Monthly Archives: March 2015

Home study visit, Garage Sale, and the beauty of the Church

Some of this may be boring and overly detailed, but I desperately want to remember these details.  I want to be able to paint a picture for Elliott in the years to come of what these days were like – not because God used all of this to raise money to bring her here, but because I want her to know how desperately loved she was by so many – before she even knew we existed.

These past several days have been huge adoption-wise.  We held a very large fundraising event, a garage sale (basically a garage sale on steroids) on Saturday, and had our big home study visit on Friday.

Last week started out hard.  Russ was crazy sick, I still had a good amount of work to do on our house to get us ready for the home visit (all the mom’s with hoarder kids out there – raise your hands!), and was feeling overwhelmed by the combination of work, home study, garage sale, and looming concerns about the weather for the weekend.

Tuesday morning I reached out to my best girls & they wrote back with encouragement, prayers, and words of Truth.  They got my head back in the right place.  And my bestie picked up Bennett for a playdate with her boy and dropped off coffee – leaving me with the gift of time to knock out the last of the hard-core cleaning out.

IMG_9760For the past ten days, the weather forecast has been horrible for Saturday.  I have been struggling a lot with fear – was this whole thing going to flop?  This past Tuesday as I was praying, the Lord reassured me again – that He has called us to this and is ordaining our steps.  I had been praying for no rain, but I began instead to ask for Him to show off.  Maybe the remarkable thing God was going to do was not that it wouldn’t rain, but that He would work all of this out and bring success in spite of the weather?

IMG_9765The day after God and I had this heart-to-heart, a friend sent me this verse:

IMG_9847I began to relax into the peace that only comes from knowing the Truth of who God is and all that He is capable of, and claiming His promises over what was coming.

Bennett and I spent the day on Thursday getting the house last-minute ready for the next day’s home study visit.  On Thursday afternoon around 3:00 we picked up Campbell from school and began the garage sale madness.  My in-laws arrived in town with their truck and trailer and we started moving the first load to the church – all of the donations that had filled my parents’ garage, playroom, and dining room.  All of that stuff filled my mom’s s SUV, my dad’s SUV, and my in-laws truck and trailer.  After we got it all unloaded, attempting to sort things into categories as we went, I remember thinking – “this room already feels full!”  Little did I know.

The rest of that evening consisted of many loads being picked up from the various places we had stored them.  Our big goal for Thursday was to get everything to the church so that we could work on organizing and pricing on Friday.  We were using two rented U-haul trucks and my in-laws vehicle with trailer as well, all of them going in different directions – picking up things from storage units, garages where we had stored things, and homes of people who had big items to donate.  Sue and I were at the church organizing stuff as it came in (while our kiddos tried on clothes, modeled shoes, & played with many, many garage sale items).  Some precious friends showed up to help bring order to the chaos and Russ had enlisted the help of many guys to help he and Grady in moving everything to the church.

I began to see a theme that evening that would run throughout the entire event – a unity of purpose and ownership that began to take my breathe away.  From the littlest of ones helping to unload stuff that night to our oldest family friend driving across town that afternoon with stuff to donate and ready to help unload things to people who just kept dropping stuff off, I began to feel like already I didn’t know how to process all of this.    I began to feel like I was outside of myself a bit watching all of this as if I was watching a movie or TV show – taking a few pictures along the way, but taking a million mental images in hopes to remember all the details.

IMG_9771I took the kids home around 7:00, to bath, eat dinner, and get in bed.  We had a big day on Friday and wanted them to be rested.

Around 9:30, Sue sent me a video.  Between the time I left and then the church looked significantly different.  The auditorium was completely full, they had overflowed into the foyer and had furniture going down the halls.  There was one storage unit that never even got touched – we simply had no more space.IMG_9776Russ got home around 11:00, we fell into bed exhausted and sore (P.S. Converse are horrible work shoes), and spoke a few words about the next day before we both passed out.

Friday morning we woke up, prayed together, did our normal routine, Russ headed to work for a few hours, and I took the kids to school.  I grabbed coffee for a few of us (a theme of the past few days!) and encountered a mean cop on my way to the church (stupid speed trap!).

The scene at the church was chaos.  Stuff everywhere.  There was still semi-order (as in, all of the kid and baby stuff was at one end of the room, most of the bags of clothes were being piled in one area), but it was essentially a mess.

By 8:30, some of my favorite women in the world were at the church and ready to work.  My mom, Sue, my mom’s two best friends who have done life with us my whole life, my Becca, Jen, Syd – our beloved friend and babysitter home from college for spring break.  We laughed, moved furniture, brought order to chaos, and when it was time for me to leave to pick up the kids and head home for our home study visit, they surrounded me and prayed over us.

