Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Project HOPEFUL HOPE+ sisterhood Uganda!

In January 2011, I made my first trip to Uganda.  While there, I was blessed to meet a beautiful mama named  Robina.  She was HIV+ and so was her son  11 year old son Julius.  He was a sweet quiet boy who was often taunted because of his status.  When I said goodbye to him, he put his arm around me and whispered “I love you.”  My heart was so moved by him.  In October 2011, I received news that he had died to AIDS related complications.  I was broken.  

I’d been involved with Project HOPEFUL since 2010 when a chance meeting with the founder, Carolyn Twietmeyer opened my eyes to the truth of orphans living with AIDS.  After learning of Julius’s death, we began to investigate whether we could duplicate their HOPE+ Sisterhood program in Ethiopia that had proven to be a success.

In April 2012, I returned again to Uganda and met a group of HIV+ mamas under the care of True Vine Christian ministries who call themselves maama watumaine which means “Mamas of Hope”.  After discussions with Project HOPEFUL, it was decided that we would launch the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda.

I met about 14 women on that trip and one of them was Ida.  She was so full of joy, LOVED Jesus and her smile was as bright as the sun.  Just a few weeks ago, Ida died from AIDS related complications.  Sadly, Ida was a widow and a mama so now her daughter is an orphan.  It became aware that the time was NOW to get this program started.  So, I will be returning to Uganda in January to get this program up and running. 

But, we need your help!

The first need is travel.   This is a great time of year to travel and tickets are fairly low so approximately $1300 is needed for this trip.


Second, we will need sisters for these women.  What does that look like?  Although it could be compared to a "child sponsorship"'s much more than that.  You are "sisters" with these women.  Your monthly donation allows her access to meds and proper nutrition as well as the opportunity to start her own business so she can become self sufficient.  Uganda is nutrient rich country where you can grow anything and many of these women would love to have their own produce to sell.  Some of them do crafts and some of them would like to raise animals to sell.  You can be a part of all of this!  Once you become sisters, you will receive photos of them as well as their bio.  You will have the opportunity to write them letters (via email) and offer them your prayers and encouragement.

And here is the really cool part…..when you make a commitment to be a sister, you will be offered the first opportunity to travel to Uganda on the Project HOPEFUL HOPE+ sisterhood trip and meet your sister!!!

Interested?  Please email me at

We have been beautiful blessed by the gift of adoption, however, adoption is not the answer to the orphan crisis.  It's just a part of it.  I believe the bigger answer is family preservation.  Help Project HOPEFUL bring real change to these beautiful women in Uganda.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guess what, Mom?!?!?

On Saturday, while I was recovering in the hospital (not at all a planned stay), Trent & his Daddy were very busy re-organizing his room to prepare for the arrival of his brother.  Trent helped his Dad put his brothers bed together, cleaned out his nightstand so they would each have a drawer and painted letters for the wall.  Trent has his name (in bright red) up on the wall so naturally, brother needed his up bright blue.

Today, Trent came running up to me and said "Mama, come here....quick."  I went into his room and the letters were neatly stacked on J's bed.  He said "guess what, Mom?".  At first I thought something was wrong and I asked "oh no....are they stuck together?"  He said "nope"....and one by one lined up the letters spelling out his brothers name.  Then he looked at me with the biggest smile ever and said "We're adopting!".

Yes, we are Trent....yes we are.  Oh how I love my boy.  Trent is going to be an amazing big brother.  In a lot of ways, I believe God started preparing his little heart for this long, long ago.  When Trent was 2 1/2, his best cousin in the whole wide world came to live with us.  Alex was just 1 month older than Trent and they did everything together....shared a room, played in the tree fort, ran around in the underwear with their swords tucked in the back, went name it...they did it..  Alex lived with us for 3 years.  Trent has missed having another boy around so much.

I don't know what the road ahead will look like.  I imagine there will be bumps, detours & road blocks.  But right now, the only thing we do know is that there is a road and God has called us to travel it.  So we continue to walk in excitement, anticipation, obedience......and just a little bit of fear.

One week from tomorrow we will be on our way.  As mentioned we are still a bit short.  There is no emergency with our story.  No immediate medical need.  Just an honest to goodness lack of knowledge of all the extra expenses that come along with adoption.  If you feel led to give, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our Project HOPEFUL Fig fund using the link in the upper right.  But please....most importantly....would you pray for our journey?

God's got this.  We know He does. 

To God be the glory.....always!

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's the final countdown.......

In just 9 days, our family will be boarding a plane and heading to Uganda to get our boy.  Our son.  Our brother.  The newest Patterson to join this crazy bunch. This is our biggest, most amazing Patterson family adventure yet!!   We are so incredibly excited.  We are also incredibly tired.  The spiritual battles we have faced in the past month are nothing like I've ever experienced.  But God has been so incredibly faithful and I know He has carried us every step of the way.  I think Anita Renfro could write one heck of a song about our life this past month. (Just in case you don't know who Anita Renfro's one of her videos.  She's a hoot! )

 Here's the breakdown:

Head lice (have you seen the head of hair Loralee has?  I shall say no more)
Nose bleeds
Broken attic fans
Oral surgery for a 5 year old to the tune of 4k
CT Scans
Female issues (really....nobody likes to talk about this stuff) which resulted in complications, out of control pain and an unexpected hospital stay

But in some crazy, unexplainable, 'only God could do this' way....there has been a peace through it all.  I'm so very thankful for the grace and compassion our Lord gives us daily.

