Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Numbers Change...

Making the leap from our agency to adopting independently is going to impact our financial goals. If you missed the announcement about this big change go here.

We have adjusted our fundraising thermometer to reflect the new goal. The numbers have dropped from needing to raise $40,000 to now $25,000.  Many of these were agency fees and required donations/humanitarian aid fees to help maintain the orphanage from which we would have adopted. Our fundraising goal is also reduced by the costs associated with taking our entire family over to Uganda. This was our plan, but now we are no longer sure this is in the best interest of the new Shaws' adjustment. The new figure is based on just the two of us going.

If you haven't already, I would encourage you to purchase a beautiful, ultra soft tee shirt from Wild Olive for the women in your life (or for yourself!). This fundraiser officially ends this Saturday, April 2nd. When you order, please be SURE to mention the code SHAW0305 in order for us to get the financial benefit of your purchase!

Thank you to everyone who is partnering together with us on this journey of a lifetime!! We are blessed because of you!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More about the Children's Prisons and Sixty Feet

I just read an excellent post written by a staff member of Sixty Feet named Joy on her family blog. She gives a great explanation of WHY these children are locked up in these prisons in Uganda. Please click here to read this and gain a better understanding of what is happening 8,000 miles away.

Again I encourage you to see what you might do to help the situation. There are many different ways. I know that PRAYER is the #1 need. Will you commit to pray for the children who are stuck in these conditions? Will you pray for the staff of Sixty Feet? They have both Ugandan and American team members. Would you consider saving up your loose change to help out in one of their repair projects? Would you be willing to sponsor a child so they are sure to have their daily needs met? Or maybe you love to bake and you would be willing to bake some cupcakes for our Cupcake Kids sale next month? Or, if you live far from me, might you be willing to host your own Cupcake Kids sale?

So many ways to be involved.

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”
                             Jesus in Revelation 2:19

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Uppercase Living THANK YOU!!!

Dear sweet friends/fellow decorators,

Thank you so much for being part of our Uppercase Living fundraiser! I hope that you had as much fun playing with your "expressions" as I did! Here's a few shots of what I purchased:

Come and sit a spell!

I'm kinda hoping that this clock will be one of those things my kids remember for years and years. "Remember that funky kitchen clock that was stuck to the wall we had growing up?" Yeah, something like that! :)

And I wanted to report in that we officially raised $112.71 towards our adoption and we are that much closer to bringing our precious children home! All raised by having fun shopping! THANK YOU!!! It's so wonderful!! I would love to see what YOU did with your orders! (Pictures or let me come over!) Thank you again for your support and involvement in what God is doing in and through our family!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Leaving Our Agency

For those who are following our adoption journey, I write this post.

God has been doing a LOT in our hearts lately. To the tune of walking out on all we thought was secure and stepping into the realm of the unknown where both adventure, risk and great joy lie waiting.


Yesterday we left our adoption agency.

What?!?! Yes, we really did. "Are you still adopting?" they asked. "Yes, we are indeed. God is just taking us in a new direction."

Here's the thing:
Our agency was wonderful. I could never speak an ill word against them. They were godly people assisting families to adopt babies from the United States, Mexico, Ghana and Uganda. I would recommend them in a heartbeat to others who wanted to adopt to build their families.

But God.

There seems to be a theme in much of what He's doing in our lives. We begin a task, at His prompting and then just as we think we have it figured He comes and surprises us with another direction. He has been burdening our hearts for the children who will never be adopted. The sick, the forgotten, the older child. It is just not for us to join a line of parents and wait our turn for healthy infants.

Part of our story (as is probably obvious) is that we have been able to have children. We have suffered great tragedy in doing so (losing three children who we'll delight in meeting and knowing in Heaven) but God has allowed us to "be fruitful and multiply." For some, this gift is withheld for reasons only God knows. My heart burns with longing for those of you in this situation. So for us, adoption is not about building our family. When I shared about our decision to adopt my brother asked, "Really? You want another kid?" I answered that this was not about what we wanted, but about what God wanted to do in us and through us.

And that remains true.

We feel God speaking clearly that we are to add children who are the "least of these" into our family. We have been on an emotional roller coaster over the past months thinking we found our children, but for one reason or another it was not to be. But one thing was made very clear to us: we are not to adopt a child/children who would otherwise be adopted. We also cannot adopt from an orphanage where they are training the children in God's ways and preparing them to be Uganda's next generation of leaders. We feel called to throw a lifeline to a family in desperate need. (Read this post of Tom Davis to learn a bit more about this concept and the "degrees of separation from birth parents.") We are called to the children who would otherwise remain in an orphanage for life. The children who would die in their current circumstance due to lack of medical attention. The children who truly are just a step away from the streets.

