Monday, November 29, 2010

To our church family: W-O-W!

We love the church we attend; we love the fact that so many people who call Calvary "home" want to radically love the world for Jesus.  We love our church's vision of being a "church without walls." For as long as we've been attending, our Pastor has made it clear time and time again, that we should not be known as a church defined by location, by our brick and mortar buildings, by the songs we sing or the clothes we wear, but rather by the lives we live reflecting the love and hope of Jesus. 


For those of you reading this who may be unfamiliar with this concept for a church, I've posted Calvary's vision:


C-WoW (Church Without Walls)

Our Vision: We are on a journey with Jesus beyond our walls to transform people, community, and culture by building a church without walls. This C-WoW vision... all about going beyond our walls in relationships; connecting with God, with each other, and with the world around us. all about going beyond our walls in calling; leading people on a journey to dream, discover, and follow God’s beyond-imagination call for their lives. all about going beyond our walls to be a world-changing movement; bringing Jesus wherever faith, hope, and love are needed.

This past weekend, we were given the opportunity to share our T-shirt Fundraiser with the church, and you all amazed us with your eager response and support! Thank you so much for your financial gifts as well as your emotional and prayerful support. The morning was such an amazing eye-opener of people truly committed to living a C-WoW life. The conversations we were able to have, even in brief snippets, were filled with such authentic & encouraging treasures of words that our hearts needed to hear. When we see others supporting us by embracing an idea beyond what our culture may know as "normal" or "traditional" it gives way to HOPE in the world.  A hope that Jesus gives if we trust Him. A hope that we pray is reflective in our lives.  Please continue to pray for us as we trust Him to follow this beyond-imagination call.

We love you, thank you, and I think W-O-W says it all...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Instant Family...Just add Dossier

We received our dossier packet last week, and have begun compiling this HUGE packet of information to be sent to Ethiopia.  Our agency let us know that it generally takes 3-6 months to complete the dossier, but we're shooting for the 3 month completion date. ;)

Included in the paperwork to be submitted will be a personal letter from us to the Ethiopian government covering a few different topics, such as: explaining our reasons as to why we want to adopt and how many children we want to adopt...

We've decided to adopt 2 children!!

Yep, 2 kiddos! You're probably thinking "they are crazy" and I guess you're right, we might be a little crazy, huh? This is something we've been talking about for a couple months and have finally decided to go for it.  As scary as it seems, we know that we have more than enough room in our hearts to love and care for 2 little ones. We had our home study completed for 2 children, 0-2 years old, so our house may be a little zoo-like this time next fall!  We so excited for ALL that comes along with multiple children so close in age... maybe a little terrifying, but fun all the same!

Throughout our decision making process, the extra expenses of raising a second child kept bringing doubts into our mind as to whether or not we should do this.  However, after a lot of prayer and discussion, we realized how selfish we were being about it. Why would we even think it was okay to cringe at the extra cost of diapers or daycare, when there are millions of children in need of a loving family?  God never tells us that following His call will be easy or comfortable, and as a couple our lifestyle has been pretty comfortable up until this point. We know that this decision is going to change EVERYTHING about how we live our lives, but we feel the gift of two precious little ones will far outweigh any sacrifices we'll have to make. 

So our little family is about to go from a family of 2 to a family of 4 within a very short time. In fact, just a year ago, we were talking about the very real possibility of never being able to have children and now we're planning to put two cribs in one nursery;  very cool how God grows families. (smile) One year from now as we sit around the Thanksgiving table,  we'll count 2 more blessings in our life...and that sounds perfect to me. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This past weekend we had our home study completed for our adoption.  We were both incredibly nervous about it in the days leading up to it. Why? I guess just we were just nervous about the unknown.  We had been told by plenty of people that we didn't need to worry, and we tried not to...but we still did. We scurried around our little house, making sure everything was in it's proper place, windows were spotless, floors were swept and scrubbed, every dust bunny was captured.  We lit "homey" smelling candles in every room, gave the dog a bath, straightened every bed pillow 3 or 4 times.  Needles to say, we went a bit crazy! :)

Lisa, our caseworker spent a total of 3.5 hours with us over the course of 2 days, and not once did she check for dust bunnies! She used her time to learn all she could about us to finalize our profile to be sent to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval.  We had been told what to expect time and time again, so why were we so consumed with making things appear "perfect?"  I guess we (like most adoptive parents) wanted to be presented as the best parents/family we possibly could be, so I guess there's no shame in our frantic antics, just went a little overboard!

I'm so thankful for the way the weekend turned out.  Lisa was such a friendly, easy-going person to meet with; she made us feel so comfortable during the entire interview session.  We couldn't have planned a more positive outcome.  Thank you for all of your prayers for us over the past week, we feel so blessed to have such caring friends and family.  Our babe is going to be so loved!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beyond Words...

What can be said when "thank you" doesn't seem to cover what we're feeling inside???

Last evening as I watched people coming and going from the hall where we held our spaghetti dinner, I had a "love-burst" within my heart. The outpouring of love, support, encouragement, and prayers was overwhelming.  We were thrilled with the number of people who came to the fundraiser (some driving quite a distance), and absolutely amazed at all of your generosity.  It was an incredible night, one that will be an awesome story to tell our child one day.  I loved being able to share our God-story with so many people, and have been praying that He will continue to use our words to touch the lives of others around us.  