The praises have been huge as well!  Miraculously getting our court date just days before court was scheduled to close.  Having our dear, dear friend from Uganda be able to stay in our home.  Being part of a fundraiser to build a childrens medical clinic in Mukono, Uganda where in just 2 weekends, almost $40,000 was raised!  News that they will actually break ground while we are in Uganda!!!  How awesome is our God??  So, so awesome.

I am happy to say that our bags are literally packed.  Our living room has become "packing central".  We are ready.  There is just one thing left to do.  Ask for your help.  We haven't done much online fundraising.  God has blessed us tremendously through jewelry sales and an awesome fundraiser hosted by dear friends....but we are a little short.  We had been told to expect an April/May court date.  We got a July 3rd court date.  We are sooooooooooooooo thankful that we are traveling this summer, but the cost of tickets is just so much more expensive in July.  We are still hoping to raise another $3000....enough for our boy's ticket home, in country expenses and food/supply donations for his orphanage.  I'd love to say I have the coolest prizes ever.  I don't.  I simply don't have time to pull it all together.  Now.....I always manage to have a few tricks up my sleeve so you never know what I will come up with.  :o)

You can make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation through Project HOPEFUL to our Fig Fund by using the button below:

Would you please prayerfully consider making a donation and sharing our request? We know that the Lord will provide to bring our boy home. 

Thank you for all your love, support and prayers.  We couldn't have taken this journey without you.

To God be the glory.....ALWAYS!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just a little update :oD

6:58 am I get an email from our agency gal saying "I don't know what time you guys get up, but call me as soon as you do."  You can imagine how hard my heart was racing.  I said "honey, I just got an email from Salem and we need to call her right now".  We felt like we couldn't breathe.  And then we heard the words we have been longing to hear "I got your court date this morning!"

Praise God!  We jumped up and down.  We cried.  We prayed.  We hugged.  We kept thanking God over and over.  Trent shouted "Ha!  take that satan!"  We are rejoicing.

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  Matthew 8:26

See, Ugandan courts close from July 15th to August 15th.  I shamefully admit that I had given up hope that we would be bringing him home this summer.  I knew when other families had filed and I knew when their court dates were.  I could do the math and the numbers weren't adding up.  At least in my time.  But God's time is not my time.  His timing is always perfect.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  Mark 11:24

Oh, I have so much to learn about my God.  So much to learn about His faithfulness.  His love.  His compassion.  So much to learn about how I can trust Him with EVERYTHING......including our beautiful Ugandan son.

I won't be sharing too many details via public blog however we will be doing either email updates or a private blog.  If you would like to receive updates, please shoot an email to and I will add you to the list.

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers.  We need you.

To God be the glory......ALWAYS!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adoption IS for wimps

I can't tell you how many times I've read "Adoption isn't for wimps".....or "Adoption isn't for sissies".  I'm going to argue that sentiment.  Not in a "those people don't know what they are talking about" or in an attempt to insult or offend anyone....but because I am a wimp.  Yup.  Total and complete sissy.  I will avoid pain at all costs.  Well, except for the one time I actually chose a drug free natural childbirth....but that is post for another day ;o).  But I do.  I avoid pain.  I avoid hurt.  I avoid confrontation.  I won't even watch chick flicks because I don't want to cry.  I have avoided sharing a lot of our adoption journey because skin just isn't thick enough for anyone's criticism. 

But, here I am.  And I know it's exactly what God has called us to.  Why do I think adoption is for wimps and/or sissies like myself.....because God continually draws us closer to Him through this process.  God has shown me exactly who is in control and it certainly isn't me.  God doesn't choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

One of my biggest fears regarding adoption was hearing our child say "you aren't my REAL mother" or "I don't want to be part of this family".  I just didn't think my heart could handle that.  I laugh at those fears now.  Not because I've conquered those fears, but because I think God has a really interesting sense of humor.  A few weeks ago, Loralee was mad.  And I mean really mad.  She did something funny....well, it was funny to us....but apparently she wasn't trying to be funny and she was fuming mad at us.  She went into her room for a few minutes and came back out very serious.  She said "I have something to say and you need to listen because I won't be here very long".  We said "Ok Loralee, but where are you going?"  She said "well, I am leaving to find a new family and I won't be here long and you need to know that and my new family will know when I am not funny and when I am funny."  And she was serious.  For about 30 seconds until we scooped her up, loved on her, apologized that we didn't understand and told her how broken hearted we'd be if she left our family.  But after it all transpired, I was reminded of my fear.  I know those moments will come.  And I know I'll be ok.  Because I know my God will scoop me up and love me....just like we did for Loralee.

