Wednesday, November 30, 2011

4th Adoption Raffle . . . "Christmastime is here!"

What gets you in the Christmas Spirit . . . putting up the tree?  Christmas music?  Caramel apple cider from Starbucks?

How about the chance to win a bundle of amazing Christmas goodies?!  If that doesn't do it, I don't know what will!

I'm so excited about this raffle 1) because I absolutely L.O.V.E. Christmas 2) because I have some awesome prizes for someone to win and 3) because every single penny raised goes to support our adoption!

I don't know how many Christmases we will have to spend waiting for Easton.  Or how many Christmases Easton will have to spend waiting for us.  I can't dwell on what is unknown or I will be a ball of fear and puddle of tears all the time!  So I'll think about what I do know . . . God is the Father to the fatherless and will care for my son until he is in my arms, God will provide all we need to bring Easton home, and YOU can be a part of that journey and maybe win some Christmas decor in the process!

Without further adieu . . .

Stephanie, a friend that goes to church with my mom, created a canvas just for this raffle!  I wanted something about the "reason for the season" and when I found this quote on pinterest, I knew it was perfect!  Stephanie has a facebook page for all of her creations (Pickled Pink), but has had so many orders that she has had to take it off for a while (I'm sure you can see why . . . she makes beautiful things!).  I'll let you know when she puts it back up in case you want to see more of her creations. 

The canvas is 11x14 and would look great on your wall!  Don't think I wasn't tempted to leave it hanging on mine!

My sweet and talented mom also donated one of her creations from Lili Designs (Check out her Lili Designs facebook page to see more of her cool stuff!).  This NOEL can be hung on a wall or propped up somewhere to add a little Christmas cheer.  The letters are about 9 inches tall.

Jenny Riddle (you might remember that she just won our Custom Christmas Cards giveaway!) and I have been friends since before Katrina.  Our first date with the Riddles was joining them for a grand prize date that Jenny won from our radio station  . . . a limo ride, dinner at Bubba Gump's, and a Steven Curtis Chapman concert . . . what a date, right?!  That was the night we felt God tug on our hearts to support Shoahannah's Hope (now Show Hope) as a way of caring for orphans.

Stephen and Jenny have been so supportive of our adoption and the very crafty Jenny has donated this set of Christmas pillows for our raffle ($50 value)!  The pillows are 14x14 and are removable slipcovers.  You can find more of Jenny's goodies at her etsy shop

You've heard me brag about my bff before, but I'm doing it again!  Lisa is such an amazing friend and one of the most generous people I know.  Once again she has donated some of her creations to support our adoption.  These handmade Christmas cards would be perfect to send to friends and family this year!

We have 18 handmade cards . . . 2 with presents on them (5x7, the rest are 4x6), 6 blue and white Merry Christmas, 5 red and green Merry Christmas, 3 red and green For Unto us a Child is Born, and 2 blue and white Let it Snow!

And last, but definitely not least, we have a set of the coolest Christmas ornaments I've ever seen!  Kyle and Brooke Rhodes (who happen to have won the photography session from our 2nd raffle . . . thanks for giving back!) create these ornaments that will add some south Louisiana flair to your Christmas tree!  These are crab shells that are hand painted and usually $7 each! 

The winner will get a set of 6 customized crab shell ornaments!  You can choose sports team logos, other symbols, sayings or Scripture.  Kyle will work with the winner on the designs for each.  These would be great on your tree or would also make great prizes!

Here are just a few examples . . .

So let's review . . . the winner will get a beautiful Christmas canvas, NOEL hanging letters, two Christmas pillows, 18 Christmas cards and 6 crab shell ornaments!  

That is a lot of fabulous Christmas goodies that are worth almost $200!  Who's excited?!

So here is how the raffle will work . . .

A $5 donation will receive 1 entry for the raffle.
A $10 donation will receive 3 entries for the raffle.
A $20 donation will receive 7 entries for the raffle.
If you give more than $20, I'll let you know about the number of entries!

Steps to enter the raffle . . .

1. Use the Donate (PayPal) button on the right side of the blog to make your donation or you can pay me directly.
2. Let me know about your donation through facebook, email or by commenting on this post.
3. I will send you an entry number(s).
4. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner.

After you donate, if you share the link to this blog post on your blog or on facebook, I'll give you an extra entry! Just let me know that you shared the link!

I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, December 6th so you have a little less than a week to donate and spread the word!

Remember that all the donations will help us bring Easton home from Ethiopia!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

4 Holidays in One Trip

Yep.  We did it.  4 holidays in 7 days! 

We flip flop Thanksgiving and Christmas each year between our families to keep everything fair and less stressful.  So this Thanksgiving was with my family in Arkansas.  My brother and his girlfriend (Clay and Kylee) came too . . . we haven't seen them since July so we were all so excited to get together!

