Friday, April 30, 2010

Samuel: God With Him

Luke 6:38
"If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over."

Today I received my very first Update on someone we just began sponsoring at New Day. SAMUEL

I cannot quite put my finger on why he sweeps me away, but he does. I think it is because God is so much with him. And even though we just FINALLY committed financially, our sponsorship of him in my heart really started last Fall when I first saw him as "the new guy in town" on the ND blog. (Read about my epiphany moment here) And my heart has been praying for him everyday along with my other children who were born under my heart ... whereas he was more born in it. No, he is not MY child (oh how I wish he was!) ... but what an honor, a privilege and blessing to pray for him and hope for his future no different than I do my other boys. It just blows me away when I read back on that post in October, how it reveals my heart and how it had been changed in a 180 degree turn in a surprise move by God in an answer to prayer! And I am now also amazed to be reminded about how my friend Tara had just begun actively pursing an adoption journey at the very time I wrote that post. It had long been her dream, to adopt a little girl from China. In a surprise move by God ... she just announced last week that they will be adopting a BOY! If you've read my post that I mentioned above it should not be surprising to see this coincidence in timing even beyond what we could see at the time or even now. God's heart goes beyond gender of course and it is SO cool to see God's hand moving and molding us to see beyond our wants and to see His will and how His Will is so much deeper in being what we need when we follow His lead.

If you are not sponsoring a child right now please consider doing so. There are so many wonderful organizations to partnership with. (New Day, Pearl River Outreach, Orphans Wish, just to name a few.) It is a wonderful opportunity to impact the life of a child and maybe even a family whom you will probably never meet. But to know that a child has been cared for through your prayer over them is an act that is beyond wonderful. In fact, even if you cannot financially sponsor a child, consider sponsoring them in your heart. Commit to praying for them and their hearts, for their future and that God would be preparing their forever families for them right this minute. That they would have their eyes and their hearts opened to them. To see past the hurdles and mountains and see the rewards and all that child has to give and to receive. The rewards are eternal and you will be amazed how your own heart will be molded and changed in the process.

Also, if you have not already, please check out Khloe's family's page. They are just posting her FINAL update as they will be going to receive this child that they covered in prayer, sponsored and then were called to adopt. There is a fundraiser in it's final days that you will NOT want to miss out on! Please check it out and pass it on to others. It would be INCREDIBLE to see them reach their goal before they travel.

Children are a reward from God and a treasure unlike no other!

Psalm 127:3-9

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.

5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

100 Children ... in my house

Okay, not real children ... but a quiet, tidy bunch.

I am so psyched to have swooped in with the winning bid in the last 4 minutes of the LWB auction for this beautiful tapestry! I held the bid for DAYS at $19 ... until losing it on Tuesday early-on in the bidding. I thought it was gone for sure just like the one I bid on during last year's auction and I was okay with that ... I thought anyway. (My apologies to anybody who also was bidding on this.) But I'm really looking forward to hosting these children on my walls. And as for the "fortune" mentioned below in the desciption ... well ... children are a blessed fortune and treasure from God! (I will remind myself of this when I hear and see my children doing some of the things that these children are doing in the tapestry ... like wrestling, fighting with sticks, jumping off of walls or climbing really tall trees--all those things children love and yet give moms gray hair!)

Green 100 Children Tapestry
13" x 26" tapestry adorned with 100 hand-embroidered children on a green silk background. A beautiful example of this traditional Chinese art form. (Note the silk appears dark blue or black in the photographs, but it is a lovely dark green.)

The “100 Children” theme is popular in Chinese embroidery. It symbolizes longevity (and more children), continued fortune, and is an auspicious pattern that can bring good luck. A person’s descendants are the very foundation of wealth, but also a good start in life. They bring an atmosphere of joy, and having 100 children (between the lot of them) can help a person to resolve most any problem.

May this tapestry bring good fortune to the home that displays it!

