“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.
Stress says the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others, or our tight grip of control.
Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives are brief … and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.”
As my kids get older, I love the conversations we get to have as they navigate much more complex issues. The other day one of them was working through some feelings and really, just trying to figure out what they were.
They were concerned that the might be jealous of a friend, which they didn’t want to do because they knew that wasn’t right.
Apparently said child is known in their class for their artistic talent. Now there is another student who has shown great talent in this area as well and the other children are making a fuss over her. That left my child with a mess of feelings that we needed to make sense of.
Oh, how I could identify with this one. How easy is it to compare our talents to those of others? As I’ve been pursuing this writing/speaking dream, I can’t help but compare my work to others. It’s easy to admire someone’s work one moment and the next the voices in your head are telling you that you’ll never be as good as that person.
So I began to ask my child questions like:
- Are you friends with this person? (Answer: Yes.)
- Does her talent make you like her less? (Answer: No.)
- Does it make you feel like you’re not as good as you thought? (Answer: Sort of.)
- Does her being good ACTUALLY make you less good? (Answer: I don’t know. I guess not.)
- Do your friends still admire or comment on your work? (Answer: Yes.)
As I suspected, my child had succumbed to the same thing that plagues me on a regular basis when it comes to my dream – insecurity and fear.
Even just walking through those questions was powerful. That’s what happens when we give voice to our fears. We realize how ridiculous they are.
We shouldn’t compare our middle to someone else’s end. Is my writing going to be as good as Karen Kingsbury? Um, of course not. She’s published like 40+ books and I’m writing my first novel.
The talent of others is completely unrelated to our talent. They don’t make me better or worse.
Well, that’s not entirely true. They can make me better, if I can learn from them.
So I asked one final question, “Do you think that she would show you how she draws anime and you could learn too?”
“Yeah, she already has been,” was the answer. Then a slow smile crept across my child’s face – relief, inspiration and wisdom gained.
In case you think you’re the only one struggling with fears and insecurity, head over to nomorevoices.com. You’ll find yourself not so alone.
Pure Charity gives “power shopping” new meaning. By creating a Pure Charity account and installing a simple browser plug-in, you can earn “Rewards” each time you shop at a Pure Charity partner. Partners include companies like Walmart, Old Navy, Target, Apple, Expedia…the list goes on and on.
It’s fun to see my little Pure Charity icon pop up when I’m shopping. A quick click and I’m earning money to go into my own Rewards Network. Then I can browse the hundreds of projects registered with Pure Charity and choose where that money goes.
Last fall at Together for Adoption I asked one of the Pure Charity staff, “What about adoptions?” I knew there was huge potential!
I was ecstatic when I heard from Mike Rusch, COO of Pure Charity, that they were indeed rolling out a platform for adoption fundraisers. I even got a sneak peak before they launched it at CAFO Summit 9
Their first adoptive family (their beta testers) has already met their $8,000 funding goal!!
I walked through the process myself, setting up a fundraiser for my brother’s family. It was super simple and only took me about 15-20 minutes. Pure Charity has tons of videos to walk you through the process but the instructions are pretty clear. You can upload pictures, videos – whatever helps you tell your story.
When you’re done, embed their widget on your blog and use their social media sharing tools to spread the word. Invite ALL your friends to join Pure Charity. They make it super simple with Facebook integration and a personalized link. When someone joins your “Advocate Network” you also earn rewards off their purchases. This goes 10 levels down. So ask your friends to invite their friends, etc. It all adds up!
Your friends and family can also make straight tax-deductible donations into your fund!
Couple things you should know:
- Money from your Pure Charity fundraiser gets paid directly to your agency so set your fundraiser goal for your agency expenses only. (Not travel, etc.)
- Pure Charity charges a 5% fee on fundraisers to cover the cost of credit card fees and administration. They recommend adding that percentage to your overall fundraising goal.
Of course when your adoption is complete, you’ll still be earning Pure Charity rewards you can give generously to one of the 600+ projects on the site.
Also, Pure Charity’s Mike Rusch and successful Adoption Fundraiser, Jenny Marrs are conducting a webinar to share tips on how to best use the Pure Charity platform to make your fundraiser successful!
