New Site!

Hello friends! Sorry to do this yet again, but I had to change back to blogger. So, head on over and check out the new site! I finally was able to open up about what has been going on in our adoption journey. Link below!

The Beautiful Surrender

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Choosing Joy

I’ve been so quiet. I wanted to write, but no words came out. This season has been so very hard. Both our season in life and the actual season. Winter. Winter is not my favorite. Here in Oregon it means lots of gray and rainy days and I REALLY don’t love either of those. I was born with sunshine in me. Probably why some of my friends have now taken to calling me, “Sunshine Bear.” It’s true. If it is sunny, I am outside. So being in the midst of winter in a season of unknowns caused some serious struggles within me. And Josh said it best when he referred to this part of our adoption as, “being in limbo.”

I so wish I could share more about that.

God asked us to step out in faith, and we did. And we had perfect peace about it. And then Satan decided to come on in and camp out in my head. Telling me lies. All day long. Add to that the fact that we cannot talk about what we are doing openly at this time (it really is for the best) and whoa. This girl, who constantly talks about being an open book, is really struggling with being in this season of quiet. I want to tell you all about it. I do. But, we know that this really is the best for the situation at hand. So, I am saying, “SORRY!” for being so vague. I really don’t want to be. But I really felt like it was time to say something. Anything. Just to break the silence for a bit. I’ll tell you more as soon as I can. We actually should know more this month. In the meantime, yes, we are most definitely still adopting from Haiti. None of that has changed at all. Our process just might look a bit different than we expected.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Just over a week ago I was in “sunny” Southern California. I use sunny lightly because the only sun I saw was as I was heading to the airport to board my plane. Thanks for nothing weather. The reason I was there was the best part though. I got to attend my second Choose Joy event.

What is Choose Joy? It is a 2-day conference that is centered around infertility and adoption. It is soul refreshing. It is life giving. It is the one place where I can be in a room full of people I have never met and yet feel like I have known them my whole life. While typically large gatherings make my introverted self run and hide, I actually find myself so beyond comfortable and literally loving every minute. And while it was made for men and women experiencing infertility, it absolutely is designed for those that are not walking that road but just love adoption as well. We have not experienced infertility, but we know so many who have. That is such a lonely road to walk. You are literally breaking apart inside, but no one can see it. I have been so thankful that while my soul is being refreshed in terms of adoption, I am also learning how to love those that are walking the hard road of infertility. I am already so ready for next year!

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Tears In Our Eyes…

We wanted to say a big HELLO to all of you that are stopping in from The Lettered Cottage and tell you a little more about us! 

First of all, how do I even start?

We are completely humbled/blessed/undeserving by this opportunity. God is SO VERY GOOD. And Layla? She is a special treasure. She is beautiful in every way. Her heart LOVES so big and so well and we just feel so special that God laid US on HER heart. Amazing. Do you have no idea what we are talking about? 

Go check out her latest post. You may just see OUR faces gracing her beautiful blog. We will be receiving a portion of the proceeds from her new t-shirt business. I have been cheering from the sidelines and praying that she would continue her t-shirt business (she did a trial run a few months ago). I LOVE watching people follow their daydreams and I am so happy that she decided to pursue hers. You must check them out, they are so beautifully designed! We are just so humbled to be a part of this. 

 

So for those of you who don’t know us, here is a little bit more about who we are.

We are Joshua, Mallory, Eden, Israel and Bella (the dog). We love Jesus. Last year we moved to a little farm town and we fell in love even more. We love adventures and spending every moment together. We desire to live a life of less stuff so we can have a life that is free to serve God more. Our journey has been full of so many lessons, in which we learned a whole lot about grace and redemption, and we are so thankful for each and every one.

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Why adoption? Adoption has been on my heart since I was 4 years old. I am not even kidding. It was never a doubt that I would adopt. In fact, I never even knew I wanted biological kids. But, God knew better. When I met Josh, I immediately asked him about his desire for children. I knew adoption was too important to me and I wanted to know that if we were to be married (which I was pretty sure we were going to be on day 10) I needed a husband who shared that desire. I’ll just let you in on a secret, he was definitely on board. As years have past, our hearts for adoption have only grown. We waited patiently until we were able to begin the process. This year, God clearly opened the doors up big and wide, but not where we thought. We always thought we were adopting from Africa and then BAM. He threw Haiti right in front of us. So, July 1, we started our journey! 

