i'll stop the world...

...and yard sale.
Oh my goodness!  We have SO MUCH stuff for our yard sale!!  Amazing!  We are so thankful for the 23 families who've helped make this happen!  And more stuff is coming tomorrow & Thurs!  I'm actually pretty excited about the weekend!  I know it'll be exhausting, but I'll get to hang with some special friends, and hopefully get to share with some strangers the answer to, "So why adoption?"

I've designed a blog dedicated to our yard sale, and hope to add more pics tomorrow.  Here's the link if you'd like to check it out:

Next week I'll be sharing about our silent auction fund raiser!  Two amazing adoptive families have given us 2 very special items to auction!  Stay tuned!!


Adoption. Finances. A word from Spurgeon.

For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

- Ezr 8:22

A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shame-facedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve his own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by him who is the sword and shield of his people. It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone. Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar's aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of his own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon his solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. But, says one, are not means to be used?Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature's arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.

-Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon

Ethiopian Get-Together with JANE KURTZ!!

Tomorrow morning (Sat, Sept 25th) we are having an Ethiopian Fellowship here in Birmingham...with some very special guests!!  Most of you (in the Ethiopia-adoption circle) know Jane Kurtz, and probably have several of her books.  Click here to visit her website and click here to read her blog.

Jane's son and his family recently moved to the Birmingham area -- and she & her husband are here visiting them -- which turned into a perfect opportunity to meet their family, and hang-out with other Ethiopia-connected families in the area!!

Have a connection to Ethiopia?  In the Birmingham-area?? 
We'd love for you to join us!!
Email me at alisafmartin@yahoo.com and I'll send you the details!


celebrating judah!

Judah's 1st birthday is Oct 2! Oh, how we hate to miss this very special milestone! He should receive the care package (pictured above) by the end of the week!! He will see our faces for the very first time ever!!
The package is already in China, and you can see that the letter we sent to him has already been translated into Chinese. A nanny will read it to him very soon. It makes my heart ache to imagine the confusion that his little mind may experience when he sees our photos, and hears our letter to him...that we are his family, and we're coming to get him.
We've also ordered a birthday cake, that will be delivered to the orphanage, so the staff and children can celebrate his special day with him! Of course, our family will have a party for him, too -- on this side of the globe!


monday's call to worship

O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing
Charles Wesley, 1739
Wesley wrote this hymn to com­mem­o­rate the first an­ni­ver­sa­ry of his con­ver­sion to Christ.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
the glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
to spread through all the earth abroad
the honors of thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
he sets the prisoner free;
his blood can make the foulest clean;
his blood availed for me.

He speaks, and listening to his voice,
new life the dead receive;
the mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
the humble poor believe.

Hear him, ye deaf; his praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ;
ye blind, behold your savior come,
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

In Christ, your head, you then shall know,
shall feel your sins forgiven;
anticipate your heaven below,
and own that love is heaven.


bonding. revisited.

As the time draws near for us to travel to China, I'm trying to remind myself of some of the realities we faced in Micah's adoption. Time to put my game face on, so to speak.

The adoption journey--for the most part, and for most people--is a very gratifying experience. You're surrounded by cheerleaders. People are praying for your adoption, they are supporting your fundraisers, you even have a blog fan club (well, I never achieved that status)...you're in constant contact with other adoptive families, who are sending Bible verses, and packing lists your way. It's great...thrilling!!

Yes. There are major headaches along the way with paperwork, social workers, finances--and yet, somehow, the headaches almost fuel the gratification. Because every hurtle that is over-come becomes a victory celebration with your cheerleaders!

And then comes the adrenaline-high of traveling to your child(red)...holding them so close and so tight for the first time! Soaking in the feel of their skin, the smell of their hair...their breath on your neck, their heart pounding against yours. One of the most beautiful experiences in all of life.

You're soaking-in their birth country. And making new, best friends with your travel buddies...and then...