Date: June 4th, 2013
Time: 12:00-1:00 CST
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
I was sitting in the airport last Friday, waiting on a much-delayed plane to Michigan, when Mark texted me something about the “most expensive 1/2 tank of gas ever.”
Um, yeah, I don’t think so.
Granted, the gas station was a little farther from the airport than I would have liked. It’s always a constant guessing game of whether or not their is a gas station right by the airport. But 9.73 gallons? Not on your life.
Can you say “JOYRIDE?”
Or perhaps a reservation mix-up the customer service rep replied when I promptly called to inform him that I had filled up the tank 17.9 miles from the airport (yes, I Google mapped the distance).
Thankfully, I can send a copy of the receipt and get the matter cleared up – hopefully quickly.
But thank you for the heart attack Hertz – both mine and hubbies.
Plus, can I just say that it’s ridiculous to charge people $10 a gallon for gas. That should be illegal.
I’m rolling back out the window decals to help raise funds for my brother’s adoption of a beautiful new niece from China. Ethiopia is pictured below but just 1 of 11 countries available.
Olivia will join these two crazy kids – my niece Julia and nephew Rion.
One of my greatest joys has been watching my brother get married (he’s the oldest but was the last to get married) and finally become a dad. Rion has only been home since May 2012 and they weren’t really planning on adopting too soon. But when God put 2 year-old Olivia Jade in front of them there was no turning back.
So now it’s fundraising time. (We’ll have t-shirts next week.)
Decals are $6 (free shipping) and available for:
China, Ethiopia, Uganda, DRC, Ghana, Haiti, Guatemala, India, Liberia, South Korea and United States.
Just a little over 3 weeks until the Embracing Orphans Adoptive/Foster Mom Retreat in beautiful Estes Park, CO. Would love to see you there. You can hear me talk about all my humiliating pride and control issues…with a dose of depression confessional to go with it It’s going to be MOST awesome! (I get a quick pop in visit with my brother and his family as a bonus.) MORE INFO
I also just got invited to speak at a women’s event for Trinity Church in Ann Arbor, MI. Trinity and the Charis Foundation has been a World Orphans partner for years and they do an annual women’s event to raise funds. In previous years it has been a walk-a-thon. This year they’re doing an upscale boutique with all the proceeds going to WO. It’s an outreach event so I get to share our adoption story and the beautiful way it ties into Christ’s unconditional love and sacrifice.
Family life is busy with orthodontist appointments (Noah is our first), basketball (Beza) and Luke is about to start 3-on-3 soccer. This will be his first official soccer playing since coming home 4 years ago. He’s done flag football, basketball and baseball but, for whatever reason, hasn’t played soccer. It may be his best chance at some sort of college athletic scholarship so we’ve been gently nudging him back. One of his best friends plays in this league so that should be fun for him.
I’m almost done with my stint as the yearbook adviser at the kids school. We meet after school once a week and I have 4 girls and 3 boys helping out. We have about 3 weeks to get it done.
I’ve been having tons of fun helping promote the movie CAMP that I reviewed last week. There have been some other bloggers giving it great reviews as well – Melanie, Jen, Jody, Mary, Christina. You can read even more at the CAMP FB page.
I’m working on debuting two new features on the blog. One is going to be a monthly fundraiser link up for adoptive families. The second is going to be an opportunity for adoptive/foster parents to submit anonymous guest posts in a weekly feature. I know as my children get older there are often topics I want to blog about to get advice or encouragement but I have to protect my family’s privacy. The heart behind this column is not to be a pity party but to share our hearts, to give prospective parents a real and honest glimpse into adoption and to give us a place to support each other. If you want more info on posting, you can email me at julieATjuliegummDOTcom but I’ll be posting more details soon.
Friday I had a great conversation with the COO of Pure Charity. Have you heard of it? Every year companies give away millions of dollars to philanthropic causes. Pure Charity is a tool which lets you decide where your dollars go. By installing the browser plugin and activating Pure Charity when you shop online with hundreds of stores, you can earn reward dollars to give to great causes. And, in a few weeks there’s going to be some exciting stuff that I can’t wait to share.