So, while I don't think adoption is for everyone, I definitely think it's for wimps.  There's a saying...."God never gives us more than we can handle".  But, I saw it written differently one time and I like it so much better.  It said "God never gives us more than He can handle".  Amen to that.

And since I am actually taking a moment to blog.....I will offer a quick update on where we are at.  I can't go into a lot of details online but there has been a delay in our case.  Nothing serious or bad....just a delay.  We did receive a small update that we might get news of our court date next week so we are praying without ceasing.  Our boys health is definitely improving after his recent illness which we praise God for.  We must be close to receive a court date though because the spiritual battles are in full force.  It's been a very difficult time in the Patterson household as we have had some crazy health issues around here so we covet your prayers.

Clinging to Him,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Creative chaos.....

One of the ways I feel closest to my Creator is when I am creating.  Really creating.  Not when I am stamping or filling orders....but when I have a blank pallet in front of me.  Or in the case of this morning....this:

Crazy right?  This is a box that I just throw all my miscellaneous beads in.  I always say I'll get them sorted and put away....but I never do.  And the box just grows.  I think this picture is probably a really good representation of my brain.  Ha!

But when the world see that, God shows me this:

I made this set from the beads in that box.  One by one, I picked those beads out of the box and literally got giddy with each one.  I think the reason I feel God so much when I create is because I know He is guiding me...guiding my hands....showing me what He wants me to see.  I also have a very difficult time with being "still".  But when I'm creating....I'm still.  And I hear Him.  And I listen so much better.

I am so thankful for this gift He has given me and how it continues to draw me closer to Him.

He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen.......  Exodus 35:35

To God be the glory.....always,

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A different kind of 5 am.....

I have a confession to make.  When I wake up in the morning at 5 I am heading to the coffee....I always take a sneak peek at my phone.  You never know what kind of amazing things happen when you are sleeping, right?  Reality check....I'm addicted to technology.  But that is not what this post is about.  This morning, still in the middle of my
"5 am getting my coffee fog" I got an email saying something to the likes of:

YOUR ADOPTION HAS BEEN PAID FOR!!! read that right.  How amazing is our God?????  We are COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY.  I'm at a loss for words.  Well....not really....I've always got words but most of the time they just don't make sense :o)

Throughout this adoption, I have constantly been reminded of Malachi 3:10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Test me in this.  And I can honestly say that both John and I had that mentality towards fundraising for our adoption....but not necessarily in a positive way.  When we began pursuing adoption, everyone in the adoption community kept telling us "don't worry about the money.....God will bring it".  We doubted....but we still trusted.  But God showed up and showed off right out the gate.

God has continually brought His Word to life in this adoption.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? - Matthew 6:26

God loves our boy more than we ever could.  He values him more than we ever could.  And God IS BRINGING OUR BOY a way that we never could.

I wish I could find the words to express exactly how grateful we are for the generous hearts that have given toward our adoption.  I just want to hug every single one of you so to the point where you could feel my gratitude through osmosis....ya know?  :o)  We just feel so unbelievably blessed!!!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the  community of the Body of the people who are bringing our boy home.  Thank you.

And to the DYNAMIC DUO who sealed the deal and closed the know who you completely. rock.  THANK YOU for listening to the Lord's leading and for using what He has blessed you with to bless our family.  Praying that God fills your heart with an immeasurable amount of joy..........

To God be the Glory.......ALWAYS!!!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The day our hearts broke.....

One of the purposes of my trip was to understand the needs for a medical clinic in Mukono, Uganda.  Access to medical care is limited, at best.  And sadly, it's something that many families can't afford.  As much as I "thought" my heart was prepared to visit the pediatric unit of a government run healthy wasn't. 

As we approached the facility, it didn't feel like I was approaching a "hospital" at all.  In fact, it reminded me of several schools I had visited in Ethiopia.
It wasn't until we approached the "pediatric" building that I got a healthy dose of reality.   This little guy was outside the building with his mama and he wasn't happy or healthy.  The family that I went to the facility with knew this young mama and there was a lot of discussion happening in Luganda.  We didn't know what was happening but I saw the Pastor just shaking his head.  This little guy had malaria.  I have limited knowledge of malaria but have been told that when it gets to the level of needing IV's pretty bad.  Some say that malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa.

This little guy was in the middle of being treated and the facility "just decided" they wanted more money from the mother.  Yes.  They can do that.  If you don't have cash in don't get treatment.  If you run out of could be taken off treatment.  This little guy was taken off treatment because Mama didn't have 2000 shillings.  About 75 cents.  Needless to say, Mama was given the money she needed to complete the treatment her boy so desperately needed.

Then we went inside.  Even now, as I type, I feel my heart aching.  I saw 2 mamas, with 2 children fighting for their lives.  One was receiving IV treatment for malaria and the other was receiving treatment and a blood transfusion.  These children were completely lifeless and their mamas faces showed complete despair.  I broke.  I cried.  I prayed.  And I just loved on the mamas.  That was all I could do.  