You come home.
You're jet-lagged.
Your son/daughter(s) is jet-lagged.
They don't understand what you're saying because you cannot speak their native tongue.
There's no one/nothing in their lives that's familiar.
They're afraid.
They're confused.

You see, as you're spending months/years preparing for son/daughter(s), what's happening in their lives is very different. If they're older, they're are likely grieving great loss -- if they're younger, they're likely attaching/bonding with a nanny/foster parent. Either way, they're in survival mode.

And they probably don't have many cheerleaders.

So. With all that said, I will leave you with a blog post that I wrote last year about what we experienced the first several weeks home with Micah. This is what I am preparing for...


surprising difficulties of international adoption, #4

The final surprise (at least, that I'm sharing in this series) that we experienced with Micah happened during our first several weeks with him.

Again, the best comparison I can make is to that of an engagement. Over the years, Vince and I have had the privilege of counseling engaged couples as they prepare for marriage. And the reality is for most couples, their unfolding marriage is not what they were expecting...sometimes it's better, easier than expected...but, most often it's much more difficult. Difficult doesn't equal bad. Difficult simply reflects the fact that humans are physically, emotionally and spiritually-complex beings -- therefore, marriage is a complex institution. Multi-dimensional.

The same goes for bringing a child into your family through adoption. (NOTE: even though we do not have biological children, families who do have bio children have also experienced this scenario that I am about to describe with their adopted children.)

Prior to meeting your child/ren, you've bonded with their photos...and you've bonded with the child that your imagination has created. It is impossible to predict personality and temperament from pictures, so your mind connects a personality and temperament to the child/ren according to how you brain reads the limited data captured on film.

The real child is much different than the two-dimensional, glossy child. Much more complex.

You've been full-steam ahead...focused intensely on meeting your sweet child. Um, well, your imagined child, that is. But when you're united, the imagined child crashes into the real child -- and you immediately enter what is best described as a fog.

Once you're back to the familiarity of your own home, you do emerge from the fog. But not really as mommy, more like baby-sitter -- because you do not know this child.

I think I read about this phenomenon in adoptive-parenting books. But like the dreamy-eyed lover, I must have ignored all that I read because this stage caught me off-guard. I truly felt like Micah's baby-sitter. Jet-lag and Micah's anxiety about his new surroundings didn't help matters either. I grieved and experienced intense guilt because of what I was feeling: was there something wrong with me because I did not have an instantaneous and deep emotional bond with him??

The answer is: NO!!!

What I was experiencing was completely normal. Social workers affirmed that it was normal. Other adoptive families who were united with their children after us also experienced the very same thing. Now, I know some of you who are reading this are thinking: Nope! Won't be me. I'll just read more books, pray harder. I will instantly bond with my children. None of this "baby-sitter" nonsense for me. All I can say is, keep me posted. Let me know if you do by-pass the baby-sitter season. Well, never mind -- don't bother. I probably won't believe you. I'll probably just attribute your victory to a "referral euphoria" relapse.

I don't share this (or surprises #1-3) to scare you, or deter you. It's just the way it is. You will over-come each surprise that you experience in your adoption...some later than sooner. But you will be stronger, more informed because of each surprise you encounter. So don't dread them, or even worse, deny them...embrace them. You are human -- your child/ren is human. All human relationships develop in a linear fashion -- and include the linear elements of time and experience. And this will hold true for your adoption...it will hold true for you, and your child. So give yourself, and your child, time and space to grow.

That's what adoption is: the process of fulfilling a life-long commitment. Through your obedience to your commitment, life-long blessing will follow.

Indescribable blessing.


it costs HOW MUCH??

Several people have sent me emails and FB's about our China adoption expenses. Some people simply want to know how much we still owe, others are curious adoption costs in-general, and a few wanted to know if there is a difference in costs between an Ethiopian and China adoption. So, I'll do my best to answer those questions in this post.

