Sunday, June 12, 2011

Officially Adopted!

Just in case you haven't seen the Kulp's Family blog or Shea's facebook page...Shea is officially Shea Matthew Kulp! :) Read all about the family's first trip to meet him, their time with Shea, their first court appearance, and the plans to bring him home on their family blog! Thanks be to God for bringing the family this far, keeping Shea safe and protected, and allowing us to witness this incredible journey of faith and love. Prayers that he is home with them very soon!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lucky Numbers

I've never had a lucky number.
My husband's is #9 - his soccer number since he was 3 years old. Oddly enough it is also my Dad's favorite number - it was his jersey number in football (the american kind). ;)
But I've never had a lucky number.
My sister-in-law loves the number 4 (and the color yellow) and if you know her and don't know this... she will be deeply disappointed in you. ;) My mom loves the number 3 - 3 of anything makes her think of her 3 kids. If you see a card with 3 kittens on it - you can't go wrong - get if for her - she thinks it's us. It could be 3 weasels for all she cares - it represents her 3 little weasel-kids. It's special. It means something.
But I've never had a lucky number.
Lots of people have lucky numbers. Numbers they will bet on, kiss the dice and hope for, take it as a sign if they see them. According to the Bible, 7 is the perfect number (so maybe the Von Trapp family had the right idea...nah...I'm absolutely certain I couldn't handle that.) But people like numbers. They have value - both absolute and sentimental.
Numbers mean something.
Numbers are worth something.

I've never had a lucky number.
But I respect numbers. I pay attention to numbers. I value numbers.
Allow me to share with you some numbers that are very important, very meaningful, and very me.

100 - the number of days since I first saw his sweet face. I can't believe it's been 100 days.

9 - the reference number for Shea's orphanage in Eastern Europe.

350,000 - the average number of babies born with
Spina Bifida worldwide each year.
Shea is one of them. My Jet is another.

4 - the age of most children (with special needs) in Eastern Europe when they are moved from the orphanage to an institution. That is the age Shea is now.

25,000 - the average cost of an international adoption from EE.

91 - the number of contributors who've donated to Shea's adoption grant through the Chipin on this blog!

76 - the number of days since Shea's forever family announced their plans to adopt him.

7,000 - the last bits of money needed to complete their adoption.

3 - the number of places you can go online to donate
1) Right here through the Chipin on the right side of this blog -->
2) The Chipin on the family blog.
3) Shea's FSP on Reece's Rainbow (an international adoption program for children with special needs)

Invaluable - the difference even $1 can make in the life of this child...and his waiting family.

The numbers are right there in front of you.
You may think "This is only 1 child out of so many who need help."
And that's the point - here is 1 child who you can help now.
You may think "I am only 1 person, how can I possibly make a difference?"
But you can!
Because, my friends, that's the beautiful thing about numbers...when you keep adding them together...there's no limit the value you can attain.
So if you have a minute (and let's be honest - we all have 1 minute.)
And if you have just $1 (honesty time again - if you're on a computer something tells me you have $1)
Then take that minute, and that dollar, and put them together to make a difference.
Donate in the name of a friend or family member.
Give in honor someone who needs a smile - who could help but smile knowing they'd helped this sweet little boy.
Together - we can reach that 100% goal!
And 100% - just might become my new lucky number.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Give Love

Because it's February.
Because I just decorated my house in pink and red hearts.
Because Valentines are not just for couples...but friends, mommies, daddies, siblings, classmates and neighbors.
Because everybody needs love. And not the romantic comedy, butterflies in your stomach, plucking petals off daisies kind of love.

They need the "I'm yours forever" kind of love.
The "we can do this together" kind of love.
The "can't stop starring at you" kind of love.
The "I'm always there for you" kind of love.
The "I can't keep myself from smiling around you" kind of love.
The "I promise to make time to laugh with you" kind of love.
The "everything you say is so important to me" kind of love.
The " I couldn't be prouder of you in this moment" kind of love.
The love that lifts you up....
Squeezes you tight...
Makes even hard times feel alright..
The love that teaches you all that you need to know...
And gives you support you need to grow...
The undeniable you were made for me...
And together we make a family...
What's mine is yours...
I treasure each kiss...
And everyone deserves to feel like this...
Kind of Love.