I hate clutter. I hate stacks. I hate mess. I hate hunting for the one piece of paper I need. I hate filing papers so I can find them later.
For these reasons and more, I heart EVERNOTE.
Evernote is my digital brain. And let’s face it, what mom doesn’t need an extra brain?
Think of Evernote as a FREE digital filing cabinet that you can access from virtually anywhere – your computer, the web, your smart phone, your iPad.
Less Paper In My House
When a piece of paper comes into my house it has three options – trash, scan & file in Evernote, or keep hard copy. These days there are relatively FEW things that get that third option.
- Kids artwork? Report cards, award certificates? Scan and file in Evernote.
- New appliance owner manual? Find an online copy and save to Evernote.
- Utility bills, mechanic bills? Evernote. Receipts that need saving? Evernote.
We have a combo printer/scanner/fax units (similar to the affiliate link on the right) and it has a wonderful “scan to email” feature and a document feeder tray on top. This means I can load a 10 page document and push one button. The file is scanned and it automatically opens a new email message with the PDF attached. I type in my unique Evernote email address and click send. DONE!
Organizes Research and “Need to Save” Online Info in Searchable Format
I never have to use browser bookmarks and then later spend valuable time trying to hunt down that article or resource. Now I have about a dozen common web pages I visit set in my Bookmarks Menu Bar. Everything else is saved to Evernote with the easy Web Clipper Extension. When I’m on a page I need to save, I click ONE BUTTON and it automatically clips the article (and not all the extra ads, etc) and sends it to my Evernote account. I use this to save recipes, research for my books, articles I think will come in handy when I’m speaking, etc.
I can also send stuff to Evernote from my phone. If I’m out and I see an interesting book I might want to read I just snap a picture and push a button to file it away. Eating out and drinking a wine I really like? Photograph the label and it’s remembered for next time. You can also record audio files, etc.
Create notebooks and sub-notebooks to your heart’s content to organize your stuff.
Of course a filing system only works if you can find stuff and Evernote’s search functionality is AMAZING. (NOTE: I do pay the $45/year for the premium account so that Evernote makes my PDFs searchable. Otherwise you can add tags to your notes.)
Saves Me Weekly
At least once a week, Evernote comes to my rescue because I am literally carrying my entire household filing cabinet in my phone. I was at the dog boarding place and forgot to bring Buddy’s shot records. Brought them up in Evernote and emailed them to the receptionist. Doctor’s office asks what meds my kid is on? Evernote to the rescue. Need a kid’s SSN? Evernote. (You can password protect notes for security.)
Every mom needs Evernote. It’s a compact program but it can do so much. One of the best things I did when I first started using Evernote was to buy “Evernote Essentials” by Brett Kelly (affiliate link). It is basically THE go-to guide for Evernote and is really easy to understand. It’s $29 and comes with LIFETIME updates. So as Evernote grows and improves, you’ll get updated “how-to” instructions. And it has a 100% money-back guarantee.
If you use Evernote I’d love to hear some of the ways it makes your life easier.
I’ve enjoyed taking a bit of a social media break during the last month, as I know many of you have. We had family in town for the holidays and just got to enjoy some down time. I tried to stay off my computer as much as possible for the last two weeks which meant I got some home projects done, read some new books and puttered around.
While all my family was in town we managed to capture some new family pictures.
As we move forward into the new year there’s some new stuff going on.
First, this week I start a 10-hour a week position as a local admissions rep for our alma mater, John Brown University (in Arkansas). We love John Brown and I am super-excited about the opportunity. I will get to visit high schools, attend college fairs and share my love of JBU with high schoolers. It’s exactly what I was looking for – a part time position that I would love, that would be flexible and that wouldn’t burn up all my creative energy that I want for writing and other projects. God provided just what I needed.
Second, I’m going to be an Aunt again as my brother and his wife started the process to adopt the MOST beautiful two-year-old girl from China. I cried the first time I saw her photo. So it’s good that they’re adopting her since otherwise we might have had to It looks like I may also travel to China with them so that I can help take care of big brother and sister. Which probably means you’ll be seeing me do some fundraising for them to help cover travel expenses.
