Thursday, December 30, 2010

Meet Dr.Courtney

Dear Friends,

Many of you will remember my post on Thanksgiving, when I interviewed 11 Mamas of babies with Down syndrome. I explained that this online community of wonderful families is what has been my life-line since having Lily. I have a list of more moms who I can't wait to interview...that post was so commented on, and to this day we are seeing visitors come here to read it, specifically.

Today I am posting my exclusive interview with one of my favorite blogging mamas...(I have always wanted to use those words...exclusive interview...it makes me feel...exclusive. HA.)


One of my all-time favorite blogs to visit is The Adventures of Pudge and Zippy.

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Most of my readers were probably addicted to that happy place long before my little bloggy came to be. But just in case you have never had the opportunity to visit the Squibs, as they are affectionately known by their Mama and all who love them...GO HERE. I'm taking a risk sending you there- you might fall so head-over-heels-in-love with Jace and LC, you forget to come back here to see Lils. But, it's a risk I'll take... cuz I just don't want anyone to miss out on their delicious cuteness and daily antics.

I am always amazed at the connection I feel to other mamas of children with Down syndrome; especially when we've never met in real life. Some have become my closest confidants...and Pudge and Zippy's mama is at the top of that list.

I have written to her so often for advice, that I now refer to her as "Dr.Courtney" in my emails. I have accused her of secretly being God and posing as a blogging mama named Courtney...because she always seems to know exactly what to say to speak encouragement and sanity into my life. I am so glad to call her a friend..because I really don't have the money to invest in a psychiatrist ;)

So without further ado, here is my interview with the beautiful Courtney herself..and I know she counts me as a friend, because after some serious arm-twisting, she let me have a few photos to post of her!

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Interview with Courtney Heigele

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Courtney and Justin Heigele


1)How did you decide to adopt the squibs?

I grew up with a family member who had Down syndrome and worked extensively with children who had special needs before graduating from college with a degree in elementary education. I worked at a sleep away camp for children who had Down syndrome and other special needs diagnoses (autism, asperger's, etc.) The majority of the children attending the camp came from families with very high incomes that translated into lots of opportunity for the children. A handful of children were there on scholarship, and had spent their lives shuffled through the state foster system. The difference between the basic life skills of the children in those two groups was heart-breaking. The children who were attending camp on scholarship had so clearly been robbed of their potential, and it was chilling to see what they could have achieved with something as basic as a stable home environment.
It wasn't until I was 30 years old that I actually realized children were being placed for adoption BECAUSE they had Down syndrome. And, about 20 seconds after I realized it, I knew that was how my own family was meant to begin. My extended family had already embraced someone with Down syndrome and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Justin and his own family were well-equipped to do the same. So I went and woke Justin up from a nap and announced the plan. It was about as out-of-the-blue as you can get, since we had never even discussed conceiving a child, let alone adopting one. Later, after LC found us, we did the math and realized my decision to ambush Justin with a request to adopt a child with Down syndrome came just as LC's (defective) heart was forming. And, since those very defects disqualified her from being adopted by another couple that had already committed to her, there's no question that God knew she was on her way and was urging us to get our ducks in a row.

And who the heck KNOWS how Jace got here. We had NO plans to adopt again when we were literally called out of the blue about Biggie. When we learned about his situation, we just couldn't say no.

I think, as much as Justin and I chose adoption to give a child with Down syndrome a home, we also chose adoption to keep families affected by Down syndrome in tact. Parents who give up their children who have Down syndrome experience A LOT of outside judgment and scrutiny. NO ONE conceives and carries a child for 9 months with the intent of giving that baby up. I know...for a fact...that both of my children's birth mothers would have moved heaven and earth to keep their children in their homes with them. But, they also wanted to provide their children with every opportunity possible to help their children achieve their fullest potential. Adoption is too often looked at as abandonment and not as the heart-wrenching, selfless sacrifice it usually is.

It was imperative to Justin and I that adoption not rob our children of the families they were born into. We stepped in to extend LC and Jace's families and feel blessed to have been able to do so. The siblings they had before they were adopted are still their siblings. Their biological grandparents are still their grandparents. And their biological parents are STILL THEIR PARENTS. We're just the set that gets the most face time. The greatest gift we can give our children is a wide group of people who geniuinely love them and are genuinely interested and invested in them. We're forever grateful to the biological families that made it possible for Jace and LC to wreck our home and steal our hearts and we feel incredibly blessed to count them as our family members.

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2) How did you "find" LC and Jace?

LC was a bit atypical, I think, because I was like a woman possessed. We decided to adopt in May...had the homestudy done in June and I gave myself over my summer break to "find a baby with Down syndrome". I was an elementary teacher on break for summer, and for the first summer in YEARS I didn't take on a summer job. I made finding LC my full time gig and sent out over 250 blind emails. I contacted agencies, Down syndrome clinics, Children's Hospitals, private attorneys...you name it. We also registered with the Cincinnati Down Syndrome Guild and Robin Steele. (They keep a current listing of families with up-to-date homestudies who are interested in adopting babies with Down syndrome.)Agencies were the most discouraging, since they'd immediately respond with "We only work in the adoption of healthy babies. Call us when you're interested in one of those." I heard back from less than 5% of the individuals I contacted. By luck, one private attorney I contacted put me in touch with another attorney who was aware of LC's situation and that's how we were selected to be her family.

We learned about Jace via Robin Steele, over a year and a half after providing her with our information.


3)Were your adoptions through an agency or through the state?

Both of our adoptions were out-of-state adoptions, which legally require you to work with an agency. So, we paid legal fees as well as agency fees.

3)How expensive..really...is adoption?

A domestic adoption is an interesting ride. It can be cost-effective or through the roof expensive. The most cost-effective route is to do whatever your state requires to become a registered foster family and express your interest in adopting a child with Down syndrome. The wait would be longer, but you'd be guaranteed a child with medical coverage by the state to cover any medical costs they'd incur.
If you are interested in gaining state or federal aid toward the medical expense of your adopted child, I would have to warn against an out of state adoption. There is NO FEDERAL MANDATE on which state is supposed to provide the child's benefits and each state will point fingers at the other one until you're nearly forced to hire more legal representation to secure subsidies, etc. for your child. We were too financially exhausted by adoption costs to go to that length for LC or Jace, so neither receives any sort of benefit or subsidy. Other families have had much more success than we have, though.
And, there is a tax credit which is fairly substantial, but it's not like you're going to have a check cut for you. Essentially, whatever you're taking out of your monthly income for federal taxes is credited towards that amount. So you stop paying a monthly federal income tax...but that is NOT a huge amount for us...especially on one income. So, while it is often toted as "covering more than your adoption costs", it certainly will, but it will be some time before the entire credit is received...depending on what federal taxes you pay each month, quarter, etc.


4)What have you learned about Ds through raising your kidlets that you did not know before?

