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The next part of our family journey – we’re moving!

Last Friday I accepted a full-time position at John Brown University (our alma mater) as the staff writer/social media manager.

That means the Gumm clan is moving to NW Arkansas – beautiful Siloam Springs to be exact.

Though I haven’t talked about it much on the blog, for the last 14 months I’ve been working part-time for JBU as a local Phoenix admissions representative. It was a fun 10-hr a week job that allowed me to talk with high school students, parents and guidance counselors about JBU.

And the more I talked about it, the more I remembered how much I loved it there. And each time I’d travel back to  campus I’d fall more in love.

SSThis desert girl is really a small-town Southern girl at heart. Siloam Springs was voted one of the Top 20 Small Towns in America by Smithsonian Magazine. I LOVE it there. It brings me so much joy.

To top it off, we have family in NW Arkansas. Mark’s brother and his wife and 5 kids live there. So does his aunt, uncle, their two grown-boys and their families with another 7 kids.

So for the last 6 months I’ve been stalking the JBU job listings and putting feelers out, including to a classmate of mine who happens to be the director of communications. He called me a few weeks ago to let me know about the position. I applied, they flew me up for an interview last week, and here we are.

Moving.

I’ll work remotely until school finishes and then we’ll get the family moved in June. The kids handled the news quite well. One out of 3 is excited. The others are more sad right now – the idea of leaving friends behind is hard. I get that. (I was 12 when my parents uprooted us to live in S. Calif. for 18 months.)

We told them it’s not really just about the job. It’s a chance at a different life. A slower pace. A safer environment – one where they can ride their bikes downtown to meet their friends at the coffee shop. Where the whole town turns out for Friday Night Football.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? The college tuition benefit. All four kids will be able to get free tuition at an amazing Christian college.

Lots to do in the next 10 weeks – PURGING, packing, cleaning. It’s a good time to do a serious simplifying.

If you think of it, pray for the kids especially. We want to handle this time with them with patience and understanding.

But look at this….don’t you want to move to this….???

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Ethiopian Jewelry For Sale

ETJewelryWhenever my husband is in Ethiopia (which is several times a year) he tries to stop in the Beza Entoto Women’s Outreach jewelry shop. The pieces are made by women with HIV and are so beautiful. Several fair trade companies resell their pieces and they are always popular.

But my collection has grown so large and I definitely have my favorite pieces. As part of my spring cleaning I decided to purge my beloved collection put some of the pieces up for sale.

Any money made will go into a savings account for a missions trip I’m hoping to take later this year.

The items are all in a Facebook album HERE with instructions on how to lay claim to what you want.


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Adoption Fundraiser Spotlight – The Hill Family

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We didn’t think that hosting an orphan in our home would change our lives forever. We had no intention of adopting; it wasn’t even on our radar. In fact, my husband said, in no uncertain terms, “We can do this, as long as you promise me we won’t adopt.” And I agreed. Because it was crazy enough to have an almost-teenager–from another country, who was an orphan—stay with our family for four weeks over Christmas. We were willing to commit to short-term crazy, but not to life-changing, forever and ever crazy. Famous last words!

During Christmas 2012, our eyes were opened to the needs of orphans around the world through the ministry of New Horizons for Children. This ministry gives children the chance to experience the love of a family and the love of Jesus for four-five weeks at Christmas and during the summer. Hosting is like a missions trip from the comfort of your own home! We hosted Mariana, a girl from Eastern Europe, in order to make a difference in her life, and we found that ours were the lives that were changed!

When Mariana came, and our family quickly fell in love with her. Our three daughters, Katelyn, Elise, and Alison, easily accepted Mariana into their hearts. And “promise me we won’t adopt” quickly turned into “We can’t send her back.” But we didn’t have a choice—we had to put her back on an airplane, and feel the pain of a piece of our heart go to Eastern Europe. New Horizons for Children does not facilitate adoptions—they are strictly a host-only organization. But once we learned Mariana was cleared for adoption, we signed up with an adoption agency and started our home study.

Funding our adoption has been a journey of faith! A large amount of our adoption costs involves the travel for the three trips required by the Eastern European government and the one-month stay in country that is required for the first trip. Chris has done work on the side as a computer programmer/consultant, and we also pulled money from personal savings. We received two grants right before Christmas, which was a big encouragement. Since September, Lindsay been baking bread every week as an on-going fundraiser.

LHill Shirt5We also sold t-shirts we designed through Fundthenations.com, and it was a blessing to see friends and family all over the country support us by buying a shirt. Partnering with the ApParent project was another amazing blessing: we sold bracelets made from recycled cereal boxes. These unique pieces of jewelry help families in Haiti provide food, shelter, and health care through a sustainable business model. We had a very fun “Christmas Shopping Party” fundraiser at our home in November where seven different direct-sales companies and other businesses were represented. Friends donated their commission for sales made that evening, and we also had businesses who donated 50% of the purchase price towards our adoption! We shared a video of pictures of our time of hosting Mariana and had Christmas cookies, coffee and eggnog. It was a great way to tell others about our heart for adoption, and we were able to raise $1000 from that evening. In January we launched a fun online auction which raised $2000.

