China or Bust!

Today’s the day! I’m sitting in the admiral’s club at the airport, sipping on my jamba juice, and trying to think of what to write. I have so many things to share, so many thoughts going through my head, so many emotions… I also am realizing that this will be a short post, since I’m typing on my phone.

So… First, let me say thank you. Thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, encouragement, and support. You have gotten us this far in our journey, and we appreciate you! Please continue to think of us as we travel to bring Evan home.

This morning, Chris and I took Austin out to breakfast. We talked about our trip, and were trying our best to get him to understand that we’d be gone for a while, but that when we return, he’ll have a brother. I think he gets the brother part…. It’s the period of time he doesn’t get. At one point he told us we’d be gone for five weeks (as he held out his hand to show five fingers)! Thankfully it will not be five weeks. We know he’ll have a great time with his grandparents, and he has lots of fun in store for him.

When we dropped him off at daycare, we took our last photo as a family of three…

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We are excited to explore China; less excited about flying there. Thrilled that we’ll finally get to hug the son we’ve been praying for; anxious for him, as he is about to lose everything he’s ever known. I cant tell you how eager I am to hear his voice, his laugh, and even his cry. I can’t wait to introduce him to his brother via a video call next week, too. There’s so much that we’re anticipating….

We know you are excited for us, and eager to meet Evan. When we return home, though, we will be in a period known as “cocooning”, where we will be focusing on establishing bonds and attachments with Evan. We will be staying home as much as possible, and limiting outside interaction. We want you to meet Evan and show him the love you’ve been pouring out on us, but we ask that you bear with us during this time. We don’t know how long it will take. If you do stop by, please keep your visit brief, do not hold Evan, and any gifts need to be given to us to give to him. I know it sounds weird, but it’s very important that we do things this way until Evan understands that we are his primary caregivers. Thank you for your support in this way!

5/2 Yard Sale

Last Saturday we had the yard sale that we’ve been collecting donations for over the last several months. We were very lucky to have friends who were willing to help us out, because we had a lot of stuff! We had so much stuff, that we had to reserve the neighborhood pool parking lot to hold our sale.

Friday afternoon, I took off work early, ran to the bank to get change, met someone buying something early, and then started organizing. My best friend came over to help. We sorted clothes into bins, hung them on racks, and created signs for them. Our neighbors then came over to help, along with another dear friend, who came armed with frozen custard to refuel the troops! (I have the best friends!) We all loaded up our cars with boxes of stuff, and loaded the bigger items on the trailer.

We called it a night around 9:30, and re-gathered the next morning. Chris and I were up at 5. He took the first load up to the pool, where another awesome neighbor met him and helped him unload. Our other neighbors joined him at around six, while my BFF stayed home with my sleeping babe. I ran out to get donuts! The local Krispy Kreme donated 5 dozen donuts (and coffee) to us to feed the volunteers and also sell during the sale. How awesome is that? Another friend showed up with two tables (to add to the many we had already borrowed,) and all of the items, including my kiddo were at the pool area just after 7.

It was a beautiful day, with not a cloud in the sky… which resulted in some sunburns. We stayed out until about 2:00, and enjoyed meeting neighbors, sharing our adoption story, and just hanging out with friends. My brother came out to spend time with us and help keep an eye on my ever-moving toddler. Chris’ aunt and cousin came up from Myrtle Beach to help out too!

The sale was a success, bringing in $1850 towards our adoption. We didn’t sell half of our items, though, so there will definitely be more yard sales in our future. I say sales, plural, because the pool will be opening soon, and we don’t have a large enough space to set up like that again. Plus I can’t keep asking for our friends to give up so much of their time for us. We will probably just do them in our yard (And maybe overflow into our neighbors’ yards), and just do two or three throughout the summer until we can clear out the garage again. I want my garage back!

We are incredibly grateful for all of the donations, time, and effort people have given to help us with this. I don’t know why we are so blessed, but I’m thankful. We are a little bit closer to having raised the money to bring our kiddo home, thanks to our friends and neighbors, and the folks who shopped with us. Hopefully a couple more yard sales will give us another boost. This month, I’m also working two weddings, and I have another fundraiser in the works for a little bit later out. So, I’m hoping and planning for lots of movement in the adoption account this summer, both in and out. I know the Lord will provide a way for us to bring our son home to his family.