Because real love is something that cannot be bought - only shared. We need it from the time we are born - and those of us who having loving families know that NOTHING could have replaced that. The love of family - the love I was given as a child - made me who I am today. It teaches us how to love the rest of our lives. It can never be truly expressed in the form of greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, or jewelry. Those sweet tokens and gestures give momentary happiness - it's the feeling love behind them that really means anything at all. So with that in mind, and in the spirit of this holiday of love - I would like to propose the perfect gift for your loved ones.
Give the gift of Love itself.
Give Love.
You can bring joy and love not only to those who hold your heart -
but to child who needs your help.
Give Love.
By helping one little boy come home to the family who is waiting to give him this kind of love. The kind of love every single one of these children pictured above are given every day.
The kind of love so many of us are blessed to have.
The kind of love he deserves.
Give Love.
Shea's story is a remarkable one - and it is only just beginning. He now has a family ready for him - and Shea is WAITING to come home. His family is actively completing the adoption process - eager to give Shea the love, support and care only a family can give. The only thing we can do to help them bring Shea home as soon as possible is to GIVE.
Give what you have.
$5, $25, $50
It's not the size of the gift, but the size of the heart behind it.
It is so costly to adopt internationally - so much so that many people say "we can't afford that" or "it's just not possible for us". But this family has given everything they have not once, not twice, but 3 TIMES (read their blog - they are an amazing family)and is making that leap of faith to make Shea a part of their family - but they need help raising the last bits.
(And in adoption language, "bits" = $9,000!)
They need our HELP!

As a friend so honestly reminded me " Let's face it ... we all spend/waste $$$ on this every year. The chocolate is gone...the flowers die... and all you have is a distant memory of the token(s) you invested in."

How much more meaningful - how much more noble - how much more true to what love is all about - to give that money instead to this family - to this little boy -
to bring him home - to give him Love.
So help share the love...with Shea. :)

Isn't that the most adorable Valentine ever?!
It's message is simple - it's purpose sincere.
Make a donation (even just $5!) in the name of a friend or loved one - to Shea's Adoption Grant (through the chipin on the right hand margin of this page) or visit his family's blog and donate through their chipin (it all goes to his account.) Then print out these adorable Shea Valentines (click on Donation Gift Cards for the printable link) and give them to your sweetie, your sister, your mother, your friend - and see their faces light up at the sweet face on the card.

I can't think of a sweeter, kinder, more beautiful way to Give Love.
Can you?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let God

The original title of this post was "Let Go". But as I was typing my fingers got carried away and added a "d" to the end...As I went to correct the typo, I decided perhaps it wasn't really a typo after all.
So here it is - appropriately titled - the long awaited update.

Big News:
Okay...deep breath...I have big news.
For those of you who did not hear yet (and I'm so sorry if you didn't!) Shea is no longer waiting to find his forever family - they have FOUND HIM! :) I don't even remember the exact day...but right before Christmas a little bird told me they had noticed that Shea had been moved on the Reece's Rainbow site from "Waiting Children" to "My Family Found Me." My heart skipped a beat as I quickly went to Shea's page on Reece's...and he wasn't there. Of course at first this scared me - but I knew something had to be up so I went to the "My Family Found Me" link and frantically searched for my little brown-eyes and after what seemed like eternity - I found him. In his new home on the amazing "My Family Found Me" page. I was so pleased for him. They'd upgraded him to a "suite" right before the holidays. :) And more than that - this meant there was a family committed to him and actively filling out paperwork. Amazing news. I immediately emailed the director (as I've done ALOT) and asked about this new development. She informed me that yes there was a family - but until their initial paperwork went through she couldn't tell me anymore.
So I waited. And not a week later my sister was on Reece's Rainbow and saw that Shea was now also on the link "New Commitments" and with his bio was brief bio of the family who was going to adopt him. So I went there. And I read it. And I cried. And I smiled.
So please - Meet the Kulp family. :)

Making Contact:
I left a message on the family blog for Liz (the mom) to contact me if she would - that I would love to hear how they found Shea and how the process is going. I told her briefly how I had been the one to find him and started a fundraiser that turned into a huge effort with the help of many generous hearts. After a few days she wrote me. She was amazed and so thankful for all we had done. She said when she found Shea she was immediately drawn to him and couldn't stop thinking about him - she said she wasn't sure they could have committed to him without the large grant we had raised for him! (Awesome.) She was so grateful to all of those who have advocated for Shea - and made it possible for them to bring him home. I was so shaken to hear back from her - I so desperately wanted to - but once I did I was at a loss at how to respond. I couldn't believe it was all happening. I wanted to know everything - and yet felt frozen.
I can't believe I didn't have the words right away.