I've learned a lot about the accompanying medical conditions that commonly arrive along with Down syndrome. I had no fears about parenting a child with Down syndrome, but parenting a newborn with multiple heart defects and a feeding tube was another story. I've learned to trust myself enough to speak up in a medical situation when I think my child's symptoms are being swept under the "Down syndrome" rug and I've also learned that I don't need to face every day like I'm walking onto a battlefield. The majority of people I encounter are as ready to celebrate my children as I am and I don't need to live life as though I'm on a mission to educate the world about their chromosomal make up. All I need to do is love them out loud and thoroughly enough for LC & Jace to have a deeply rooted sense that they are adored and valued and capable of whatever they set out to achieve.

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5) If you had one piece of advice for new mamas facing a DS diagnosis, what would it be?

I'd congratulate them and tell them how envious I am that they were specifically chosen to raise a child designed to repeatedly show them the face of God. I had to fight and claw my way into their club. They were singled out and exalted and it's a fine reflection of the capable hearts they've shown Him.
I'd also encourage them to trust themselves and their instincts. They don't need to make their decisions about their child or their child's care from the perspective of an expert on Down syndrome. They need to make their decisions as experts on their child.
If they have a concern that's dismissed by a medical professional, visit a new medical professional. They will know their child...with or without Down syndrome...and they will know when that child is hurting, or ill, and they must never take as truth anything they're told that conflicts with their own instincts about what their child needs. I've never regretted speaking up as an expert on LC and Jace and deeply, deeply regretted the few incidents where I didn't.

6) And finally...I hope you don't mind, Courtney, but I wanted to post something you said to me awhile ago, that was so profoundly beautiful, I just had to share...


"Our children arrived exactly as they were designed. There was no mistake here. They are a direct and unmistakable gift from God. He has given us children capable of copious amounts of unconditional love because we haven't been open to receiving the more indirect ways He's been showering it on us for the previous years of our lives."


Thank you, dear Courtney. You are...squibalicious:)

Elizabeth !!

Dear friends,

So many of you have asked about this little girl...

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Elizabeth and her story captured our hearts and inspired the wonderful miracles we saw take place this Christmas. When we learned of a family stepping forward to adopt her and rescue her from the institution she was transferred to, our hearts were overjoyed. We didn't know who that family was until now....

I am so happy to post this link-


http://saveanorphantoday.blogspot.com/

and I hope you all go tell her family how very prayed for they are:)

Thank you, Elissa, for sending me this information:)

I have a request as well- I want to keep my blog look exactly the same- but with a sidebar. I have some exciting things to announce, and I really need that little sidebar for what we're doing!

Anybody good at tweeking html codes, please contact me!


Love,

December Nights

Dearest Lily,

It is late at night and you are sleeping soundly next to Daddy in bed.

It is so cold outside that snow is mixed with the rain...it is so quiet that the only thing I can hear while I type is your soft, deep breathing...

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My beautiful baby girl, in a few weeks you'll turn one. Where did the time go?

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You are so tiny that strangers still ask how "new" you are.

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A few weeks ago you and I were eating at the hospital cafeteria together, while Daddy was praying for a friend of ours in the emergency room...you were sitting up in a highchair, and I was feeding you bites of my lunch. A nurse walked up to us and bent down to smile at you.

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"I just had to see how this tiny little baby was able to sit up so well!" she grinned.

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I told her you were almost a year old and her eyes opened wide. Were you premature, she asked? Just three weeks, was my answer...and I waited for the inevitable question....how little were you at birth?

I said just 5 and a half pounds..and looked at you and smiled and continued, "She has Down syndrome, so that's why she's so tiny. But we like tiny!"

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The nurse smiled and said good things come in small packages..she stroked your head and said you were beautiful..smiled and walked away.

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I know all of my babies have provoked kind words and sweet glances from strangers, Lily.

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But something about your gentle smile and tiny stature seems to elicit more attention than all of our babies put together...


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Or maybe it's that magical extra chromosome, drawing others in with it's magnetic charm...

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So Lily, tonight I'm remembering...

... December nights, just a year ago...when your tiny frame was tucked inside of me, and your gentle kicks were nudging me towards the truth of who you were.

And I wish I could take that mama by the hand, and show her the beauty and grace, the joy and love that was waiting for her on the other side of a year.

We are so blessed...

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by you...

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my beautiful and perfect Lily.

Always yours,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One little boy

Dearest Lily,



I am at my computer with tears streaming down my face.



I just happened to check Reece's Rainbow, and Trenton, a little boy I have been praying for the past few months- has found a home.








I don't know who his family is, but he has been claimed. When I first saw his sweet little face and blond hair many months ago, my heart stopped..he looked like he could be ours. I asked Daddy if we could look into adopting him, but after looking at all of the financial requirements, we knew we couldn't meet them right now. And now he has a family who has committed to him.



I am so overcome with joy- this little boy is going to be saved from a life of hell.



I am praying so hard that Olga and Kareen are given this chance soon. Christmas is over and we've settled back into the normal routine of life...but these little girls are never far from my heart.



God amazed us this Christmas, and I do believe that the miracles we saw are going to yield even more fruit in the days ahead.

I can't wait to hear the word that Olga and Kareen's families claimed them.



Thank You, God for my Lily, and thank You for opening my eyes to babies like my Lily on the other side of the world. I am forever grateful that our eyes have been opened.

Rejoicing,
Mama oxox

Monday, December 27, 2010

It is Well

Dearest Lily,

Daddy and I are taking you with us on a little date right now. I am blogging from his laptop while he drives:)

It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and...I am glad for a little break.

I was reading another blog last night...another mama was writing about her ultrasound, and expressing a bit of concern about the results. She mentioned breathing a sigh of relief when the technician said her baby's nasal bone was present..and it brought back a flood of memories for me. This time last year we were still waiting to see what the results of your u/s would mean in January.

The list was long..small nasal bone, small femur and arm bones, echogenic bowel, enlarged kidneys, possible av canal defect, small growth overall, fluid around the heart...how could we not have known, Lily? I guess because we honestly could dismiss each marker for one reason or another. Your brothers and sisters are not exactly at the top of height and weight charts..we've had an echogenic focus on the heart turn up on ultrasounds with other babies..your heart defect either resolved itself or God healed it..everything was explainable.

And without the amnio we just had no concrete way of knowing that you had Down syndrome.

But I think deep down...I knew.


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Your small, sluggish movements inside of me, your gentle kicks, the lack of any large sweeping movements that we had always seen with previous pregnancies...I knew something was different.

And you know what I felt when I read that blog last night?

I felt something was missing...in me.



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Grief.

It's gone, Lily.

I searched my soul for it- I tried to go there emotionally- made my mind go back to those long dark nights from a year ago, where I stared out at the moon while everyone was sleeping, praying to God for a calm in the storm brewing inside.

And I can honestly say...

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...it is well with my soul.

You are my beautiful and perfect Lily, and you have Down syndrome, and it is well with my soul.



And yes, we will face challenges together in the future- challenges and unexpected moments of realization of what this all means, and maybe even some hurts along the way too...

...but the grief is gone.

I have arrived in Holland, and the fear and the pain and the uncertainty of what this place meant a year ago is truly behind me...we're at home here now, and the beauty far exceeds anything I could have imagined a year ago.

Far exceeds.

My beautiful and wonderful and exquisite, perfect Lily- I would not change you for anything. I never thought I would say those words. But it's true.

God gave me a gift in you- and those words that He spoke to my heart a year ago, have truly come to pass.