Then I saw something I REALLY wasn't prepared for.  One of the strongest women I've ever met, a Ugandan mama & grandma broke down in tears.  It was too much.....even for her.   As broken as my heart was, everything I saw that day was exactly what I needed to fuel me for the next season God has called me help raise funds to build a HIV/childrens clinic in Mukono, Uganda. 
I will be sharing more information soon about how you can be a part of changing the lives of children in Uganda.

To God be the glory....always!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Favorable determination.....

Yesterday was my birthday.  Since we have so much going on and John was performing a wedding, we didn't make any plans.  And I was really ok with that.  I mean....I'm leaving for Africa on Monday....that is the most amazing gift ever.  I was good.

So, I spent the day hoping to raise funds for my friend Meghan's adoption and shopping with my pre-teen for shorts.  Have you shopped for shorts lately?  Oh my word.  Can you say "Daisy Dukes?"  And my daughter is in this interesting stage of "too big for the kids section" and "too small for the adults section".  So juniors it is and conservative does not appear to be a choice these days.

Ok...moving on :o)  Mandy & I were in Burlington coat factory where you can actually find suitable shorts for preteen girls.  Yay!  My hubby calls me and says "did you get my text?"  I check my text.  He says "ok, let me send it again".  Nothing.  So he says he'll send it through email.  I wait.  And wait.


Thank you Father in Heaven!

So, right there in Burlington coat factory....I screamed.  I cried.  I panicked.  I cried some more.  And I succeeded in embarassing the heck out of my girl :o)

Here's the funny thing.  John and I are not "wait-ers".  If we even get a hint of God's whisper, we act.  Not always a good thing.  Probably why we had to wait 2.5 years for our home to sell.  Well, in our attempt to learn discipline, when we got our fingerprint appointment...we chose to wait.  See, when you get your letter, you can pretty much go that day....even if your appointment is weeks out.  We didn't.  We trusted that God had given us that date so we chose to just wait it out.

That date was Monday, March 19th.  It took just 5 days to get our I-171H.  5 DAYS!  I've read blog after blog after blog and I have never heard of "first timers" getting theirs in 5 days.  I've seen 3 weeks up to 20 weeks.

Our dossier is in Uganda.  A copy of our I-171H is the last thing our attorney needs to file for court.

We are close.  SO. VERY. CLOSE.

I am also VERY EXCITED to share that our boy has a Project HOPEFUL Fig (Families in the Gap) Fund!  This means that you can make a donation to his adoption AND it's completely tax deductible!  Clicking on the link below will allow you to donate directly to his fund.

We can't thank you enough for your ongoing support and generosity.  We covet your prayers as we continue on this journey.

To God be the Glory.....ALWAYS!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The latest.....

There are lots of exciting things going on in the Patterson household and I wanted to take time to share with you some updates!

1 week from today, I will be headed back to Uganda.  Oh, how I wish it was to get our sweet boy but not quite yet.  This trip is very much a "business" trip with 2 distinct purposes.  You've probably seen me post on facebook the jewelry from the Women of Destiny.  The Women of Destiny are part of a ministry in Mukono, Uganda under True Vine Christian Ministries.  True Vine was started in 1999 by Stephen Kibriango and his wife Jesca.  When it began, it was just 9 of them being an HIV+ widow.  When she passed, she left her children to Pastor Kibriango and his wife.  A ministry was born.  Fast forward 13 years and True Vine has grown tremendously.  They now operate Victor Christian school in Mukono which is home to 1100 students. Through this program,  the ministry has relocated children from Northen Uganda and brought them to the  School and home. The ministry meets their educational needs as well as clothing and feeding. During holidays, the children do not go back to Gulu but they stay with foster parents who support them and love them. Since these children have been emotionally hurt due the LRA atrocities, the ministry has social workers who counsel them and pray with them. These children also have a myriad of medical needs and the ministry has a small clinic with one nurse to treat the children. The ministry intends to support some more 100 children from northern Uganda. There is an immediate need of a medical centre that will serve and meet the many medical needs of the Northern Uganda Children that will be supported through this program in future.

This is where part 1 of my trip comes in.  Mukono district is home to approximately 500,000 people with only 1 government funded health center which is not adequately staffed.  True Vine is currently working to build a children's clinic in Mukono that will provide an emphasis on HIV, malaria and other common childhood illnesses.  I will be meeting with church leadership and visiting the land where the clinic is to be built to see how best we could partner with their ministry.

True Vine is partnered with an organization right here in the states called Childrens Heritage Foundation.  They are a licensed 501c3 so all donations are tax deductible.  100% of the donations go to the intended purpose.  I KNOW THIS FIRST HAND.  I have sent thousands of dollars to the Women of Destiny through jewelry sales and when I visit, the women have a detailed account of the funds they've received and it's to the penny!  I encourage you to visit the website and prayerfully consider making a contribution to this amazing ministry.  When I return, I will have much more information to share!  In the mean time, if you would like to read more about the work True Vine has done, please visit this page.

