame.’ I can’t believe she made us do that.”
Them: “Really? Okay.”

2014-06-22 16.21.37

After one night on air mattresses the kids were rescued by Aunt Hollie and got to stay with them until all our stuff arrived on Wednesday. Thursday after work a great community helped us unload – our landlord, the university chaplain & his son, one of my co-workers and the husband of another co-worker. That plus my two boys and a nephew and it got done in 90 minutes.

By Thursday we had everyone back under one roof. It looked like a live version of Minecraft inside but at least we had beds and a refrigerator. I’ve never been so happy to see my refrigerator in all my life!

Saturday morning we wandered downtown for the Heritage Festival – small town life. The kids were mildly amused by the shootout. But we got to meet and talk with people. Both Mark and I are loving how you run into people you know everywhere. We even met a woman who was a missionary in Ethiopia for 35 years!

2014-06-28 11.58.34  2014-06-28 11.58.53

We’re still unpacking and getting organized but we can sit at the dining room table, I can cook dinner and the kids have Internet. So we’re all pretty happy!

Next week is company! My friend Brandi and her 3 kids are stopping for one night en route to FL. Then Mark’s parents, his sister and my two cutie-patootie nieces get here!!! Yay for the British invasion!

 

 

Happy 15th!

This kid is 15 today! (Which makes me feel old.) I cannot even begin to tell you how proud I am to have the privilege to be his mom. He is generous, thoughtful, hardworking, self-motivated, smart, funny and just an all around amazing young man. Four more years of watching his sports games will make me completely gray but I LOVE it! Happy Birthday Luke!

Luke

You’re Never Too Old To Need a Mom

Three weeks ago I left for Pittsburgh to see my bestie for a few days before heading to Chicago for the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit. I wasn’t there even 24 hours before my dad called to say they were taking my mom to the hospital because she had a virus and her blood sugars (she’s a brittle Type 1 diabetic) were too high and they couldn’t get them down. He actually left a message as I didn’t hear the phone. It’s SOP in our family that they call me when this happens and I call the brothers who live out of state.

I wasn’t too concerned since this happens frequently when she gets sick and is usually quickly resolved.

A couple of hours later he called me in tears as the medical staff was “swarming her.” That’s not a phone call you ever want to get. He didn’t know what was going on but wanted me to call my brother’s right away. (He didn’t even remember that I was out of town.)

I did, and then waited what seemed like an excruciating 3o minutes for my dad to call back.

In the hours that followed I learned that my mother’s blood sugars skyrocketed into the 700s (normal is 80-120) and she had a heart attack (before arriving or after – we’re not entirely sure). That “swarming” was them actually shocking my mom when she coded. (Thank goodness I didn’t know that at the time!)

BTW, women, please know that symptoms of a heart attack may be different for women then they are for men. You may not experience chest pain, instead you might feel nauseous and sweaty or clammy. Who knows if my mom really had a virus or if those were warning signs of her heart attack.

When things had calmed down a bit I asked my dad if he wanted me to fly home. Of course there’s nothing really I could do there and one of my brother’s quickly volunteered to fly in so that I could continue on to CAFO where I was presenting two breakouts.

I still waffled back and forth in my plans. My mom ended up sedated and on a ventilator and at one point I had my flight home all picked out. But as soon as a heart cath was done and a stent put in the 100% blocked artery, she immediately began to show improvements in her blood sugars and all her other numbers.

Maybe the choice should have been easy. But yet there was a part of me that felt like this was also a very real spiritual battle and that Satan would have loved nothing more than to keep me from going to CAFO and leading the breakout on Post-Adoption Depression. And if you know me, you know how stubborn I am, especially when it comes to Satan.

My dad continued to insist I didn’t need to come home. As one brother left, the other flew in and stayed until the day I was getting home. So I continued on to Chicago.

I was near to tears for much of the two days, not because I felt like she was still in danger but just all those emotions were raw and on the surface. So every worship song made me cry and when Senator Mary Landrieu (talking about getting children into families) said “you never outgrow your need for a parent” I pretty much lost it.

Thankfully my mom came off the vent that same day and when I walked into her hospital room the next morning she woke up at my voice and gave me a groggy smile.

She croaked out the words “I wondered where you were,” and then I lost it all over her shoulder. (That statement is funny now because she doesn’t remember anything prior to the day before I arrived home and even then she only remembers my oldest brother’s voice but thought it was a dream.)

She’s 73, I’m 41. I still need my mom.

Thankful every day that God has chosen to give us more years together.

People always said we looked alike. I never got it until this picture was taken around 1991 when I was 18.

People always said we looked alike. I never got it until this picture was taken around 1991 when I was 18.

Stunner! She looks like a page out of a magazine :-)

Stunner! She looks like a page out of a magazine :-)

P.S. My mom is doing so much better. She was released from the hospital last Monday and is in a rehab facility. Besides regaining her strength she still cannot swallow correctly and so she has nasal feeding tube in. As soon as she can swallow without aspirating they’ll remove that and send her home.

“Rhinestone Jesus” – Saying Yes in Your Mess

I’ve read Kristen Welch’s blog for the last few years but her new book, Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough, is a glimpse into her story beyond what you get on the blog. The story of her faith, her marriage, her family and her passion is encouraging and uplifting. There were many times when I whispered “me too” while reading.

If you’ve ever felt scared to say “yes” to God, you need to read this book. You’ll be encouraged, not because Kristen and her family are perfect, but because you’ll see what God can do when we say “yes” no matter our own mess. (Because we’re all messy.)

In high school, Kristen Welch wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin to school every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. (Yes, she was that girl.) But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow; much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true fit for who she was. As real life catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined, there came a day when she stood shocked in the slums of Africa and realized in one desperate moment that Jesus wasn’t enough for her. At least . . . she wasn’t living like He was. On the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken, Kristen knew she didn’t stand a chance—unless she was willing to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing.

Rhinestone Jesus is the story of one woman’s journey from comfortably living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say yes to a bolder, more authentic, more dangerous way. This story of spiritual adventure throws the doors wide open for any woman who’s ever thought of herself as “just a mom.” Kristen will inspire and empower you to say yes to God right where you are—and stand amazed at how your life will shine.

Order from Amazon (affiliate link)

Adopt Without Debt Book Update

The inventory held out longer than I expected, but it is with a bit of sadness that I announce the last copy of Adopt Without Debt is sold. (Unless you want to buy a used copy from Amazon resellers who have it listed from $99-$517 – sheesh!)

Fortunately, things are progressing with the new book You Can Adopt Without Debt, being released from Abingdon Press in January.

Just last week I heard from the publisher and they are thrilled with the manuscript. That was so encouraging.

Between then and now, what do you do?

If you’d like to be kept informed on the release of the new book, please fill out the form below.

New Book Notification List

* indicates required