Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas & Catching Up

Merry Christmas everyone!!!  
 Instead of writing a novel here about the past (almost) 3 months I am going to share in pictures with short updates.

In a couple weeks we will offically be 6 months in waiting for our child/ren.  There have been some set-backs in Ethiopia with some new rules for the biological parents but we are hanging tight that our child or children are in Ethiopia and we are just patiently (as best as we can) waiting.

So on to the catching up... October 29th we ran in the Chosen Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels, TX.  We had 7 people total running for our team It's A Child's Life-O'Neal Family.  I am still not sure how much we were able to raise for our personal adoption and should be finding out soon but it was such a great experience for all who particpated.  I also am proud to say I ran it in under 2 hours and never stopped which was my goal.  Now Jason and I are both anxious to do another one and are contemplating doing a full at some point.

Jalen turned 3 years old on November 10th and we celebrated at Cornerstone Kids Ranch.  He had a wonderful time and is definitely a 3 year old now...funny as ever but oh the tantrums and fits that he never threw before came full swing within 2 weeks of turning 3.  It's getting better now but wow I was warned and I now understand.

Auntie Sarah and Jalen the ring bearer
 We traveled back to Arizona for my sister-in-laws wedding and for Thanksgiving.  We were there for a week and got to see many of our friends and family but of course it went by quickly and before we knew it we were back home in OK and out of vacation mode.

dancing his heart out
Since the first of December we have had every weekend backed with birthday and Christmas parties and now have my family in town until next week and we are enjoying every minute of it.  We are going to watch a movie today then go to our Christmas Eve service this evening and when Jalen goes to bed we have a few things to put together for him to find under the tree tomorrow.  Tomorrow after we have our Christmas here we will be heading up to help out at Davo's Diner, an event where we feed close to a thousand local families, given them each a bag filled with groceries, hand out coats and accessories to keep warm as needed and given each child a gift.  We also have a professional photographer that takes the families pictures and delivers them to them later on, Christmas music playing and a prayer room for each family to be prayed for as they need.  We did this last year and will be a tradition for our family as long as it is around.  This was all started by a little boy who goes to our church who wanted to help those in need at Christmas time!
decorating a gingerbread (barn) house

Jalen with his teachers he loves so much!  Miss Stevanna, Miss Morgan and Miss Cierra

decorating a picture frame at a friend's Christmas party

Jason and I at 80's prom...a.k.a The Heilaman's 30th birthday party
Well there you have it, somewhat caught up now on the past 2-3 mths.  We are looking forward to 2012 and praying that we will be given the gift of a child or children to bring home next year.  We are praying for all the families waiting on referrals, waiting for court dates, waiting for embassy dates, just waiting in general to make a bunch of children join forever families next year and have so many less orphans in this world! 
Many Blessings and Love!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

3 Months Waiting

This week marks our 3rd month of being on our agency's wait list for our children.  Only God knows how much longer we will be waiting as there are so many unknowns that could make our wait shorter or longer than usual.  In the mean-time we are doing all that we can to continue to help children who are orphans and those who are just in need both in our community and in other countries and that gives me peace of mind and makes the wait for our babies seem to go by a little faster. 

 Last week Jason and I decided to sponsor a child in Uganda to be able to go to school and church, get medical help and eat 2 meals a day through
The Suubi Project.  In a time where we have cut back a lot of our spending and pretty much put any money we have left after our tithe, paying bills, groceries, gas, etc, to our adoption savings, I did hesitate for a split second about if this is something we should be doing considering we only have about 1/3 of what we need to fund our adoption but God definitely kept placing this need on my heart so we said YES!  There are pictures of all the children on the facbook page and this one little boy's face just kept drawing me to him but when I was asked to choose a child officially I didn't feel right picking him because maybe I was just drawn to him because he was one of the younger ones there, closer in age to my Jalen and just adorable as can be, so I wrote down all the names and cut them up and put them in a bowl and shook them around really good and had Jalen pick.  As soon as he gave me the piece of paper I opened it up and gasped a bit and told Jason I couldn't believe who he just picked, out of the 17 names in the bowl he picked Samuel age 4, that was the little boy I was so drawn to!  I am now just waiting to hear from the director to get officially signed up and started but I encourage you to check out The Suubi Project and pray for them.  They are doing great work and I am so excited we get to be a part of it!