Part 2.  This is where I get downright giddy.  Collaborating with Noonday Collection!  I LOVE to design, I DO NOT love to reproduce....LOL.  This is why Noonday has been such a tremendous blessing to me.  I can not wait to be with this amazing group of artisans again and be able to pour into them.  I'm infinitely grateful to Jessica (the founder) for giving me this opportunity.  It has been such a gift to grow in our friendship as we work together, pray together and dream together.  Lord willing, I will be guest blogging for Noonday about my time with the artisans....provided the Internet cooperates :o)

As I type out the above, I sit here in disbelief.   I will never comprehend the adventure God has allowed me to experience.  I feel unworthy, incompetent, completely unqualified and ridiculously blessed...all at the same time.   But I believe this is what He has called me to.  For this time.  And when this time ends, I'm sure I will cry and struggle and grieve and wrestle with God and beg Him to let me continue.  But we will cross that bridge when it comes.   Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do".   I'm believing God.  And when satan creeps in....and he does....a lot, I have to continually remind myself of Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".   And Jesus gives me the strength to just keep pressing on.

To God be the Glory.......always,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

...for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Matthew 19:14.  Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  I have been so humbled by the children God has placed in my path.  Oh, to have the faith of these little creatures.  They give so generously, follow Jesus with no inhibition and love with every thing they have.

Oh, to be like the children.

I want to share with you about another very special young friend God has placed in my life.  Her name is Ella and she is 7.  Her sweet mama is an awesome customer & friend of Funky Fish.  When she placed an order a few months back for a Project HOPEFUL necklace, Ella got so excited because she thought it was hers.  She had told her Mom that she wanted some Funky Fish jewelry for her birthday.  Reason #1 I fell in love with this kid ;o)   Seriously....could she be any cute?

A few months later, I get a message from her Mom asking if I could send some Funky Fish business cards.  Ella's heart had been broken for the orphans of the world and she thought if she told people about Funky Fish (specifically the Tesfa jewelry collection) then she could help.  I assured Mama that I would.

Time escaped me and when I remembered that I hadn't sent the cards, my heart sank.  So I prepared a package for Ella with business cards and several Tesfa bracelets.  I had no idea what would happen and it wasn't about the money.  It was about encouraging a little girl to follow her passion to care for the orphans.

Her Mama messaged me and said that their church was giving Ella the opportunity to share about Funky Fish & the Tesfa jewelry.  Here are the messages I received after Ella had her opportunity to share with her church:

I just wanted to let you know that Ella told our church about Funky Fish and the Tesfa Collection today...she sold all of the bracelets after the first of two services! Many more people stopped and took a card from her and were interested in buying from you online...I hope that they really do!  Thanks again for letting her help!

Our pastors LOVED the idea of Ella promoting the Tesfa collection (and Funky Fish in general) and were wondering if you'd be willing to send Ella jewelry again next month.  I asked Ella if that's something that she would like to do since they brought it up to me and my husband and she said that she would love to and that she had so much fun today.

I really can't put into words what my heart felt when I read that.

The Tesfa jewelry collection supports Hope in Ethiopia....a partnership between our church, Grace Covenant in Austin, Food for the Hungry and 12 Evangelical churches in Zeway, Ethiopia. 

Community Transformation through Orphan Care.  That is what Hope in Ethiopia is about.  One little village in Zeway, Ethiopia is transforming communities in Arizona...and wherever the Lord leads.

Thank you sweet Ella for your gift of compassion.  God is going to use you in big, big ways.  In fact, He already has.  Thank you for being such a beautiful example to all the "grown-ups" out there.

To learn more about any of the ministries mentioned, please click on the links below.

Tesfa jewelry
Hope in Ethiopia
Food for the Hungry
Grace Covenant Church

To God be the Glory.....always,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Humbled.......again ♥

Today I was brought to a messy puddle of tears by this:'s a ziploc bag with money....but it's the story that impacted me so.  It's a beautiful example of the Body of Christ coming together to bring one boy home to his forever home.

To say my church family has been supportive of our adoption is an understatement.  But today, a member of my church family knocked my socks off....and she's only 11.  She's the daughter of dear friends of ours and she decided that for her birthday party...instead of presents...she wanted her friends to bring donations "To bring him home".  Today she gave me this.  I just cried.  I hugged her.  I thanked her.  And I am pretty sure she's convinced I'm just plain nuts.  Ok, she's probably on to something there.  But wow.  Just wow.

God ALWAYS shows up just when you need Him the most.  Satan hates adoption.  I think I always knew that, but I'm sure I never felt it until we began our journey.  His attacks are relentless.  Just this morning, I was snuggling with my husband and I was having a very, hard morning.  He encouraged me.  He prayed over me and in the kindest way possible, he basically said "c'mon baby, put on your big girl panties and let's go worship our MIGHTY KING, our SAVIOR, OUR LORD and give Him our BEST because HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US. 

Ok...pity party was over and I got ready for church.  Amazing....AMAZING...worship where I was brought to tears.  (Do you sense a running theme here?).  Our worship pastor has such a gift of leading us.  Then came an awesome message by our Pastor about the Holy Spirit.  Then I was presented with the sweet, sweet gift from Madison.  Even now as I type...the tears fall.

I long for the day to tell our son how many people loved him home.  My cup runneth over....