Now, I want to give you a little background here. I have been following the Lettered Cottage since the near beginning. But, I am the worlds worst at commenting so I have just secretly been reading and loving everything Kevin and Layla post. I remember when they first announced their adoption. I was SO excited for them (I even commented! I know, right?!). And then they shared about Haiti and I was even more excited for them. I had NO idea how our stories would end up intertwining because, we were adopting from Africa remember? Once we started pursuing Haiti we looked into ALL the agencies we could find. We actually believed we settled on one. We qualified, they seemed good, so we were set to go as soon as I reached the right age (you have to be 30 to adopt from Haiti). But, it never felt right. They were a great agency, but we have a serious passion for reunifying families when possible and we didn’t feel that they were as passionate about it as we were. One day I was just mindlessly clicking around the Three Angels page after Layla had posted an update. My eyes widened. Somehow I had missed how many amazing things Three Angels does. You should take a look, they work so hard to reunify families and I am so thankful for all that they do. Anyway, long story short, we realized we needed to be with an agency that worked with orphanages that LOVED their children and LOVED their birth families. And, here we are. So at peace with where God lead us. And so thankful that Kevin and Layla have openly shared their journey and that God lead us to their story to then begin our own story. He is so in the details. 

So, that is us. As best as I can describe without writing a longer novel. I should have mentioned that I LOVE to write. I may love simplicity, but not with words. I like lots of words.

So, back to sitting here. Eyes filled with tears. Completely awed at the way God works. And so very thankful for this community of friends He has put in our path. 

Feel free to ask questions! We love to share the beautiful journey God has given us! 

 

Bloggity Blog Updates And A New Fundraiser

I have been working to get as much info about our adoption, the process, and the cost all in one easy to find location for those that are interested. So, visit the pages up at the top, under the header to find some extra info on our adoption!

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We love to share our journey, so feel free to contact us! 

Also…

We just launched a new fundraiser today! Of course it’s based upon something Josh and I LOVE. 

COFFEE!! 

I’ll be talking more about this in another post, but for now, if you are in need of some coffee and want to support our adoption, I have provided our “shop” at Just Love Coffee below!

Just Love Coffee Fundraiser

Thank you all for your continual love and support!! 

#JourneytoSandJ

If you follow me on IG, you may have seen #journeytosandj under our adoption photos. I wanted to take a moment to talk about what it means.

A few years ago, God laid two names on our heart. We thought they were meant to be for our second born child. Then, Josh came to me one day and said that he believed our son was to be named Israel. I am EXTREMELY picky about names. We pray about them. We talk about them. We try it out with all of our names to make sure it fits. I’ve mentioned before, but I had to get used to the name Israel. I definitely let Josh lead on this one. He was so confident in that name, that I was not about to try to change his mind. I know if I had said, “NO WAY!” he would have been okay with that, because he’s that kind of guy, but I would not do that. I love that he felt so confident in the name the Lord wanted for our son. We realized then that God was truly laying those two names on our hearts for our children who would come to us through adoption.

Selah & Judah

The names we have prayed over for many years. We choose a verse for the year for each of our children, and this year we chose one for Selah and Judah.

When we talk about our children that are in Haiti, those are the names we say.

If you ask Eden about her brother and sister, she will tell you that their names are Selah and Judah.

The funny thing is, we have no idea if we are getting a boy and a girl. We have no idea if we are even bringing home TWO kids. We are choosing to be open to 1-2 children, but we have no idea who God has chosen for our family.

And of course, since moving, we have become friends with a family that has a Judah. I always get so weird about “stealing” someone’s name so there’s that.

I don’t know if God will bless us with a boy and a girl. I don’t know if we will choose the names they were born with. But, for now, these are the names that we are praying over until we know who are children are.

I will admit, I will be so excited when we know if there will be 1 or 2 more Crain babies because then I will know if I should say child or children.