Half Marathon Training.  Yes this is in full force and has been such an amazing experience.  I can't explain how different running for a cause is versus running for exercise.  4 years ago Jason and I started training for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix just because and I don't ever recall being so motivated to keep pushing on.  By the time I got to mile 8 my knees started acting up and every time after that if I ran any more than 2-3 miles my knees would make me suffer for quite some time so we easily stopped training and never completed our half.  Now 4 years later, my knees are just that much older and at times that much worse but training for this half has not bothered me or my joints and there is NO way I would give up.  This time I am running for my babies and for orphans all over and as much as those children have to deal with, it is a very small thing for me to do to run on behalf of them.  Yesterday I ran 10 miles (94 mins) and I truly know it is by the power of God that I can keep going and to be honest I feel like I could keep on going every time! 

We are able to raise money for our adoption through this race through donations that can be made to the
Bethesda Fund and are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!  Just be sure to put our name in the "special instructions":  It's A Child's Life-O'Neal Family.  So, if you know anyone needing to get a year end donation made, just putting it out there :)  Donations can be made HERE

We will have our orphan ministry, It's A Child's Life, there selling t-shirts and handing out information on adoption, foster care, mentorship and more to anyone who is there.  If you live in the area we would love to see you in New Braunfels, TX on October 29th.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Defeating Discouragement

Today's message at church was so right on track with so much of what I have experienced and heard others experience through adoption and just thought I would share because it was so encouraging to me!  I only wished I would have heard this a year and a half ago when we started announcing our decision to adopt, I think it would have helped me even more.

You can watch the series we are going through right now entitled "Change Your World in 52 Days: The Story of Nehemiah at  LifeChurch.TV  but the focus points today were based on the facts that "we don't face opposition because we are doing something wrong, we face it because we're doing something right." -Craig Groeschel 

Anytime you feel called to start something and take a leadership role you will encounter opposition in many different forms.  This may be verbally from others or in more tangible ways such as financial hurdles and unexpected happenings in life that will come right when you don't need them to.  This of course is so discouraging and makes us second guess what we are doing and if we were really in fact "called" to the action or not but it is important to know this is just all part of the process and we have to fight for our cause and remember God.  You are not here to answer to those who will criticize you but rather to answer to God who has called you.  Craig talked today about facing criticism everyday and how so many people think he doesn't deal with it, I imagine because he is SO good at what he does.  He has been a huge pioneer in many many ways, getting people that wouldn't ordinarily go to church  (like myself), to have various ways of going and being able to really learn who God is as well as learn how to apply what we learn from the Bible in our lives today.  He said he does face criticism and always has but he has learned that no one wants to be converted in any situation and to lead without being defensive.  Oh this is something I struggle with SO much when it comes to advocating for orphans!  It is so hard to not let my passion for orphans get the best of me and feel like I might go into a "preaching" moment when someone questions our adoption in a criticizing manner, I am trying though...pray for me :)

 Anyone that knows me, knows I am stubborn and I don't back down when it comes to what I believe in or what I am passionate about. Although I am this way, I still always second guess myself and do let critics get to me but the end result is almost always me sticking to my beliefs.  I do think back on "what if" we would have let what others said about us adopting (internationally at that), get to us to the point we didn't follow, where would we be today?  Or where wouldn't we be today?  Well, we wouldn't have a blog that we could share with all of our friends, family and others about adoption, we wouldn't have had a garage sale fundraiser in which most of our town saw (due to it being on main Street during a big festival) and heard our story, we wouldn't have started It's A Child's Life with 3 other orphan-loving families we got to know so well, we wouldn't have the many new friends we have made through our blog, adoption agency forum and through other get-togethers and most importantly if we would have listened to many critics and not followed through there would be 1-2 children out there that would be waiting even longer for a forever family because we wouldn't have been available.  I think about a year and a half ago when we decided to adopt we only knew of one other family in our area who had adopted internationally and we thought we were going to be the outcasts but we didn't care, we realized our church supported us, our life group supported us and those people we had met who we really treasured, supported us too.  Now I sit here and can think of 6-7 families off the top of my head who have decided to adopt since and many many more who have expressed interest in adopting or fostering and I think "what if", what if each of those families listened to their critics who would be affected the most?  The Children...and I don't know about you but I for sure am never going to let a "critic" determine the fate of a child's life no matter what the circumstance is.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fundraising, Siblings and A Half Marathon