To God be the Glory......ALWAYS.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The story He has written...

It was February 4th, 1995.  I was at Gatlins, a country bar (yes, you read that right) with my girlfriends and I saw this bouncer.  This really, really cute bouncer who also happened to be a really good dancer.  Can you say "swoon"?  I said to my friend Joe "Hey, do you know that bouncer John?"  When Joe (pictured on the right with John) said that John was a buddy of his, I asked him to give John my phone number.   After a night of dancing, a large group of us went out to know, those 2 am trips to Denny's after the bar closes kind of breakfasts.  John was on one end of the table, me at the other.  We never got the chance to talk that night.  John left early because he had been working 2 jobs and was beat.  As he left, he walked by, winked, tipped his hat and said "nice to meet you".  I melted.

A week later, I was on a blind date.  What a nightmare...and I'll leave it at that.  I got a page from my roommate.  Ya, I was cool and had a pager....LOL.  I called up my roommate and she said "some guy named John from Gatlins called".  Insert headache.  Dear blind date, I have a really bad headache and need to go home.  Now.  I went home and called John.  He wasn't home.  The next day, he called and we officially had our first date.  February 12, 1995.

Valentines Day.  All the ladies are getting roses.  I was NOT expecting anything....John didn't even know where I worked.  Suddenly, a delivery guy is walking up with a dozen roses.  A dozen roses...are you kidding me??  I looked at the card.  It was from blind date guy.  My heart sank.  I did the polite thing and called him to say "thank you".  His response "my buddy owns a flower shop...I got them for free".  I just laughed.  A couple hours later, one of my co-workers said "oooooooooooh girls, there is a good looking cowboy walking into triple-A (where I worked at the time).  My heart hit the floor.  I looked up.  It was John.  In his cowboy hat and wranglers.  With 2 roses.  He had heard me mention that I worked for AAA and went to several offices before he found me to deliver his 2 roses.  2 roses because it was all the money he had before payday.  I was hooked.

4 months later, we were engaged.  1 year after that, we were married.  And we lived Happily. Ever. After.

NOT!  This is where you can insert that annoying record player needle scratching over the record sound.

14 months after we were married....we were on our way to divorce.  Papers had been filed.  I had moved out and our lives were a mess.  Our marriage was not built on the foundation of Christ.  John was not walking with the Lord, and I had no clue who Jesus was.

By God's grace, we didn't divorce.  Somewhere during the 6 months we were apart, I realized that love was not a feeling, but a choice.  We got back together and God gave us the most precious gift on our 3rd wedding anniversary, Mandy 'Jo' Patterson.  Remember the guy Joe who gave John my number?  After our first date Joe said we'd get married.  We promised him if we did, we would name our first born after him.

2 1/2 years later, Trent was born.  Life was good.  Really, really good.  Or so we thought.

We began to realize how incredibly broken we still were and knew there was something missing in our lives.  At the urging of my father in law, we began to attend church.

Our lives would never be the same.

Within months John recommitted his life to Christ.  I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Just a few months after that....Funky Fish was born.

And then came the announcement that changed everything.  John said "I want to go into full time ministry!"  YOU WANT TO DO WHAT?  Hello.....WE MET IN A BAR!  God does not use people like us.  Not to mention, you work at INTEL.  People don't leave jobs like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How foolish I was.  So very, very foolish.  Obviously I hadn't read my bible all at that point.  He used adulterers, prostitutes and murderers.  He called accountants & doctors to do His work.

We were in for the ride of our lives.  And what an amazing ride it has been.   It's been 9 years since we committed our lives to Christ.  God has allowed us to experience the most amazing adventures.  Carried us through the most difficult trials.  Answered the most amazing prayers.  Remained silent when He needed us to grow in our trust & faith.  Provided financially in ways that humbled us beyond words.  And in His perfect plan AND timing....did just as He promised...called John into full time ministry.  To the job he had prayed for for 7 years.  But since God is our PERFECT REDEEMER,  when He called John to be a Pastor, He called him to be a Pastor over the marriage ministry.  Not only is He our Redeemer, He has a great sense of humor.

And He continues to grow our love for each other daily.  If you would have told me 17 years ago that I would be crazy in love with John, I wouldn't have believed you.  Because the truth is, as I was walking down the aisle, I thought "what am I doing?"   I seriously get giddy about my husband.  And I probably make people sick.  But, I am ok with that.  I love him like I didn't know I could love.  And I believe the only reason I can love him like that is because of Christ.  God loves me in ways that I will never, ever understand.  But in His faithfulness, He has given me something tangible to help me understand His perfect love....John. 

I fall more in love with my husband the more I learn to love Jesus.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for the next 17 years.  I know one things He has planned...and it involves a beautiful little boy in Africa.

And our story continues.....

To God be the Glory.....always.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Trust me...

There are plenty of things in this adoption that scare me, but if I am being honest, the thing that scares me the most is the finances.  Which is pretty sad if you think about it.  Do I trust God, or don't I?  I trick myself daily into thinking I'm in control of single-handedly raising the funds to bring our little guy home.  I brainstorm about how many necklaces I have to sell in one day, how much I can cut out of our grocery budget, how much "couponing" do I need to get the picture.