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here’s to hoping that all we have left isScreenshot 2015-05-04 at 1.54.10 PM

God Loves Japan

I have mentioned our friends Mat & Jen before. I love them dearly. They are gathering support to be full time missionaries in Japan. I could tell you all about the fun we have, the great conversations we’ve shared, their love for the Lord, and their love for each other. I could try to tell you about their commitment and loyalty, their passion, and their hearts. I could try to convey how much I love them. I could try to explain what they are hoping to do in Japan. I could try to tell you all about them… But I wouldn’t be able to fully convey these things in any meaningful way that does them justice. So, in the meantime, I’ll let them tell you, in their own words. Not so much about them (because really, it’s not about them), but about how God loves Japan.

First Friday Funding Figures – Update # 3, December 2014

It’s the first Friday of December. Time for a funding update! I feel like it’s been a very long time since I could accurately give you an update. There was that minor thing of changing agencies, and having to redo our numbers. And there were fundraisers that we were waiting on totals from. But today, I have numbers to share, and am excited to show you all of the progress we’ve made since our last FFFF in August.

Again, here is the key.

Again, here is the key. Nothing’s changed here.

These next few images will look a little different that what was posted in our first updates.

This is a high-level view of how our costs break down:

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And this is how our fund is looking:

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I need to total up the Interest and Cash back line. I think I forgot to do that last time, too! My bad. I’ll make staying on top of that one of my New Year’s resolutions!

So, as you can see, things are moving along. Our adoption is about 31% funded! We have been incredibly blessed with lots of friends and family who are donating not only their time to volunteer with us, but also items to sell at garage sales, and of course, cold-hard cash.  Y’all are absolutely incredible. The outpouring of support for this dream of ours has truly been amazing. We can’t thank you enough, and hope that you’ll stick around as we move closer toward bringing our child home. We are starting to realize (and hope!) that we will probably be completing this adoption sometime next Summer. Seeing how time has been flying by lately, we know Summer will be here in the blink of an eye. That being said, we’re going to be kicking things up a notch. Maybe 5, 10, or 20 notches. Let’s say we need about $36,000 when all is said and done (that’s the middle-ish of our Total Estimated Expenditures), then we still have about $24,800 to raise and save. That’s a big number, but it’s much better than where we started. So, what’s on the menu in the coming months? We don’t know for sure what all of our plans are, but we hope to continue to work the concession stands at UNC Charlotte (This time for Women’s basketball), I’ll add some items to my Etsy shop, we plan on having yard sales, we’re going to push our Puzzle Project hard, and keep selling our friendship bracelets full-force! That, along with our cash back from credit cards, interest, and all the saving we’ll be doing by eating ramen 3 days out of the week (I still haven’t mentioned that little detail to Chris!), hopefully we can grow the momentum. Do you have any fundraising ideas for us? Please let us know!

I’ll post some other updates, soon. I don’t want this post to be any longer than it already is. Thanks for checking in, and as always, thanks so much for following along with us, and for your support.

Chosen 10-mile Weekend

I discovered something yesterday. My hip flexors! And that they hurt. lol.

Yesterday morning we gathered at Charlotte Motor Speedway to meet with our team, WeMartinsAdopt. Of the 15 of us, 8 people were running alongside Chris and I. Two teachers from the school I volunteer at,  three neighbors and one of their siblings, and two employees from Chris’ company. A spouse and son came to cheer us on as well! The missing teammates were “sleepwalkers” who were there in spirit.

It was a beautiful day, and was so special for so many reasons. The morning started out chilly and turned into a cool, but sunny morning and warm rest of the day. As we walked from the parking lot to the starting line to find our team, we saw familiar face after familiar face. Because we had hosted a dinner for the chosen teams about a week ago, we had already made some connections. But most of the people we saw were people from our old church, who were gathered to run for another family that is adopting from China. The Pattersons are adopting two boys, and had 67 wonderful supportive team members. Whoa. That church is like a family, and it showed. It was wonderful to see and hug so many familiar people, running for this cause. We know we can count on their prayers and support, now, too!

Meeting up with our teammates was a task. we’d find people, lose people, forget to get our tracking tags and have to run off, then come back and find them again. A couple of the people on our team were people we didn’t know, and one person showed up after the start. And some are runners while others of us… are trying to be… so needless to say, we lost each other shortly after the start. But in the end, at some point during the race, we saw, hugged, and thanked everyone for running on our team.

balloon release

balloon release

in memory of the lives lost 10 years ago in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash.

in memory of the lives lost 10 years ago in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash.

teammates in more than one sense of the word!

teammates in more than one sense of the word!

some of the team

some of the team

It was wonderful that these people were all running out of love. Either in memory of someone who had died in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash 10 years ago, or to bring children into forever families. So. Awesome.