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If you ask me for bread, would I give you a stone?
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It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford




Loving you more than ever,

Mama oxox

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and the Winners

Dear Friends,

It's been a wild ride, hasn't it?

If you would have told us two weeks ago that God was going to take our little iPod...and then iPad...and turn them into almost $16,000 to help rescue not one, but two little girls on Reece's Rainbow...I think we would have been shocked to say the least.

I know these girls are going to see families step forward to claim them. I know they are.

And I know this is going to sound like the grammy awards or something - but I do have to say thank you to a few special people.

Thank you Stephanie, over at Daily Smiles. If Stephanie hadn't first had a heart for Olga...this never would have happened. Steph- you said it best in an email to me last week...we're just two little blogging mamas on opposite sides of the country, trying to save the little girl we love. I love you, friend. And we WILL meet Olga together some day soon.

Thank you to my dear friend from Yorktown Heights, Cathy..and Nicki...and Cara..and Julie..and Courtney..and Susanna..and everyone else who spoke words of encouragement to me recently...you have no idea how much your words meant to me. And Carrie..you know who you are...when Olga comes home, it will be in no small part, thanks to you as well.

I want to personally thank Michelle Z from Reece's Rainbow ...my sweet little inside source of info these past few weeks. Thank you Michelle, and here's to more Christmases like these... You know you can't wait to do this for me again! ;)

Michelle and her husband adopted last summer from RR...and guess what their little girl's name is? Lily.

She told me they got a $2,000 grant from RR and they were thrilled.

And here I was shooting for $20,000 for Olga. I guess nobody told me not to shoot for the moon. But do you realize we just about did that? Roped the moon? You all gave so much to Olga- $12,549 -that Andrea Roberts asked us to advocate for another child as well...And now Kareen has a wonderful grant of $3,256 sitting in her account, waiting to help her find her forever family. And money is still coming in for both girls- I have friends who did huge fundraising projects this past week- and those checks haven't even reached Reece's Rainbow yet.

I contacted Andrea Roberts today and asked about our girls...because does anybody else feel like these girls are ours? They're going to find their families soon, but our hearts are always going to be linked to them, you know?

Andrea is so confident that they will be "claimed" after this, that she assured me she would personally let me know when that day comes. So if you want to hear "the rest of the story"...keep coming back here, okay?

Because as one of my favorite songs goes- He didn't bring us this far... to leave us.

Sam and I saw miracles happen these past few weeks. More miracles in a few weeks than I have seen in a lifetime. And there are more to come.

I hate sounding sensational...but we didn't know how "Christmas" was going to happen for our family this year. Ten kids makes things a little challenging at Christmas time, to say the least.

But tomorrow- through some really awesome little miracles- my kids are going to be spoiled like they always are. More than spoiled- blessed.

And I know that Olga and Kareen are going to be rescued- over 350 children on RR with smaller grants than these girls have been saved in 4 years- and that is in no small part to you.

So with all that is in me, I just want to say ...thank you.

Thank you for making this truly the best Christmas ever.

So according to Random.org.....the winner of the iPad is...




Jamie Wooddell said...
Just posted about this giveaway on my blog. Thanks for what you do. You are amazing!


and the gift package from Little Rozie goes to..





Virginia (Jenny) said...
facebooked for Kareen!



Congratulations, ladies- email me your addresses, and we will get your prizes to you !

Thank you to everybody... you truly are the best.


Photobucket *thank you Nicki for the Lilybird shirt:)


Merry Christmas!

Love always,
Patti

Thursday, December 23, 2010

UPDATE!!

Kareen is at $2,830 friends!!!!

Keep praying ! And keep spreading the word about the giveaway...you can still enter to win!

GIVEAWAY STILL OPEN!

From My Heart

Dear friends,

I know so many of you are waiting to hear wonderful news about Olga. And I do believe it will be wonderful in the days ahead. I do.

But I'm asking you right now to pray- like you've never prayed before- for a family for Olga.

The family we knew of has withdrawn their "inquiry" for Olga...I'm not at liberty to say, but there are extenuating circumstances... they are not able to pursue Olga, and are switching gears to another child. The second family who had inquired has done so as well. (These are the two we knew of- I have not heard from Andrea if there are others still inquiring.)

I am asking you - who have so willingly given and prayed and spread the word- to storm Heaven again.

I know this is in God's hands- believe me, I know. I don't believe we are merely left to ourselves in this. If you knew what we live like day to day- if you were to meet us "in real life" - I don't think you would have any trouble knowing that from the start we knew this had to be a God thing. We're just an average family. No great shakes here. But we took what we had and gave it to something that we believe is worth it.

Have you read the story of the pearl of great price in the Bible? I hope you have...

Olga is that pearl. Kareen is that pearl.

I hope that when you read this, you will understand that when I ask you to pray- I'm not doing so because I don't trust God. I'm asking because I do.


The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much James 5:16

I know Olga's family is out there. The fact that she has a $12,594 grant waiting for them coupled with your prayers is what's going to seal the deal for her.

Will you also spread the word to every family you know? Olga turns five next month, and her transfer is imminent. She doesn't have the luxury of time. And this isn't about my little giveaway ending and there needing to be a "happy ending" for my sake.

Maybe you remember Elizabeth, who I originally posted about? There was a cry that went out in blogland, when this little girl was transferred. And yes, that cry sounded a little desperate. And to some it might have sounded sensational. And maybe those who wrote of Elizabeth's plight might have been accused of not trusting God, or not waiting on God's timing...because of the intensity of their words and their call for help.

But Elizabeth is being rescued as a result of those desperate prayers and pleas for help. A family came forward and committed to her adoption because someone raised their voice against the injustice of what was happening to that little girl.

So at the risk of sounding dramatic or sensational or non-trusting...I'm just asking you all to pray.

I do believe we saw a Christmas miracle happen this week. $12,500 is no small accomplishment. People gave until it hurt, and then gave some more. So now we just need that chunk of change to do what we intended it to do...help someone save Olga.

Will you link your hearts with me in prayer?

Love,
Patti

P.S. Our giveaway is still open below- and Kareen still needs our help!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just In Case...

...you were missing this girl...


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...don't you worry- she'll be back!!

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...in all her lovely Lilyness!! :)

Just wanted to add: If you read my post the other day with the link to No Greater Joy Mom...where she made a plea for someone to rescue children from the orphanage - that room specifically- that she adopted her two little girls from...

Guess what is happening right this minute...

http://noknots.blogspot.com/2010/12/day-10-be-still-and-know.html#comment-form

GIVEAWAY STILL OPEN BELOW!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home For Christmas iPad Giveaway!!

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Dearest Friends,

Let me just say...that I thought my hands were shaking when I wrote The Most Important Post I Have Ever Written. But that was nothing compared to this moment when I am pretty much a rubber band about to snap! In a good way :)

If this is the first time you are entering my giveaway- I wrote this in my orginal giveaway...

In Eastern Europe, babies with Down syndrome are deemed unacceptable at birth. They are left in orphanages until the age of five. When they turn 5, they are transferred to a mental institution. Forever.