So again...I waited. And while I waited...I cried. Oh how I cried. It would be easy to say the tears were of joy and relief. But they were so much deeper and more complicated than that.
This past month I've cried so much I was sure I'd eventually run out of tears.
No one would know how this experience has broken my heart...unless you've been around me...then you probably got a clue. ;)
I haven't cried so much since we thought we were losing our baby boy. The tears this past month have been the same and different. They are the same tears of worry, confusion, desperation, fear and helplessness. Yet they have now been mixed with tears of relief, gratitude, humility, exhaustion and letting go. They aren't the tears of a mother desperately clinging to something like we clung to our unborn baby, they are the tears of of letting go of a baby who wasn't really ours to cling to...but I did. Oh boy...I did. I didn't realize how I'd been "clinging" since I saw his sweet face. Clinging to the idea of saving him. Clinging to God to help me do it. And deep down - stronger than anything - clinging to the hope that God was choosing me to be his mother. I'm not sure how it happened - I told myself and everyone that I only wanted to help him - and that I was looking to God for guidance. If another family came that would be WONDERFUL! But if no one came to rescue him - I couldn't let him go to an institution. So in my mind - we would wait for God to decide. Little did I know, I wasn't very good at waiting. ;) Okay - maybe I did know that.
But I didn't realize how it would torture my heart. How I would build up images in my head of what I thought God's plan was going to be. How I thought He was going to use us. Like I said, I never fully admitted to myself that I wanted him as mine. Subconsciously, I knew it - and told a few people about my thoughts of "what if we adopted him" and was continually encouraged by the "signs" - the obvious signs that God was working - that God was going to save this little boy. All the money donated (I'm still amazed by it) and spreading the word about Shea - it was so apparent that BIG things were happening - and I kept thinking...maybe it's a sign for us...maybe things will sort themselves out and we'll make that commitment...just wait a little more...just pray a little harder...just wait...just pray.
I was scared to death of what it would mean to adopt him.
And I was scared to death of what it would mean if we didn't.

When the first family came to me and wanted to adopt Shea - I dealt with all these emotions - and felt at peace with the answer. It seemed perfect. A different perfect than what I'd first hoped...but perfect. When that fell through - I was shaken again.
Was this our sign? What was God's plan?
When this second family, the Kulps, appeared on RR I knew things were different - they had gotten the initial approval, they had adopted before -things were working out - it was really happening. It was happening fast. I once again was floundering with my feelings. I didn't know this family. I didn't get to meet this mom at Starbucks and talk about Shea and look in her eyes and feel comforted. It was just happening...without me. And I had to put it - and all the tears and fears welling up inside me - in a drawer and lock it away for a little while. It was the holidays. Family was in town. My little man was experiencing Christmas. :) I needed to be free for a while.

When I finally decided to let go of my anxieties and write back to the wonderfully, sweet mother who was going to adopt our little angel, the words came easily.
I told her how I had found him.
How much I was attached to him.
How much I had prayed for him.
How much I wanted this for him.
How much I had cried for him.
How much I loved him.
And this sweet, sweet woman wrote back more thanks and assurance that she hoped "Auntie Joanna" would be a part of their lives for years to come. (cue the tears again. :) oohhh dear.) Since those emails I have followed her blog diligently - they are new family to me and I want to know everything. I have followed her friend Jill's blog (her first connection to little Shea) and her journey to adopt their son Elijah (from the same orphanage as Shea! Crazy!). I have read about how Jill has seen, held and interacted with our brown-eyed angel boy (without being able to say who she was speaking of...but we knew :) and ohhhhh it is amazing stuff). And the joy at seeing him smile...there is nothing like it. He looks happy. And knowing he has been watched over - and is now going to have a family to love him the way I love my own little miracle boy - God is SO Good.