First, let me say that adoption is expensive! Some have suggested that it's not right for a family to pursue an adoption if they don't have all the funds necessary to complete the adoption. Of course, I do not agree! If that's the case, people should not buy cars, houses, boats, vacation homes, or even take vacations if they can't pay cash.
See my point?
We don't carry debt on a house (because we rent) and we don't have car loans (paid them off...thank you, LORD!). But we will probably carry debt from this adoption. And we're 100% ok with that. We'd rather carry debt for our boys to have a home, versus a fancy car to have a drive way. We know that is not everyone's choice...and that's ok, too...but it's our choice.

Off my soap-box.
Back to adoption costs.

On average, the adoption of one child from Ethiopia or China will cost about $25,000-30,000. Some state fees and agency fees vary. Airfare and travel fees vary as well.

From this point forward in our China adoption we will spend about $18,000 (no, we do not have this full amount) to bring Judah home.
-airfare (3 going, 4 coming home) ~$5,000-6,000
-lodging, eating and 4 domestic flights (4 people) in China (2 week stay) ~$5,000-6000
-orphanage donation/misc. fees in China ~$7,000
(the above estimates could be even higher because we may be traveling to China during the 2010 Asian Games)

To get to this point in our adoption, we've spent almost $12,000 -- that includes fees for home study report/state fees, USCIS (Dept of Homeland Security) paperwork, and agency fees. Not to mention that much of the paperwork must be mailed via courier, which is $30-60 a pop!

So you can see, it adds-up quickly.

The difference between Ethiopia & China fees?
Two of the biggest differences are:
-Ethiopia requires two trips, China is only one trip -- the cost break-down is still similar because you're in China for 2 wks, and have 3-4 additional flights while in-country
-Ethiopia's program fee (which is paid at DTE) is ~ $7,500, but China's program fee (although not paid until in-country) is ~ $7,000 as well.

You can shop-around for agencies, but the reality is, the cost is going to come out the same. Some agencies charge different fees for different things at different times...but it often comes out only within $1,000-3,000 difference. Again, airfare plays a big role in this.

Air miles are also another option -- I think we have enough American Airline miles to cover one round-trip flight to China, but, if we needed to change our return flight for any reason, I think we'd be charged for a full-price ticket (and I hear they stick it to ya)...so, not sure we're brave enough to use them, but we're going to discuss the option with our agency when we start booking flights.

Well, there you have it! I hope this helps! Let me know if you have other questions, and I'll do my best to answer them!


junk = joy UPDATE!!

Can I just say, WOW!!

We've have been so pleasantly surprised & touched by the number of families who've offered to donate items for our yard sale!! Piles of stuff (really nice stuff, I might add) has already been delivered to our home, with much more on it's way!

Thank you, dear friends!!
Keep it coming!!

I originally intended to do a Saturday sale only, but I am now contemplating a Fri/Sat sale. Those of you with yard sale experience in B'ham...give me some advice!!

Also, if you'd like to bake cookies/brownies/muffins for the sale let me know!! We'll celebrate Judah's birthday with all of Hoover! :)

monday's call to worship

(a day late...sick boy kept me busy yesterday)

This is My Father's World
Malt­bie D. Bab­cock, 1901 -- While a pas­tor in Lock­port, New York, Bab­cock liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” an an­cient up­thrust ledge near Lock­port. It has a mar­vel­ous view of farms, or­chards, and Lake On­tar­io, about 15 miles dis­tant. It is said those walks in the woods in­spired these lyr­ics. The ti­tle re­calls an ex­press­ion Bab­cock used when start­ing a walk: “I’m go­ing out to see my Fa­ther’s world.”

Micah asks to listen to this song everytime we get in the car! He says, "Mommy, listen to My Fadders Word!!!" So Sweet. The song is on a CD that came with the book, Hymns for a Kid's Heart. (Thanks, DeDe & Chelley, for the recommendation!)

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

The world is Mine, and all that is in it- Psalm 50:12



A few people have asked "why Judah?" when we tell them the English name we are giving our Chinese son. So I thought I'd share why Judah, and why Micah.

