Friday, March 30, 2012

giveaway extended

This will be super quick. My sweet husband whisked me away to the coast for a few days...I don't know why the ocean and time away are both such good remedies for healing of the heart, but they are.

 In the mean time we're extending our Saving Albina giveaway until Monday, and we'll announce winners on Tuesday. Please spread the word about this fundraiser for the Jolly family- you can gain extra entries in the giveaway simply by sharing it on your blog and Facebook and leaving a comment saying you did so. Of course donations are appreciated, but even if you don't donate first, please feel free to leave a comment saying you shared this giveaway on a public forum to receive an entry.

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for our family this past week. Your kind words and friendship are such a blessing to me, and I'm so very grateful for your prayers.

Monday, March 26, 2012

What If ?

*reposting this from last year's "What If" giveaway...


What if?

What if by some cruel twist of fate I woke up one morning to find that the tables were turned, and my beautiful and perfect Lily were lying in an orphanage, somewhere in Eastern Europe?

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What if she had lived out the past 16 months of her life with no mommy and daddy to love her, no brothers and sisters to dote on her every day?

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What if instead, she spent most of her waking hours in a crib, staring at the metal slats and playing with only her fingers or feet for comfort? What if she cried herself to sleep at night, because there was nobody who cared or had the time to attend to her when she woke up scared or lonely or sad?


What if she didn't eat when she was hungry, go to sleep with a full belly, or have her basic needs met with loving care?



What if my Lily stayed in that orphanage for many years, never leaving it to see the world around her? What if the only connection she had to the outside world was an occasional trip to the playground on the orphanage grounds...but for the most part she was locked away, an outcast of society?

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What if she never received the help she needed through therapy with her beloved Karen, never had the opportunity to develop skills, to grow, to learn...


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What if Lily never got the medial attention she needed when she was first born, had attention given to that tiny hole in her heart that doctors watched so carefully...what if she survived simply because she existed, devoid of any quality of life?


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What if she were never celebrated for the treasure that she is, never nurtured or praised or adored? What if there were no parties or gifts or songs to commemorate that beautiful day she made her entrance into the world, nothing that distinguished that day from any other day of her secluded and monotonous life?



What if, after being shut away in that orphanage for five years, she woke one morning to find herself being whisked away from the only home she'd ever known- however stark or isolated- to the horror that is the Institution? What if, because of the inability of any five year old, let alone one with cognitive delays, she could not comprehend what had happened to her? What if there were no one to explain to her why her head was being shaved, her tiny arms tied to a crib, or where her friends had gone, and why no one was coming back for her to save her from the nightmare that was now her life?


What if that were my Lily's fate?


What would I do?

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In the words of a dear friend.....



I would beg, borrow, and obsess myself to make sure she knew love and felt valued and wanted. If Lily were alone on the other side of the ocean, I would find her and rescue her no matter what the cost or how much dignity needed to be compromised.
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Albina is my Lily.

She's no more deserving of the fate that awaits her than my child.


Or yours.


She is a beautiful and precious treasure, waiting for someone to recognize her value.


Pure and genuine religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27


If you're new here, Albina is an orphan in Eastern Europe. Because she was born with Down syndrome, she is considered a burden to her society, an outcast to be hidden away.



I don't want money to be the thing that stands in the way of Albina being given a chance at a normal life.



Will you help the Jolly family go rescue their girl?

Will you help me get them fully funded?

How about some amazing prizes as incentive???



WINNER'S CHOICE (ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE):




1) NEW Apple iPad 16GB Wifi Tablet  ***NEWEST MODEL JUST
ANNOUNCED***


• New Retina display for the sharpest text and graphics display
• New A5X high-speed processor
• 16GB storage
• Wi-fi connectivity
• 10 hours battery life with Wi-fi turned on
• 5MP camera built-in
• HD quality video recording
• Facetime (video chat)
• Support for thousands of apps in iTunes App Store
   
   OR

2) Canon EOS Rebel T3 12.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18- 55mm IS II Lens
   
   • 12.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor for
high image quality and speed.
• ISO 100 - 6400 for shooting from bright to dim light.
• Improved EOS HD Movie mode with expanded recording [HD: 30p (29.97)
/ 25p], and with in-camera movie editing options.
• High speed, reliable 9-point AF system utilizing a high precision, f/5.6
cross-type center point.
• Enhanced metering with a 63-zone, Dual-layer metering system for
accurate metering between exposures.
• 3.0 fps continuous shooting up to approximately 830 JPEGs or 2.0 fps for
approximately 5 RAW.
• 2.7-inch wide TFT LCD monitor (230,000 dots) with Live View function for
improved viewing.
• Express your creativity with ease using advanced imaging features like the
new Basic+ function, Quick Setting function and Creative Auto.
• New Feature Guide offers short descriptions of each function and Quick
Control screen for easy operation.
• Compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
• Compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
  

OR



3) $500 Amazon.com Gift Card





And a host of other wonderful prizes....