And So:
So I was going to title this post - "Let Go." Not because I'm letting go of Shea altogether - I am am still very much holding on to hope, love and prayers for him daily. I will never let go of that.
But I am finally trying to let go of "my plan"...
And truly working...
to let go and "Let God".

Thursday, December 16, 2010


One of the hardest things I think for people to to do is wait. As a society we are bombarded with phrases like "quick fix", "fast food", "time-saver" and "immediate results" to entice us. Anything to get the job done faster is better. Anything that makes life easier is a necessity. Buy our tickets ahead of time - why would we ever want to wait in line?! Call ahead. Go online. Pre-order it. Have it delivered to you. Rush-order. Get it fast. Get it first. Get it now.
Why wait?
Who wants to wait?
You deserve what you want, when you want it. If you have to wait too long - your meal should be free. Unhappy with the service? You deserve a store-credit. A complimentary gift card. Lots of apologies. "Thank you for waiting - you're call is important to us. Please hold." How dare they put me on hold again! Nothing infuriates us and puts us on edge more than those words "please continue to hold". Except maybe waiting in traffic. Waiting at a red-light. Waiting for customer service. Waiting for the the slowest person ever to get out of the bathroom! Why does this store only have 1 stall?! Who only has 1 stall?!
Waiting makes us use words like "ridiculous" and "unheard of" as we pace, tap, stomp, sigh and roll our eyes.
Blood pressure rising.
Tempers flaring.
Patience depleting.
Heart racing.
And if I am honest, I will say it too - I hate waiting.
Waiting in line to buy groceries or waiting to talk to the doctor on the phone is annoying sometimes. But that's not the hardest kind of waiting. It's not that big of a deal to wait 30 minutes at the pharmacy. Ideal? No. But those are the things I need keep perspective about. Those are the things that will get done in due time - and I won't be deeply affected because of it.
But waiting for God's plan.
Waiting for an answered prayer.
Waiting for some direction.
Waiting for this little boy to find a family.
That is the waiting I can't wrap my mind around.
That is the waiting that hurts my heart and messes with my head and lays like a heavy rock on my chest. That is the waiting that makes it hard to breath sometimes. Hard to think. Hard to sleep.
That is the waiting that makes me feel so unworthy of the blessings I have - when so many are in need.
That is the waiting that makes me feel helpless. And I don't like feeling helpless. Boy do we mother's hate that.
But that is the waiting that makes me blink back tears and look up to God and say "I just don't know what You want me to do now. I just don't know if I'm doing it right...or doing enough. I just don't know why I still feel lost. I just...don't...know."
And isn't that worse than waiting sometimes?
When you know what you are waiting for - it is hard to wait.
But when you don't know what you're waiting for - it's kind of overwhelming.
It's like those time when you are so confused you don't even know how to ask for help. Or so hurt you don't know what could help. Or what to pray for.
Those times you just don't know what to say or if you should say anything at all.
Aren't those the most difficult?
For someone who likes to talk - and usually has a pretty good handle on what she wants (or thinks she wants) - it's such a strange feeling to experience. And over the past 2 and half weeks I've gone from emotionally touched, to passionately active, to emotionally distraught, and now...almost numb. Numb is the best way I can describe it. And I don't know why. Writing this now I feel myself slowing coming out of it - regaining feeling - but when I think "okay, now what?!" the numbness starts to creep in again. I've asked myself -what is going on here? Why do I feel as if I'm shutting down? Am I just too weak - to drained by the recent swell of emotions I've experienced - and I'm giving up? Or is this God's way of calming the tempest of tears and desperate prayers that borderline impatience, and giving me a rest?
I tend to believe the latter.
I know how much God loves me. And I know He is there for all of His children - there to give them what they need when they themselves don't know what that is. And I know I have prayed for patience. And I have prayed for guidance. And I have cried and begged for help. Help me have faith. Help me be content with waiting on You, Lord. Help me stop crying and trust You.
And now I find myself not crying, not hysterical, not hurting, not frantically emailing and asking and talking and thinking.
And I find myself waiting.
And somewhat at peace just to wait.
And here I am... questioning it!?
Writing it down and seeing what is going on actually makes me LAUGH! Did I not ask for help? Did I not ask for Him to teach me to wait? And now that's all I can do - is wait - and I'm upset again?! Oh how God must look at me with a knowing smile and shake His head. Just like when Jet frantically reaches for me then turns around and goes right back to his Daddy. He got what he wanted then changed his mind. :) Are we not just like immature children who ask for one thing then promptly forget and complain about what we were given. But it's such a natural tendency. And it is so easy to be blinded by our earthy knowledge and confused by the spiritual.
I have felt such a roller coaster of emotions over little Shea.
Wanting to help him. Wondering if we could be the family for him. Excited at the possibility. Deciding to wait and pray about it. Heartsick at not being in the position to commit to adopting Shea right now. Anxious about his future. Grateful for the success of his fundraisers. Impatient at still waiting. Praying God would show us the way. Meeting another family who was willing and ready to ADOPT Shea! Fighting the feelings of "hey - I saw him first" and realizing God's hand in this beautiful family coming for Shea. At peace and rejoicing when they started the adoption process. Ecstatic that they lived nearby! In awe that I would be so close to Shea and his new family. Praising God for His wisdom. Confused and panic-stricken when they were denied. Heartbroken for them. Renewed sadness for Shea. Wondering again what our role in this should be. Scared that we weren't seeing God's plan clearly. Contemplating how (again) we might be Shea's family. Hearing that several other inquiries have been made about Shea from interested families. Not sure how to feel - excited? Pressured? Thankful?
And everyone knows - I hate roller coasters.
They make me sick.
They really do scare me.
They are not fun in the least.
I never want to ride one again - ever.
But I'm sure this is not the end of this particular roller coaster. And as much as I might beg to get off of it - once you are on it, there's no getting off of it until it's finished.
So in the mean time, I'll do what I've always done when riding on roller coasters.
I'll close my eyes.
Hold on tight.
Say a prayer.
And wait.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Call to Prayer