To all who came and all who prayed for the event:
We cannot even begin to express how grateful we are to everyone who showed support to us in some way this past weekend; whether it was by stopping by our yard sale, eating at our spaghetti dinner, selling our T-shirts, buying T-shirts, helping out in the (very hot) kitchen, serving drinks, making salads, running our video, adjusting mic volume, dishing out desserts, cleaning up the hall afterward, washing dishes...the list goes on and on of things that could not have happened without the love and support of family and friends. We feel incredibly blessed to have so many people caring about us as we journey this road. Thank You over and over again!!

Some pics from the night:

Dishing out desserts

Sadly, I think this was just a photo-op, this may have been
the only time I was actually in the kitchen!

Part of the actual kitchen crew....couldn't have done it without ANY of you!

My sis and her hubby selling our T-shirts
(see info in previous blog about how to order one!)

Mandi, Jenna, and Andy, eager to serve!

Cute pic of the Bell siblings, after a long night, they're still smiling! ;)

God tells us that "where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them" - His presence was definitely felt last evening, and I believe He was smiling as he saw hearts being softened to the call of adoption and orphan care.  Your gifts (whether financial, emotional or prayerful) are helping to change a life forever, and once again I just want to say how thankful we are for all of you...each one of you is now a part of our son's story. How cool is that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Answered Prayer: the form has arrived!

I just received an email from our case worker that the long awaited clearance form from Georgia finally made its way to her hands, and is now tucked safely in our file!!! Thank you for all of your prayers!!  What a relief to know that it's not lost in the shuffle somewhere!

Another exciting bit of news: We sold our first couple of T-shirts today!! Super cool to see friends wearing them in support! Let us know if you want to order 1... or 2... or 3! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adoption finances...fundraising!!

I feel like I need to write a little about this topic because it can be such a deterrent for so many families, but shouldn't be!

Yes, adoption (either domestically or intercountry) can cost a lot of money, but looking at the numbers should not automatically scare away loving and willing families.  When we were first talking about adoption, financing the process definitely brought forth questions: how much is this going to cost? how can we afford to do this? Legitimate questions for anyone looking to adopt as there are very real costs involved with the process. As I mentioned before, as these questions came up and doubts began to fog our vision, we received a blog update from an adoptive family speaking specifically about not allowing the numbers associated with adoption to be the weed that chokes out your decision. We believe that God is bigger than the biggest check that will need to be written and He will provide for any family that feels called to adopt.  When God places the burden to adopt on a family, and finances appear to be a barrier, His ability to provide can show up in ways never imagined and serve as an amazing testament of His love for the fatherless.  It's incredible, the amount of love and support, not just emotionally, but financially that people want to share when they strongly agree with what you're doing.

Another way to think about financing an adoption, is not as "fees" or "prices" which are related to the services provided, but to look at it as a ransom for the life of your child.  This analogy was shared with us by a friend (thanks Becky!), and it really pulled at my heart strings.  She said to imagine the cost as a ransom we had to pay to bring our child home. If our biological child was being held in another country and a ransom was demanded, what would we do? We would certainly do everything necessary to pay the ransom in order to bring our child home where he belonged.
So we're trying to raise our "ransom" for our little guy. Along with saving as much as we can, and cutting out non-essential monthly bills like TV (crazy idea at first, but it's actually not too bad), gym memberships (looking at myself in the mirror, this may have been a bad idea!), we've decided to get a little creative with a few fundraisers:

First up is a Spaghetti Dinner we're having this coming weekend (Nov. 6th) If you're going to be in the Curwensville Area on Saturday from 4-7pm, stop by Heritage Hall (formerly Grampian Grange), we'd love to see you and chat with you about our adoption journey thus far. Any questions please feel free to email:

We're also doing a T-shirt fundraiser. Our shirts are ready for order and purchase, designed and hand-drawn by yours truly.  We think they turned out pretty cute, but you can be the judge for yourself....

The logo is's a drawing of Africa with a heart where Ethiopia is located (since that's where our hearts are!).  Beside the picture are the words "See the World Be Changed."  We don't think our adoption is going to change the world, but it is going to change our son's world; and if loving families would accept the call of loving the orphan, the world could be changed.

The ladies shirts are a plum colored, form-fitted, and longer length style t-shirt in a super soft cotton.

They are available in sizes Small - X Large
Price:  $20.00 each    or   2 for $35.00

 The Men's shirts are charcoal colored basic tee, also in super soft cotton.  (*Can be Unisex)

 They are available in sizes Medium-XX Large
 Price:  $20.00 each  or  2 for $35.00

We also have kids sized shirts in a cute Indigo Blue colored cotton.

They are available in sizes X Small-X Large  
Price:  $14.00 each   or    2 for $25.00

We're looking into getting a Paypal option available on our blog sidebar, but until we have that figured out, we'd love to take orders by email.  If interested in purchasing a t-shirt, please contact us by emailing: and letting us know what type of shirt you want, quantity, and size.  (Shipping and Handling included in cost) Thanks so much!!

Along with fundraising, there are many types of financial assistance programs available for qualifying families.  Some organizations include:

Lifesong for Orphans (
Show Hope ( 

along with MANY others. A little research can go a long way!

**Bottom line, please don't let the cost of adoption outweigh your desire to share your family with someone longing for a home.  Listen to your heart, follow God's call and be amazed at what He can do!

 "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. " Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)