It’s the little things…

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Adoption Garage Sale Tips

*Originally written a month ago…

 

Garage sales are no joke. It has been 3 days since we had ours and I am finally starting to feel half alive again. However, when it comes to fundraising, garage sales are AMAZING. I really think it is so worth all of the aches, pains, tears, sweat, blood….have I scared you yet?

We held our adoption garage sale the first weekend of summer. The weather ended up being decent. That was a relief considering it rained the night before and was still raining while we were trying to set-up.  Satan was certainly busy that whole week. He attacked every possible aspect of our lives, BUT we knew that he wouldn’t win. To us it was just affirmation that God was going to bless this sale in awesome ways. And He did.

ADVERTISE

Post about your garage sale on Craigslist. Post about it in local garage sale pages on Facebook. Post about it on your personal feed and ask people to share it. I cannot tell you how many people came because they saw a post that friends shared. If you are creative, design a flyer that catches your eye. It will make your sale unique and will draw interest. I added it into our craigslist posting and all of our Facebook posts. Be sure to highlight items that you have that you think will draw a crowd. We always find that toys, baby stuff, and tools are what people are looking for.

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ASK FOR DONATIONS

We posted on Facebook about needing donated items and wow. We had so many responses. We even had to turn some down sadly due to circumstances.  People want to help. Guaranteed many of your friends and family have piles that they need to get rid of and would happily give them to you instead of taking them to the local Goodwill. Do be prepared that you will likely have to pick most of it up. We were SO thankful to the people that dropped their stuff off because it was seriously exhausting driving all over 2 different cities to pick up items. However, we were more than willing to do it since it meant more stuff and more money to bring our babies home. Also, have a place to store stuff. Be ready to give up your garage for awhile. We started asking for donations over a month before the garage sale. We would then have pick-up days to grab stuff…this worked well for us since we live 30 minutes away from where we were having our sale. Promise me you won’t have your sale 30 minutes away from your house. Just trust me on that.

ASK FOR HELP

This right here is where I failed in some ways. We actually had quite a few friends that live hours away that asked to help, but clearly we would not ask that of any of them! We were so thankful for their offers though! I did ask my mom and grandma to watch the kids the two days of the sale.  There is no way we could have done it without babysitters. Josh also used leave time to be able to help me on Friday.  However, the week of and the weeks prior, Josh was SO busy with work. He would help pick up heavy items, but other than that we did not seem him. It was terrible timing. This meant the week of the sale I was driving 30 minutes into town to bring items to my parent’s house (where the sale was) and to attempt to sort it. Attempt truly is a good word. There truly was not a lot I could do with limited spaced, heavy items, and two kids to keep track of. They truly were troopers. I needed help. I should have asked. I am bad at asking for help, can you tell? See if you can find a friend that can help you with set-up. I know of one family that had a sale and they had many friends sign up to take shifts. If you have friends that offer that, don’t say no! You’ll need a break.

TWO DAYS

As annoying as it is, please try to make your sale two days if possible. Friday and Saturday. Apparently not all states have Friday garage sales, but ours does, and it was by far the biggest money maker. It was so busy and we made over half our amount that day. It was so annoying to set-up two days in a row, and we could hardly move that second day, but it still was worth it. Many of our friends who weren’t able to come Friday were able to come out Saturday. We were so thankful for their support!

50% OFF! EVERYTHING MUST GO!

On the second day of the sale, it’s time to start moving items out. You don’t want to be stuck hauling everything back or storing everything. Unless you are having another sale, then by all means you can skip this tip.  Around lunchtime your crowds are going to disappear. You can take this time to eat and re-organize. Then make a sign that says 50% off or something of that sort. Also, as people arrive, greet them and let them know that everything is half off. They will be more inclined to shop longer if they know they can get better deals. You can ever offer for them to fill a bag for $5. People love a good deal.

