Friday, July 22, 2011

Homestudy Update

Well, things are happening....although sometimes it feels like the wheels grind slowly.  Waiting is weird.  I'm riding the teeter-totter between the ants in my pants and an extreme desire to take a nap.  This process is rush, rush, rush when there are things for us to do....and wait, wait, wait when there are things for the 'powers that be' to do.  My goal is to float through the process with such calm serenity that I'll fly to Ethiopia with  Oil of Olay model skin, instead of adding a crop of new worry wrinkles between now and then.

 I have a sneaking suspicion thAT sprinkled among my smooth-browed Olay moments will be a few "SERENITY NOW!!' moments too...OK, maybe more than a few....

The news is this: 

One of the pieces of our homestudy is official clearance from every state we've lived in since the age of 18 stating that we're not child abusers.  Apparently Michigan and Florida have a much smoother system than Pennsylvania.  I mailed the original request to PA on May 2 and just before we left for Brazil, called to check on the status.  They had mailed it to our adoption agency weeks ago.  After a morning on the phone with various people at Bethany and PA we had no clearance.  My thought was to just ask PA to resend it.  They would be happy to, as soon as they received another waiver form giving our permission for such sensitive personal information t to be sent to a third party.  No, the first one wouldn't count for a second copy and no, a fax wasn't good enough and no, you can't print those forms from the website.  The form needed to be mailed from our agency.  Our social worker, Kim was on vacation, so we sent her an email asking for another form and left for Brazil.  The form was waiting when we got home and I sent it in right away with express "in care of" instructions to help it get to Kim's desk this time.  Took another 2 1/2 weeks, BUT KIM NOW HAS IT!! 

 That was the last piece of info needed for her to begin writing our homestudy.  Pray for her as she begins - this document is a big deal.  It is the document that will go to the US Citizenship & Immigration Services recommending that we be approved to adopt and immigrate a new little Florida person.  It will need to be mailed with a $875 fee.  If there are no questions about our homestudy, we are expecting it to take about 3 months for our approval to come.  Once that's done, we'll be able to take the next step toward the actual waiting list in Ethiopia.

Another cool bit of info....You'll notice our Adoption Timeline says that at the completion of our homestudy we'll have a $10,500 bill due.  This is the amount we've heard from Kim many times over the past months and the amount we've been expecting.  Got an email just a few days ago from Kim to let me know that she got the PA clearance and reminding us that at the completion of the homestudy we would get an invoice for $9,600.  $9,600!  That's still a lot, but it's $900 closer to what we have!  Haven't heard back from Kim to know what the reason is for the suddenly different invoice amount - but whatever the reason, it's God's blessing and God's provision and we're thankful!!  I have been praying for God to supply the money, hadn't even thought to ask God to evaporate the bill!! 

Last little tidbit....the Ordinary Hero grant race is going well!  The most recent email I got from them said this....

"Congratulations....You are selling among the TOP 5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Remember only the Top 3 will be awarded CASH totaling $1500! 3 Grants of $500 will be rewarded Monday- contest will close Sunday night at midnight Central time!  For some of you there is a difference of Pennies (one order and for some of you the difference is a few orders.) There is NOT one person that is way in front of anyone else. It is a CLOSE race! You don’t want to lose the $500 grant for first over a few dollars or a few orders!!!"

I have to admit that I started this fundraiser as a doubter, but I told God I would walk through the wide open doors.  We started walking, and apparently a lot of you are walking with us.  So, so thankful for that and so excited about what God is doing through all of us together!  Thanks seems like a silly, inadequate thing to say because what I feel is so much bigger.   Feel like I should pronounce a benediction of blessing upon all of thou...   I'm going to keep working this open door until it closes and I'll let you know how we end up!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Death of a Salesman

That feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know there's no way out of doing something you really, really don't want to do... you know that feeling?  I hate that feeling.  I mean hate that feeling.  I spend a lot of energy avoiding that feeling.  They say that more people have a profound fear of public speaking than of dying.  Public speaking doesn't bother me too much, I much prefer it to dying.  But.... make me a salesman, put me in a commission based job with pressure attached???  Much prefer dying to that one.

I sold baseball cards once, over the phone.  I didn't really choose the job, it just kinda happened.  My senior year of college and first year of married life.  I was busy doing student teaching, finishing up my undergrad classes and playing house with a cute new hubby but I needed to earn a bit of cash to keep the fairy tale going.  The job was part-time, fit my schedule and let me go to work with my soul mate and college friends - who could turn it down?? 

I hated it.  My mom says hate is a very strong word we should reserve for only two things, sin and Satan.  I mostly agree with her.

I remember crying as my punch-in time approached.  Praying, in anticipation of another evening of work, that God would mercifully make me too sick to go.  I'd rather throw up.  Didn't seem too far-fetched, I was usually feeling a bit nauseous by work time.  I imagined how much less painful it would feel to go hungry when the grocery money ran out than it would be to go into work and face another list of phone numbers.