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  ~Isaiah 1:17

It has been a while since we have done any major fundraising and to be honest it felt nice to take a break.  If you're adopting, you know fundraising can be so stressful yet joyful and really just full of so many emotions...mine are usually excitement for the event, followed by stress that I don't want to feel like we are asking everyone to drain their pockets, followed by worrying that the fundraiser will be a big flop and it will be lots of time and effort for nothing, followed by realizing even if it is for "nothing" financially we will have spread the word about adoption through it and then I come back to being excited for it again...a vicious cycle!

I just have to say with every fundraiser we have done thus far though, God has surpassed our expectations and as usual is almost always at the last second when we really need it.  I have to keep reminding myself of this because let me tell you it can really consume you.  Truly when I think back, it's not our fundraiser events so to speak, that have brought us closer to the financial milestones we have needed to meet, but rather donations from friends and family and even some strangers that have now become friends so to think about that I realize that our fundraising events have been more of a profit of knowledge to share with everyone around us.  Knowledge about adoption in general, about living conditions in Africa, and Ethiopia specifically, knowledge about the costs of adoption yet also about the resources that are there to help and knowledge on the fact that we are called by God to take care of orphans.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  ~James 1:27

 When I think about all of this and actually write it all down, this knowledge that we spread through the trials and tribulations that comes with an adoption and fundraising for it is worth so much more in the end  than any dollar amount we can raise.  We do know that God has been faithful to place people in our lives who have helped us get through this past year both emotionally and financially and I do find comfort in that when thinking about the next year (or maybe less) to come.

Now that we have changed our request to SIBLINGS (still makes me smile and get so excited!) from a single child, our adoption expenses has gone up of course.  It doesn't double in cost because much of the expense is on things like a home study, USCIS background checks, paperwork expenses and the biggest part, travel!  Since these are all things that will stay the same (minus one extra seat on a flight home one day) our estimated total adoption cost has went from $28,000-30,000 to $35,000-37,000 which guessed it...more fundraising and more saving but we are ready for it! 

We have been training for a half marathon for the last month and are up to 6 miles now (7.1 more to go).  This half marathon isn't just any run but the Chosen Marathon for Adoption in which families and supporters can run and raise money for specific families adopting through ABBA Fund Organization and Bethesda Family Ministries.  We are running as part of our non-profit, It's A Child's Life, to promote it but also to raise money for our own adoption.  The great thing about this is that all donations are tax deductible as the donations go directly to Bethesda Family Ministries which will in turn donate to our adoption after the run is complete. 

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to our adoption, you can Donate To Our Team Here.  Just make sure you put our team name in the "special instructions" box:  It's A Child's Life- Team O'Neal

and now I will leave you with a few recent photos taken at our county fair this weekend.  Jalen just loves being around other kids, it makes me so excited for him to have a brother and/or sister someday.
Jalen (almost 3), Kade (1 year old), and Peyton( almost 2)...2 of my co-worker's children
Peyton and Jalen walking hand in hand around the fair
Peyton and Jalen sharing a seat on a tractor tire

Sunday, August 21, 2011

So much to say..

family picture in MI
Time flies in the summer and our summer has been filled with keeping busy beyond belief!  We made a road trip to Michigan to surprise my family for my cousin's graduation, spent a lot of time working on organizing a "need's closet" that supplies clothes to people in need as well as gathered many bags of clothes for children in foster care and just in great need, began training for a half marathon fundraiser (more about that later), made another road trip to TN to visit more of my family and now are home trying to get caught up on oh so many things!  Also there have been some exciting updates recently in our adoption and in other families within our agency...
Jalen loving the pool in TN