Chris and I ran the first 6.5 miles or so, and then our knees started to hurt. So we ran/walked the last part of the course, maybe walking 2 miles, total. My time was 2 hours and 14 minutes, and since Chris stuck with me the whole time (thanks, babe), I guess his was too. I’d say, for non-runners who have not been able to get their miles in, and have never run that far ever in their lives, we did pretty well. The rest of the day, after refueling with some neighbors at cracker barrel and having a celebratory beer with two sleepwalker teammates, we rolled our legs, stretched, soaked in an epsom salt bath, and rolled our legs some more. Today, I can definitely tell my muscles are fatigued, and stairs are a little hard on one of my knees, but I feel pretty good! Praise God that these novice runners completed a successful run with no injuries!

This guy was somewhere on the course. I thought he was appropriate.

This guy was somewhere on the course. I thought he was appropriate.

the Gowins.

the Gowins.

one of the signs toward the finish lines.

one of the signs toward the finish lines.

another version of our "Waiting for you" sign

another version of our “Waiting for you” sign

loved this. "No Greater Reason To Compete"

loved this. “No Greater Reason To Compete”

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

team sign with all of our names on it

I am already thinking about next year’s race. Now that we know about it, we can start talking about it, training for it, and building our team much sooner. And we will run the whole thing, I just know it! Hopefully, we’ll have completed our adoption by then, but I trust in the Lord’s timing and will move forward, doing what I can, and just be patient!

Later that afternoon, we put Austin in his Halloween costume and went up to the Cypress, where we volunteer on Sundays. They were having a trick-or-treat thing for kiddos (or maybe more for the elderly who reside there) and we were late. So all the other kids were already gone. That just meant that Austin was the center of attention. He didn’t get why he was standing around with people staring and cooing over him. ANd he didn’t know what they kept putting in his bag. But after he saw a Hershey’s kiss and had it unwrapped for him, he pretty much got the idea. Luckily for us, pretty much all the candy was already gone. Phew! He was the cuteness, but I’ll save those pics for Halloween. 🙂 The rest of the day we took it easy.

Today, after first service at church, we picked up Austin from the childcare, and went back into church so he could watch the worship. He loved it. He was “drumming” on the railing of the balcony, swaying and clapping. he kept saying “tar!” which is guitar, and was excited about the drummer and the violin. He also knows a new word, now- “singing.” That kid. He learns so fast. So. Fast.

And as soon as he wakes up from his nap, which should be any minute now, I think we are going to do a little shopping at the new(ish) outlets here, and then hit up the grocery store. So, this is where I leave you. Toodles!

Busyness

We have been slammed. So incredibly busy! We have done so much that I have not updated you on. I’m slapping myself on the wrists for that one. So, this post is going to have some updates, some pictures, and hopefully not be too lengthy. I don’t even have the time to get down to the level of detail that I’d like to, but I’m going to fill you in, none the less.

First- the cruise! Our friends Brian & Shamin were getting married on a cruise ship, and Chris was a groomsman in the wedding. Chris’ parents and sister and brother-in-law all gathered in Charleston for the wedding on the cruise ship, too, which was nice. The wedding and reception were fun- short and sweet. Then, the non sailing folk debarked, and we continued on to the Bahamas! While on the boat, we swam, took dance lessons, sang karaoke, ate (a lot!), went to an art auction, shopped, saw a comedy show, hung out in the casino, and hung around with our friends from the wedding. In the Bahamas we shopped, beached, toured a brewery, and rode around an island on a scooter! We met some folks there who were on a different cruise ship, and we met up with them in both ports. They were from Myrtle beach, and we hope to see them again when we head down there to visit. We had a great time.

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Second- UNCC Football Game. We served in the concession stands almost two weeks ago, and had a great time. Our friend Stephen rode up with us, and we met our friends Josh, Jess, and Ana there. Together with folks who were raising money for missions trips, we served food and beverages (lots of beverages!) on that sweltering hot day. It wasn’t as busy as we were expecting, it was super hot, and our team blew the other team out of the water. All in all, we had fun, met some cool folks, and enjoyed each other’s company. We’re signed up to do it again the weekend after next. Who wants to join us?

10649955_10152653527869029_6358827804397089700_n Last week was Chris & my anniversary. 4 years! We took the day off and dropped Austin off at daycare so that we could spend the day together. We went for a trail run/hike, had a great lunch outside on a beautiful day, got massages, and did a little shopping. We ended the night with wine and cheese, and cake that our neighbors had given us. It was a perfect day!

