because people matter

sevenly

One thing I’ve realized over the past few weeks is that I have a crazy passion for people and their circumstances.

My heart has begun to truly break for the struggles, pains, and hurts that so many people are enduring. I know how much they need hope, support, and their desire to feel something besides disappointment and a void that doesn’t seem to be fillable. I’ve prayed for quite a while for a heart like Christ’s, a heart that feels others and I believe that that prayer is in the process of being answered.

I’m grateful for companies and people who support the issues of others and work hard to support them in any and every way they can. One company that opens their hearts and enters the hurts of others is Sevenly. Every week they focus on one cause. This shirt was last week’s cause was Down Syndrome, this week: Austism. I have shirts that supported adoptions in China, and feeding the hungry. I love that for each purchase, $7 is donated toward the week’s cause. I wear these shirts proudly – they have an amazing message, they help so many other people, annnnnnd they’re incredibly soft and wash well. Can’t beat a bit of that!

This company is literally the hands and feet of Christ. Isn’t that what’s is all about? Doing what you can with what you have to serve others in the body of Christ? Joining in and getting our hands dirty together??

This shirt is incredibly special to me as we’re on the path to adoption…. understanding that family truly is more than blood. Not only do we have friends that I know are our family, but our adopted child and their birth family will, too become our family. They are a part of us. We are all connected. Love makes and a commitment to be there makes a family. To be there when you think you want to be alone. To open your heart when you feel that no one else gets it. These are the people who will continue to trust and hope when you feel you’ve lost the ability to keep hoping  against all hope.

I almost feel as if my wardrobe is becoming adoption and cause shirts…. I’m waiting for two adoption shirts that are helping bring a couple babies home to hit my mailbox in the coming days. And, I’m okay with that. T-shirt, jeans or shorts, and sandals or Tom’s (that I also love as they give one pair of shoes for each that’s purchased!)

So GO!!!!! Check out Sevenly – I’m sure they’ll have a cause very soon that you’re into. If you’re not into t-shirts, you can definitely use your personal gifts and talents to support and love on a friend. Something we can all do to be supportive and loving in action.

… here’s to supporting people and their struggles.. after all, we’re all family, right?

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meet madison & nolan!

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There’re very few things about our adoption journey that I love more than meeting other adoptive mamas. Even though I’ve said it twelve thousand times, I can’t verbalize enough how important and impactful a community of God craving women are during this journey. The instant connection that is made is so encouraging, uplifting, and spiritual.  We know that all of this is about Jesus so we’re all coming from the same place. Every single one of us  desire to serve and share God to little people who we pray will grow up to do remarkable things for the sake of Christ. Although every family’s journey is different, there are God planned similarities that bind us mamas together in an incredible way.  It’s amazing to see how each friendship made serves a spectacular purpose in a very specific way.

Two major things that I believe that are very close to most adoptive mamas hearts are community and relationship. Through community, we build a network of support and real to the bone friendships. It’s also through these relationships that these friendships and connections find their value, families are formed, and often simultaneously kept together. We know that by openly sharing our experiences and convictions enables us to enjoyably share God’s love for us and encourages others to keep moving! These testimonies also remind families that this idea  that God gave you about bringing a stranger child into your home isn’t far fetched, it’s not unreasonable, and yes you too can impact and be impacted by a child in an unimaginable way by just going when God say move.

So all of that paves the way to amazing opportunities such as this one…..
I’m humbled and honored to share two things with you today.

FIRST, I want to introduce you to my friend Madison Vining who I met through  social media! She’s an amazing wife, mama, and Tulsa, Oklahoma based photographer who is here to share her family’s adoption story with you!!! We have the same love for adoption & sharing Jesus!! lol. We thought it would be neat to interview each other and share perspectives, thoughts, and  stories about our experiences!

SECOND, you have an awesome opportunity to impact another family by participating in our GIVEAWAY!!! Each entry positions you to have $100 donated to the Crisis Pregnancy Outreach in your name! The Vining’s youngest and most recent addition, Nolan, was adopted through Crisis Pregnancy Outreach based in Tulsa, so it’s a very special contribution for Madison and I am very sensitive about donating towards others’ adoptions! So, this is a neat little win-win situation for everyone involved!

Without further delay,
please meet 

Madison Vining.
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Tell us a little bit about who Madison is…
I have lived Oklahoma all my life and have been with my hubby since the 8th grade (we got married at 19). I have 3 little ones: Cade who is 5, Story who is 2.5, and Nolan who is 4 months. We adopted Nolan the day before Valentine’s Day this year. I am a photographer and am pretty spontaneous and creative in all areas of life. “Laid back and mildly inappropriate” describes my personality ; )

 What caused you to pursue an open & domestic adoption after originally planning to adopt internationally?
We had just dipped our foot into the process of adopting internationally, looking at Columbia (which is funny… because we ended up with a child who looks like he could totally be Columbian! God is great like that.)

One night I was on Facebook and saw an acquaintance post a photo of her newly-adopted daughter. I didn’t know they had been in the process of adopting so I sent her a message congratulating her and asking questions, which she so graciously answered. Her daughter had been adopted through Crisis Pregnancy Outreach here in Tulsa, and she explained to me the opportunity they had been given to minister to their daughter’s birth mom. All I can say that is that I had a heart change during that conversation. We were pursuing adoption as our first choice for growing our family, and so all along our intentions were to help a child, but the concept of the birth mother had honestly never entered my mind. Once I started thinking in a new way and seeing how we could maybe make a bigger impact in not just a baby’s life, but a woman’s life as well, and also have background information for our child when they are ready to receive it, I was totally convinced that this was the type of adoption that we were called to. My husband wholeheartedly agreed, and so off we went!

Has adoption changed your way of thinking about life, your personal relationships, and/or your relationship with God?
To try and explain all the ways in which I have been changed seems impossible!

I guess the main theme is that, layer by layer, things have been stripped away to where it’s obvious that I am called to love relentlessly and tirelessly and without stopping to think about it. I’ve also had to let go of a lot of control, and in that, I have been molded and shaped more through this process than through any other period in my life.

As for my relationship with my husband: adoption has deepened our love infinitely. Seeing him wholeheartedly welcome another man’s child as his own… if only the world were full of more men who are capable of that kind of love. My husband, now even more so than before, is my rock and the most amazing example of Christ’s grace and compassion. 3bedS

 Can you give some hindsight wisdom about your experience with adoption?
One suggestion I have is to surround yourself with people who “get it.” People who truly want to know how you are doing and how they can be there for you. One of the biggest helps through this was for a few of our friends to call and say, “What specifically can we be praying with you about today?” Find those kinds of friends. (If you are reading this and are in need that kind of friend… I am happy to be it! : )

 How did you prepare your bio children for the adoption?
Many of our friends have adopted or are in the process, and they have several adopted friends, so it’s a topic they’ve always been somewhat familiar with. A year ago when we began the application process, we started talking more about it and made sure to use age-appropriate terms that they understood. Our 5 year old understands adoption more than most adults. He loved praying for our baby’s birth mom. And every time we’d hold a friend’s baby he’d say, “Cute baby! Did we adopt him?” : )

We also read a lot of adoption books. Our favorite one is “A Mother for Choco.” Anyone with young kiddos, whether you’re adopting or not: buy this book! It is wonderful.3bed7S

 Do you have any advice on preparing young children for the realities of bringing another child into your home?
What worked for us was talking about it regularly. By the time it actually came, the kids were fully ready and the transition was really seamless. It is never too early to begin prepping them for the change. You never know, you could receive a baby with two hours’ notice like we did! : )

 What practical advice would you give to someone preparing to begin the adoption journey?
Know that it will probably not go the way you expect it to, and know that that’s amazing. I’ve learned that God’s plans for us are always better than the plans we have for ourselves. When you can, be open to things you didn’t necessarily foresee. We were waiting for a newborn and ended up with a 3 month old, and he is totally our son! : ) SPL16S

Did you have any concerns about having an open adoption?
Oddly, no. I know the concept sounds totally terrifying to most people, but once we knew that an open adoption was what we were supposed to pursue, we educated ourselves on every possible scenario (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and we still felt at peace. One thing I wish more people knew was that open adoption is not co-parenting. An adopted child is your legal child, and you set the rules when it comes to their safety and well-being. If someone is not safe or healthy for them to be around, that is ultimately your call to make. But open adoption is such a beautiful thing if you can find common ground. We feel that the more people our kids have in their lives that love them, the better!

 What is your relationship with your birth mother?
Our relationship with Nolan’s birth mother is, of course, still very new. But the love I have for her is unlike the love I have for anyone else in my life. I may not agree with some of her decisions, but I love her heart and I love her love for Nolan. When Nolan does something adorable, my first thought is “I can’t wait to tell A.” She’s the only person who loves him as much as we do, and it’s a very special bond. I am grateful literally every single day that she gave Nolan life and that she was willing to break her own heart to do what was best for him. She is a hero.SPL14S

 Can you speak to fundraising and sharing with your community your dreams/plans of adopting?
Of course! I am pretty open, but choosing how and when and what to say about our adoption journey was a struggle for me. I wrote a blog post announcing that we were in the process of adopting and tried to kind of shed some light on open adoption in general, because a lot of our friends just had no idea about it.

To raise funds, we created a little online shop called Vine & Ever. You can check it out HERE!!! It was a fun way to stay busy, spread the word about adoption, and bring in some funds that would ultimately help to bring Nolan home. Now, our hope is to help other families fund their adoptions.

 What areas did you need to lean on God the most about during your journey?
The waiting. It’s like being pregnant with no due date. Your baby could come in 2 minutes or 2 years, and you have no idea. You also (or at least in our case) don’t know anything about the baby you are waiting on: its gender, its race, its circumstances. For someone who is usually a planner, that was a huge faith stretch for me.

But oh my gosh… was it the most amazing rush when we got that call.

 In what areas were you most challenged in? (marriage, personal concerns/thoughts of perceptions, etc.)
My lack of patience and need for control were by far the things that were most challenged! : ) I can’t say that I am “healed” of my impatience/control-freakness, but I am WAY more apt to let things go and give them to God than I used to be. I have learned that I am not in control, and when I’m not in control is when the best things happen!

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NOW, FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!! 

As I mentioned before, in honor  of  baby Nolan and  Crisis Preganncy Outreach, you have the awesome opportunity to  have $100 donated in your name!
We only ask that you do a few things:
1. Like Madison’s blog page on Facebook
2. Follow Madison on Instagram 
3. Like UnashamedGrowth’s blog page on Facebook
4. Follow me on Instagram
5. COMMENT below!!
Let us know how adoption has impacted your life in any way! We’d love to hear your experiences and  even a fav scripture you have that compels you to love with that “anyway” love of Jesus – regardless of relationship!

Our WINNER will be selected on APRIL 4th!!!!

I hope you enjoyed Madison’s story! She is definitely a wonderful woman who is eager and intentional about serving God in a way that helps funds adoptions in an insanely adorable, practical, and cost effective way! Be sure to head over to Vine & Ever (click. that. link!! :))!! I know you will love everything you come across! You won’t ever regret it!

I’m in love and encouraged with this entire concept of adoption and how it so represents Christ, his love towards us, and the absolute definition of what the action of love really looks like. If you are on the fence or feel your heart strings tugged a bit at the thought of adoption – please pray about the when, how, and where. God is faithful and will definitely answer your prayers! Let me know & I’ll be praying for you too! I’m always willing to chat if you want to talk

{{ Madison also interviewed me! You can find that post on her blog! Just click here! ENJOY!!! }}

…. here’s to community and loving one another!

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… waiting

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I’ve posted promises every day this month and when I tell you they are doing a number on my soul…..

I love how God’s words are resounding in my mind, they are coming out in prayers and chats with God, they are settling and calming me like nothing else has.

My momma clock has been going off like mad for the past few weeks and my heart is truly breaking more and more each day.

But, I know God is moving and has an amazing plan for our life as a family and our lives as individuals. And, I’m confident that it’s all for God’s glory. That hope is the only thing keeping me going.

I’m grateful for the peace and calmness God has given me. I’d have been a noisy, nervous wreck by now pressing and pushing for something to happen now – but I am so thankful God is quieting my spirit. I’m thankful for the peace He is granting me, I’m glad he’s positioning me to learn to wait on Him and trusting Him in the process. It’s not easy but I know it will be worth it.

This wait, although sad, is good. I know God is preparing our hearts for who He will bring into our home & He’s shaping us for what He will have us to do later. Whatever it is will be for our good & His glory.

I’m waiting patiently. Trusting God. Standing firm on His promises.

… here’s to trusting God with the hard stuff knowing all of it is being worked together for our/my good.

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