If you don't like to read those words, if hearing about the plight of these orphans turns your stomach (it does mine), if you just can't bear the thought of what happens to those children...

Then be thankful.

Be thankful you have the option of hitting that tiny x at the top right hand corner of your screen.


Because these children don't have that option.

They can't close their eyes and make their whole bad-dream-of-a-life go away.

They are destined to a life of abandonment and grief and ugliness so horrid most of us can't even stand to watch a five minute video about it. (click here to watch)


Many of you know I implored Lily's readers to pray the other day like they'd never prayed- storm Heaven for Olga. Specifically for a family for Olga to come forward.

I contacted Andrea Roberts, the founder of Reece's Rainbow today to see if she was aware of the $12,594that has been raised so far for Olga during our first giveaway for an iPod...and asked what news she could tell me, if any. She gave me permission to copy her email here...


Patti, that is absolutely incredible! What a blessed little girl Olga is! I so wish there was a way to (advocate for) a 2nd child, what a blessing! We HAVE had several inquiries about Olga, and I guarantee you will be shocked to see how many children find families after the first of the year as a result of these grants. We don't truly need a FULL grant for every child, $10k is a big chunk and certainly enough to encourage a family to choose that child! Think about it....

Soooo...we know of several different little miracles...scratch that....several HUGE miracles...brewing right now.

Several families "waiting in the wings" to adopt a child with special needs.

One of these families- through an amazing series of events ...is seriously inquiring about Olga...waiting on an important detail...and is one of the MANY friends we have (so don't try to guess, teehee;))

I did not know until today that this family had come forward to inquire.

And there is more in the works with another family that I am not at liberty to say right now...but I do believe God is going to blow our minds (to coin my husband's favorite phrase!) the next few weeks.


Olga's account is so large right now, that Andrea Roberts -
who has seen more than 350 children like Olga be adopted through Reece's Rainbow- is confident a family is going to commit to her soon. SO confident that she asked us to advocate for a second child.

And this is where our Christmas Miracle just got a whole lot bigger.

I prayed all day for something very specific.

And that little something specific just came in the mail last night at ten p.m.

Our family was gathered around the computer, watching this beautiful video that LC and Jace's mom, Courtney, put together about Reece's Rainbow. (CLICK HERE TO SEE)

That day, as Courtney and I were exchanging emails, she said something that is still haunting me...


What you're doing is showing Lily and your other children and the other people in your community that LILY is worth this. That LC is worth this. That we would beg, borrow, and obsess ourselves to make sure they knew love and felt valued and wanted. That, if Lily were alone on the other side of the ocean, you would find her and rescue her no matter what the cost or how much dignity needed to be compromised.

I know this analogy will sound VERY sensational to some people....

I've always been incredibly interested in the holocaust and related literature about it. From a very young age. And the thing that always fascinated me, was how these camps could exist...how families could be torn apart...how little children could be massacred...and the townspeople allow it all to happen.

I've read the interviews and first hand accounts of people living in the towns at that time saying they were told it was what was best for society...or the community...and the people were being taken care of. But instinctively, they had to look at those emaciated faces and shaved heads and KNOW BETTER.

And now, in the age we're living in, the internet allows us to exist in a worldwide community. And once again we have children who are emaciated...with shaved heads...and people like Katya are believing what people were willing to believe 70 years ago. But the difference is the population that is being treated this way doesn't have the cognitive ability to speak up for themselves. To reach out for help. And they're not valued enough in society for anyone to equate these conditions as being as horrific as the conditions typical Jews and Poles and Catholics were subjected to 70 years ago.



As we were watching the video, my son Caleb brought me the mail...I absent mindedly opened one of the envelopes...and out fell a little miracle. A check for enough to buy that little something I had been praying for all day...

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Yup. We're doing another giveaway. This time it's a brand new iPad.


I'm giving away this brand new iPad (valued at $500) to one lucky commenter. And I am hoping, praying, shamelessly begging you to give til it hurts. And tell every blessed soul you know about this giveaway. As my husband loves to say- tell your in-laws and out-laws too! Blog about it, Facebook about it, tweet it, text it...just get the word out- Lily is giving away an iPad.

And LC and Jace's mama donated a $50 iTunes gift card to cover some new apps to go with the iPad !

(Thank you Courtney...I love you and I owe you for all the advice;))

Also donated (thank you Nicki!):

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Acase Pure Genuine Hand Made Leather Case Folio (Award Winner Halo) for Apple Ipad (retail value:$99)

***edited to add: when I wrote this post we actually only had $400 of the $500 needed for the iPad..we were believing God to help us scrounge up $100 over the next few days...6 hours after I posted the giveaway, Kelli, from Living Life With E's, contacted me and offered $100 to help with the giveaway. And she had NO idea we were short $100. Kelli's daughter, Emily, is undergoing treatment for Leukemia right now- and she is still finding ways to bless other children...can everybody run over to her blog and leave a comment telling her she's our hero?!


Also donated (as a separate prize): from Etsy shop Little Rozie

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One boutique bow any color choice
One Yellow rose headband: Please specify age and band preference, crochet, or thin soft band
One Genuine Freshwater Pearl infant bracelet: Sterling silver, lead-fee crystals, pearls

THANK YOU SHEVA- you are wonderful, and your Rozie is too!

Soooo...

Same rules as before. Only this time there are TEN chances to win.
***updated to add- Olga's fund has grown so large, that we are sure she is about to find her forever family. Several families have made serious inquires about her- and although nobody has committed to her yet, I feel confident that Olga will be rescued. And I promise to update you as soon as I can:)
In light of this overwhelming success for Olga, we asked Andrea Roberts to allocate all donations coming in after 12/17 to this little sweetie...


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Kareen
Born January 15, 2007

This pretty muffin is waiting for her family! She is healthy, with no heart condition noted in her records. She has brown hair and hazel eyes, and is already up and learning to walk! Her records indicate “meiotic nondisjunction”, but this is just a fancy word for what happens to create “Down syndrome” genetically. She is considered higher functioning and is really doing well. She is an orphanage favorite, and the director has asked for a family to save her from the institution.

I asked Andrea to give me the name of a child facing the institution...and she gave me the name of Kareen. My heart just melted when I saw her.
The TEN chances to win are as follows: (and if you already left comments prior to us switching gears- no worries...you're good to go:))

Ten chances to win:(but FIRST you must give to Kareen!)
*leave two comments if you give to Kareen at Reece's Rainbow (click here!)
*leave two more comments if you blog about this giveaway (post your link)
*leave two more comments if you post about this giveaway on FB
*leave two more comments if you tweet this giveaway.
*leave two more if you sign up (at the bottom of this blog) as a follower...and if you are already a follower, you can leave a second comment as well;)

*BONUS CHANCE TO WIN- vote for Lily's blog on Babble Top 50 Blogs.
this might sound self-serving, but follow me here..we have had a LOT of visits from that site, and Lily is only at #25. If she were to move up on the list- I have a hunch we could get a lot more traffic to this giveaway, and/or future giveaways for RR. If you go vote, come back and leave a comment...but ONLY if you first give to Kareen:)

**the links to give are like a shopping cart- click on "add" under Kareen's picture, which will add her to the cart and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.
***UPDATE- Kareen now has $2,830in her fund!! ****

So here's what I want you to do for Olga- pray. Things are moving in the right direction- her grant is so large- THANKS TO YOU!- that we need to pray that Olga's family (whoever they are) is able to commit to her soon and that things move quickly for her whole adoption process. Pray for Olga's protection while she waits for her family to adopt her, and pray for her health and safety. Will you do this?