SIBLINGS????  In the last few months we have been entertaining the idea of switching our adoption request to accept siblings.  When we had our home study done we were approved for 2 and all of our paperwork says up to 2 children so we talked to our agency and asked how that would work and if we could do it with having our child being being under 3 years old right now.  It turns out if there are siblings that are adoptable, only one of them has to be younger than Jalen to maintain birth order but the other one can be older.  This is where we had to do a lot of praying and thinking and planning...not that one would be older, but how old do we say???  As much as my heart doesn't want to turn away any child no matter their age, gender, health, etc., I know we do also have to think about what would be best for that child as well as for Jalen and us, so for some reason 10 years old just seemed to keep coming to me.  We have prayed about it and that number didn't change so 10 it is.  I wrote a letter to our case worker stating we will accept siblings if available and although one would stay younger than Jalen, we are asking that the other one just be younger than 10.  This all seemed scary at first and when our case worker explained that they haven't had a huge history with sibling groups coming in I had a slight sense of relief that we are available but it might not happen but now it is the complete opposite...I truly am hoping that when we get that long awaited call one day for our "referral" of our child that it is actually a call saying they have 2 for us!!!

Now on that track of referrals, I wanted to give an update that has made my impatient self much more content.  After some time with mo referrals given and word of everything slowing down big time,  we have had movement!  In the last 2 weeks, Dillon (our adoption agency) has given 4 families their referrals for their children (all between the ages of 3-4 years old).  These families all had their dossier in Ethiopia in October so they waited exactly 10 months.  Now that may not seem like a lot of referrals to you but the Ethiopia program is smaller with Dillon than it is other agencies so after those referrals were given that leaves 11 families waiting for a referral and we are one of the 11 families!!!  Also exciting is that our agency is working hard to build more relationships with more orphanages in Ethiopia so that would mean more children will be available to be adopted.

Right now it is winter (rainy season) in Ethiopia and it is the law in Ethiopia to close the courts for 2 months which means for 2 months there are no court appointments and finalizations of adoptions will be slowed down.  The courts closed Friday, August 5, and we have been told they will remain closed through late September to early October, so even though many families may have their referrals, they will have to wait 8-12 weeks before given a court date to travel and meet their child.  Then after court they will return home and wait another estimated 8-12 weeks to be given an embassy date to travel back to bring their children home.  Please be praying for these families as it is so exciting to know who your child is, see his or her face but I can only imagine how hard it is to now know it may be 4 more months or more until they can be brought home.

So many people have been asking, how much longer we have so here it goes...our dossier was officially in Ethiopia July 2011 so by the current time-line we can estimate our referral given around May 2012, then our court date around June or July 2012 and bringing our child(ren) home around Aug 2012!  That would be exactly 2 years after submitting our first application and Jalen will be nearing 4 years's a long wait but my heart is prepared for it and if by chance things start speeding up or something changes (for the best), I will just be that much more excited.

Next Post to come soon, our upcoming fundraiser...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

being patient...

I cannot believe that once again I am finally posting after a whole month of being off blog-world. We have had so much going on in the last month that it has just flown by which is a good thing but then I have this guilt over my head of not updating my blog.

As far as an update on our adoption, there isn't a whole lot since my last post. We submitted our dossier to our agency in April and thought everything was perfect and it was on its way to Ethiopia but after reviewing it all there were 3 little fixes that needed to be done. 2 reference letters had our agency's name on them which needed to be removed and re-signed, notarized and sent back to us to send back to our agency and then our marriage license which is from Hawaii was notarized on the back and was a stamped signature and not a blue-inked one so that had to be fixed. Dealing with getting a vital record in Hawaii is not easy at all especially with the time change but an awesome lady at Dillon got it taken care of for us so now the marriage license is finally fixed and in our agency's custody and the 2 fixed reference letters are on their way which means as soon as it gets to them, our dossier will officially be on it's way to Ethiopia at which point we will continue to WAIT! Currently we have been told that a child under the age of 3 years old comes with a 10-14 mth wait so we are going to try to be as patient.