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Last Saturday, Chris did a workout with some guys from church, which included exercise and fellowship. He got to meet some new people, and feel strengthened in more ways than one! On Sunday, we had a cookout at our house to give our friends, Matt & Jen an opportunity to garner support for the long-term missions work they plan to do in Japan. I had marinated 3 tri tips, and we had three trays of drumsticks. Chris and my dad handled the grilling. Our friends all brought a side, and we had tons of food. The house was full of old friends and new, and lots of kiddos! It was a fun time. Afterwards, we spent some time doing some much-needed catch-up with Matt & Jen, who are only in town from California for a couple of weeks. We miss them, and it was so great to have them here. Be sure to check them our, and sign up for their newsletter.

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This week I started working in the office again. It’s been an adjustment. I’ve had to be up early every day, instead of being able to saunter down the stairs in my PJs and log on. I’ve had to get dressed up (and buy clothes), put make-up on, wear heels. I haven’t been able to do laundry, grocery shop, or run (which is not good for the Chosen Race in 5 short weeks!), but I know I’ll get used to it. I have been carpooling with my friend, Lisa, from my neighborhood, which has been nice. It’s helping with the expenses of paying for gas and parking, and also giving us time to just chat and talk about life (read: our kids). I’ve been drinking way more coffee than normal, but hope that after another week or so of this, I can start feeling normal with this routine and cut that back. We’ll see!

what happens when we walk in the door after a long day.

what happens when we walk in the door after a long day.

Tuesday night, we went to LifeGroup Connect at our church to try to get connected to new LifeGroups. This time, Chris and I split up, looking for Men’s and Women’s groups. I found mine, and Chris is still hoping to get plugged in. I look forward to getting to know the new group of ladies, and growing with them in our walk.

And last night we had pizza with friends before hitting the road to Myrtle Beach. We left after Austin’s bedtime and hoped that he would sleep the whole ride down… Well, this is a whole ‘nother post in itself, but it didn’t go down quite like that. Austin threw up in the car 1/3 of the way down. And didn’t stop until his last (read: sixth) round of heaving in the driveway of our destination. Oy.

And I think that’s it! Oh wait- no, it’s not. In my last post, I told you that we were still going back and forth with our adoption agency about the language of our contract. Well, we couldn’t come to terms, so we are no longer moving forward with that agency. We (read: Chris) have been talking with folks at other agencies, and we’ve been praying about our next steps. We have found that the social worker who did our home study in SC is now employed by one of the agencies we were considering. After talking with her, we have found that our education would be accepted there, and they can build on our completed DSS home study to save us time. It’s a Christian agency, and we are feeling like this is the route we should head down. We’d appreciate your prayer around that!

We’ve been like little Energizer bunnies over here. Or like little Austins… Lord knows he keeps going and going…!  He is awesome and brings us so much joy and laughter. It’s really amazing how much he is learning and growing. I’m hoping that this weekend gives us a little time for just rest and family. And I’m hoping that when we get back to the grind, we’ll have time to just slow down a bit, even though our calendar is already filling up. I’m just thankful that we have maintained our sanity during this crazy time for us. Wonder how long we can keep it up….?

First Friday Funding Figures – Update #2, August 2014

It’s the first Friday of the month. So, that means time for an adoption fund update! This month most of our fundraising has been focused on Threads of Hope, as well as a few events that are coming up. Our Chosen Marathon team, weMartinsAdopt, is growing, and we are about to volunteer at our first UNCC Football game this weekend! So, even though those line items are blank, they should have numbers in them soon! And the interest/cash back line item is one I always forget to grab, so I’ll have to update it a little bit later.

We are still working though some details on our contract with the agency, so would appreciate your prayer around that. Praying that we can come to an agreement quickly and smoothly from this point out. I’ve been feeling rather anxious about how long this is already taking just to get things moving. So prayer for a calming of my heart would be awesome as well. Thank you!

So first, the Color Key and Fees. Not much has changed here.

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and here is how much we have raised:

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So, again using $34k as our estimated cost, you can see that we are at about 22% funded! That’s a big jump from July, and we are extremely thankful. Selling my townhouse gave us a big boost, so I’ll have to remember that I won’t see the numbers grow that much from month to month, but I am hoping we can just keep that forward momentum with our fundraising.

We are grateful for all of the fundraising opportunities we’ve been given, and for the generous and supportive hearts of our friends. You are making more of an impact than you think. Trust me on that one. And THANK YOU!