I’m booking speaking engagements for 2013 so if you have a MOPS group or adoption group that you’d like to have me speak at, I would love to hear from you. You can get a bit more info here.
When we saw those first sweet photos of Beza & Luke five years ago, I tried desperately to figure out what type of hair Beza had. Unfortunately it was pulled back or in corn rows in almost every photo we got between the time we “met” them to the time we brought them home.
As part of our adoption training we attended an “Ethnic Hair Care” course that was 40 minutes long and honestly I don’t remember much of what was said except “moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.” Um, yeah, I knew that from what I’d read online.
When we picked up the kids (it will be 4 years Dec. 22nd) Luke’s hair was really short and Beza’s hair was divided into two braids. I was actually a little excited to be able to “do hair.” Natalie, who was 5 at the time, has never been one to let me do much to her hair – still isn’t.
I had read a lot on natural hair care (Wavy, Curly, Kinky : The African American Child’s Hair Care Guide was one) and found some easy twist hairstyles etc.
Twists, yarn braids, etc have become the norm for the last four years. For the most part she’s great about sitting through it because it means unlimited TV watching. But, it gets difficult to schedule it, because really it’s an ENTIRE DAY to take down the old style, wash and redo. So that means finding a Saturday where nothing is going on or a Sunday afternoon which means a simpler style because there’s not as much time.
Then of course there is the whole straight hair issue. Beza dreams of beautifully straight hair. She said her grandma used to get it done and it looked good – someone who used a pressing comb (I had to Google that). Alas, our flat ironing was not so successful – see this post for pics. It’s hard to explain how everyone’s hair is different and just because she sees an African American girl who gets beautifully straight hair with a flat iron, doesn’t mean her hair will look the same.
As Beza gets older (she’ll be 12 in January), some of the hairstyles look too young for her. I also feel like she’s at that age where she needs to start learning some ways she can fix her hair on her own.
Personally, I love when she wears her hair natural and, of course, it’s easier on mom. She gets tons of compliments from grown-ups when she wears it curly. But all it takes is one teasing comment from an 11-year old boy to ruin it. Nonetheless I started “Operation Embrace The Curl.”
One day I started a conversation about ethnic hair with one of moms at school and she recommended I read Curly Girl: The Handbook. Raved about it.
Um, life changing! It’s not just for ethnic hair – it covers ALL the curl types – but there is a chapter specific to ethnic hair.
The main thing was I realized we had been guilty of using all kinds of products that were actually “hurting” her curls – i.e. making them look more frizzy and less defined. The book is full of testimonials and pics from people who started caring for their curls correctly and the HUGE difference it made in the way their hair looked.
I promptly threw out about 20 bottles of various things and purchased some products recommended by the mom (see links below). I also bought a couple DevaCurl products by the author.
The book mentions how it can take a few months for your curls to repair once you start using good products on them, and you’ll start to see a difference in the way the look.
Next up was a haircut. I realized that because she always wore her hair styled in twists, etc. Beza had never really had a proper hair cut. We’d trimmed the ends a few times but she definitely needed some shape. The book talks about how curly hair needs to be cut in a specific way and should always be cut dry so the stylist can see how the curls lay. I set out on a mission to find a stylist, figuring I was going to have to cough out some major dough. A friend recommended a salon WAY on the other side of town. When I found their website I was ecstatic to realize they cut the “Curly Girl Handbook” way.
So the day before Thanksgiving the girls and I made a day of it and drove an hour to the salon. I LOVED our stylist and as she cut (after talking to us about what we wanted) she was able to answer lots of questions and talk to Beza about how much better her curls will look as we continue down this road.
Then I asked her about the flat iron (knowing what the book said). She explained to Beza that any time you use heat (blow dryer w/o diffuser or flat iron) it sets you back a month or two in that “repair” process. Even though I had already mentioned this to Beza I knew she needed to hear it from someone besides mom. Because what do mom’s know
So Operation Embrace The Curl means that we have vowed to go 12 weeks without using a flat iron. (Even though I had bought a flat iron that the same mom recommended. She has a daughter with hair similar to Beza and it works well for them.)