Our three on-going fundraisers are through ScriptCharms jewelry, Umweo Bags, and Just Love Coffee. ScriptCharms has unique bracelets and necklaces which can be customized with your favorite Bible verses; the link for our fundraiser is http://www.scriptcharms.com/?Click=13. Umweo Bags helps fund a feeding clinic for severely malnourished children in Zambia, Africa. Their beautiful, handmade bags help parents care for their children while helping our family adopt as well. The link to their online store is http://umweobags.storenvy.com/; enter HillAdoption in the note at checkout for us to get credit! Just Love Coffee was started by an adoptive family who wanted to give something back to their daughter’s home country of Ethiopia while helping other families adopt. The link to our coffee store is https://justlovecoffee.com/about/beneficiary/miraclesform/

umweo Scriptcharms coffee

Our journey from hosting to adoption can be found at our blog at www.miraclesform.com. We are very excited to bring Mariana into our home forever—no more goodbyes!

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Passion for Orphans Women’s Retreat

Last year I had the privilege of speaking at the first ever Passion for Orphans Women’s retreat and it was an amazing time.

This year’s retreat will be April 4-6 in Estes Park, CO. Registration is open now and the early-bird price of $250 is good until February 28th. That includes lodging and meals – all you have to do is get there. (It’s about 75 miles from the Denver airport.

There’s a fantastic list of speakers and I know anyone who goes will be blessed!

For anyone who is passionate about embracing orphans …
… adoptive moms
… foster care moms
… moms in process of adopting
… wanna-be adoptive moms
… orphan advocates
… and future orphan advocates!

MORE INFO


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Adoption Fundraiser Spotlight – The Hanlon Family

FundraiserSpotlight-Hanlon

We are the Hanlon Family: Jim, Christine, Zach (age 19) and James (age 5). We are adopting through China’s Special Needs Program.  The call to adopt came quite unexpectedly last summer, as God worked his plan through the words of our youngest son, James.  His message took root in our minds first, and then quickly bloomed in our hearts.  We happily accept the mission set before us, and we hope our story inspires others to care for orphans in any way they can. (James 1:27) You can read how our journey started, and where it goes from here at our blog.

When we set out to learn more about adoption, we had no idea the cost associated with it. Although the initial estimate stung a bit, it did not deter us. We know that we are more fortunate than most people in the world (According to the World Wealth Calculator, if you make $33,500 a year, you are among the richest 5% in the world.)  We don’t measure our overall wealth in dollars, (James often says, “We’re rich with love, right mom?”), but with statistics like the one above, we can’t help but know that sharing our blessings with someone who needs a family is the right thing to do.

Initially, using savings and a few other tactics, we managed to pay the first few bills ourselves.  Jim and I are both 6th grade teachers, so taking on a few tutoring jobs and coaching soccer were ways we could use our talents to bring in some extra money. We also received a $500 grant towards our home study. Now that our dossier is just about finished, we are faced with much larger bills, and so we are beginning to reach out to others who might be called to support the tragic state of 14+ million orphans worldwide.   We recently signed up with Adopt Together, a 501 c 3 charitable organization designed to reimburse families for adoption related expenses.  All donations are tax deductible. Within the first week that our site became live, several people jumped on board to help us reach our goal. We are blessed with such kind family members and friends.

To keep the momentum going, we decided to add a little twist to the fundraising efforts. For every $50 donated at our Adopt Together site, your name will be entered for a chance to win a week stay in a 4-bedroom vacation villa in Kissimmee, Florida from August 7-14, 2014.  (See the villa at homeaway.com, property #905233.) This raffle fundraiser will only last until the end of March, to give our winner the chance to make travel arrangements. You can enter as often as you wish, for example $100 = 2 chances to win, $200 = 4 chances to win, etc. You can also donate with a check by printing out raffle tickets here.  Tickets will be automatically generated when donating online; paper copies are only needed when donating with a check. You don’t have to participate in the raffle to donate to our mission.   There are directions on our Adopt Together site on how to have your name entered into the raffle.

Which little girl has God chosen for our family? We happily wait for news of who she is, and will gladly carry out God’s plan for her future. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thank you for kindly following our family’s adoption journey and for supporting one little girl’s future.

Hanlon


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That time I was on the news…

Had a blast yesterday morning on the local news morning show in Jacksonville, FL with Staci Brown from The Church of Eleven22. If you’re looking for a church in Jacksonville, check them out. I got to spend the day with their staff and I love their heart and passion for people!

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Join us tonight for Jacksonville Adopt Without Debt Workshop

Tonight’s Adopt Without Debt Workshop

Eleven22 Church
14286 Beach Boulevard Suite 2, Jacksonville Florida 32250
6:30-9:00 p.m.

You can register here.

The Book
Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption shows you how budgeting, grants and creative fundraising can help you fulfill your adoption dream without signing away your financial freedom. It features real-life stories from more than 30 adoptive families, with $80,000 of creative fundraising ideas. MORE INFO.

About Me
Our Adoption Story
Our Debt Free Story


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