The reality is God has this.  God cares for the orphan way too much not to.

I've been pretty sick the past few days and haven't been able to make a lot of jewelry.  I was pretty stressed about it too.  If I'm sick, I'm not stamping.  If I'm not stamping, I'm not posting cute pictures of facebook to tempt people to buy stuff.  If I'm not tempting people to buy stuff, then this adoption will never be paid for and it will be my fault because I have that much control, right?  I sent my sweet hubby a text and asked him to buy 3 things at the store on his way home.  Just 3 things.  When he walked through the door, he had several bags....way more than 3 things.  I panicked.  "What did you buy and how much did you spend?"  I jokingly began to needle him about how he had spent more and bought more than I asked and how he was cutting into our adoption budget.  (Really folks, I promise I was just messing with him :o)  So, he joked back and said "well, since you are giving me such a hard time about my lack of shopping restraint, I'm not going to share a surprise with you".   I had no idea what he was talking about but I was intrigued.  Then he pulled an envelope out of his laptop bag.  I asked him "what's that?  He said "open it and find out" with a very large smile on his face.

So I opened it.


Somebody had anonymously donated $1000 to our adoption.  I was blown away.   My friend Janice said "I love anonymous gifts... it's like something came straight from the hand of God."  So true!  I was even more touched by the note on the envelope "To bring him home".  Be still my heart.  When Mandy made our t-shirt design, she said she would tell her brother that she made the shirts "to bring you home".

God is so good.

I've added a fundraiser thermometer to my blog for a couple reasons.  I suffer from deer in headlight syndrome bad.  Like really bad.  Really, really bad.  This is a good visual for me to see just how God is moving "to bring him home".  Also, to continue to help folks know about our need.  

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  Malachi 3:10

You win God.  You always do.  And I am so thankful that you are Lord over my life because I would, "single-handedly" make a mess out of it.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for loving us.  And thank you for loving our boy on the other side of the world. 

And God, the next time I send my hubby to the store for 3 things and he brings home 6, I promise to just be thankful and realize how blessed I am to have a hubby who will even go to the store for me :oD

To God be the Glory....always!

Monday, February 6, 2012

We're expecting!'s official!!  We are expecting!!  Ok, ok...that's misleading, I know :o)  We received our referral today for a little guy that we've been praying about and we are so excited!!!

Sometimes I find myself almost day dreaming wondering wow did we get here? I was recently recalling a conversation I had with my good friend when we were in Ethiopia together on a mission trip for the Hope in Ethiopia almost 2 years ago.  She had adopted from Ethiopia and I had so many questions for her.  I shared with her all my fears about adoption.  How could I love a child that didn't come from my body?  How could I ever get educated enough to adopt because I hate. to. read?  How would I feel if I heard the words "your not my real mom?"  Where on earth would the money come from? 

Fast forward 19 months and here I sit today.  Starring at a picture of this beautiful boy and my heart just melts.

Through several trips to Africa, God has shown me just how much I could love a child that wasn't my own.  I find myself waking up at 4:30 am to watch (key, not read :o) videos on how to parent the adopted child...soaking up every word.  I've had checks just "show up" in my mailbox or donations to our adoption fund from places that I least expected. And the words "you're not my real mom?"  Well, I just need to get over that fear because it's just not about me.  It's about God and what He has called us to do.  The Lord has blessed us beyond words with amazing friends that have literally held our hands throughout this journey and continue to do so.  My heart has been transformed in so many ways through this journey.

One thing that we absolutely did not expect was how quickly this is moving.  We could be in country for our adoption as soon as 4 months.  Now, that really is best case scenario but it's something that we need to prepare for.

We have an immediate need for about $3000.  I have been blessed by the orders pouring in but I can only do so much.  I still need to be a good mama to my babies and love on that amazing husband the Lord has blessed me with.  We've got some fundraisers in the works but they will take some time to pull together.  We have our application in for the Abba fund and we will definitely be applying for grants.  I was encouraged by a friend to put our need out there because sometimes people just don't understand the financial need in adoption.

The reality is that over the next 4 months, we probably need to raise somewhere around $14,000.  (breathe in, breathe out...that was a reminder for me :o)

We have a donate button in the upper right hand corner of our blog.  If you feel the Lord leading, please consider making a donation.  No amount is too small.  Every dollar matters and every dollar brings us closer to our little guy.  If every one of my facebook friends gave $5.00...BOOM...that $3k need would be met.  Just like that.

And by all means....keep on shopping :o)

Thank you so much for all your love, prayers & support.  I can't even put into words how much it means to us.

To God be the Glory...always!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Time for some serious fundraising......

Our adoption journey has taken a twist.  I think it's a really good twist though.  As mentioned in my previous post, we started this journey independently....meaning, we had no agency to represent us and we had to figure it all out ourselves.  Well, the little guy we feel God calling us to parent is with an agency which changes things up a bit.  The really good news is that I have someone to hold my hand now....which, if I am being honest...walking the independent journey was really scary.  There were so many unknowns and I felt completely out of my league.  So there is a lot of relief....but there is also additional costs that are due.  Now.  Like right now.  :o)  I have said many times to many families that God will provide.  I've seen Him provide.  But now that we are here....oh my is really, really scary!