And this can be scary. You might have read my posts where I'm clinging to God, scared! Stepping out on faith is SCARY. Doing what others are not doing could be cause to FEAR. But God. He gives us His peace, He puts people in our path who know how to navigate independent adoption. He carefully sets us in a place where we are surrounded by His godly ones who can show us the path. And so, we follow His lead.

We ask you to pray for us as we proceed down this path. As we have said it many times "It's not about us." And it's not. It's about them. And someday (soon?) we know their names, see their faces and learn their stories. And we'll bring them home.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

That's the way we roll--DOUBLE DREAM HANDS!!

So after a heavy post about Sixty Feet and their fabulous ministry in Africa, I thought I might post something a little more light-hearted.

For Jensi's birthday we ended up doing a family dance party. What's funny is that you PROBABLY expect that this was my idea, right? Nope.

It was Brian's.


Please enjoy a good laugh, on us.

If you are wondering WHAT ON EARTH, then you can watch this next video. Brian found it on Youtube like the other 2.5 million people did when the video went viral a few months back.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What?! Children's prison? (The post about 60 Feet)

This is a blog post I've been mulling over in my mind for months. Seriously. I learned about this children's prison on December 24th. I remember vividly. I was so moved, I couldn't sleep. I spent the night on my knees by the Christmas tree crying out to God with a wrenched heart for the least of these.

Before I get too far, let me show you what in the world I'm talking about.

The Dance from Sixty Feet on Vimeo.

As you can see, this REALLY DOES EXIST.

I think of a beautiful quote from Mother Teresa...

"Each of them is Jesus in His most distressing disguise."


"At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in."

The prison was discovered by a woman named Nathalie (you can read about her and watch her videos on their site) when she chased down a rumor that this place actually existed. As many of you know, we just hosted the precious Mwangaza Ugandan Children's Choir here a little over a week ago. I had a precious Ugandan friend in my home. We spoke about this place and she too, knew of it from the reputation it has.

You see, Ugandan parents often scare their children into obedience by threatening to take them to this place. Sixty Feet refers to it as "M" but that's not its actual name. And indeed, my friend knew of this place. She had never seen it, but her parents too joined the many who threatened a trip to "M" if she didn't behave.

Many times the children who come here are simply orphans. They are brought here and dumped off. Sadly, as I've learned more about the atrocities in Uganda, babies are often discarded in swamps. Their mothers were 14 or 15 and had prostituted themselves for food. They cannot possibly feed another mouth.

The "M" facility is overcrowded. The children often go without food. When they do eat, it's one time a day. They are sleeping on 22 year old mattresses soaked in urine and feces. Many children sleep directly on the cold cement.

Fortunately, Nathalie and my friends at Sixty Feet are working hard to change this. They hope to get the younger and crippled orphans out and eventually to establish a sustainable longer term living environment where the orphans of "M" can earn about Jesus and be loved upon and receive healing. A team from Sixty Feet leaves for Africa today. Please be in prayer for them. No doubt the enemy does not want any good to happen in this situation.

Another harsh reality that the Sixty Feet team has discovered: M is not the only children's prison in Uganda. There are others. You can read about a boy named Justice and his first few days at "M2" here.

Children have actually been getting involved in helping 60 Feet change reality for these precious souls. The Cupcake Kids started last year and was a very successful fundraiser! This year the sale is going nationwide with the goal of at least one sale in each of the 50 states! We are hosting a cupcake sale for Sixty Feet right here where we are as well. If you are interested in hosting a cupcake sale, please clink on the above link and connect with them about getting your sale on the map!

In our family, we have joined with our group of mom-world-changers (The Water Girls) in collecting change in a jar for 60 Feet. We believed at the outset that if they could get access to clean water, this would make an enormous positive impact. We created a "water jar" and it has been humbling to watch our kids take Tooth Fairy money, birthday money and any coins they find in parking lots and joyfully add it to our jar.

I share with you about these places because they have been working on my heart. The whittling away of what I THOUGHT I wanted to do in adoption and slowly coming to an awareness of what God might be wanting to do through and in our family. Nothing is done yet. There is no announcement. Just a profound new understanding of the depth of the need.

Truly, our adoption is only the start. I pray He will use us to change the reality for many, many children who live trapped in lives they did not choose for themselves. Are YOU moved by what you read? You may not be able to move to Uganda and change the whole system but could you help out by making a donation? Any amount will help. No one asked me to ask you. Well, I guess that's not true...God had me add this part on to the end of my post. Please, if you feel led, click here and learn about ways you too can get involved in making change happen for the least of these.

I leave you with a well loved quote from Mahatma Ghandi:

 Be the change you want to see in the world.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Urgent need for PRAYERS!!

We realize we have not shared what is going on in our adoption lately, but please forgive us that HUGE DETAIL and skip to the prayer part, we beg you!!

We need a string of miracles to happen so that we can do the thing that God is asking of us. (And when it's time, we will tell you with great and abundant JOY!!! Pinkie promise!!!)