$100 gift card to Target !!!
(thank you, Kelly Dirkes !!)



Sock Monkey Hat (winner chooses size) from The3MonkeysBoutique on Etsy. Crocheted sock monkey hat. specify color- sock monkey brown/gray, pink, blue, purple, orange.




Hot/cold packs from June 34 on Etsy Heat in the microwave to soothe sore muscles or warm up during cold night. Place in the freezer for a cold pack... great for boo-boo's for little ones!







  Highly Fragrant Soy Candle in 8 oz. tin container by JubileeScents on Etsy - Sugar Cookie and Pomegranate (one of each) Approximate 40 hours burn time - Made in USA 



Tutu- Made in any size and any color for the winner - Can also choose short or long skirt.




 Vera Bradley inspired flameless LED candles - Choose any of the styles shown - Winner receives 2 candles




Ten bows (winner's choice) from Natasha's Hair Bowtique and one bow holder:

(bows hang from tutu ribbons)



Darling Pink tutu, size 6 months



Baby Bluebird hat made with love by Sarah and Rachel at Handiwork for Lilly





Two necklaces (one per winner) from Mattie Grace Gifts on Etsy.


and finally, the GRAND PRIZE.....



Oh yeah, baby!
Renee Tam's world famous toffee. I don't think there is a price you could put on this stuff. For reals.


There are MANY ways to enter this giveaway. Leave a comment saying what you did to be entered (donated, shared, etc.) You do not have to specify your donation amount- paypal keeps track of these, and Jonana will total your entries.

*donate to the Jolly Family via the paypal gadget on my sidebar

$10 = one entry
$25 = 5 entries
$50 = 20 entries

*one entry PER DAY for sharing the giveaway on FB (status must be updated each day for each entry)

*one entry PER DAY for blogging about the giveaway (please include your blog link in your comment.)

*my wonderful friend, Deanna is co-hosting this giveaway with me. Become a follower of Everything and Nothing From Essex and leave a comment (there) saying you did so for an extra entry.

*twenty entries for getting this giveaway talked about on a radio station. It's never happened yet, but hey, it's worth a try ;)

Our goal is $18,500. I realize that's huge. But I just watched God work a $17,000 miracle for Charlotte last month, and I'm just crazy enough to pray He'll do it again.

Giveaway ends March 30th, and winners will be drawn and announced on March 31st.

Ten days to watch a miracle happen.


What if it Albina was rescued...because of you?


Friday, March 23, 2012

Meet the Jolly Family

In case you missed it, we're hosting a fabulous giveaway this week to help the Jolly family of Olive Branch, Mississippi, adopt Albina, an orphan with Down syndrome on Reece's Rainbow. 

I still remember crying tears of joy after receiving this email from Jonana when they made the decision to commit to Albina's adoption back in June...


Patti,
I wanted to let you know where we stand.  One day last week, probably the same day or the day before that I originally emailed you, I had emailed the adoption agency that handles the region that Albina is in with some questions.  I think I may have even told you about that.  In addition to sending me a lot of information, she also sent me some questions (ages, income, family size, religious affiliation, etc) so that she could pre-approve us before we sent in an actual application.   Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that tonight I emailed her the answers to those questions and told her that we were ready to start the pre-approval process that is necessary before we can commit to Albina!  I am so excited I can't stand it.  I  have loved on this baby for what seems like a long time but it really  hasn't been that long in the grand scheme of things.  Thank you for advocating for her!!  
Provided the Lord continues to open the doors that we feel He's opening, she's going to have a big brother named Matthew who is 10 and a big sister named Gracie who is going to be 5 in about a month.  She's going to live in Mississippi and have a sweet southern accent and learn about Jesus and go to church and have a Christmas stocking and birthday cakes with her name on them and learn how to say "Go Dawgs" at Mississippi State football games. (I just thought you would like to know....)