It is very hard at times to be so still and patient when I think, see and hear about all the orphans out there just getting older in an orphanage when we have a perfectly good extra bedroom and lots of love just waiting here in the mean-time. There are some countries right now that have a start to finish time that is less than 6 mths and less travel and cost and I can't lie and say that it isn't tempting to want to say "sign us up". I have met many families who have started an adoption in one country (ie: China) and then knowing the wait is 3-4 yrs, started another adoption from a different country while they were waiting and that is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Of course it's not that easy because this means, whole new paperwork, much much more fundraising, much much more late nights and sounds just plain crazy to almost anyone I mention it to. Going through ONE adoption is a lot, let along attempting TWO? All this to say, these are just thoughts in my head right now, nothing is changing as of now but I feel like I have to do my part to keep my eyes open to how we can best serve the orphans in our world and not just sit back and wait. Of course there are always going to be waits and we know this as much as anyone. With deciding to start the adoption process over a year ago and officially starting it over 9 mths ago we are well aware of the wait but there is a BIG part of me that is thinking a "wait time" can mean more than just sitting back and waiting for one thing to happen.

So please keep us in your prayers that God will speak clearly to us and guide us towards what we are supposed to be doing right now during our WAIT.

So now for a quick month long re-cap in pictures:
Jalen at Peace By Piece event, cleaning up Ada to raise money for the American Cancer Society   

Jason and I at Relay For Life last weekend, I was there from 7pm-2am walking, watching Jalen, hanging out with lots of friends and doing 2 classes of Zumba on the field!  A great evening.  Jason was there until it ended the next morning as he was asked to DJ the event last minute from midnight on.
My wonderful husband threw me a surprise party for my big 3-0!  Complete with a fun slip n slide in our backyard for the kids, a chocolate fountain, good food, great drinks and all of my closest friends who are more like family!
Jalen has had a lot of friends to play with lately and this is one of my favorite pictures of him and Peyton who belongs to one of my friends/co-workers.  We have had wonderful weather lately and playing outside in our sprinklers, slip n slide and baby pools is a day of fun to him and me!
I also got the day before my birthday off at work so on my day off I thought I would get my hair cut and use my gift card to get my nails done, then I thought why do it alone, why not take someone with me who would love doing that and maybe never get a chance to.  I signed up through our local DHS office and after getting my background check complete and given the ok, I got to pick up a little 11 year old girl from our local shelter and spend the day with her.  There are kids in our shelter who are waiting to be placed either with a family member or into foster care and in the mean time they are just waiting and wanting someone to come hang out with them and care for them.  My lil girl and I had breakfast, went shopping, got our nails done, had lunch, got sno-cones and then by dinner time I had to get her back.  She was so grateful and I was so excited to get the chance to do that and can't wait to do it again! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Exciting NEW page created

My collage of all the gear we are selling right now through 147 Million Orphans!
 We are really blessed to have so many options along this journey to raise money for our adoption and best of all they all really allow us to share our story and draw attention to the fact that there are too many orphans in this world! 147 Million Orphans is one of the ways we have been able to do just that and we are SO thankful.  They are always coming up with new items for us to add to our list and new promos to help us get the most out of it we can so I thought I needed to update how I was advertising all the stuff we get to sell.  I made a new blog that makes it SUPER easy to buy from as opposed to having everything in a long line on the sidebar of this blog. you want to see what all we are selling right now????  Just go HERE and let me know what you think and of course if you notice any problems.

Thanks for reading!  I have been away from my blog and internet for the past few weeks so I have had a lot of catching up to do and now I can officially cross this off the list...yippieeeeee!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In the last month....

I am so glad I am finally getting to update on here.  April was a CRAZY busy month for us and on top of it all for the last 2 weeks our internet has been off and on and not on long enough for me to get a chance to post or read anyone else blogs so I have some catching up to do :)  I am actually at McDonald's right now just to get caught up because they have wi-fi and I need to cross some things off my list badly!
  So where to begin....well, in the beginning of the month we got to go to Dallas for the weekend and meet our case worker Anyra as well as attend a Dillon/Buckner Ethiopia family reunion to meet other families who have adopted from Ethiopia through Dillon/Buckner, families who are in the process and meet with the directors of the childrens' home in Ethiopia.  We had a wonderful time and  also got a BIG step in our adoption completed...we submitted our dossier!  Of course going to Dallas also means we get to see my long time dear friend Hilary and her family so that was an added bonus!  Jalen and Jude got to play together and had a lot of fun and per usual, Hil and I were up until the early morning talking while our hubbies were sound asleep.