Please, if you are willing, fall to your knees and ask the KING of GLORY to line up all necessary people, appointments, documents, mail delivery etc. so that we can have our completed paperwork in hand. My prayer is April 1st. That's an unbelievable date. You cannot imagine all that must be done, reviewed and cleared by then.

There is a critical time piece involved. 

humbly we ask you,


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The March of Birthdays...

I am so blessed. I have TWO delightful daughters both born in March. 

Often we combine their parties into one...this year, it was a wee bit different.

For Anneli's birthday, we took the whole family to CHICAGO!!!

We rode the train in from experience that Oliver is STILL talking about! What fun! And we sat up on the top level! Yippie!

Choo choo!


First stop...the AMERICAN GIRL store! :) (A long time dream of hers to go there!) She was delighted to find out that her grandparents had called ahead and prepared gift cards to the store! She looked carefully and decided to buy Kanani, the new Hawaiian girl of the year!

Next stop, Gino's East Pizzeria!
Time for these kids to have some genuine Chicago style deep dish!! We were so lucky, we avoided all lines and just walked in! Still had the HOUR to wait while they cooked our pizza...

So everyone found things to do!

Reading her new book about her Kanani doll

Oliver and Daddy and DQ had gone to the Lego store while the older girls and I were playing at the AG store. This gave Olly something to play with while we waited for PIZZA!

We're so cute!
           And then...


Anneli got to a booth before another diner did!

And one of the best parts about
 Gino's East is being able to
 leave your mark!!

Jensi found a place on a support beam to leave her name.

I don't think he is left-handed...but maybe only for graffiti!

And finally I did this for ALL of us:

We visited a few more places...but the longer the day wore on, the fussier sweet little Darrah Kate got.
At the Bean in Millennium the wind and snow. Love Anneli's stoic pose. And Oliver's new Disney friend.

The next day, we went to my alma mater, Wheaton College!

And then discovered the Billy Graham Museum was OPEN! We HAD to take the kids there...
Standing at Billy Graham's preaching podium!

Jensi and my college friend's daughter pose with Billy

The heart of Billy's message etched in a big stone wall and lit up!

All the kids together!
And this is too cute to not show you:
Darrah Kate and Lillian...both kinda sorta 2 years old :)

Cake time!

A gymnast cake for my girl who spends most of her life upside down!

Her candle has bites out of it. Yes, Darrah Kate struck again!

And Jensi's ipod cake:

ELEVEN candles...oh my!

Surprise and excitement over Matthew West concert tickets for NEXT WEEK! :)
ipod cake with her favorite artist and song!

Birthdays in March...a fun time for everyone! Happy birthday to two of my favorite people on the planet! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Faith Triumphs!

So I posted yesterday about the sheer battle taking place in our hearts. Fear can be intense, and given a little fuel, it can run over you like a Mack truck. No shred of what you'd originally come for left.

But then God.

He gave us peace yesterday. People wrote encouraging messages. Shared stories. Reminded us of HOW BIG our God is. And they prayed.

One thing that I loved from yesterday's support system was this:

Trusting God does not mean that we will never have questions, doubts, or fears. We cannot simply turn off the natural thoughts and feelings that arise when we face difficult circumstances. Trusting God means that in spite of our questions, doubts, and fears we draw on his grace and continue to believe that he is loving, that he is in control, and that he is always working for our good. Such trust helps us to continue doing what is good and right, even in difficult circumstances.

Taken from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 65

So, I can be scared but still move forward because my faith is not in anyone but GOD. And He is bigger. He is trustworthy. I can trust Him. Not for a peachy outcome, but for being about His work in all of our lives. He is conforming me daily more into His Son's image. I've been predestined for this! Perhaps this* situation is exactly what is part of that "good, pleasing and perfect will" that He has for me.

Here's the tour of verses He took me on this morning:

“The Lord looked and was displeased
 to find that there was no justice.
He was amazed to see that
 no one intervened to help the oppressed.”
                                                               Isaiah 59:15, 16

"To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give BEAUTY FOR ASHES,*
Joy for mourning,
praise for despair,
For the Lord has planted them like 
strong and graceful oaks for His glory."
                          Isaiah 61:3

"Tears of joy will stream down their faces
and I will lead them HOME with great care."
                                              Jeremiah 31:9

*This situation and this song go together in my heart. This very well may be what God has planned for us...and we will wait quietly until it is time to reveal it. Then, I promise we will. Until then, please pray for us to have wisdom beyond ourselves and bigger measure of faith in our incredible God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fear vs. Faith--round 2

Would like to say that there is news...

                                                                            and there may be,

                                                                                                                                      ...or maybe not.

Where does fear of the future meet with faith
How do they intermingle? Does one balance out the other? Are they pure enemies?