 I asked Jonana to share their family's journey to commit to Albina - I love to see how God moves on hearts for orphans, and I am so blessed to be a very small part of that. If you gave last year to our "What If?" giveaway for Albina, you are a part of this rescue today....


 *********************
 
The Jolly Family


We have been asked so many times how we came to the decision to adopt Albina.  The very first step came when a little boy named Kirill was denied a family by a judge in Eastern Europe simply because he has Down syndrome.  God used that to break my heart.  I knew what Reece’s Rainbow was and would go out to their website occasionally but just never thought that was what we were going to do.  But then once Kirill was denied, I began to not only pray for his family and their appeal (which thankfully was successful and he’s home safe and sound with his mama, daddy and brother now) but also to follow other blogs of families who had adopted or were in the process of adopting children with Down syndrome from half way around the world.  A part of the world where if you aren’t “perfect” you don’t really have a place in society.  

Albina, baby picture



One  night after reading and crying over so many of these children, I remember saying to myself, “We need to do this.”  I know they were my words but I really, really feel that was God speaking to my heart.  Opening my eyes to something that hadn’t even been on our radar.  I knew that I wanted to adopt a child with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe.  A child listed on Reece’s Rainbow.  After thinking about it for a few days I mentioned it to my husband. 

Let’s just say, he wasn’t on the same page as I was.  I have to clarify that my husband, Brad, is a wonderful, loving husband and father.  He loves the Lord with all of his heart.  So, he didn’t answer with a hateful or uncaring heart.  It just wasn’t something that he thought was right for our family.  At that point, I purposed in my heart that I was not going to nag him.  I would take any opportunity to talk to him about this that came up naturally but I wasn’t going to nag him.  God was so faithful and allowed conversations and situations to come up, allowed opportunities to talk about these children and about Down syndrome not only with Brad but with our two kids.  We are a homeschooling family so talking to a 10 year old and a 5 year old about Down syndrome or how other parts of the world view people who aren’t “perfect” fit right in.  (I’m a big talker and explainer.  I love to explain and teach things verbally to my kids.)  

I look back now and I’m just amazed at how God opened those doors to talk with my husband and my family about this.  They came to know how burdened my heart was about it. So, God was planting seeds in my husband’s heart.  Little tiny seeds but seeds.

During this whole process, I did finally just point blank tell Brad that I felt like God was telling us to pray about it, just pray about it and be open to what He told us.  Brad agreed because he always strives to do what God wants him to do so he was certainly open to praying about something that I felt so strongly about.  



I assumed that if Brad decided that we should adopt then we would look and pray over the children on Reece’s Rainbow to decide who we should adopt.  Well, God had another plan.  I remember how I would look and look over these children.  Wondering is that him, is that her?  But then one day I saw a face.  It was a face that I had seen a lot but this particular day it was God’s timing to reveal the next step in this process.  I saw Albina’s face, I looked at it, and I just knew.  I KNEW that was her.  




From that point on, I never could go long without pulling her picture up.  I remember talking to my iPad (sad, but true) and telling her, “We’re coming.  Hold on, we’re coming.”  I kept her picture minimized on every electronic device I had.  She was just always there.  I couldn’t quit looking at her.  She was mine and I had to get to her.  (I remember being devastated one day when I read Patti’s blog and it sounded like she already had a family.  I was happy for her but absolutely heartbroken.)  

One night, I just held my iPad up to Brad and said, “Look, isn’t she sweet?” He took the iPad from me and looked at her and made a few little comments about her.  Well, I found out later that was all she wrote for Brad Jolly.  A few days later, he just sort of casually asked me, “How do I get back to that page with that little girl on it?”  He told me later that while he had been praying about this like I had asked him to do he started to sense that God was telling him, “Don’t turn your back on her.  Don’t leave her there.”  He also told me later how he would pull her picture up at work and pray over her and this whole process. We started to have conversations about how much this process would cost, how it would change our family, all of the conversations that you have to have. Then the day finally came that he said, “I just feel like she’s supposed to be ours.” and we committed to bring our Albina home. Since then we have prayed over her, we have worked and worked to fundraise and to get paperwork ready. 


 We had a less that good experience with our original homestudy agency which cost us some precious months but we are holding on to the fact that God is in control of all time and He is working all of this out for good…even those lost months.