I picked up the kids, at this point starting to feel very anxious. Russ, who was as cool as a cucumber, met us at home and then it was time.

I have heard different accounts and variations of home study visits, which is one of the reasons I felt nervous.  There definitely seems to be a scale of more intense and nit-picky to more laid-back.  We had prepared ourselves for more difficult, but were pleasantly surprised when she didn’t walk through the house with her white glove.  Our case worker was sweet, easy to talk with, and made the interviews feel very conversational.  Our kids showed off the extremes in their personalities (Campbell was extra timid and Bennett was EXTRA chatty).  In the end, it felt like she got a fairly realistic view of the Kings.  As we were closing, she told us that she would write approval in for one little girl from China and talked about the next steps – we have a visit next week to go over the parent education portion of the home study, then we will be nearing the end of the home study portion of the adoption.

By 3:00, we were headed back up to the church to join the troops still there sorting, organizing, and preparing things for the big sale the next day.  And we were all feeling happy and a little bit lighter than just a few hours before.

IMG_9781We showed up at the church and dove back in.  By this point, the team there had been rocking and rolling throughout the day and they had made INCREDIBLE progress.  It no longer looked like an episode of Hoarders, but basically like a mini-thrift store.  We continued to work and chip away at it, with some people dropping off over time to head home and rest up for the next day.

Friday night I had one of my big emotional moments.  We were taking a break for dinner.  Some of my favorite people were in the room – Russ and our kids, Becca, Noelle, Syd & Jimmy (our beloved teenage friends), Sue and Grady and Maya, Shannon, and my best girl Ashley.  I glanced around at all the work that had been done that day and looked at the faces of those people who had been there for literally twelve hours at this point, and I became so overwhelmed.  I couldn’t fathom in that moment that all of these people were doing this much hard work for us.  I still can’t.  I have known big gestures of love.  I have known sacrifice by other people.  I don’t know that I have ever seen such hard work done, by so many people, for so many hours, on my behalf.  And yet I know this is not really about me, but about the love of Jesus that compels.  I have never been more grateful for that.

We left late Friday night, fell into bed again, slept for a good 4 hours, and arrived back about 5:15 on Saturday morning – with ample amounts of coffee for our team.

It’s hard to really paint a picture of what it was like on Saturday.  The main worship area of the church was filled with smaller garage sale items – everything except furniture.  All the furniture was outside under the awnings in the front of the church.

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IMG_9788In the foyer we had craft tables – my precious cousin and aunt had spent hours and hours creating beautiful things which she sold and donated all of the money to the adoption.  We had cards and key chains made by loved ones for sale.  There was an enormous bake sale organized by a good friend and her girls, the church coffee shop was open, and a raffle was held for a beautiful cloth doll that a church member made.

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IMG_9787There were people everywhere – working and shopping.  For most of the day it was non-stop activity.  Many times, we had a long line at the check out.  And it was beautiful, to constantly look around and see a revolving door of friends, family, beloved church family – all working towards our one cause.  Towards helping bring our girl home.

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Remember all my concerns about the weather?  Well it rained.  On and off all day.  My two big fears about the weather had been that if we had to move inside we wouldn’t get street traffic and people would not be out doing the garage sale thing if it was raining.

But people were out doing the garage sale thing.  Many many people told me that they saw all of our advertisements and came to check it out.  And the street traffic?  Throughout the day the youth of our church were at the street with signs – when it was raining, when it wasn’t.  They would come in and show us their destroyed poster boards and ask for new ones to make new signs.  All day.  They stood out in the rain all day and continually got traffic flowing in.

IMG_9797And when it was time to quit, we loaded up what was left and took it to Goodwill.  We had brought in many U-haul loads.  We took out one U-haul load.

IMG_9823Our initial total!

I have been so emotional over the past few days as I have recovered physically, thought through all of the moments of the past week, and processed the hand of God in all of this.

Because what happened on Saturday was not just an event, a garage sale, to raise money for an adoption.  What we experienced was the Church at its best, the New Testament Church doing the kind of work, acting in the kind of love the Bible clearly lays out for us.  In Acts Chapter 4 it says “The whole congregation of believers was united as one – one heart, one mind!”

I am so grateful to the Lord for providing financially for our adoption.  Unbelievably grateful.  But I am a thousand percent more grateful to be carried through this process by the Body of Christ.  I’m grateful that as we bring Elliott home, she will learn from and be surrounded by this kind of real, active love.