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I know you will.

Please spread the word, and please pray for Olga and Kareen.

I can't think of a better Christmas present, then knowing these girls will be rescued.

Random.org will draw a winner from Lily's comment section on Christmas Eve.

THANK YOU AHEAD OF TIME!!!!!

I'm going to bed a happy woman:)
oxPatti

P.S. CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!!!!!!

Do you remember Elizabeth?




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I blogged about her before the giveaway started...her story broke my heart. I first heard about her being transferred to the Institution from a link on Tara's blog. I decided that day that I was going to DO something to save Olga from Elizabeth's fate.

Guess what? A family has stepped forward to adopt Elizabeth. You read that right- they are going to rescue her from the Institution. Can I tell I sobbed like a baby when I heard that yesterday? MIRACLES HAPPEN.

And as a side note...guess who random.org (not me!) chose to win the iPod.

Tara.

Kinda cool, eh?

I wasn't going to to do it..

..I wasn't going to write one more new post til our giveaway ended.

But as I was making dinner tonight, thinking of what Olga and Kareen are doing..

right now

...I started crying. Crying out to God for a miracle for these little girls.

Because it's not about an iPad. Can I just say that? If you win it- awesome. I am happy to give it away.

This giveaway is about two little girls who desperately need homes. They are living in conditions we wouldn't wish on anybody. And if we don't rescue them, their little lives are about to get a whole lot worse.

And I don't care if this sounds like just one more sad story in the world.

It's real.

I spent the day baking with my children, listening to Christmas music and trying to soak up the last few moments of pre-Christmas goodness that comes from just loving my kids and the simple things of life..like teaching tiny hands to roll a ball of dough, or press m&m's into rice krispy treats.

And all the while I thought- will Kareen ever have a chance to enjoy these things?

Will Olga ever have a mommy to tuck her in at night, and tell her how very loved and special she is?

My kids are so blessed. So blessed.

And I want so much for those little girls to know the love that we have as a family, the comfort of a home..I want them to be safe.

I read again about the plight of the orphans, and my heart hurt so much, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops- SAVE THESE CHILDREN! Rescue them- someone- please.

If you don't read one more word on this blog...please click that little blue link above.

And then do something.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's almost midnight....

....hehehehehehe

WINNERS


I am beyond excited to announce our winners in this little giveaway...that has generated 21,000 page views since we started a little over a week ago. Who'd a thunk it?

Before I do- thank you to each and every blessed soul who gave, prayed, blogged, Facebooked, emailed, texted, tweeted, called, challenged, ran fundraisers...thank you just doesn't cut it. But thank you.

Without further ado...Random.org has chosen the winners....

For the Macy's card: VcdeChagn said...
Good luck. I hope lots more donate!

For one set of the ornaments: Nicole- Patti ~ I love the comment you made about turning our sympathy into empathy and then true love. Donated again to little Olga.

For the Cocoa Daisy Kit:Rachel- reposted your post on my blog your words are beautiful and i knew i would do it no justice...I pray Olga gets a family soon.

For the next Cocoa Daisy Kit:christianrebecca said...
Bless you. Donated to Olga on RR

For the Studio Calico Kit:Michelle Z said...
Thank you, for the amazing things you're doing for Olga! Her family just MUST be out there
.

For Sophie the Giraffe:Julie said...
Donated....I hope Olga finds a loving home soon!

For one set of ornaments: shannon said...
shared your blog on my facebook
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513542574

For The Story Matters kit:juliea said...
Just donated on RR. I had been praying on how to be a part of that ministry since I posted on it in November, so I was thrilled to read your post today. What a blessed Christmas this will be for a family who will now able to bring home Olga!

For the four Scentsy pets:(one each)
Katherine said...
Donated. . . so glad this little girl is getting so much love and support. Hoping she finds her family soon.

Tracy said...
FBing this! Hoping to get responses from friends.

txkerri said...
Blog posted (check)
http://livingeachdayasifitwasthelast.blogspot.com/2010/12/you-must-read-this-please.html

Shauna said...
And I posted on facebook and stormed the gates of anyone who would listen to me!!!

For the two iTunes cards (two winners):

Scott H. said...
I posted on my FB page

Virginia (Jenny) said...
I facebooked it a MILLION times. Kinda wondering if I'm gonna get voted off of facebook now. haha

FOR THE iPOD:

Tara said...
Blogged it, too. www.simeonstrail.blogspot.com

Winners please contact me with your info so we can get those prizes out to you right away!!! If you have not contacted me within 72 hours, we will draw new winners.

Hmmmm.....

Just a little hint...you do NOT want to miss our announcements for the giveaway winners tonight....something pretty special is about to happen!!!

Tell all your friends!!
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Love,
Patti :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do you believe in Miracles?

Dear Friends,

If you are praying for Olga, I just want to let you know....you are the secret of what is happening for Olga.

I was up late last night, and early this morning doing what I am sure each one of you have been doing on behalf of Olga....crying out to God for a miracle.

I am so thrilled at what God has done so far- $11,279 is a fantastic number.

But it's not enough.

It won't matter to Olga if we got her half way there.

My son, Caleb, came into my room and saw me crying and praying, a big puddle of a mess on my floor. He said the sweetest thing..."God won't let us down, Mama. He knows how hard we've been working."

I do believe God cares more about Olga than I do. I do.

But I also believe God calls on US to act, and to pray. Honestly - I've been a Christian for 25 years and although I don't "get" all the dynamics of prayer - but I have seen it work. I've seen miracles happening - I AM seeing miracles happening.

So during the next 38 hours, will you be storming Heaven for Olga? Will you pray like you've never prayed before?

I don't just want to see her reach $25,000...I want a family to come forward for her.

I can't even tell you how that breaks my heart because I would love to be that family. That's just not possible because of income requirements, etc.

Can you please pray someone comes forward? Can you imagine the kick that would give our little giveaway?

While I was praying this morning I really felt strongly that God wants us to pray more for a family than for finances right now. (but don't stop praying for that too!) Because if people saw a family alongside her picture - if people knew that this was REALLY going to happen - imagine the impact.

I know you will pray. I know you would have prayed without me even asking. I'm not pretending to be a spiritual giant or awesome Christmas Warrior...I'm just a little stay-at-home mama who loves her family and wants Olga to have one too.

And while we're on the subject of sprititual warfare...

I just need to tell you - this almost didn't happen.

When Stephanie first made her plea for Olga, she put a chip-in box on her blog for her. I gave, a number of others gave. But there was something wrong with the link on the chip-in, and the donations never went through. Those of us who gave didn't know til later when we got a message from Paypal ...and if the others were like me, they don't always read messages from Paypal that come randomly to their inbox. My friend, Nicole, who kept "reminding" me about Reece's Rainbow (thank you, Nicki :) ) pointed this out to Stephanie and me...and Steph took the chip-in box down and sent people directly to Reece's Rainbow. (She was a bit leary of using the chip-in after that episode).

