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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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!

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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!


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

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The next part of our family journey – we’re moving!

Last Friday I accepted a full-time position at John Brown University (our alma mater) as the staff writer/social media manager.

That means the Gumm clan is moving to NW Arkansas – beautiful Siloam Springs to be exact.

Though I haven’t talked about it much on the blog, for the last 14 months I’ve been working part-time for JBU as a local Phoenix admissions representative. It was a fun 10-hr a week job that allowed me to talk with high school students, parents and guidance counselors about JBU.

And the more I talked about it, the more I remembered how much I loved it there. And each time I’d travel back to  campus I’d fall more in love.

SSThis desert girl is really a small-town Southern girl at heart. Siloam Springs was voted one of the Top 20 Small Towns in America by Smithsonian Magazine. I LOVE it there. It brings me so much joy.

To top it off, we have family in NW Arkansas. Mark’s brother and his wife and 5 kids live there. So does his aunt, uncle, their two grown-boys and their families with another 7 kids.

So for the last 6 months I’ve been stalking the JBU job listings and putting feelers out, including to a classmate of mine who happens to be the director of communications. He called me a few weeks ago to let me know about the position. I applied, they flew me up for an interview last week, and here we are.


I’ll work remotely until school finishes and then we’ll get the family moved in June. The kids handled the news quite well. One out of 3 is excited. The others are more sad right now – the idea of leaving friends behind is hard. I get that. (I was 12 when my parents uprooted us to live in S. Calif. for 18 months.)

We told them it’s not really just about the job. It’s a chance at a different life. A slower pace. A safer environment – one where they can ride their bikes downtown to meet their friends at the coffee shop. Where the whole town turns out for Friday Night Football.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? The college tuition benefit. All four kids will be able to get free tuition at an amazing Christian college.

Lots to do in the next 10 weeks – PURGING, packing, cleaning. It’s a good time to do a serious simplifying.

If you think of it, pray for the kids especially. We want to handle this time with them with patience and understanding.

But look at this….don’t you want to move to this….???

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Ethiopian Jewelry For Sale

ETJewelryWhenever my husband is in Ethiopia (which is several times a year) he tries to stop in the Beza Entoto Women’s Outreach jewelry shop. The pieces are made by women with HIV and are so beautiful. Several fair trade companies resell their pieces and they are always popular.

But my collection has grown so large and I definitely have my favorite pieces. As part of my spring cleaning I decided to purge my beloved collection put some of the pieces up for sale.

Any money made will go into a savings account for a missions trip I’m hoping to take later this year.

The items are all in a Facebook album HERE with instructions on how to lay claim to what you want.

Adoption Fundraiser Spotlight – The Hill Family


We didn’t think that hosting an orphan in our home would change our lives forever. We had no intention of adopting; it wasn’t even on our radar. In fact, my husband said, in no uncertain terms, “We can do this, as long as you promise me we won’t adopt.” And I agreed. Because it was crazy enough to have an almost-teenager–from another country, who was an orphan—stay with our family for four weeks over Christmas. We were willing to commit to short-term crazy, but not to life-changing, forever and ever crazy. Famous last words!

During Christmas 2012, our eyes were opened to the needs of orphans around the world through the ministry of New Horizons for Children. This ministry gives children the chance to experience the love of a family and the love of Jesus for four-five weeks at Christmas and during the summer. Hosting is like a missions trip from the comfort of your own home! We hosted Mariana, a girl from Eastern Europe, in order to make a difference in her life, and we found that ours were the lives that were changed!

When Mariana came, and our family quickly fell in love with her. Our three daughters, Katelyn, Elise, and Alison, easily accepted Mariana into their hearts. And “promise me we won’t adopt” quickly turned into “We can’t send her back.” But we didn’t have a choice—we had to put her back on an airplane, and feel the pain of a piece of our heart go to Eastern Europe. New Horizons for Children does not facilitate adoptions—they are strictly a host-only organization. But once we learned Mariana was cleared for adoption, we signed up with an adoption agency and started our home study.

Funding our adoption has been a journey of faith! A large amount of our adoption costs involves the travel for the three trips required by the Eastern European government and the one-month stay in country that is required for the first trip. Chris has done work on the side as a computer programmer/consultant, and we also pulled money from personal savings. We received two grants right before Christmas, which was a big encouragement. Since September, Lindsay been baking bread every week as an on-going fundraiser.

LHill Shirt5We also sold t-shirts we designed through Fundthenations.com, and it was a blessing to see friends and family all over the country support us by buying a shirt. Partnering with the ApParent project was another amazing blessing: we sold bracelets made from recycled cereal boxes. These unique pieces of jewelry help families in Haiti provide food, shelter, and health care through a sustainable business model. We had a very fun “Christmas Shopping Party” fundraiser at our home in November where seven different direct-sales companies and other businesses were represented. Friends donated their commission for sales made that evening, and we also had businesses who donated 50% of the purchase price towards our adoption! We shared a video of pictures of our time of hosting Mariana and had Christmas cookies, coffee and eggnog. It was a great way to tell others about our heart for adoption, and we were able to raise $1000 from that evening. In January we launched a fun online auction which raised $2000.

Our three on-going fundraisers are through ScriptCharms jewelry, Umweo Bags, and Just Love Coffee. ScriptCharms has unique bracelets and necklaces which can be customized with your favorite Bible verses; the link for our fundraiser is http://www.scriptcharms.com/?Click=13. Umweo Bags helps fund a feeding clinic for severely malnourished children in Zambia, Africa. Their beautiful, handmade bags help parents care for their children while helping our family adopt as well. The link to their online store is http://umweobags.storenvy.com/; enter HillAdoption in the note at checkout for us to get credit! Just Love Coffee was started by an adoptive family who wanted to give something back to their daughter’s home country of Ethiopia while helping other families adopt. The link to our coffee store is https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/miraclesform/

umweo Scriptcharms coffee

Our journey from hosting to adoption can be found at our blog at www.miraclesform.com. We are very excited to bring Mariana into our home forever—no more goodbyes!