At the end of the day, we celebrated over dinner with some precious friends who had worked tirelessly alongside of us for days.  We toasted, cried, laughed, ate, had some drinks, and rested our tired feet.  And when we pulled up in the driveway that night, Russ & I felt like these two looked.

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And the big question everyone has been asking – how did the garage sale do?  We are completely floored and overwhelmed.  When it was all said and done, we raised $7,355.  FROM A GARAGE SALE!

To date, we have saved & raised a total of $30,366.  We need only $4,634 until we are fully funded!

God is so, so good.

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On humility

This past Saturday morning Russ and I were doing that thing we do – the dance of maneuvering around each other in our not-huge bathroom and bedroom as we both get ready to go somewhere.  I was standing at the mirror when I told him “I feel very humbled by this process.”

Ahhh, humility.

Last Friday night we picked up some garage sale donations from people we essentially don’t know.  I’ve met this darling girl once, we are friends on social media, and I read her blog.  I mean, I sort of love her, but we don’t really know them.  After we loaded the massive amount of things in our car, we were standing on the driving talking to her and and her husband – he was asking questions about the adoption.  This man that had never heard of us until that day says, “I’m so glad we could donate these things to your garage sale, can I also bless you with a cash donation?”

Humbled.

Last Saturday we showed up at noon to the house of a family we have never met.  We were connected with them by some longtime mutual friends.  This family has adopted two girls from China in the past several years and offered to meet with us.  We were nervous. Would it be awkward?  Would they like us?  Did this feel like a nuisance to them?

It’s hard to put words to what this day was like for us.  They loved on us, encouraged us, spoke life into us, filled our car with garage sale items, answered tons of questions, and affirmed that we can do this.  We watched Bennett fall in love with their youngest child, home from China only 4 months, and both Heather (mama) and I teared up several times as he cared for and protected her throughout the day.

IMG_9626At the end of the day (because we stayed for lunch AND dinner), their oldest child looked at Bennett and said “You are going to be such a good big brother.”  He repeated that several times on the way home and over the past several days (“Remember how McKayla said I’m going to be a good big brother?”)  Our whole family is spurred on in our journey to Elliott because of the investment they have made in us.

Humbled.

Sunday I spent much of my time at church talking to people about picking up garage sale donations.  Swarms of people.  Tons of stuff.  I was fearful when we decided to do this garage sale that we wouldn’t get items donated and that the whole thing might be a flop (are you sensing a theme here with me?).  Just the opposite is true.  We have filled up about three garages and one storage unit and have began to fill a second storage unit.  Many people are sacrificing things that they could sell themselves in order to help our efforts to fund bringing Elliott home.

Humbled

Sunday afternoon some of our sweet friends from church started their own side fundraising campaign.  He is growing his beard out for 6 months & they have established sponsors to pay monthly.  They are up to over $1000 in commitments.   One of the most beautiful things about this initiative is that I didn’t even know – I logged on to Facebook and saw that she had done this, on our behalf, without any effort from us or conversation with me.

Humbled.

On Monday morning I woke up to two donations that had come in while I slept.  Russ had come home from his accountability group meeting the night before with an insanely generous donation from some of our dearest friends and a friend from church had deposited money in our online account the night before as well.  With these donations and all of the others, we are $13, 842 away from our goal.  In just over one month, we have saved and raised over $21,000 dollars.

Humbled.

Here’s the thing about humility – we so often think of it in such a negative context.  As in humility = I am being put in my place.

But that is not the beauty of the Truth of God.  The beauty of the Gospel is that I can be flawed.  I can own and know my flaws and yet I don’t wallow in that.  Humility shines a light on my need for a Savior and my place in this connection with God.  Humility shows me, over and over, that HE is God.  There becomes a deep awareness that I nor Russ is wise enough, strong enough, or capable enough to walk this journey without Him.  Humility stops being a negative thing and starts being celebrated as we understand our role more and more – seeing that He has the power to do things like move other people to financially support us, give us mentors, and raise people up to pray and walk with us through this journey.  We are able to believe and rest in our position in all of this, deeply confident in the God who created and loved Elliott from the beginning of time.

IMG_9701This is a big week for us!  We have our first home visit for our home study on Friday.  Then on Saturday we are holding our big fundraising garage sale.  We have so much to do and are trying to get over a few weeks of sickness as well.  We would love prayer for lots and lots of endurance, everything to go smoothly as we organize and prepare, for the visit Friday, and for the garage sale to bring in lots of money.  Right now there is a good chance of rain on Saturday – pray for NO rain!!