We celebrated Thanksgiving (obviously), Christmas, Clay's 24th birthday, and my parents' 35 anniversary.  We definitely have a lot to be thankful for!

I can't won't write about the whole trip so I'll just let the pictures do the talking!  :)

Ava got to ride a pony for the first time.  She had worked up her courage to get on and the thing started bucking.  Needless to say, she was only riding with one of us after that!

Ava also had her first smores.  I know, I know . . . how did we let her turn 3 without having smores?  I don't know how it happened, but it's fixed!  She loves anything sweet so she was in heaven!

One morning we all got out in the backyard to play.  We played soccer, ring around the rosie, simon says, and introduced Ava to duck, duck, goose.  She had a blast! 

Don't worry, Grayson came on the trip . . . all those events took place while he was sleeping!  He got to play with Uncle Clay.

Love on his Mama Sue (my dad's mom) who came with my aunt and cousins on Thanksgiving day.

And got SO much lovin' from Papa T and Lili!

In an effort to simplify and make Christmas more about giving than receiving, we decided to do things a little different this year.  All of the adults drew names so we each gave and received only one prize.  We also all put in $25 and as a family decided how to spend it on behalf of others in need.  This year we are buying a bicycle through World Bicycle Relief.  A bicycle can make a huge impact in someone's life as it improves access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.  The best part is that all donations through December 31st are being matched dollar for dollar . . . so we really helped provide TWO bikes!

My family got the kiddos a few prizes (scaling back in that department too!) and they had some funny reactions!

Ava absolutely loves Tangled so her reaction to Clay getting her a Rapunzel doll was priceless.  She actually gasped and then said, "She looks just like me!"  So cute!  She's barely stopped brushing that crazy hair since!

I asked for Grayson to get some "boy" toys.  Poor kid has to be tired of playing with dolls and purses!  So Clay got him a dinosaur, which Grayson immediately started flinging around.  I caught the moment that the tail whapped him in the face, but wish I had a video of what followed . . . Grayson cried, threw the dino down and yelled at it like it had just bitten him.  Hilarious!

Chad got a new LSU hat, which he proudly wore in Arkansas as we rooted on the Tigers!  And a chess set.  Nerd.

I got a new shirt . . . My Heart is in Africa . . . part of it definitely is!

Clay is only a few months from graduating and becoming an elementary school teacher.  I made him this sign to go in his future classroom!

My parents always give us kids a little money for Christmas, but there is no handing over an envelope in our family . . . we have to play a game for it!  My mom just plain rocks.  She comes up with a game every year and it is so much fun . . . even if you lose lots of money like Chad and I usually do!  This year we played Money Drop as couples.  It was so intense and sometimes really hard.  Chad and I didn't fair so well.  We ended with as much as Clay and Kylee lost . . . $10 (but then Papa T was super generous and gave us a little more . . . I think we looked pretty pitiful!).

Can't be done until I post a few more pics of my cuties!  They were all dolled up for church!

Grayson hated the hat, but it was so cute!

He looks like he's throwing a little "West Side" in this one!

We had a great trip and loved every moment with my family!  We sure hit the ground running when we got back though . . . it is going to be a crazy few weeks!

We have another adoption raffle on Thursday that you won't want to miss.  It is a Christmas bundle full of amazing prizes!  Don't forget to check back!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Purchase with a Purpose

I do not like to shop.  I know . . . what kind of girl doesn't like to shop?  This one!  Usually it is because one of two things end up happening.  1) I have money, but can't find a single thing that I like or that fits.  or 2) I find lots of things I would like, but have no money to buy them.  Either way, it stinks.  I will say, though, that having kids has changed this a bit.  I can get lost in cute little kid outfits!

So all this Black Friday stuff is just crazy to me.  There is absolutely nothing that I need or want bad enough to get out in the middle of the night when people are literally getting C.R.A.Z.Y! 

If you're shaking your head in agreement . . . I've got just the thing to help you get your Christmas shopping done without having to endure the midnight madness. 

If you love the rush of camping out next to strangers, racing down aisles, and grabbing the very last $12 laptop, then go for it.  But still check out this stuff for all the Christmas prizes you don't find tonight!

I'm part of a facebook group for families adopting from Ethiopia through AGCI.  One of the ladies put together everyone's fundraisers on her blog.  What a better way to shop for Christmas . . . from the comfort of your home, buying great stuff for those you love, and all the sales go to bringing a little one home from Ethiopia!