ADOPTION SIGNS

Not everyone will care that your garage sale is fundraising for an adoption. However, most will. Have a sign that makes it evident that you are fundraising for your adoption. Have information about the place you are adopting from (if you are adopting out of the country). If you know who your child is, have a picture of them! We had many people ask about our kids (which, for us, lead into deeper conversations about the process and why we don’t know who are children are yet). We also put up a green poster board that said, “Adoption Fundraiser Sale!” Just to draw their attention to it as soon as they walked up. Don’t be afraid to mention it while you are talking to people. I am not a salesperson AT ALL, but I do know that when I am at a garage sale I am focused on the stuff and nothing else. I would hate to miss out on a fundraiser just because no one said anything. Just for bringing that up to one of our “customers” he gave me $20 for a $5 item. Very worth the 20 minute conversation I had with him. I had a photo for this, but it seems to have disappeared from Instagram and my phone. So bummed!

HAVE DEPARTMENTS

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Just like a store has departments, try to set-up “departments” for your sale items. We were limited on table space, but for the most part we had women’s clothing, men’s clothing, kid’s clothing, housewares, kitchen, toys, electronics, and holiday. Then lots of miscellaneous stuff on a few tables. It kept it looking somewhat organized and helped people to shop easier. I had also made fun signs for each category, but sadly they never made it to the sale 😦

CLOTHING

Clothes definitely need their own topic. We had tons of donations of clothes. So many that we had to wait for some to sell before putting more out. The bummer about clothes is that they can be hard to sell at a garage sale since people can’t try them on. ESPECIALLY if you don’t have them hanging on racks. We only had one rack and we reserved it for the larger, nice items like coats. The rest were all folded onto tables. For our sale we organized the clothing by type (shirts, pants, athletic wear, etc.). I was unable to sort them by size (there is no way that was humanly possible), but we did try to have a table for XS-XL and then a table for XLL and up. I found that people were able to locate their sizes much quicker this way. Now, our biggest tip. Pricing. Price them low. Trust me, you will make so much more if you price them low. People are willing to take a chance on clothes not fitting if they only pay a little bit. Adult clothing was $1 a piece, BUT you could fill a small grocery bag for $4. Kid’s clothing was $.50 a piece. We didn’t add the bag option until the end with kids clothing because they are easier to sell. Coats were $3. Shoes were $1 (I would even do $2). Accessories were $.50.

FOOD

Be prepared for what you will do about food. You will be too busy to go pick something up. We ate breakfast before the sale started. We also brought snacks and stuff for sandwiches. My mom was able to pick up meals for us which helped a ton. Otherwise, be prepared to order out…but be aware that it’s a bummer if most of your money goes towards food… Crockpots may have to be your best friend.

SHOP YOUR SALE

We ended up finding things that we had been in search of that people had donated. We felt that it was totally okay to grab those items. Adoption means you aren’t spending a whole lot of money so any penny you can save from free stuff feels amazing. We have been so blessed in this area lately. Josh’s computer chair had broken (I mean it was BROKEN). We were freaking out over the price tags of chairs we were finding and then our amazing friends gave us one for FREE. This isn’t the first time that has happened. However, don’t take stuff just to take it. If you don’t truly need it, put it in the sale. Give it a good home and earn more money towards your adoption.

LEMONADE STAND


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For our second sale we were able to set up a table for Eden to sell lemonade, cookies, and bottled water so that she could help raise money for her brother and sister. People LOVED this. I would say, to actually make money, see if someone would be willing to donate the supplies. Ask people to donate baked goods. That will help offset the costs of getting all of the supplies to sell, that way anything your kids make is purely for your adoption fund!

SIGNS

BRIGHT signs with clear writing. Sadly, my marker was dead when I tried to make signs so they definitely were not so good. And a neighbor pulled off one of our signs so many people probably drove around aimlessly trying to find the sale. But, I knew our bright green signs were obvious and helped many to find us. Most just said, “GARAGE SALE,” or “HUGE SALE,” with a directional arrow. I was planning to put, “Adoption Garage Sale,” but I felt like it may seem more confusing to those not around adoption. The most important tip is to keep the color consistent so people know that they are following signs to YOUR sale.

So, after all of that hard work, how did we do?

I know so many of you are curious!

After totaling everything, including someone who just handed us a donation we did…

 

$700 (almost to the penny)!