In the middle of the month we got to drive up to Moore, OK and hang out with some more adoptive families that we met last year and support them at their benefit dinner.  I also got to meet a couple other mamas I had been talking to online and it was so nice to put a face with a name and an email :) 
Then came Eggapalooza.  This was the first year to occur but our church had a big morning planned that consisted of pictures with the Eatser bunny, bounce houses, tours of emergency vehicles (fire trucks, ambulances, etc), drinks, prizes, music and the big event a 10,000 plastic egg drop from a helicopter for all the kids to run after.  It was cold and rainy and still 7,000 people showed up!  Some of those people got to see what a crazy church we are and have came to church now for the first time in a long time....God is good :)

Easter Sunday was AMAZING!  We are out growing our church like crazy and today we went to 3 services but on Easter Sunday the kids had church where we usually do and we had church down the street at the McSwain Theater (google it if you like), it is a cut little old fashion but remodeled theater that when people come to town for small concerts or plays that is where they are held.  The worship band was awesome, the message great as usual and just overall a great start to our day.  We then headed home to have Easter lunch at our house with some new friends Kel and Leanne as well as with a college student we hadn't met that grew up in foster care and aged out of the system never having a family to call her own.  She was such a sweetheart and we loved having her and are trying to make things like this happen more for all the other "kids" in her similar position.  The meal was awesome and even better the company...a great Easter Sunday!
And now last but not least, we ended the month last night with our Lil' Buckaroo BBQ Adoption benefit dinner and silent auction.  This was to raise money for 3 families, us, the Brown's (adopting from Ghana) and the Schlups (adopting from Haiti) my post below about their stories and their blog links are listed as well.  We had so many auction items, raffle items, amazing food, dessert, drinks, music and when all was said and done........drum roll please..................we raised $4,500 to be split between us!  All the pictures are on Facebook but here are a few from the night.
 So there you have it, our April all wrapped up and now we are in May.  Our internet should be back up and running early this week so I can be more on top of things...I hope none of you thought I was done with "blog world" because I am not...don't forget to keep checking back and hopefully soon I can start catching up on your lives too, it's funny how you start missing people and wondering what is going on in people's lives that many you have never even met in person!  Have a wonderful May    xoxo

Friday, April 1, 2011

Upcoming Adoption Benefit BBQ Dinner Information

I am so excited to finally get to post about this as we have the tickets ready to sell and are working hard to get everything ready for the event.  So what is this event you ask?  We are one of 3 families that are hosting this benefit dinner to help raise money for our adoptions through tickets sold for a BBQ dinner and with a silent auction. We are still working out all the details but are hoping to make this even not just about raising money to bring our children home, but also raising awareness to the orphan crisis.

The plan for the night is that we will start at 5pm with dinner and silent auction to go on throughout the night.  In addition to the dinner and silent auction, there will be music, door prizes, some guest speakers, videos, and more!  Of course the theme is cowboys/cowgirls so we encourage everyone to dress accordingly although it is not required.  It will be fun for the whole family and kids 3 and under can eat free!

You can buy tickets directly on our blogs through the PayPal link posted off to the side or just email one of us or post on our blogs and we will see that you get your tickets.  $15.00 for adults, $5.00 for children over 3 and 3 and under eat free.

If you have anything you would like to donate to our auction or have any ideas for us we would love to know and will be more than happy to include it in.

So do you want to know a little about each family? ( the Brown's and Schlups, hope you don't mind I borrowed some pics from FB to add to this post...please let me know if you have a different one you want posted)

  Christy & Tyson have 2 boys Winston & Wyatt and have just mailed off their application to adopt a little girl from Ghana.  We met the Browns when mutual friends knew that we were both adopting and thought that we should meet, so glad we did!  We love this family so much and have been blessed to have Tyson hired on as our outreach missions pastor (did I get that right guys?) at our church so we get to see them even more now!

 Amy & Rob are parents to Rylan & Kyndal and are adopting a 13 year-old boy named Jimmy from Haiti.  There story is quite amazing of how they came to meet and decide to adopt Jimmy so I really encourage you to read their story.  We met this family at our first It's A Child's Life meeting and are so excited to watch their journey and be a part of bringing Jimmy home!

The O'Neals
Of course that's us!  Joely & Jason O'Neal parents to Jalen and adopting a boy or girl under the age of 2 from Ethiopia.  We were waiting on a few last documents to get finalized and will have our dossier in the mail this week! 

