Monday, April 6, 2015

Resurrection Celebrations - Holy Week for Preschoolers

I hope you all had a wonderful Holy Week. I really enjoyed exploring it with Matthew this year because I feel like some things are starting to click.

We went over to his best friend's house last week to do some Easter learning together.

We started with the book "Hoppy Easter." In it, the characters have an Easter Egg hunt but for every egg they find, they name a way God demonstrates His love. So the kids found eggs (12), and then named 12 ways God shows love. The kids, on their own, named Jesus coming to earth, love, and Christ breaking His body and spilling His blood for us as some of the reasons.

Then we used the number 12 to segue into 12 Disciples and that one way that Christ showed love to them was to wash their feet. We read about the foot washing at the Last Supper. The kids then took turns washing each other's feet.

Then we went from the feet washing to the Last Supper. We used this book for the foot washing and the Last Supper. We read about the Last Supper and then we had our own supper, and broke bread and drank "wine" (sparkling cider).

Then we read about the Crucifixion from this book and we prayed together.

We ended the afternoon by making Resurrection Rolls. The marshmallow represented Christ's body. We "anointed" it with oil (butter), perfumed it with spices (cinnamon and sugar) and put it in the tomb (oven) to come back and check on later, just as Jesus friend's came to check on Him later. When the rolls came out of the oven, "Jesus" was gone and all that was left was the "cloth," just like the tomb was empty!

Then I read the whole Easter story from Supper to Resurrection from the Bible. I used some scripture from the "real" Bible, and then I read the whole story from a children's Bible. We go back and forth on our favorite. For Easter, we liked the Jesus Calling Storybook Bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible the best.

It was a fun, fun day, and I pray that at least some of it penetrated their little hearts.

The next day was Good Friday service at church.

On Saturday, we repeated the egg hunt and Resurrection Rolls so DH could participate, we dyed Easter eggs and talked about new creations, and we had a family viewing of "What's In the Bible: Jesus is the Good News." If you go here, you can order the DVD for $1, and they'll also send you a link to stream it online while you wait for the DVD to arrive. We were very impressed with this video. There was enough that Matthew could understand now, but still tons of content that he can continue to digest for the next few years. When budget allows, I'd be interested in the series.

Yesterday was Resurrection Celebration at church. We have been visiting a new church recently because my DH thinks that another church would be a better fit for our family. This has been a rough transition for me and I missed "my" church family for Easter, but the service at the new church was beautiful and our close friends have been attending this church with us and another friend joined us so that was nice. The Pastor gave one of the best Easter messages I've heard. They were doing Baptisms and we wanted Matthew to witness them so we kept him in service with us. All through the service, he kept (loudly) answering the Pastor's rhetorical questions. I was amazed that his attention was so captivated.

We ended last night with dinner with Todd's grandparents. We're going to do some more reading today and coloring of Easter coloring pages. I don't want to just stop everything Easter now that the day is technically over. Our whole lives should be a celebration of Easter!

How did you celebrate Holy Week?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Adoption Fundraising

Hi All!

I feel like I fell off the face of the blogging planet. But, I have a good reason

Right after we made the decision to pursue an adoption, we decided to hold a fundraiser Garage Sale. I dove head first into it and am just coming out the other end.

For about 6 weeks, I purged and organized our belongings here, solicited donations from friends and family, picked up "curb alerts" and free things on Craigslist, networked on Swip Swap Groups on Facebook, and then sorted, washed, cleaned, repaired, organized and priced everything that we took in. I ordered Square Credit Card readers, we got change, we bought bottled water to sell...every detail you can think of, we tried to cover.

I enlisted volunteers.

One friend made a digital art file for us to use for signs.

A printer I have worked with for many years printed them for us for free on large poster board.

Our neighbors on either side gave us the use of their yards. Friends and our church donated the use of tables. Other friends loaned us their shade tents. Another baked cupcakes to sell.  Others volunteered to watch Matthew. Still close to a dozen more came and helped us in the days leading up to and including the days of the sale.

It. Was. Exhausting. Stuff filled my garage, my guest room, our family room, our entry way, and our kitchen table. The last donations were left in our driveway because there was no more room inside. Our sale was scheduled for Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday, it rained! We'd had record heat and then 2 days before the sale, it rained! It was just a reminder that every single step of this process is in God's hands, not our own plans. We covered what we could and lost very little to water damage, but we were a day behind on sorting.

Thursday, we worked all day. Friends of friends, who I'd never even met, came to help sort and price things. We worked until midnight when I thought I couldn't move any more. We started again at 6:00 and not long after, the people started rolling in.  I wish I had taken more photos to document this amazing event.