I have not heard a grand total on the Born In My Heart Auction 2010 yet, but I will post one when I hear. I do know that one of the surgeries they were hoping to cover with the proceeds was for a little girl with bladder exstrophia. The first time I had ever heard of that was with my friend Tanya's little girl, Khloe. Tanya is in the final days of her fundraiser to bring her little girl (who is very much healed and healthy thanks to a life saving surgery.) Please visit her page and leave her an uplifting comment, say a prayer and if possible donate to Khloe's fund. Even a little drop joins other drops to become a huge waterfall of blessings! Don't think your gift could ever be too little. Especially the gift of prayer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Black and White Wednesday--Wishful Smooshes

Nolan's brothers were on the OTHER side of the door in the outdoor swimming pool last week in TX. Nolan smooshed his little face up against the window as close as he could to the fun. (Notice the early hour that it is as he is still in his jammies. His brothers are very hardy--and early risers!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seriously now. Only HOURS (or maybe minutes) left in the LWB Born In My Heart art auction and every time I go there I see something new.
Last time I went I saw these two items that I LOVE. Maybe your home should be their home?
HURRY ... time is ticking!
I don't know how I missed these two gems the first few times through the auction. I went as far as I could on the quilt. At $200 it is SUCH A STEAL especially for all the work in the piecing! And the prints, did you read the quotes? They melt ANY Mother's heart ... and remember, Mother's Day is coming VERY SOON! What a great gift!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Texas In Pictures

I'm still trying to organize photos ... here are a few highlights:

Yes, the boys ALL got to DRIVE an excavator, crane, tool carrier, skidsteer, BIG truck (I'm sure I'm leaving something out.) You should have seen the folks in this neighborhood all stick their heads out their windows to see our kids driving the heavy machinery! (Jeff's friend is part owner in a heavy construction firm.)

The pool the boys did NOT want to leave (can you blame them?)

Tara and me and our kiddos in the Texas sunshine. (What a special gift it was to meet Tara on our trip to Texas!)

This is "Oliver" from GirlyGirlBowtique Kelly's little girl visiting Tara's girls (notice the other little guy, Nolan, trying to squeeze in the photo.)

Better photo of my ladybug found treasure from Nolan




And one last thing ...
There are only a few more hours until the LWB Born In My Heart Art Auction closes for 2010, so don't miss out! Be a part of something so much bigger.
Check it out.
Last I saw there were some very nice items that could use some more bids. Yes, we all want a "deal" ... but when it's for such a good cause, you hate to get too good of a deal. I am so looking forward to the end totals and some beautiful stories from the proceeds!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Texas: It's Like a Whole 'Nother Country

We just returned from our second ever true family vacation (our first family va-k was to Colorado to ski at Copper Mtn. in 2007. We were able to just beat a terrible ice storm that hit at our heels and managed to shut down the entire midwest ... but only to have our truck and all of our belongings (including our winter coats) stolen from our hotel parking lot on the first night. But that's another post for a different day!)
I'm happy (no ... estatic and relieved) to say that THIS trip was without any drama or crisis (T.Y. God!) and we are left saying ... We Love Texas!

We've been planning to visit Jeff's best friend (since they were in the first grade together) who was also our best man in our wedding for about 10 years now ...and finally we made it happen and it was so sweet in so many ways. It was such a blessing to share time with a Godly family who had such an impact on Jeff while he was growing up. They have the most loving home--oh how I pray that God's plans still include filling it with children in His time and way--but how incredible to be able to share our children with them at this time. And although the first 3 days brought rain and a 50 degree cold snap, it didn't stop these hardy Iowans/half Minnesotans from enjoying the backyard pool (even if the neighbors thought we were CRAZY!) I will admit however that by day 3 my enthusiasm dipped and the thought of braving the goosebumps made me a bit grumpy! The boys both finally learned to trust their lifejakets to help them float and enjoyed swimming like fish in the pool (don't worry we had on eye on them too.) We also enjoyed the Fort Worth Zoo (all 4.5 hours of it ... I think the boys would have been happy with 3.5 hours!)

and the Fort Worth Stockyards

Where there was an unexpected treasure found ... Nolan found this beautiful ladybug jeweled pendant on the ground and gifted me with it!

It will be very special to my for so many reasons ... but mostly because it was from Nolan and also because it came at a moment that just lifted my spirits in a way that only God could have known.