So yesterday, Michelle Zoromski from Reece's Rainbow emailed me...and before I tell you what she said- can you be praying for Michelle? All those donations that come through Reece's Rainbow, all the accounting, all the hours upon hours of work it takes to do what she does for the angel tree project? SHE VOLUNTEERS. You heard me right. She doesn't get a dime.

Here's what she emailed me:


There's a story about how Olga almost never even made it on to the Angel Tree, because of a mix-up ........... I had an "Olga Crisis" in October, trying to get it all sorted out! The short version is she was mixed up with another Olga & the wrong picture / girl went on the AT at first, instead of "your" Olga.

So the fact that this is happening for her now? Amazes me.


A number of other things have been happening...my computer crashed for several long hours the other day...our internet went out last night - for a LONG time - our whole area lost service. I was panicking thinking I was going to have to spend the next 38 hours at a Dutch Bro's or the library with my husband's laptop.

Last night I happened to be online at one a.m....surprise...plotting, praying, contacting, etc..and I got this little note from photobucket that said my account had reached its limit of photos and everything had been deleted!!!!! If you have no idea what that means - I don't upload my photos from my computer to blogger - I copy the code from photobucket after I upload and resize them there. (That's how I get nice big clear pictures in case you wondered.) So here I was about to LOSE all of my blog - months of pictures of Lily, everything I have poured my heart into, gone...as well as all the photos in the giveaway. And yes, I could have found them all on various hardrives and computers throughout our house and copied and pasted them into a year's worth of posts. But I do NOT have time for that right now! I immediately went to a "pro" account with photobucket (nice little ad for you there, photobucket, thanks for almost giving me a heart attack at one this morning!!!) and voila - my pictures are still there.

And those little "battles" are just the tip of the iceberg. I will spare you the gory details, because this is NOT all about me...but somebody out there doesn't want this little girl to find a home...and I feel the heat.

I have 250 unaddressed/unmailed Christmas cards sitting on a pile on my table...I have Christmas shopping that hasn't been done, nothing wrapped, nothing baked, my laundry is rivaling Mount Everest...but you know what? I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER!!

My brother and I have this little joke on Christmas - he always texts or calls me and says, "This is the best Christmas EVER!!!!" Just a throw back to our childhood days.

I can't wait to text him this year and say, "This is the best Christmas ever!!!!"

Not because I got the motherload of scrapbooking supplies. Not because we spent the holidays doing everything exactly right - cards out on time, shopping done, baking every day, etc....

But because Olga got a family.

Please, God- let Olga find her family.

If you're out there and you could be her family and you're reading this...please...from the bottom of my heart...

Photobucket

Rescue our Olga.

Thank you to every single one of you who has emailed me with words of encouragement - you can't possibly know how much it means to me. This isn't about me, this is about Olga. But I am pretty caught up emotionally in this whole thing, and your kindness and love goes a long way. A long way.

Please - for the next 38 hours - storm Heaven.

Do you believe in miracles?

Cuz I do.

Love,
Patti

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GUESS WHAT????

$11,279!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can't.stop.tears. HELP!!!!!!

Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Katya

Dear Katya,

You have been heavy on my heart since you left your comment on my post, "Why?" last Friday. I don't know how you found your way here...but I hope you stay.

My heart goes out to you, because of all that you are missing.

Because you don't have the joy of knowing my Lily, and knowing how much she has already contributed to our family. She's changed us, Katya. For the better.

And this one little girl...this sweet and perfect Lily..has touched so many already, in her short 11 months of life.

Lily has opened our eyes.

And not just my Lily- but thousands like her, here in our country. They're changing us, Katya. We are blessed to be given the opportunity to raise these children. I am so sad you are not given that opportunity. And I do understand that much of what you know... is only what you've been led to believe.

Please open your heart and your eyes...and give our children a chance. You might just find yourself changed as well.


*scroll down to turn off playlist at the bottom of this page. And if you don't see the video player, refresh your page...or click the one true media link*










"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

Love,
Lily's Mama

**********

GIVEAWAY STILL OPEN BELOW....

Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

GIVEAWAY EXTENDED

Dear friends,

$11,279!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about...scroll down to the Most Important Post I Have Ever Written...and see how awesome people are.

I have friends contacting the media- radio shows, the NDSS, tv shows, traveling circuses...okay, just making sure you were really reading..not traveling circuses...Anyway- a lot of really great stuff is happening out there to try to bring more attention to our little Olga. Fundraisers at schools, by gymnastic teams, in the work place, churches...here's a suggestion: my husband printed up 700 fliers with Olga's picture on them, and all the info about our giveaway and Reece's Rainbow. He is passing these fliers out to every church in our area, and asking them to put it on their bulletin board. You could do the same.

He also got his company to donate $1 for every new subscriber to zipdeals. A zipdeal is a coupon that comes in an email offering 50 to 70% off local restaurants and businesses. If you've ever heard of "groupons" - it's the same thing. Anyway- his company (Ziplocal) will donate a dollar to Olga for every person who subscribes to get these emails. ***they will not spam you, and you can unsubscribe at any time, and Olga will still get the dollar.** Sounds like small potatoes- but if 500 people subscribed, that's $500 for Olga! If you want to subscribe, click here: http://tinyurl.com/RRfundraiser (subscribing is free)

FROM Lily's Dad: this will take 2 seconds..Lily has had over 5,000 visits to her blog since we started the giveaway. If every visitor did JUST THIS- that would be $5,000...just sayin'.

So these are just a few of the fabulous things going on for Olga...and I'm sure there are more I don't even know about. If you have ANY great ideas- even if it involves throwing fliers for olga from a small plane- let me know. I'll be the thrower. And I hate flying. Just shows you how much I love this little girl!

I joined several scrapbooking forums and posted my link and told everyone I was giving away my...gulp..unopened December scrapbooking kit from Studio Calico. I noticed a lot of traffic coming from those sites on the feedjit. Sooo...if you know of any other forums for giveaways, parenting, scrapbooking, iPods (do they have iPod forums??) go post about Olga there.

Refresh your FB status...re-blog..re-text...re-tweet...do anything you can to reach new people about Olga.

I want her to have enough money in her account to attract that family - who I know is out there- who has all the other things in place...home study, travel $, income requirements met, etc...but all they need is a huge grant fund to help them rescue a child.

I wish it was me. I wish I could be Olga's mommy. I know Stephanie does too. I have relatives who would love to do this, but for different reasons cannot. I know there are so many who would love to rescue this sweet little girl...

It's not a lack of a family that's standing in her way- it's money. If you are reading this and you have a pile of it...tucked away for something special...this little girl is pretty special.

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SO having said ALL THAT...we are extending the giveaway 5 more days. We need a little more time to do this. If you are hoping to get the iPod in time for Christmas- my husband says we will put it in the mail the day the giveaway ends- this Thursday. I hope you will partner with us to spread the word like wildfire until then. And if some miracle money comes in- say we hit $25,000 cuz some huge motherload of a donation comes in- we will end the giveaway that day, and have random.org draw the winners.