Now, don't get the wrong impression.  I'm not a lazy slacker.  I know how to work hard.  I'm not a prima donna who's never sweated, gotten her hands dirty or persevered through a stressful job.  I just don't have the dna of a salesman.  Every personality or strength-finder test I've ever taken has confirmed it.  My salesmanship abilities are so low they don't even show up as a bad option in the test results.  My results show salesmanship in the "If you're family's ever dependant on you to support them this way it's gonna get ugly" category.

Need more proof?  The job that brought me to tears night after night, the baseball card selling job?  It was telemarketing, yes.  Tears make sense for telemarketing.  No one grows up hoping to be a telemarketer.  But before you give me too much sympathy, I need to come clean.  It was easy telemarketing.  That list of phone numbers didn't randomly come out of the phone book.  These people were part of a club.  A baseball card club.  They paid extra money to get phone calls about special deals.  It was like taking candy from a baby.  More people said yes, than no.  Most people even thanked me for calling.  My husband, a classic people-loving, optimistic extrovert loved the job!  He made crazy commissions and won sales prizes.  Good thing teary, nauseous salesman married happy-go-lucky, golden-boy salesman! He made sure we didn't run out of grocery money.

Every now and then, a club member wouldn't be happy that I called.  Every few nights I would make someone mad.  Illogical, seeing as they had signed up for the club, but it happened.  It was those calls that made the job, the money, all of it, totally not worth it for me. 

See, those same personality tests show that I'm cautious and shy around people I don't know.  That I care what people think of me, sometimes too much so.  That I'm a relator - I care deeply about my people.  That I have a strong faith in God's sovereignty and ability to order the events of my life.  Those traits don't do much at all for my salesmanship ability....but I think they've made me just who God needs me to be for the life He's planned for me.

So, I'll admit, when God brought this adoption thing to us, my anti-salesman radar started pinging.  I knew adoptive families usually did lots of fundraisers.  I also knew that a sudden, independent source of crazy wealth wasn't likely to drop in our laps, so we would probably be doing fundraisers.  I didn't cry any tears or pray for God to make me sick this time, but I have fought a lot of nausea.  Kinda like being pregnant!

At one point, early on, Scott brought up the idea of keeping the whole adoption thing a secret till the end.  Not because we were embarrassed or didn't want to share it with people.  One of our goals is to put a spotlight on Jesus through this.  To make it obvious to the world around us that this could only, possibly be God's work.  We wanted our story to encourage other people to say yes to adoption because if He did it for us, He can do it for them.  We had been reading George Mueller's biography.  His practice of asking only God for what his ministry needed and only telling God his needs seemed like a good example to us.  If only God knew of our needs, than it would be obvious that God had been the one to answer. 

We prayed about it as a family, and the idea grew on me.  It felt easier to me.  I know, deep down in my gut that God will do this thing.  That doesn't worry me.  Asking people to help does.  But, after much prayer and advice from family and close friends, we decided not to keep it a secret.  Once again, my mom's wisdom put it in a nutshell...."Everyone has a part to play in responding to the needs of orphans.  Everyone can't adopt, but maybe they can help you adopt.  Let God speak to people and don't rob them of the opportunity to answer His call by being part of your story." 

So, now you see me in the middle of fundraising.  Oh. My. Sweet. Goodness!  My commitment to God has been that I'll do my best to walk through the doors He opens for me.  I have to say that I much prefer selling the idea of rescuing a sweet baby to selling baseball cards.  When He makes it clear to me that it's time to punch-in, I'm gonna become a salesman again.  I hope you all know that I only want you to do the same.  Say yes, click the link or check-out only when God tells you it's time....never because you feel pressure from me to buy something. 

I'm gonna offer Him my oh-so-paltry 5 loaves and 2 fishes of salesmanship and let Jesus do what Jesus does.  This adoption will be funded because God favors it.  Not because Lori is a good salesman.  So give thanks with me, for the miracle we're about to witness....and for goodness sakes, buy some coffee and t-shirts!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This Week's Special Opportunity

I've been reading a lot of adoption blogs lately....hearing other people's stories does so much for giving courage to my own heart.  Clicking from one link to another led me to another great organization that has a heart for orphans, Ethiopia & adoptive families - Ordinary Hero. They do local outreaches, advocate for children waiting to be adopted and lead missions trips to Africa. You can read can read more about what they do at their blog HERE

They offer a similar fundraising service to adoptive families as Just Love Coffee.  So, for those of you who don't like coffee, the Ordinary Hero Store sells all kinds of cool t-shirts, hat,s bags and travel mugs.  The cool thing is that 40% of all purchases that come through our referral goes toward our adoption expenses!

Plus - they've got a special adoption grant offer just this week.  They are offering an additional $500 grant to the top 3 sales affiliates.  The grant offer is only good for sales this coming week - so we decided we needed to jump on this opportunity and see what becomes of it.
Choose "Scott & Lori Florida" from the affiliate pull-down menu when you check out!  Thanks!

If you like cool t-shirts and if you like using your purchasing power to support causes you care about, read about this awesome organization and get yourself something new to wear!  Once again, we appreciate your support.....and we promise not to post a new fundraiser every day from here on out!!

We would love it if you would share both this post and the coffee fundraiser post as often as you like!  Thanks - we'll keep you posted!!

Here's just a sample of what you'll find at the Ordinary Hero Store...




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