BUT one of the most cool parts of the trip (for me) was getting to meet up with a blog friend in the REAL world! Who would ever have thought that our paths would cross ... but traveling less than 30 minutes from her I had to at least ask if she wanted to meet and yay! She did! Tara and her family got to share the EXCITING news with me in person about their newly found SON! What a surprise (a joyful one!) as I thought they were looking for a daughter, Soryn. What a beautiful thing to see God shape and prepare their hearts to KNOW that this was their son. What a sweetheart he is by the way! And as a mom of 3 boys I just beam with delight for them! I don't think we will ever be able to top this vacation, or at least not for a LONG time. I hope to post some photos when I get things back in order.
What a crazy time to be gone with the Love Without Boundaries Born In My Heart Art Auction just kicking off on Thursday as well as another bloggy friend's fundraiser for her daughter Khloe in full swing ... Please check them out by clicking on their links!

So in short, We love Texas. And I hope to post photos someday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love Without Boundaries-Born In My Heart Art Auction

The Born In My Heart Art Auction starts TODAY and runs for one week on ebay from April 22nd thru 27th.
These are some of the things you'll find there. Check it out!
Love's Spring Blossom Outfit (includes black tee, peach tank, hair bows and skirt--size 6/8)

Ruffle-Bug Skirt (size 4/6)

Lil Bug Skirt (size 2/4)

"Cross My Heart--For Tristan" Table-Top Square/Wall Art (this can be used hung on the wall or as an accent on a table when the dowel stick is removed)

"Cross My Heart" Table Runner

And if you like the table runner ... you can also enter a chance to winner it's twin at www.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Khloe's Button (or "Khloe: Cuter Than A Button")

This is Khloe!
I have the incredible honor of having a part in her adoption journey! AND you can too. See her BLOG BUTTON in the green and pink button box in the sidebar?! GRAB it and put it on your blog and post about her so that the word spreads that her family is humbly asking for a little help to bring her home!
It's not easy to ask for help. But I am certain that God uses these instances as teaching lessons for all of us. He could do things all on His own, but He chooses to include US! So, with that in mind, see if you can give $5 or $10 or $50, whatever your heart feels led to give. As I mentioned in the last post, God provides opportunities for all of us to be a part of something BIGGER. And your heart will just beat a little deeper and a little happier for it!

It's very easy to grab the button. If you want a quick lesson, (it's similar to adding music or other photos to your sidebar)
• Go to "Customize" in the upper right menu bar of Blogger
• Then go to "Layout"
• then "Add Gadget"
• then choose "HTML/Java Script"
• In the pop up box add a title
• and paste the code in the Content box

(Copy and paste all of the code in the html box below (or in the button on my sidebar) into the content box you'll need to highlight and scroll or click and select all to get it all, it's pretty long!
The Almy Family Journal

I am so happy that Tanya asked if anyone could make a blog button for her. I cannot explain it really how DRIVEN I felt to do this. (As a graphic designer it's kinda up my alley of things to do, but without my favorite design tool Photoshop, my first thought was, awww, too bad I am not equipped to help. But ... it didn't end there fortunately and before I knew it (and about 20 emails back and forth later) this button was born! And even though designing it was kinda like doing surgery with a straw by cutting and pasting in my Preview mode (ha!) It worked! And it was an opportunity for me to learn something new and now I can make buttons (yay!) which is something that I've been wanting to know how to do for some time. (FYI for anyone needing a button.) But if she hadn't have asked, I would not have taken the time to figure it out ... to sacrifice whatever it was I would have filled that little bit of time with ... and I wouldn't have this deep feeling of purpose and accomplishment inside everytime I see that button ... and knowing that maybe I'll have the opportunity to help someone else out in the future with a similar need. You see ... God equips those He calls.

What a joy it is for me to be following Khloe's family and to see God working in so many lives! I am so excited to see Khloe's purpose and life unfold especially as she blossoms even further in this God-loving family.

Tanya and her family leave for China to get their Khloe sometime around the second week in May!!! That time is going to go SO fast. Please visit their family blog AND Khloe's fundraising site. There are some really neat-o prizes that you can win! Just follow the instructions in her post. And leave her an uplifting comment while you are at it! --And you can leave me one too so I know you were here :-)
God provides so many opportunities for us to be a part of something bigger. Join in this one!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blessings Flow

Mei Faith Studio Necklace

This necklace was designed by Michelle of Mei Faith Studio and donated to Mandi's fundraiser to bring her son Drew home. (As a side note Matt and Mandi JUST left today for China to receive their boyS ... what beautiful timing!) And you really need to check out Mei Faith Studio on etsy too! And I am happy and blessed to say that having been winner #12 on the BringingDrewHome fund-raiser drawing ... it is now mine! And truly I have had my eye on it since falling in love with this necklace instantly when I saw it when the fundraiser first went live a month or more ago. I was THRILLED to see that it was still available as a prize when it was my turn to choose too!