We love Albina.  We talk about how it’s strange that you can love somebody you’ve never met.  We pray over her that she’s safe and that we can bring her home just as quickly as possible.  We want her to be here with her brother and sister and to know that she’s loved and valued and that we think she’s perfect, just the way God made her.







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




Will you help the Jolly family go rescue their girl?

Will you help me get them fully funded?

How about some amazing prizes as incentive???



WINNER'S CHOICE (ONE OF THE FOLLOWING THREE):




1) NEW Apple iPad 16GB Wifi Tablet  ***NEWEST MODEL JUST
ANNOUNCED***


• New Retina display for the sharpest text and graphics display
• New A5X high-speed processor
• 16GB storage
• Wi-fi connectivity
• 10 hours battery life with Wi-fi turned on
• 5MP camera built-in
• HD quality video recording
• Facetime (video chat)
• Support for thousands of apps in iTunes App Store
   
   OR

2) Canon EOS Rebel T3 12.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18- 55mm IS II Lens
   
   • 12.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor for
high image quality and speed.
• ISO 100 - 6400 for shooting from bright to dim light.
• Improved EOS HD Movie mode with expanded recording [HD: 30p (29.97)
/ 25p], and with in-camera movie editing options.
• High speed, reliable 9-point AF system utilizing a high precision, f/5.6
cross-type center point.
• Enhanced metering with a 63-zone, Dual-layer metering system for
accurate metering between exposures.
• 3.0 fps continuous shooting up to approximately 830 JPEGs or 2.0 fps for
approximately 5 RAW.
• 2.7-inch wide TFT LCD monitor (230,000 dots) with Live View function for
improved viewing.
• Express your creativity with ease using advanced imaging features like the
new Basic+ function, Quick Setting function and Creative Auto.
• New Feature Guide offers short descriptions of each function and Quick
Control screen for easy operation.
• Compatibility with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
• Compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
  

OR



3) $500 Amazon.com Gift Card





And a host of other wonderful prizes....



$100 gift card to Target !!!
(thank you, Kelly Dirkes !!)



Sock Monkey Hat (winner chooses size) from The3MonkeysBoutique on Etsy. Crocheted sock monkey hat. specify color- sock monkey brown/gray, pink, blue, purple, orange.




Hot/cold packs from June 34 on Etsy Heat in the microwave to soothe sore muscles or warm up during cold night. Place in the freezer for a cold pack... great for boo-boo's for little ones!







  Highly Fragrant Soy Candle in 8 oz. tin container by JubileeScents on Etsy - Sugar Cookie and Pomegranate (one of each) Approximate 40 hours burn time - Made in USA 



Tutu- Made in any size and any color for the winner - Can also choose short or long skirt.




 Vera Bradley inspired flameless LED candles - Choose any of the styles shown - Winner receives 2 candles




Ten bows (winner's choice) from Natasha's Hair Bowtique and one bow holder:

(bows hang from tutu ribbons)



Darling Pink tutu, size 6 months



Baby Bluebird hat made with love by Sarah and Rachel at Handiwork for Lilly





Two necklaces (one per winner) from Mattie Grace Gifts on Etsy.


and finally, the GRAND PRIZE.....



Oh yeah, baby!
Renee Tam's world famous toffee. I don't think there is a price you could put on this stuff. For reals.


There are MANY ways to enter this giveaway. Leave a comment saying what you did to be entered (donated, shared, etc.) You do not have to specify your donation amount- paypal keeps track of these, and Jonana will total your entries.

*donate to the Jolly Family via the paypal gadget on my sidebar

$10 = one entry
$25 = 5 entries
$50 = 20 entries

*one entry PER DAY for sharing the giveaway on FB (status must be updated each day for each entry)

*one entry PER DAY for blogging about the giveaway (please include your blog link in your comment.)

*my wonderful friend, Deanna is co-hosting this giveaway with me. Become a follower of Everything and Nothing From Essex and leave a comment (there) saying you did so for an extra entry.

*twenty entries for getting this giveaway talked about on a radio station. It's never happened yet, but hey, it's worth a try ;)

Our goal is $18,500. I realize that's huge. But I just watched God work a $17,000 miracle for Charlotte last month, and I'm just crazy enough to pray He'll do it again.

Giveaway ends March 30th, and winners will be drawn and announced on March 31st.

Ten days to watch a miracle happen.


Will you help us Save Albina ????