And JUST because I love you all so much for giving...if you already gave, leave another comment in the comment section telling me what other ideas you have for spreading the word...and get another chance to win. Deal?
And did you realize that over $570 worth of prizes are now in our giveaway???? How awesome is that?!



Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.

I will update Olga's total as soon as I get word!!!

Love,
Patti

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why?

Dearest Lily,

The other day we showed your brothers and sisters a video of what happens to children with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe when they turn five. They go to a mental institution, their heads are shaved...and they are placed in a metal crib. And if they keep climbing out? They're chained to that metal crib.

Why?

I know some people would wonder why we would allow your siblings to see a video so disturbing as that. I know some would say that is too much to show children.

I bet those children in that institution would agree.

IT IS too much.

Too much for one little girl to take. Too much to leave the only home you ever knew- even if it was an orphanage- and be left in a dirty, cold, foul smelling, scream filled insane asylum.

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It. is. too. much.

Why?

Your sister Abbi turned to me with tears in her eyes and asked me that.

"Why, Mama? Why would anyone do that to little kids?"

You know what, Lily? I don't have answers for that.

I don't know how anyone could do that to a little boy, a little girl...just like you.

But what I DO know is...

This past week has been FILLED with good things- amazing things. People who we have never met, might never meet- giving to save one little girl from that destiny. Some are giving when they don't have it. They're giving when they're wondering how they're going to make ends meet. Because no matter how tight things are here, no matter how "small" we think our Christmas might be, no matter how hard we think our future might be...

Hers is far worse.

So right now, Lily, you might be wondering...why Olga?

On Saturday night I wrote a letter to you called "Just One." .


I read that poem on Lisa Peele's blog, Living in the Light, and it so helped me, Lily. Because it gave me hope- that even if I can't go rescue all those babies who have no mama to love them...I can rescue ONE. And I can make a difference in her life.
And just as I was writing that post, and praying and crying...there was a little prayer meeting going on.
I heard about this yesterday, when Molly, Olga's Christmas Warrior left a comment on your blog..



Hi Patti!!! I am Olga's Christmas Warrior!!! Obviously I am overjoyed about all this and am SO GRATEFUL for your compassion. We had a fundraising party for her DEC 4th and prayed before it that ultimately someone would see Olga (and Nicholas) and adopt them!!! GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE- look fwd to seeing who the lucky parents will be!! Peace and Joy, Molly Auble


Why? That's why. God used those prayers to put just one little girl on Mama's heart. Because although I had been praying for Olga, and gave to her fund (because of my blogging friend Stephanie's post)...I wasn't consumed like I am now.

Because I am consumed, dear Lily.

Every day I hold you a little tighter, stare into your beautiful almond eyes, and thank God that you are here and safe, and that God gave me you. And that has also had me thinking....

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Why?

Why did God give us you, dearest Lily? When I prayed for a baby without Down syndrome?

Maybe Olga is why.

Maybe God knew that having you would open my eyes to just one.

Loving you more than ever,

Mama oxox

*************

Dear friends,

I am so thrilled to say that in 3 days you have raised $10,964for Olga...and that is still growing.

But I really need your help. At some point, those who have given, will not be able to give any more. At some point, they will have run out of people to tell.

I don't want this to stop. It can't stop.

Can you help me find ways to spread the word? If you know anyone in the media, or can make a call to your local radio station..if you are involved in any online forums like babycenter.com or a parenting community online, or if you have a group your children are involved in that you could do a fundraiser with...can you do so?

My husband called the Dr.Laura show yesterday.

If you know my husband...you will be dying laughing in about two seconds. (Kris- this one's for you.)

He got on after the first call. The call screener answered, and said, "What's your question?"

Sam froze- and hung up. He couldn't believe he got through that easily!

So he called back....she asked, "What's your question?"

and he hung up.

He didn't really have a question!! He just called on a whim while he was driving to see if he could get some publicity for Olga:)

So he called a THIRD time- after mentally scrambling, and thinking he was going to MAKE UP an argument we had- to ask Dr.Laura what to do. I am not kidding.

He said he thought maybe he could say, "My wife and I are fighting because she is just CONSUMED with this fundraising thing for a little girl with Down syndrome stuck in an orphanage in Eastern Europe who is about to be transferred to a mental insitution for the rest of her life and she blogged about it at http://babynumber10.blogspot.com/ and WHADDYA THINK? Dr. Laura?!!"

Friends, I know this is going to sound terribly uncouth here on Lily's blog- but I almost peed my pants laughing so hard when he told me that.

Because that is SO my husband. If you don't believe me, go read my friend Kris's comments in the comment section on my most-important-post-i-have-ever-written below.:)

What Sam really told the call screener is that we have a cause we would like Dr.Laura to look into, and perhaps give attention to...the screener was very kind and gave us an email to write to, and she said they DO read those emails every day.

So will you please be praying they read that email and get stirred to read it on air??

And if you have any wild ideas...perhaps they might be crazy like my husband's;)...can you go for it?

I do believe we can do this.

I was praying last night and crying and asking God WHAT can I do?

I read this...

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Please pray, and please spread the word. It is working!!!!

Love,
Patti
P.S. New prizes in the original post!!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

AMAZING YOU...and more giveaway prizes!!

Dear friends-

First of all let me say- you are amazing. I'm sitting here trying to think "how can I tell them what they're doing- how amazing they are?" and all my brain can come up with is...you are amazing.

My mental state could be from lack of sleep:) Because since we started this I have been getting very little sleep...lots of praying...plotting...pleading..I'll sleep later.

So in keeping with the theme of "amazing"....here's what we are doing:

We have additional prizes that random.org will draw winners for ...each prize is separate- in other words, you can win the iPod touch OR a gift card OR a scrapbook kit..but you only have to enter once for a chance to win. There are still FIVE ways you can enter (and leave a separate comment for each entry- details in the original post below!)

Additional Prizes are as follows:

***Lisa Peele, whose interview helped spark this amazing adventure is donating two iTunes gift cards- $15 each !! So we will award these to two different commenters.

Photobucket
(sample image of card...not sure what the real one looks like;))

***I am donating a brand new unopened Studio Calico scrapbooking kit- this month's kit "Metropolitan!" valued at $34.50 (plus $7.50 shipping when you purchase this through Studio Calico ...but I will ship this to you for free!)

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***We have a $100 Macy's gift card being donated IF Olga's fund reaches $10,000 !!!!!!!!!!


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(also a sample image of card...not sure what the real one looks like!)

AS WELL AS these prizes, until December 25th, Etsy owner Lacey is donating 21%
of all proceeds from her shop LacyBird (HOW SWEET IS THAT NAME???!!!) to Olga's fund!!!!

After Christmas from now on 10% of all her sales will go directly to Reece's Rainbow!

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AND as an added incentive- if any of you make a purchase from her shop- just use the code SWEETOLGA and receive a ten percent discount!!! ***Lacey- THANK YOU- you are amazing!!!


And speaking of amazing- here is what one of Lily's favorite followers, Cathy, just sent me in an email:


Kevin, the oldest son, is our teacher who is trying to have his school do a fundraiser to " adopt Olga" for the holiday season. He just called me to say that the office is planning to do a "Dress Down Day" for olga next Friday at his school. The administration each chip in $5 & they can wear jeans, or whatever, to work & all the $$ will be sent to Olga's site.