The Casper Family – Art Prints
The Rippke Family – Graphic Print and Web/Blog Design
The Casper Family – Blog Design

The Rippke Family – Printed or DIY Photo Christmas Cards
The Bloodsworth Family – Ornaments email
The Casper Family – Christmas CD

The Biggerstaff Family –
The Rippke Family –
The Bishop Family –
The Koss Family -
The DeCourdres Family -
The Casper Family -
The Braddy Family -
The Manuel Family -

The Koss Family – Wristlet Keychains
The Koss Family – Jewelry
The McKnight Family – Messenger Bags, Purses, Wallets/Clutches
The Braddy Family – Magazine Necklaces
The Biggerstaff Family – Tutus
The Baily Family – Jewelry (until Nov. 25 so order fast!)

The McKnight Family – Home Goods
The Bloodsworth Family – Homeward Bound Cookbooks email
The Cookman Family – Placemats (They get a portion of each order through Dec 15th that writes “Cookman Adoption” in the note to seller box at checkout.)
The Manuel Family – Photo Frames email
The McGee Family – Owls and Wreaths

(families get 40% of any sales with their name chosen as the affiliate during checkout.)
The Manuel Family – Use affiliate name Megan Manuel
The Rippke Family – Use affiliate name Ashley Rippke
The Koss Family – Use affiliate name Becky Koss
The Cookman Family – Use affiliate name Rory Cookman

The Casper Family – Basket Giveaways
The Gilbert Family – Raffle Tickets

The Gilbert Family – Tshirts
The Braddy Family – Tshirts
The Biggerstaff Family – Tshirts and scarves

These are some more sites that sell items benefiting Africa and/or orphan care.
fashionABLE -
Tukula –
Lifesong for Orphans –
147 Million Orphans –
Show Hope -
Krochet Kids -
Light Gives Heat -
Feed The Orphans –
Olive Tree Promise -

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When the Saints Go Marching In . . .

God is relentlessly pursuing me.  His desire has become my desire . . . that I would be a woman of the Word, relentlessly pursuing Him and letting His Word transform my life for His glory.  There is so much I want to say about what He is doing in my heart.  But not today.

Today I just want to share my new favorite song.  Maybe it's my anthem.  It is certainly my heart's cry! 

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our cup overflows!

Blown. Away.  We are absolutely in awe of God's provision, always really, but especially for this adoption.  The cost is always the hot topic when it comes to adoption.  How much?  HOW MUCH?  Holy moly . . . $30,000 is such a big number that most people, including me, can't even wrap their minds around where that money will come from.  This is how I felt when we started, but deep down I had a sense of peace.  Our God is Jehovah Jireh . . . He will provide and I will trust Him to do it.

We started this journey in June by asking a few family and friends to pray for us as we sought God's plan.  That same week we got our first donation to our adoption fund . . . a sacrificial gift from dear friends that God used to confirm and encourage our hearts that we were walking in His will.

So here we are.  5 months later.  And we're blown away with the generosity that has been shown from family, friends and even strangers new friends!  We have loved seeing our t-shirts worn all over New Orleans and the US!  Our yard sale and craft fair sales were so much more than we could have expected.  The raffles on the blog have been so fun . . . who doesn't love to give away fun prizes?!

And then there are the cards we receive with a check inside.  I can't tell you how humbling it is to open one of those.  Rest assured that we praise our Father for every gift received . . . to Him be the glory.

We opened one such letter today.  We don't know this family, but they gave generously and are praying for our sweet Easton. 

After thanking Jesus, I went to record the gift in my spreadsheet . . . cause you know I have a spreadsheet for everything!  I realized that this gift brought us to a huge milestone . . .

We have $15,000 for our adoption!!!

Again, to God alone be the glory!  This is the amount we needed for the first part of this process.  We've actually already had to spend half of that, with the other half due in the next few months.  Praise God for providing ALL we need right now.

Thanks to everyone who has prayed, given, sported our t-shirt, donated for a raffle, and loved us like the Church is designed to love!  Our cup overflows!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sharing Jesus with my Dr. and Ethiopian food

This "paper chasing" part of adoption is definitely overwhelming . . . lots to do, lots of things that you need others to do for you, lots of things that you need the government to do.  You get the picture.  Some of it is tedious, some is time consuming, and some is completely out of your control.

Our case worker at AGCI has been awesome and started off giving me some really wise advice (like she's done this before or something!).  She told me to focus on one step at a time and not spend time worrying over all the other stuff that needs to be done.  Don't think about the 30 documents that I have to do, just the two I need to do today!  I've had to remind myself of this multiple times already!  I've just been focusing on what we need for our homestudy, which, by the way, is in 3 weeks! 

Chad and I both had to get physicals and TB tests done.  The doctors (we saw different doctors) have to sign a form that we are in good health, but here's the kicker . . . the doctor's signature has to be notarized.  Ochsner doesn't have a notary so we have to bring a notary with us to the doctor's office to get it done.  Thankfully we have a wonderful man in our church that is a lawyer and a notary and has graciously agreed to jump through all the hoops with us.  Just imagine how easy it is going to be for us to get a lawyer and two doctors together at one time! 

