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,