The Hebrew word for Judah is Yehudah.
It means praised.
What Leah said about the 4th son she bore to Jacob: And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. (Gen 29:35)

The Hebrew word for Micah is Mikayehu.
It means who is like God?
Micah, the prophet, said: Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
(Micah 7:18)

And, not to mention, Jesus is from the tribe of Judah--and, Micah prophesied about Jesus' birth.


he did WHAT today?

Micah started weekday preschool today (although, I don't like to call it preschool...he's 2, for crying-out-loud). Even though he'll only attend 2x per week, I was still not looking forward to today. But...it was fine -- he had fun...he likes his teacher and made several new friends.
The most difficult transition for Micah will be nap-time. Until today, he was an early napper -- he was so tired on the way home that he just screamed and screamed. No crying, just screaming. Almost like a night-terror. Poor fella!


weekend in pics

Let's just call this a lazy post...

I was going through Micah's baby clothes, picking out what will be size/season appropriate for Judah, when I found this 6 mo-onesie with Mickey Mouse...well...Micah just absolutely had to wear it. Can you believe I actually got it over his head!!

Judah's care package...which is probably still in-transit to China. It included a rattle, snuggly, photo album, disposable camera (that will hopefully be returned to us with pics of Judah, taken by the nannies), a letter to Judah, and some sweets for the nannies & Ann at Red Thread.

AWAA's Africa Reunion was this weekend in Nashville! We had a great time connecting with familiar & new families! I'd post more pics, but my camera is junk...and, so are the pics. Boo!! The highlight of the weekend was discovering that...WE'RE NORMAL!! Meaning Micah's stubborn, persistent, bossy, presumptuous, sometimes mean, personality is not a result of my bad-parenting. 98% of the ET adoptive families have our same struggles! The reality is, our Ethiopian children are survivors...they're fighters (not meaning violent, but strong-willed)...it's just in their DNA! And I thank God for that! May he use Micah's determination to His glory!

The AWAA reunion families went to church on Sat night -- Micah & I sat outside during worship because he wasn't too cool with going to an unknown nursery. As we were walking around, I saw this stone. Micah immediately walked over, place his hand on it, and began praying aloud. I know he was praying because he said amen several times. Not sure what he was praying for...maybe thanking God, because inscribed on the stone was this:
In our brokenness
The good hand of our God is
Rebuilding, Redeeming, Restoring
Very appropriate for our family.

Just me & my boy!


your junk = our JOY

We need your help with our bring Judah home garage sale!!
Sat, Oct 2nd!!!
(BTW- Oct. 2, 2010 is Judah's 1st birthday!!)

And can I just say, first, that I detest garage sales! I'm not good at them -- I have friends who make $$$$ from theirs, but I usually walk away with maybe $$. I just don't have the knack.

That said, I am sensing a renewed enthusiasm for this particular garage sale...for obviously reasons! :)

Anyway, we seriously need your help! Because we've moved three times in the last two years, we are running majorly low on stuff to sell -- SO WE NEED YOUR JUNK!! Many of you have already committed to donate items, and thank you! But we need even more people to donate! It's going to take a lot of stuff to reach our goal for this sale!!

We're hoping to raise $2500-3000 from this sale. (Don't laugh! I'm serious!)

That's the amount needed for Micah to travel with us to China to get his brother!! This will be our miracle garage sale! Who knows...maybe someone who's reading this post will want to sponsor Micah's trip to get Judah (I believe God is that big...He did some amazing things to bring Micah home!!). Then we could use the proceeds from our sale toward other remaining adoption expenses! Just throwing the idea out there...

I'm also hoping to have a sweets-sale at our garage sale! So...if you don't have items to donate, maybe you'd like to make cookies/sweets!! We're open to any other fund-raising strategies that worked for you as well! The sooner we can get your items, the better, so I can start organizing. You can drop them by our house - or we are more than happy to come get them!!

If you have items or sweets that you can contribute, email me at alisafmartin@yahoo.com

Thank you!!!

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