I love this necklace for SO many reasons. First, I love rocks. It's been a life-long passion to pick up beautiful pieces of places where I've been: Canada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, Florida ... and other than the smooth pieces of jasper from an incredible beach in Maine, most of my finds are definitely in their rough, natural state. So when this artist created this necklace from gems that she personally chose and brought back from her trip to China for the adoption of one of her daughters and then heartfully strung them gem by gem with this adoption fund-raiser in mind ... wow, it just doesn't get more special than that. It's like having a personal story worn right next to my heartbeat between my head and my heart. This is especially special to me since I'm not certain I will ever actually journey to China to "touch it" on my own.

I am so thrilled to be able to share this beautiful necklace with you all here. Michelle is a very talented artist and creates a beautiful story with her work. She and her family are very close to traveling for their first son Benjamin too. And this is a cool twist to the story. After emailing Michelle that I had won, she emailed for my address in order that she could send it to me. When I received her email with her full name, it was so familiar ... and suddenly it became clear to me that she was THE Michelle that had her own fund raiser earlier in the fall which I donated to and also had won a beautiful Willow Tree ornament (which in another twist was donated to the fundraiser by a friend of hers who lives here in IA and grew up not far from where I live and has a daughter adopted from ND.) I have been following Michelle's family's journey to Benjamin for months now never knowing that she was such a talented jewelry artist! What a small world, eh?! And I can bet that God is chuckling at me in my amazement at this little "Godincidence."

Oh it's the little details that simply amaze me and probably delights Him.

Here's what Michelle shares about the necklace:
MY IMPERIAL GEMS ~ Red & Orange Chinese Jade, Goldstone and Smoky Quartz Choker Necklace
During our last adoption journey to China, I was able to get my hands on some exquiste pieces of red & orange jade. I have been saving a majority of these pieces for a design that has been swirling in my mind since coming home from our last trip in 2008. At hearing of Mandi & Matt's story, I was compelled to finally sit down and design that piece ~ especially for them ~ using these precious gemstones from a country that truly has a strong hold on all of our hearts.
With using only the finest Chinese Jade, orange Chinese jade, goldstone, smoky quartz and sterling silver...I could find, this chocker necklace is as unusal as it is stunning! This necklace is also made with non-tarnish memory wire so you won't have the hassle of clasps & hooks. It truly fits like a dream and looks amazing on. )))))))))

I received the necklace yesterday ... and put it on immediately! It truly does fit like a dream and looks absolutely amazing! I can't wait to visit her etsy site again and see more of her creations!

This is such a blessed time right now for so many of you and my heart is SO happy with God's provision! Blessings certainly do overflow over and over again. I encourage anyone reading this post to donate to the fundraisers that these adoptive families are hosting ... the gift goes beyond being a "winner" of a prize (which I can attest to the fact that you DO actually win and sometimes even often!) But the gift lies so much deeper in the heart to know that there is a little person who is finally home in the arms of their forever-parents and that God is so pleased that YOU reached out to help make that happen. He could do it all on His own ... but He chooses to let us help.
Keep your eyes open--there will be opportunities VERY SOON that will present themselves to you. Promise!
God provides them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Cup of Cold Water--Check This Out

Shannon at ThrowingOurArmsOpenWide has found the most wonderful site that I am blessed to pass on to you. If you love things cute and a great cause, you really need to run on over to check it out HERE. (notice I said RUN, because the things there are just that special!)
Shannon has a give away going that you need to enter too for this beautiful handkerchief shirt!

But they also have things (very handsome things)for BOYS!