I had my appointment yesterday and prayed as I drove there that I would have the chance to share why we are adopting and about Jesus.  God answered!  My doctor is a nice woman from India and was very personable.  As we talked, she all of a sudden said, "You're so young.  Don't you want to try a little longer to have your own children before you adopt?"  I smiled as I told her about Ava and Grayson.  Her face showed that she didn't understand, so she just asked, "Then why are you adopting?"  Thank you Jesus for the open door!  I told her that we've been adopted by God through Jesus Christ and that reality is what leads us to adopt.  I also just explained the great need for orphan care . . . her eyes widened as I shared statistics.  The Gospel is so contrary to natural human desires.  We aren't adopting only to fill a need in our own lives, but to meet a need in a little one's life!  God didn't need more children, but we desperately needed a Savior!  I pray this seed of Truth bears fruit Dr. Bethi's life!

We also had a little culinary adventure this weekend.  Our adoption education workbook encourages us to try the food of our son's birth country.  So we found an Ethiopian restaurant and hoped for the best!  You eat community style, which I love!  It is just so intimate and cozy and fun!  We basically let our waitress (who was high as a kite) order for us since we had no clue.  We got spicy beef, chicken with onions and peppers, and an assortment of vegetables.  You don't use utensils, but scoop each bite with injera, which is like a cold crepe.

I liked most of the flavors, but the textures were a little tough for me to get used to.  Poor Chad . . . he immediately started having flashbacks of his time in Burkina Faso doing summer missions.  If you haven't heard Chad's stories about the food he ate and how incredibly sick he got, you're kind of missing out, but you should mostly just be thankful . . . yuck!  Needless to say, Chad wasn't into the food as much as he would have hoped.  We had a great time though and want to continue to learn more and more about Ethiopian culture!

Monday, November 14, 2011


And the winner is . . . 

Jenny Riddle!

Congrats to Jenny on winning the 50 custom Christmas cards from Creole Paperie!  If you didn't win, you can still order some fabulous Christmas cards from Tara!

I've got an amazing bundle of prizes to raffle on December 1st that will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit . . . a Christmas canvas, 2 Christmas throw pillows (which happen to be made by Jenny Riddle!), and some of the coolest Christmas ornaments I've ever seen!  

Thanks everyone for following my blog . . . I love how so many people are becoming a part of Easton's story!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Hooray for my first giveaway!  I've got a little something to get you in the Christmas spirit!  Yeah, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm so excited for Christmas music, decorating the tree, all the food that comes with the holidays and celebrating Jesus!

So I've mentioned before that I have the best friends.  Still true!  Remember Boyd, our friend that designed our adoption t-shirts?  (Speaking of, we still have t-shirts for sale and they would make a great Christmas prize!  Just sayin!)  Not only is he super talented and generous, but so is his wife!  Tara has her own etsy shop and has offered an amazing prize for this givaway!

The prize . . . 50 custom Christmas cards + envelopes from Creole Paperie.  

Here is a link to Tara's shop . . . Creole Paperie.  (I've also put some examples below.)  She has a big selection of cards to choose from and will do all the work for you!  I know this is about the time when you start thinking of making some cute Christmas card, but then life happens and instead of creating something cute, you are lucky if you get something in the mail by February!  If that's you (you know it is), then this giveaway is just what you need!

Details about the prize . . . The winner will get 50 custom Christmas cards + envelopes from Creole Paperie.  Choose from any card design shown in the shop.  Cards will be 5X7 and full color front and back.  The cards are a heavyweight card press-printed with brilliant archival ink.  I will work with the winner to make sure their greeting and photo(s) are exactly as they would like, and will proof the card for them before the final order is placed.  The card order must be sent to the lab for printing no later than December 10th to ensure delivery before Christmas.  Printing generally takes 2-3 business days then it is an additional 2-3 business days for shipping, so the winner needs to place their order with the knowledge of this time frame, depending on when they would like to send their cards out.  I will not remove any photographer's logo or watermark, so please make sure the winner has authorization or a release to reprint any copyrighted photos.

Tara has also said that if the winner happens to not need 50 Christmas cards, you can do 25 for Christmas and can save 25 to use for another occasion (birthday or shower invitation, etc.).  

How do I enter?   Glad you asked!  You can enter to win this giveaway in 2 easy steps . . .

1.  Follow my blog by email.  There is a box for your email with the heading "Follow by Email" at the top right corner of the blog.  


2.  Leave a comment on this post letting me know that you are following me by email.

It's as easy as that!  Two steps and you could win 50 free and stylish Christmas cards!  I'd love it if you shared this post on your facebook or blog too, but it's not required! :)

I'll announce the winner on Monday morning (November 14th).  I have to have my physical for the adoption on Monday so I need something to look forward to that day!

Here are some samples of the cards Tara has in her shop.  You can even have a little New Orleans flair!