I trust the Lord wholeheartedly, but, just like the Hummingbird....I need to do what I can.  I got a REALLY good deal recently on sterling silver chains so I am happy that I can now offer our sterling silver Africa necklace even cheaper!  They are now $25.00 (which includes shipping) and all profits go directly toward our adoption.
To purchase, simply use the Paypal button in the upper right hand corner of my blog.  Each sterling silver pendant is handstamped with Africa. 

We will be doing the t-shirts again very soon.

Also....any of my custom stamped items go directly toward our adoption.  When you make a purchase on my website....any product in the Patterson family adoption...yup, you guessed all goes toward our adoption

Lastly, if you just feel the Lord leading you to give toward our adoption, we would be so incredibly grateful....and humbled.  There is something very humbling about putting your needs out there.  It's raw.  And it's really hard.  But I think it's exactly what God wants us to do because He gets all the glory. 

We know his name.  We've seen his face.  We pray for him by name.  And it makes us want to fight for him with everything we have.

To God be the glory,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A new season.....

It's been just over 4 months since my last blog post which. is. shameful.  Admittedly, I wasn't much of a blogger to begin with.  Who am I kidding...I'm not even much of a writer so blogging really is a stretch for me.  But, I see how blogging can be so incredibly useful...especially in the adoption world.  There is so much information out there and so many families to gain wisdom from.  I don't know if we will ever be a family that one could gain adoption wisdom from, but I do believe it's important to share this journey.

So what season are we in now?  If you would have asked me 3 months ago, 6 months ago, even 2 years ago...I would have told you we are in a season of "waiting".  We'd been trying to sell our house since April 2009.  Holy smokes....2009.  Typing that makes me almost not believe it.  We had a few months here and there where we took breaks but for the most part, we were in "house for sale" mode.  Shortly after we started our first fundraiser for our adoption, God had a big surprise for us.  We were on our way to Phoenix for T4A and got a call that somebody wanted to buy our house!  PRAISE GOD!  So, we sold our house...during the Christmas season and my busiest jewelry season of the year, survived a 4 week stomach virus, got moved and survived one of the craziest experiences of our lives. we are today and all is well.  So back to the current season.  What season are we in?  We are now in a season of "waiting".  Imagine that!  God is funny.  I also would have told you 6 months ago that God had us learn how to wait on Him to prepare us for our upcoming adoption journey.  But the truth is...and maybe other adoptive mamas can answer this there anything that REALLY prepares you for the adoption journey?

So, we are in a season of waiting....differently.  We've tried to compare it to waiting to find out if during our first pregnancy whether we were having a boy or a girl.  Waiting to find out if Trent had permanent heart damage when he got Kawasaki disease.  Waiting to find out if John got the job we'd been praying for for 7 years.  Waiting to....sell the house.  But, it's different than all of that.  There's a bundle of emotions in this journey that I've never experienced.  It's exciting, yet terrifying.

I find myself with a brand new empathy for mamas waiting on adoption.  I've just really started and the anticipation is overwhelming.  My heart aches for the families who have been waiting a year, 18 months, 2 years...4 years.

This is our first rodeo and I know we are going to get knocked off the bull many times.  But, Lord willing, we won't have too many broken bones and we'll be able to dust ourselves off and get back on.

So....where are we at now?  Let's just say we are at the "waiting on the pregnancy test" stage.  There is a sweet little guy that we are officially pursuing.  ♥♥♥  And he is BEAUTIFUL.  And when I look at his picture I cry.  And when I think about him, I want to fight for him with EVERYTHING I have.  And we BELIEVE he is our son.  And we are falling in love.  And it's REALLY, REALLY scary.  As much as we want to guard our heart and hold onto this loosely....we don't want to miss one single experience God has for us on this journey.  So....we are ALL IN.  (plug for you M.C. :o)

We started this journey independently.  But, slowly, Uganda is using more and more agencies.  This little guy is with an agency so we have some paperwork we have to get in order before we can be officially matched.  Things are definitely moving along and we should know soon.  Very soon.

We are also starting a season of fundraising...serious fundraising.  Signing with an agency means extra money.  And we are ok with that because we trust that God will provide. will probably get really sick of me posting and asking you to buy a t-shirt or jewelry.  Because really, how many t-shirts and jewelry does one person need?  Wait....what am I saying?  EVERY woman needs jewelry.....LOTS AND LOTS of jewelry :o)  Did I mention LOTS?  All of my hand stamped creations go toward our adoption.  And according to my calculations, I only have to stamp up 514 pieces of jewelry to bring our little guy home....but who's counting ;o)

Oh, how I would love your prayers!  Prayers for wisdom, God's favor, spiritual protection, financial provision, strength......I could go on and on.  If you are an adoptive know so much better than I what to ask for prayer for so bring. it. on!  We NEED you.