The cut made a HUGE difference even though there was not much hair taken off – I was amazed to see how little hair was on the floor.
Beza has been doing really well for the last 3 weeks with our new routine and we can already see a huge difference in the definition of her curls. After having it down and natural for a couple weeks I asked her if she wanted me to do some twists and was surprised when she said no. Maybe Operation Embrace The Curl is working!
I’m going to have to get some good pictures of Beza so you can see how beautiful her curls are looking. But here’s our new routine.
A couple of these products I get on VitaCost for a really great price. If you click THIS LINK to join VitaCost (free) you’ll receive a $10 off $30 code and so do I.
- Deep washing – 1-2x month with Nature’s Gate Herbal Daily Cleansing Shampoo $4.59 via Vitacost
- Conditioning “wash” – 2x week with Nature’s Gate Herbal Daily Conditioner $7.59 for 32 oz via Vitacost. Leave the majority of the conditioner in. On days we do this she takes a shower in the morning. We scrunch-dry with a soft t-shirt (NO TOWELS), then use the Deva Curl Spray Gel and do a bit more scrunching. Then it just air dries.
- Nightly application of coconut oil (can also use jojoba oil). Wrap head in scarf.
- On non-washing mornings we spritz her hair with a bit of water. Then you can either use the same conditioner to just work in a little bit and refresh your curls, or we like Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave in Moisturizer which is a liquid. (I bought at Ulta for $12.) It smells AWESOME – I honestly would wear it as perfume
Things to avoid:
- Shampoos w/ sulfate in them – basically anything that lathers is probably got sulfate
- Brushes/combs – use nothing but fingers
- Heat – no flat irons and only use a blowdryer w/ a diffuser and use as little as possible
During National Adoption Month you’ll get to hear from some amazing people. Today’s guest post is from Tracie Loux, adoption consultant, educator and mom to 7.
I’ve had families ask me recently, and understandably so, how adoption will impact their biological children. I think that perhaps there is this fear of whether it will disrupt their sense of security, or short change them in some way. It’s funny though, I don’t remember wondering that when I was pregnant with child number three. I don’t remember thinking, “What if the boys feel short changed? What if I can’t give them all that they need? What if they feel put out or left out?”
So I wonder why we think that when it comes to adoption. Adding a child to a family is simply adding a child to a family. I’m not underestimating the difficulty that comes with adopting children who are hurt and wounded. It’s hard work. But this post is not about that. This post is about loving and growing.
This post is about children gaining siblings, learning to love in deeper ways and growing into incredible human beings.
The three beautiful people above have done just that. They opened their hearts, sacrificed personal space and quiet moments, and they have loved extravagantly. We have done our best to make sure to give each of our children quality one on one time, to respect them as individuals in the midst of a large family, and to encourage them to have personal time and experiences to follow their dreams and develop their talents.
We function as a family and love as a family, every one pitches in, not always joyfully, but we do it. It’s what families do. Families love and care for each other.
Several months ago, we were on the porch sitting with our three Oldest while the three Littles played in the backyard, and we were talking about how the Littles have changed all of our lives. I was overwhelmed with love as I heard my Olders talk about how the Littles have caused them to be better people, more capable adults, more loving, more giving, less selfish, and more qualified for adulthood and someday parenthood.
After a long talk, they shouted out to the Littles, “HEY GUYS, THANKS FOR MAKING US BETTER PEOPLE.”
And as a mom, I’d like to shout from the rooftop, “HEY NICK, TAYLOR, AND ISABELLE, thanks for loving well, giving big, and making ME a better person!”
Tracie is an adoption educator and consultant. She is the mother to 7 incredible children: 3 by birth and 4 through adoption. Their children are Nicholas (19), Taylor (15), Isabelle (13), Aiden (5), Emma (4), Elia (4), and Matthias (born 10/20/10) Elia was adopted her in the United States and has been with us since birth, March ’07. Aiden and Emma were born in Ukraine and became our children officially on March 6, 2009. Matthias was adopted domestically.