Cathy- I love you. And just because you said you missed seeing Lily, here is her picture. Just for you:)

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Okay- is this an amazing day OR WHAT??? Am I the only one who is off the charts with excitement???!!!

PLEASE keep spreading the word-the latest totals from RR are at $10,964!!!! I will post new updates just as soon as I get them!!

Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.



Can you please...if you blogged about this once...maybe blog again? or tweet again? or FB again? With the new prizes being offered? I don't have a picture of me with a pleading look on my face...but I will post this beautiful little girl's face once again...because I can't get her face out of my mind. I think about her 24/7.

Cuz she's filling my dreams right now as well.

I go to bed wondering if she is warm..happy..loved. I wake up thinking about if she will have a home this time next year. Or be living in an institution. How can you love a little girl- so much- who you have never met? I don't know how...but I do.



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I won't be the one who adopts her...but I promise you this- if Olga is adopted, I WILL be going to see her wherever she is. And I'm going to wrap my arms around her and tell her how very loved she was by so many amazing people.

Love,
Patti

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas Miracle!!!!!

JUST GOT WORD- OVER $10,964....and counting!!!!

Dear Friends...

..and I usually say readers, but because of what you all are doing, I just can't say readers any more. You are friends in the truest sense of the word, and you sure have caused a lot of happy tears in this household!!

There has been some confusion as to why the link I posted (see my posts below) doesn't appear to be updating Olga's total. It fluctuates like crazy. I was able to contact Michelle- the donations coordinator at Reece's Rainbow. I am copying and pasting her explanation- which will thrill your socks off.


Lisa, who as many of you know adopted Alina last year, contacted Michelle first...I am sharing a portion of Michelle's response to her - because this is what YOU did---



I wondered who was doing the fundraiser for Olga -- she's had 40+ donations since yesterday!!

I just checked the AT (angel tree) page, and it has been updated!! Olga shows over $3000 in her account -- tell Patti she is doing an AMAZING job! :)

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


Also, please tell Patti that she has made Molly (Olga's Christmas Warrior) completely over the moon with excitement! Molly and I must have emailed about 14 times back & forth yesterday, wondering who was leading the charge for Olga :)




Can I just tell you all that YOU ARE LEADING THE CHARGE for Olga???? I am just beyond happy and thrilled and crying and wild with joy at what YOU FRIENDS are doing!!!

Here is Michelle's explanation to me...


Hi Patti!
We are so excited to see Olga's grant grow, too!! But, the donations come in to Olga's fund -- and I delete them. I know that SOUNDS awful, but it's an accounting process during the Angel Tree. That's why they go down. I'm deleting them as I go, as I enter them into our record keeping. Then, I add them up & we update the website Angel Tree page.

The advantage of putting the funds in Olga's Angel Tree grant (which is different than the Waiting Child Grant) is she gets to keep more of the money (no % is taken out for PayPal fees), it's VERY HIGHLY visible right now, during the Angel Tree, and donors who donate over $35 will get an ornament with her picture on it. It's the process we're using with ALL the Angel Tree children right now, not just Olga. It's just very visible for Olga, since your blog is sending people to her link, and not utilizing a Chip-in. Typically, people set up a Chip-in for a fundraiser such as yours, but this is working just fine, too! It's just not as visible for you to keep track of.


As a side note- I did not want to mess with a chip-in- I wanted to be sure that everyone who gave KNEW that they were giving directly to Olga.

So Michelle is working hard at keeping me updates- and I will update these posts as soon as she does!

I hope if you are reading this you will take time to go to the comment section- because there are some amazing comments there. Seriously- I am just moved beyond words at the hearts of people who are giving- you all blow my mind ! (to coin a favorite phrase of my husband!!:) )

You know what? Next time someone tells you there is a lot of greed and ugliness in the world- tell them to come here. Tell them to just take a look at Lily's little comment section and see that there are also a lot of beautiful, giving, compassionate people in the world, and GOD is using them to do something.

And to every single person who is praying on behalf of Olga- DON'T STOP!

This is a "God thing", friends.

God moved on our hearts to help Olga, we gave what we had, and God is totally multiplying it. And this isn't some cheesy Christian tv show- it's just a little blog in a world full of thousands of blogs, but a little girl is going to be profoundly impacted because God used it to help her.

KEEP SPREADING THE WORD!!!!

Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.



I will update Olga's total here just as soon as I get the word.

Thank you just isn't enough...but thank you. From the bottom of my heart and my kids' hearts and my absolute hero of a husband's heart- THANK YOU.
AND THANK YOU STEPHANIE for putting Olga on my heart through your blog! We are doing this, friend!!;)

Love,
Patti

UPDATE!! AGAIN!!!!

Dear Friends,

Keep reading til the bottom to see what YOU are doing for Olga!!!!!

$10,964!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am beyond excited- I am so wrapped up in this Christmas Miracle I can't even see straight or talk about it without getting choked up. Ask my kids.

Yesterday the last amount Olga had in her fund was $1,886. My kids were checking every fifteen minutes. Or two. Even Abbi (age 8) kept sneaking in my room to the computer and running back out to yell out an update for us.

I don't know what you are doing out there...but IT IS WORKING.

The totals on Olga's fund today do not reflect the true amount that has come in- I have my inside sources :) checking on what is happening- but I think you are overloading the system!! We had over 2,400 hits on Lily's blog yesterday...if you don't know what that means- on a normal day she gets 200-400 page views.

I woke up this morning and at 7 a.m. 500 people had already come here- to see what all the fuss was about.

I cannot WAIT to tell you what the new numbers are- but know this- WE ARE DOING THIS!

Please,please, keep spreading the word- if we can raise almost $2,000 in one day- and sustain that for ten days- this will truly be the Christmas Miracle we have been praying for, for Olga.

And if you have no idea what I'm taling about- read my post below.

And can I just say that I have the sweetest kids on the planet? We showed them Olga, told them what we are doing- and my kids......help....can't stop tears...went and put their minds together...and they are selling their prized possession on Craig's List...their playstation2 and all their games to raise money for Olga. And believe me- it is their prized possession.

Can I just say something else? We are not a wealthy family. By any stretch. We have 9 kids at home in a 3 bedroom house. I said that NOT to gain sympathy- but to say- you don't have to have piles of money to give. We give what we can- and we let GOD do the rest. He will multiply- HE IS multiplying!

My husband wanted me to tell people this...do you realize that if every visitor gave $10...only ten dollars...we would have had Olga's money in one day. I just don't want anyone to think their little part doesn't make a difference. IT DOES.

As soon as I have the new numbers I am going to post them- until then please- keep doing what you are doing!! If it means bumping your FB post up, or re-blogging about this, or re-tweeting (is that a word) or texting or calling or emailing- please keep this going...
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This beautiful little girl is going to be changed forever because of what we are doing!

Give here:

http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorship/angeltree2010/angeltreesponsorpage


click on "add" under her picture, which will add her to the "shopping cart" and at that point you can either order an ornament, make an additional donation, or both.


Love,
Patti