And OTHER very, very cute things:
A little Pouch

And my VERY, VERY favorite:

You simply must check it out and see her inspiration behind it all--it's simply no wonder she sews so beautifully! :-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Black and White Wednesday--The Hunt & Sweet Rewards

I have wanted to join Black and White Wednesday for a LONG time now. I'm just a little intimidated by everyone's great shots! I love black and white photos though. In my opinion any photo made black and white suddenly becomes art. It's almost magical for some reason ... because it truly stops time for a moment and cries out to not just be seen but to be really LOOKED at. And I really, really miss my Photoshop! I will need to break down and re-buy that very soon so I have the tools to do so much more. (sigh) I did see that I can create simple black and white versions of my shots in my cheesy Preview setting so I just couldn't wait any longer. I couldn't decide which one I liked better, so I'm including them both. The hunt ... and then the sweet rewards. (Click the photos for a bit larger look.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cross My Heart--and One Year of Blogging

Last Year's quilt--"Wrapped in the Arms of Esther-Soli Deo Gloria"

My very first blog post was on April 7th of last year and to be honest the BIGGEST motivating factor behind it was posting about the Love Without Boundaries Born In My Heart Art Auction. It was such a blessing to have the opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger by making something for this art auction. And I wanted to tell somebody and spread the word. True, it was just a small quilt, but through it I spread the word about the event to a handful of my friends which tricked down to a few more and then a bunch of people left some comments and ultimately it was auctioned off for $132 which helped 5 little children receive the heart surgeries that gave them stronger hearts!

So this year, one year later, I look back on where I started, and on my posts and the blog friends I've connected with and really stand back and say, "wow, this is really cool!" I love reading about how God is moving in the lives of people near and far.

And this year, once again, I'm posting to remind you that The LWB Art Auction is in just a few weeks! It is set up on ebay and runs from April 22nd thru the 27th. There are some beautiful things that will be up for bid so you really must check it out! And don't worry, not all items are WAY expensive. But it is a great way of seeing how many little things add up to great big things.

As for my entries this year, I have 4 that I sent in on my own and one very special outfit that I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a fellow artist, Kelly, from Girly-Girl Bowtique on putting together. I made the skirt and she created the embroidered shirts and hair accessories. It is simply adorable and I hope to work with her again on something down the road. It was so fun to collaborate together with another talented artist AND for such a great cause too! Remember to check out The Born In My Heart Art Auction.
Here are some photos of my entries this year, including the first 3 photos of the project I worked with Kelly to create.)

Love's Spring Blossom Outfit (includes black tee, peach tank, hair bows and skirt--size 6/8)

Ruffle-Bug Skirt (size 4/6)

Lil Bug Skirt (size 2/4)

"Cross My Heart--For Tristan" Table-Top Square/Wall Art (this can be used hung on the wall or as an accent on a table when the dowel stick is removed)

"Cross My Heart" Table Runner

The idea of the table runner and the fabrics chosen for it originally sprouted out of a project I had in mind for a certain someone's birthday ... the birthday has passed and I haven't finished it or gotten it in the mail yet ... because it then seemed so perfect for this project too which was calling to me with a distinct deadline! However ... it will be getting to her eventually, and I don't think the recipient will mind it being a little late, especially considering the cause. Also, in the in-between time it grew out into the individual square idea in honor of a little boy.
I wrote this about the The Wall/Table Art and the Table Runner:

This delightful piece is a single quilted block created from the same fabrics and design that are found in the "Cross My Heart" Quilted Table Runner (also included in the LWB Art Auction.) I created this pair of quilted pieces this year with the children who have crossed my heart throughout this past year in mind, especially those with the special need of a heart condition. I have named this single square "Cross My Heart--For Tristan" in honor of a very sweet little boy. Tristan is a sweetheart from NDFH who was called home suddenly in February. Although he did not find adoption into his very own family while here on earth, his life and story has touched the hearts of so many. He has been called out from the rest and placed in the lap of our God and I can only imagine the joy his smile beams with right now. What a blessing he was to those who played with him and were his buddies at New Day and also to those who cared for him and opened their hearts to love him and had their hearts broken when it was his time to leave so suddenly.

The design of this pair of quilted pieces is based on the traditional "Blackford's Beauty" pattern. Jewel-toned squares of oriental floral fabric accent the corner blocks in a diagonal fashion, drawing the eye toward the aqua toned star in the center of the piece. The heart of the quilted piece however is the cross design found in the chocolate colored fabric that also has notes of gold and aqua dancing through its fabric's print. The center of each cross anchors the colors in a strong striped pattern of chocolate, gold, aqua, and avocado. The background fabric for both the single quilted piece and the table runner is a neutral tone on tone floral pattern.

Size is 12.5" x 12.5" (includes a pocket for a rod to hang on the wall or it can lay flat to be display on a table.)
Hand pieced, machine quilted

The family

The family