All throughout both days, we got to talk about adoption, spread awareness about the need, explain why things cost so much, and share in Whose name we are adopting and Who provided this great abundance for us. Throughout both days, people would show up with things to donate. Some were shoppers who went back home and got stuff. A few people were on their way to the Goodwill that is just around the corner and saw our signs and brought us their stuff instead. A few were neighbors we hadn't met. A few were called by friends who had shopped the sale and encouraged to come over.

I even sold my lunch. I had made a big crock pot of barbequed chicken for our volunteers to have sandwiches for lunch. Several of our Friday customers were repair men and jobsite workers on their lunch breaks. They noticed our sandwiches. So for $1, I gave them a big sandwich and a handful of chips. My brother had brought donuts for our volunteers. People bought those too. If it wasn't nailed down, I considered selling it!

The sale was supposed to end at 2:00pm. It was record heat. It was a Friday. And still people came until it got dark, after 6:00pm. Then we went 7:00am til 2:00pm the next day.

In the end, we raised.....


We were exhausted and overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, when a friend of my mom heard what we were doing, she decided to host a Garage Sale for us too in their town, which is about 2 hours from here. So she and my mom did the same thing--running around town collecting donations, organizing things, borrowing tents and tables, pricing things, etc. She gave up her garage for weeks and her driveway for two even hotter days. These pictures were taken at the beginning of the second day.

We got to tell more stories, talk more about our great God, and we raised another


That was last weekend. We came home Sunday night. I've been trying to recover the mess ever since. We're slowly but surely returning the tables, tents, and clothing racks we were loaned. We've been sending loads of cardboard with the recycle truck. I'm working my way through a long list of thank you cards. We were blessed mightily. (If you want to have a Garage Sale Fundraiser and are interested in my tips, let me know!)

In the meantime, I've also started a business. I've become an Independent Consultant for Mary & Martha, the Direct Sales arm of Dayspring. There are less than 10 consultants in all of Metro Phoenix. Dayspring stuff already decorated half of my house before I knew Mary & Martha existed. Mary & Martha exists to encourage people to practice hospitality and service in their homes and in their relationships. Our products are designed to make it easy for you to feel comfortable inviting people over, and to also serve as visible reminders to focus our thoughts on things of eternity. It's really important to Todd and I that I stay home with Matthew. I also try to work on our business at least 10-20 hours or so every week. So there weren't a lot of hours left in the day for me to take on another job. But this allowed me to be flexible with my schedule and meeting Todd and Matthew's needs, while still hopefully being able to spend 3-4 evenings or weekends a month to bring in some extra money for the adoption. Plus, it's a company I am enthusiastic about working for and because there are so few consultants in Arizona, I feel like there is some growth potential here. We felt like this was one of God's answers to how to bring in more income. I've had two gatherings so far, and have 3 more scheduled this week.

I can do online and/or catalog Gatherings by the way, if you'd like to host one. Just email me!  And if you're fundraising for your own adoption, please let me know and I'd love to do a fundraiser for you! That's one thing I love about Mary & Martha--if I want to do that, I can!

The Garage Sales, some consigning I've done with kid stuff, money we've saved out of our own budget, extra income we've been able to make, and gifts we've received including our Adopt Together donations put us at about $10,000. A couple of months ago, $25,000 felt insurmountable. It still feels big, but not impossible. I'm not sure yet what else we can do to bring in more money, but we're trying!

Anyway, all of that has taken up any time I would have had to blog. We are excited, humbled, blessed, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

We haven't submitted our paperwork for the homestudy yet because with our agency you can't go into the matchbook until you have the $25000. Since homestudies expire, we don't want to lose any time on the front end while we're still saving up money. So there's no movement on that end yet. We're praying that it's soon. We know God will provide in His timing and in His way.

Easter is such a powerful time for me. It's my favorite time of the church calendar. I've been thinking about adoption and Easter together. One of the things that bothers me a lot about the adoption conversation is that adoption is treated as an "alternative" for people who have fertility problems and can't have their "own" kids. Adoption is not a fertility treatment. Adoption is a charge and a privilege on the church and it allows us to carry out in flesh and blood the example God practiced first.
We are NOT God's "Plan B" because what He really wanted didn't work out. We were His first choice because He loves us! And He demonstrated that love to us by sending His son, (His "real" son if you want to use bad adoption language) to purchase us with His blood! What a precious, precious gift!!

Happy Easter, everyone! He is Risen!