 

Josh had a goal of $600, and I had gone into it with zero expectations. We are both so happy with the outcome! I know some make thousands, but we felt like it was a great amount

One last tip…

I know I said to try to not have your sale far away from your house. BUT I will say sometimes it is necessary in order to find a better location. IF you have access to a free space…a church building perhaps? Use it!! People are more inclined to go to church sales knowing that they have more stuff. PLUS how awesome is it that you can set your stuff up and then just lock the door at night…no dragging everything back in?!

 

Did I miss anything? Any more tips anyone would like to add?

 

**Edited to add…

We actually ended up having one more garage sale at our house. First of all, it was SO much easier having a sale at our own house. Plus all of our items were already price and organized so that helped a ton. Also, it was funny to see what was popular this time around.  Our first sale we sold a ton of clothes, books, and kids stuff. This time…it was all really random. Mostly home goods. I would definitely say just take ANYTHING people are willing to donate to your sale, because truly you have no idea what treasures people are looking for!

I don’t have the exact amount, but it looks like we made $900 between the two sales. Our second sale did not do as well, but we only did it on Saturday and it was literally the HOTTEST day. People just weren’t out. We are so happy with the money we have raised so far. We know we still have a looooong way to go, but we are so confident that God will fund what He loves!

Let me know if you have questions!

A Huge Announcement…

So…I thought about starting this post so many different ways, but I just have to blurt it out.

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Today, July 7, 2014…we were officially accepted into our agency’s Haiti program!!

On July 1, 2014 we had submitted our application. This comes
as a surprise to many because we were told we had to wait until August 1…and yes, we had a countdown going. Well…we have since changed agencies and this one said to start July 1. Basically, the sooner, the better. So we got to apply on a dear friends birthday and that day will forever be special to our family.

For those that have followed along with us for a long time, you know how long this has been prayed for. It started when I was 4. Josh and I have been praying about it for all 7 years of our marriage. And today, God said, “Go!”

We wondered why God kept having us wait. I mean, adoption is a command in His word. Why wouldn’t He want us to adopt NOW? It’s so funny thinking back to those questions…because now we can see exactly why He had us wait. If we hadn’t have waited we wouldn’t have ended up adopting from Haiti. If we had gone off of our timeline we wouldn’t have been in a financial spot to be able to pursue this adoption. Our marriage has only strengthened in the wait. AND God brought us to the orphanage and agency that truly encompasses what we had been praying for in regards to the importance of adopting TRUE orphans. It is amazing to see how He has worked.

And one prayer request we have had that He has answered in bigger ways than we could have imagined…

COMMUNITY. We prayed for friends to come alongside us in this crazy journey. We know there is going to be a lot of hard days ahead. We NEED prayers. We NEED His people coming alongside us. So, we prayed. And the community He has brought to us is so amazing I can’t even put it into words. Dear friends that have been around for years. Amazing friendships that have only just begun. And the most amazing friends that are adopting from Haiti alongside us. One family came about in the craziest way at the Choose Joy adoption conference. You should probably just go read our friends blog to learn about their adoption story and to read how God brought us together. We love them dearly.

And then. You guys. In our own teeny tiny town. God introduced us to another family that was getting ready to start their own Haiti adoption. We met through a mutual friend and we ended up getting to have a long chat about our love for Haiti and adoption and what that looks like for both of our families. It was amazing. A friendship has blossomed for sure. THEN God did something even bigger. They are adopting through the same agency and started just a week ahead of us so we get to truly walk together in this.

God is SO very good.

This process is going to be long. There are going to be tears. Frustrations. Hurt. BUT we believe our children are in Haiti and we truly believe this is where God has called us. Because our own adoption in His family was NOT easy. It wasn’t pretty. But it was amazing just the same.

You guys. Thank you. Thank you for walking alongside us in this journey. That phone call was SO big and yet just one tiny part of the road ahead. My hands are still shaking from that phone call. We were just doing ordinary things like an ordinary family around our house. So fitting for us. Josh was at work, of course, but we have been sharing texts about our excitement all day long.

We are now getting ready to submit our first agency payment and stack of paperwork. This is getting so real.

Here goes nothing…