Hope to see you there!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sun Stand Still

I love our church for so many reasons but the messages that we listen to each week are always so moving and so applicable to life that I wished everyone could see them.  Well, I shouldn't say "wish" because everyone can see them since they are always posted online for free and can be watched any time.  I am so thankful for Pastor Craig Groeschel and highly recommend tuning in sometime to see for yourself but the past 2 weeks we have been blessed to watch Steven Furtick speak in place of Craig and this week's was just too good not to share! 

I know we all have "Sun Stand Still" prayers but we need to realize that those are the prayers that God wants us to have and those are the prayers that will glorify Him and allow BIG things to happen.  I was so encouraged to hear the above message as being in the middle of an adoption and part of starting a non-profit organization, there are a lot of intimidating times but I am not discouraged and know that especially after hearing this message, this is what we are here to do, this is part of God's plan for us and we will not let anything get in the way of it.

We had our 3rd meeting for It's A Child's Life last weekend and it did not go at all how we went so much better, but it definitely did not go according to our plan.  We assumed that since we more than doubled our attendance at our 2nd meeting, for sure we would have even more for our third...or not!  Besides our founding group and a couple of our loyal friends/supporters, we had 2 DHS caseworkers and a caseworker from the Chickasaw Nation youth and family.  We almost canceled the meeting because we found out that our captive audience was at their foster care lesson at the same time as our meeting but instead we sat around and started talking.  This talking lasted the whole 2 hours and resulted in us being so much more equipped to reach out to this area of orphan care and make some amazing changes that will help so many children in so many different circumstances.  I will share more as it all unfolds but we are so excited!  The first thing that will come of our meeting is happening tomorrow.  My husband and 2 other great guy friends of ours will be taking 4 boys who are in the foster system fishing and to grill out for dinner.  These 4 boys are in need of a male mentor and I am so excited for these 3 great men to show these 4 boys a great time...this is just the beginning!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fundraiser Winners!!!!

After almost 2 months of posting about our Puzzle Piece Fundraiser going on, we were able to raise $1,930!!!!
Thank you so much to everyone who donated items to be used as giveaway prizes and to everyone who bought puzzle pieces.  I will be posting a picture of the puzzle we are going to be putting together soon so start thinking about what you would like to say on the back of the piece(s) you bought.  You are all a part of our puzzle to adopt our child and we want to make sure each of you are included in it which will be hung in the child's room someday!  If you just want your name I will do that or else let me know what you would like written.
Now, onto the winners.....we drew 20 names, 19 for smaller prizes and 1 for the Folsom Photography portrait session.  And the winners are.....

Kathleen Ellis:  animal print bag and Africa car window/bumper sticker
Mary Marxer:  Thirty-One "Fun in the Sun" tote
Kathleen Duty:  The Missing Linck T-shirt
Fran Carey:  Bath and Body Works gift card and glass bead necklace
Brenda Abel:  Tree of Hope T-shirt
Ryann Wayne:  2 shirts from 147 Million Orphans and bumper sticker
Lauri Rowe:  Green and blue Thirty-One thermal lunch tote
Lari Hall:  I-Tunes Gift card and Africa car window/bumper sticker
Tiffany Anderson:  Imaginiff Game
Jen Herbst:  t-shirt with Africa cut out sewed on
Kelly Jo Pickard:  3 handmade kids shirts with silhouette of Africa and an adoption teddy bear
Ginger Emrich:  Mary Kay Satin hands gift set
Joe Coomer:  Opened Eyes T-shirt
Ashley Barrett:  Handmade baby blanket and an adoption teddy bear
Heather Osborne:  Tan leather purse
Kami Weems:  handmade pink and white clutch
Erika Prusha:  Starbucks gift card, an adoption teddy bear and cross-stitched pillow
The Densons:  The "Love" t-shirt with the picture of the globe on it
Sarah Habuda:  A hand painted custom canvas from me :)
...and now for the photography winner........
Kel and Leanne Penny!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS everyone.  If I have the prize in my possession, I will bring it to you this week, otherwise it will be mailed to you from the person who is donating it.  If you want to see a picture of what you won, go HERE Thanks so much for playing along and ultimately for supporting us.  We would not be where we are at without each and every one of you!