There is a LONG story to come called "A family for Shea". It's just the beautiful beginning of an even longer story I'm sure, but it's about an amazing family and the unexpected way God has brought us together over a little boy named Shea. :) There is a family interested in adopting Shea (who have to remain anonymous at this point because of legal reasons) but I met with the mother this past Saturday and it was wonderful. (Yes - can you believe they live close by!?) They still have a long way to go - and will need all the financial help we can give them to bring Shea home - so YES we are continuing our fundraising efforts! I can't wait to tell you all about it - but at this point in time I strangely just don't have the words. I am in need of some recovery time - physically, emotionally and mentally - so that story will just have to wait a little longer.
But in the mean time - please continue to pray with me.
And in your prayers - praise God for His love and wisdom in bringing all of this about in only 2 weeks! Thank Him for allowing us to work in His plan for Shea. Pray for strength and courage for this family and the new journey they are embarking on. Pray for comfort and love to rest upon Shea every day - protecting him until he can be united with his family. And please pray for peace and renewal on our family - that we may continue to serve and trust God's plan.
As I said - it is only the beginning.
But with God as the Beginning and the End -
I am already looking ahead at a happy ending. :)
Thank you all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Donation Gift Cards

Do you have someone on your Chistmas list that has everything?

You know, that person that you always end up buying a random gift card for?

Or maybe you want to slip in an extra $5 bit of love to a gift you've already purchased?

Why not make a donation to a little boy who needs it? Donate to Shea's Adoption Grant in the name of a friend or family member and give the gift of love. Two gifts for the price of one - a gift for Shea and his future family, and the gift of them knowing this little boy has a better chance at finding his family because of them.

And check out our new donation card!

Isn't it adorable?!

(Thanks Laura! You're amazing!)

*Click HERE to view and print the pdf. file.

(you will need acrobat to view the card. Just right click on the image and select "print" or "save" to your computer.)

They pring 4x6 and 2 to a page. :)

Tuck them into stockings!

Slip one into a tiny pouch or wallet!

Roll one up into a mug!

Instead of a $25 gift card, buy a $20 one and add a $5 Saving Shea tag!

Share the joy of this journey with your family and friends this holiday season and all year long!

*Want the card but can't print it? Send me an email and we will work something out.

I got the idea for Shea's cards from another blog and little boy like Shea named Cliff. Please take a minute to read his story and maybe give a little love to him as well. :)


Songs for Shea

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones