Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Calling All Clothes!

Dear Friends,

One wonderful opportunity after another keeps falling from Heaven!

Yesterday, Marsh was visiting a doctor for his exam (that is required of both of us for the adoption) and called me on the way home. When I answered the phone he simply said, "It happened again." After we had just given thanks for the incredible generosity of anonymous friends, he had left for that appointment and called to say that the doctor didn't charge him for the visit...as a donation to our efforts to bring Ruslan and Nastiya home.

Then, this morning, a new friend who found us at the yard sale a weekend or two ago offered for us to participate in her consignment sales over the next two weeks. She jointly owns Second Chance Charm, a consignment business that will have sales in Springville and Midvale over the next two weeks. She has offered for us to not only include items for sale but is allowing us to do a bake sale outside the shop as well. She and her business partner are taking less of an income off of our items, specifically, to allow us to receive more funds!

I am convinced...there are angels everywhere, acting as the Lord's hands. Alma 37:6 reads, "Now ye may suppose this is foolishnes in me; but behold I say unto you, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and by small means in many instances doth confound the wise." It may seem a simple thing for this friend to call and offer this opportunity or for someone to donate a few dollars or an article of clothing. It may seem foolish to consider that one little act of kindness can change anything in this world. But, I am learning day after day with this experience that one person really can make a difference, that every act has impact...and I don't think I ever truly believed that before!

Now to the title of my post! I learned that the items for this consignment shop are childrens' clothing up to age/size 18; men's/women's clothes; maternity clothes; baby furniture (strollers, bouncy seats, high chairs, etc); toys in good condition with all working parts; gently used kitchen items; costumes; seasonal items.

Now is a great time to de-clutter!

If you have anything that fits into these categories and are willing to donate them, I will happily tag them and submit them to the consignment shop. If they don't sell it there, we do have the possibility of selling them at the yard sale on the 24th of September.

We will happily come pick up any items you have to donate. Thank you for your help and please spread the word!

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass! ;)

Monday, August 29, 2011

"...thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly"

Last night, just as the little ones were getting ready for bed and the lightning was giving us quite a summer show, there was a knock at our door. My children have been trained to always check before opening it. When Emma looked through the blinds, she couldn't see anyone and since it was dark outside, she wasn't about to open the door. I put the baby down and went to carefully open the door. All I found was the lightning. I thought I'd better check to see if someone was doing a "knock and run" treat drop-off. I looked around a bit. Just below me were three shining circles. It took me a moment to realize what I was looking at: three jars of different sizes. Upon bending down, I realized that they were full of coins!

I brought them into the house and we found a cute poem inserted into the largest jar:

"We know of your quest to enlarge your nest
With two little orphans whose names will be 'Morfords'
Our vacation cash we'll add to your stash
Best wishes to you and your little crew!"

Knowing that it takes me months to save up this many coins, the sacrifice was evident. Also knowing that my last 3/4 full #10 can of coins was worth about $150, I was very moved by the generosity of the family that left such on offering...especially considering the fact that it was their vacation money!

The kids immediately asked if they could count it (and knowing what a great experience that would be for them, I was tempted to let them), but since we were home late from a friend's house and the older ones were still out in the dark (and lightning and rain!) feeding animals, I told them we would have to wait until tomorrow. Sometimes I hate being a grown up! I wanted to know how much was there just as much as they did!

We did have a conversation, however. As the older kids came in from chores, we showed them the gift that was left on our doorstep and everyone started trying to guess who left it. The focus became trying to figure out who the givers were, rather than the gift itself. I sat them all down and took out the scriptures.

I read Matthew 6:1-4 to them:
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thow doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right had doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."

I explained that if the family who donated this gift had wanted to be known, they would have made themselves known. It is not our job to go sleuthing and try to figure out who they are because that would deny them the blessings the Lord has in store for them for their generosity and sacrifice.

I asked them, "If the Lord wanted to, could He point His finger and cause the $50,000 we need to suddenly appear on our doorstep?" They, of course, agreed He could.

But He doesn't do that, because He knows that would remove all possibility of blessing us all for the sacrifices we will make to bring Ruslan and Nastiya here. He doesn't want to deny us of the experiences and refinements that will come to us because of the sacrifices, difficulties and joys that are part of the journey. After all, this life is all about becoming like God and learning to walk by faith. Letting go of our will and bowing to His is what we are meant to do. Without trial, effort and the personal sacrifice of our desires and the worldly part of us, we can't become all we are meant to become.

I explained that this generous family was most likely composed of children who had to make the decision to give up their vacation to make a difference in the lives of two other children. They had to be willing and able to see that the vacation would last for a while, but the lives of these children would be eternally changed and blessed through their sacrifice.

And with that, they went to bed...considering whether or not they were personally capable of such a sacrifice.
This morning, after chores and breakfast, I told them they could go ahead and dump out the coins and get counting. They excitedly went to work with the little ones ready to help sort. Imagine our surprise when Emma found a small roll of bills in the big jar! We were all shocked and excited as she started counting and found that it was $143! Suddenly, this wasn't just a jar of coins, it was a bigger sacrifice on the part of a family that had given up something they had planned for.

My children counting the coins. . .
We were newly humbled as we went back to emptying the jars and preparing to count the coins.

As Emma continued to slowly pour the coins out of the big jar another, larger roll of bills was found. There was silence. We all stared at it in disbelief. It was clear that it was a substantial amount of money. And Patty begged to be allowed to count it.

She started with whatever bills were on top. Because of that, the counting got a little difficult. She wasn't dealing with whole numbers anymore! She slowly counted out loud, adding as she went. Since we hadn't sorted the bills into like denominations, there was no way to know how many of each kind of bill there was...no way to know that there were fifties and hundreds in there.

When she counted to $1,000, my tears started. The kids were giggling nervously because they weren't sure how to respond to that kind of generosity. As she counted to $2,000 I started to pace and the kids began to quiet down. When she reached $3,000, we could hardly contain ourselves. I explained to them that this family had given up something extremely grand for Ruslan and Nastiya's sake...a long anticipated trip to Disneyland, perhaps. Patty suggested it might have been a couple who could have gone on a cruise with that amount of money.

There is really no way to describe in words what it was like for us to discover that there was $5,000.91 hidden in those three jars of coins. To us, it was a matter of minutes before all the hard work of so many friends over the past few weeks had been doubled in value. But to the generous angels who left this donation, it may have been many months or, more likely, years of saving for something wonderful to do as a family. That vacation may have made wonderful memories that would have lasted their lifetimes. But, instead they seem to understand Matthew 6:1-4, 19-21 and 33.

Thank you, friends! The Lord sees and knows your hearts and we are praying that he will increase your blessings 100 fold for your willingness to give so much so freely!
So excited and amazed!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them...

Donations for the Yard Sale
This past Friday and Saturday gave us yet more opportunities to be grateful for loving friends and generous people. After Friday's sale, which brought in around $1500, more friends and neighbors donated yard sale items and baked goods for Saturday's sale.
People who had shopped Friday came back Saturday to continue to support our efforts. One very generous woman handed us a $100 bill after coming back the second day. All in all, we were able to bring in almost $3,200 thanks to all the donors of baked goods and yard sale items and our friends down the road who planned and carried out the entire thing!

Friday's Sale
This yard sale was the idea of our young 12-year-old friend, Sidney, who met Ruslan during his first week here. After church that Sunday, she and her family came over to meet him and have some homemade ice cream. She was aware of his situation and bleak future because we had told them before their visit. Our time together that evening was full of fun with lots of children between our two families. She watched Ruslan interact with her siblings and our children and, though his wasn't able to communicate well in English, there were lots of reasons to laugh and enjoy each others' company.

12-year-old Sydney - Making a Difference
About a week later, I received a phone call from Sidney. She told me about her feelings the night she met Ruslan, that she cried when she got home, that her heart was hurting over the fact that such a bright, happy, enjoyable person could have such a difficult life to look forward to. She then determined that she needed to figure out a way to help us afford to adopt him and give him a life that was worth living. She bubbled over with ideas, one of which was this yard and bake sale. At the end of our conversation she said, "I was sad before, but now I feel better!" At such a young age, she's learning that not only can we all make a difference, but that faith without works is dead. We can pray and pray for people who are in need, but if we don't roll up our sleeves and get to work, there will be fewer blessings...for all of us.

As the days passed, she would call me with updates on how many people she had called, which details we still needed to work out and plans she had made. One day I visited her at her home and she showed me the clipboard with her bake sale sign up sheet. I took one look at all those signatures of friends and neighbors who were offering their help and I thought of all the time she had spent talking to people, all the phone calls she had made and I couldn't help but cry. It was as if all the love in the world was enveloping me through the angelic hands and hearts of all these wonderful people I am blessed to have around me.

Saturday's Sale
These wonderful friends went door to door dropping off flyers throughout the neighborhood, went to all the businesses down Main Street to request that they hang up flyers and spent countless hours contacting people and preparing for this fund raiser. Everyone can make a difference...and everyone did. We had babysitters who helped take care of the little ones so we could run the yard sale, two families offered their properties for the days of the sale, several families made food and donated items to sell, others handed us extra money to donate to our efforts and saints came to rescue us from one of the biggest thunderstorms we've ever experienced! Everyone contributed something..."And a little child [did] lead them"!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Angels in the Outfield: Saturday's fundraisers

It seems to me that the outfielders are sometimes overlooked. Sure, when there is a fly ball all eyes are riveted on them for those few seconds before it comes out of the sky. And if that poor outfielder has the sun in his eyes and drops that ball, all he gets for the effort is a groaning, disappointed crowd.

The pitcher and the batters sure get a lot of attention, though. Like the movie stars of baseball, they are the focus of all the praise, their stats and current state of their personal lives announced over the airways in a flurry of excitement before the crack of the bat connecting with the ball takes the conversation in a different direction. But, if those outfielders weren't there, risking their own well-being at times, landing full force on the ground or jumping farther than humanly possible to catch whatever errant ball the movie star batter sent into space, would there even be a game? The outfielders are the grunt men, the behind-the-scenes heroes that really win the game for their team.

We have angels in our outfield. We met some of them yesterday. They are heroes behind the scenes of this adoption effort; people who want to help in whatever way they can and are making things happen, being anxiously engaged in a good cause, motivated by their own desire to make a difference in the lives of these children.

It all started with a group of my dear friends getting together to prepare several items for the craft booth fundraiser. We may have stayed up as late as I would have had to if I were doing it all by myself, but it wouldn't have been as much fun, that's for sure! They were my first group of angels.

Later, a talented friend called and offered some of the beautiful things she makes to sell at the booth. They were more wonderful than anything I had to put up that day!

At the booth, a sweet friend came to support us. She chose a few things to buy and then wrote out a check for $1000...yes, one thousand dollars. Her comment was, "We can't adopt them, so my husband and I want to help you do it." Husband and wife angels! Another friend commented to me today that the Lord will bless this generous little family a thousand-fold for such a sacrifice. It may not come back to them monetarily, but they will be repaid for such a gift.

We brought it almost $400 at our booth and headed home in the 95 degree heat to pull things together for a concert that a friend had set up in our behalf. While I was home trying to tend to the needs of my other children and my church responsibilities, I debated as to whether or not I had the time or the strength to make MORE cookies for the concert. Within minutes, my mom and another dear friend each called me and offered cookies and brownies they had already made for the concert. More angels.

At the concert, the families there willingly gave donations for our cause. The artist, Jhonny K (http://www.jhonnyk.com/), offered to donate all he made from people buying songs off his website last night. We went home feeling humbled and amazed that there are so many generous, loving people in the world. Two young girls came up and gave us $3, all they had. The widow's mite. We all do what we can and that is all the Lord requires. I firmly believe that our family is required to do everything we can, to show the Lord we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to bring these children to our home, and He will bridge the gap. He will open the way.

A friend said to me today, "The Lord knows you and Marsh could almost walk on water, so now he is requiring you to find the stepping stones He has in place and wants you to cross the ocean" (to Ukraine). He also said, "What you're doing is miraculous and He knows that you can do anything you set your mind to. Now He has asked you to do something you cannot do alone."

When people came to us this weekend with open hearts and the willingness to help, I saw joy in their faces and a glimpse of Zion where we are all of one heart and one mind, working together for those who need us most...some of us giving more than others, but all of us giving what we can. And for that, I believe the Lord will send more angels to the outfields of the lives of those who give...because they have proven that they are on His team.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Adoption Jar

Two summers ago, my husband was working on a film project that required him to be an hour away in the city for a period of time. Because of the long hours, he was staying in a hotel there and invited us to come be with him for a couple of nights. Our children had never stayed in a hotel...especially not one with a dining room, kitchen, two bathrooms and two bedrooms! We spent the day at the zoo or other tourist attraction, met with Daddy for dinner, had a great time at night in our "apartment" and just had a ball. It was so much fun, the kids decided we should do it every year.

In order to save the money to pay for our own hotel, admission and food, they created "The Trip Jar". It sits on our counter all year and any money the kids want to donate to it is accumulated to fund the trip.

Not an hour after the kids learned we wanted to adopt Ruslan and Nastiya, the jar label was changed. This is what it looks like now. Every penny means more to them now than it ever had before. They realize that if they save their money for something they think they want or spend it on things that have no lasting value, we are that further away from being able to bring their new siblings home. Not only that, they are willing to give up something they really enjoy and look forward to for something that they realize is of more lasting joy and impact.

Their example reminds me of Christ's admonishment: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:19-21).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our first donation

This week Marsh was able to take Ruslan and our older children to California for a family wedding. When the family met him, they loved him. The cousins rallied to earn as much money as they could to help support the adoption. A roadside lemonade stand brought in $38.68 in 45 minutes. Go kids!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Matter of Resources

After this experience with Ruslan, I will never look at money the same way again. The reality that there are children out there who have all the love and potential he does, changes the reality of what money can do. It is frustrating to think that a lack of funds will keep people from helping these children because of the expense of it all, but that is also a reality.

I believe we will answer for the choices we make concerning our resources. Nothing we have is our own, no matter how hard we think we worked for it. It all belongs to the Lord and He is the One who has chosen whether or not we have been successful in our efforts to obtain it. I recently heard of women whose wedding budgets were between $30,000 and $75,000. Really?! How can we waste our resources in these selfish ways when there are so many people in need, so many children who need families? Where much is given, much is required.

We have been given so much: a home, a wonderful family, incredibly loving children, the gospel of Jesus Christ, food to eat, clothes to wear and every other need taken care of. How could we not do whatever we can to share these blessings?