                             I see them dance, but wait...
                                                                         are they not dancing, but wrestling?

Will Faithwin?  Will Love prevail?

Where is the line of what makes sense and what we are asked to do?

Are we even asked to do it?

Does a need presented mean WE must meet it?

Emotions abound.
Can we make clear decisions without emotions? Is faith connected to our emotions?

And the bigger, more echoing question...

Can we even hear God clearly anymore?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You Gotta See This!!!

This is the wonderful video telling the story of the day Hannah and Joseph came home to America. They were living in a children's prison in Uganda. Their story is one that has made a VERY profound impression on me.

The Owens are co-founders of 60 Feet the non-profit organization working to raise awareness, funds and help to the Ugandan children's prisons. You can visit their family blog here. You can learn more about these prisons and what 60 Feet means and is all about by clicking here.

May it bless you too. :)

Home At Last from dan owens on Vimeo.

(It comes in slowly, if it breaks up, let it fully download then attempt to watch again.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Playing with words

I love words. I love my magnetic poetry. And now I love a website called Wordle! I had my youngest two sleeping, my oldest two coming home on the bus and my Ugandan two...well, still in Uganda. What did I do with a silent house?


and this...

So, my FUN idea with this one is after we get our referral of our two Ugandan children I could make one with their names too and then have T shirts made and outfit all EIGHT of us in these Shaw shirts!! FUN INDEED! :)

What will you make?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Some days are like that...the beginning of Lent

Well, here it is, the first day of Lent. I admit to neglecting my spiritual preparation before holidays, and actually completely forgetting that I could/should be preparing my heart for the joys of Easter. My life has me living at a pretty fast clip. I do it to myself: no one forced me to have all these children, no one forced me to have a photography business, be a Beachbody coach, homeschool my preschooler or begin the adoption process. (People DO force me to feed them...enter screams from a certain toddler!) So often I have my To Do list ready so I can hit the ground running...

Wake up.

       Quiet time and journaling.


                                                               Off to the bus. 

                                                                             Start the laundry.

...and then the day's TO DO list begins...So when I have a day where I wake up with a headache, slice my finger (thank you food processor!) and discover the internet won't work...which then leads to a GREATER PROBLEM...(suffice it to say that after an hour and a half on the phone with Apple support--who did AWESOME by the way--I learned that there was an irreparable error on our hard drive and had to ERASE it all. Yes, really. Rebooted from a 2 1/2 month old back up. This means I lost A LOT OF STUFF.)

Well, it's just time to step back a second and take stock. What am I doing with my life? Is all this busy-ness getting me anywhere? Time to pull out those yearly goals that I'm supposed to be rewriting and revisiting weekly to stay on task. Okay, so out of my top ten goals for this year one in particular "Memorize Romans 12" is not getting done. Hmmmm.

And then I considered that today is the first day of the LENTEN SEASON I asked myself,

"What can I give up?"

                                                             Time online?

Then it simply occured to me: I do not NEED to give up anything. Jesus does not look at me and say, "Amy, if you do _____________, I will love you more." I already am loved at the full capacity. No, I totally don't get that. I probably never will. But it's true. Jesus is not looking for me to make Him happy by denying myself chocolate for forty days (Although I've done it before...well, mostly, I made it to Passover! LOL)

So, since I've made very poor progress on my goal to memorize Romans 12, I'm going to ADD something into my life for Lent. 

My Lenten experience will be daily taking 15 minutes of time where I can aloud practice my Scripture memory. And the cool thing? It doesn't have to be done without kids. In fact, today I did it while tossing the dog's ball and snuggling Darrah Kate! And I got 1 1 /2 verses into my noggin! (Oh how much faster I'd learn it if I were a child!) 

So for now, I will stop, stretch my muscles, breathe deeply and review what I learned in Romans 12. I am so far from perfect, so very far, but today has been claimed as a day to rebuild (thank you computer!) rather than make great headway.

And some days are just like that.

***                *****            ***
Oh, and by the way, I've signed up to take a 6 week journey with World Vision through their LENT: ACT:S Relentless Acts of Justice. Here's the video that goes with today:

Feel free to join in as well! Here's the link to begin.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Update and Tee Shirt Sale!!!

NEW UPDATE!! (May 2011)
We have been given a FURTHER extension to sell our Wild Olive tee shirts for our adoption! YAY!!! 

Check it out with the button to the right!
Wild Olive tees has put many new wonderful tee shirts into the adoption fundraising section!!

Be sure to mention our family code when you place your order: SHAW0305

Happy shopping!!

Great news!!! Our fundraiser has been given 4 more weeks!! You can order shirts until April 30th!!!  Mother's day, Easter and birthdays are all GREAT occasions to purchase these shirts for the women in your lives! Please help us bring home our precious littles from Uganda!!!

Many people have asked us how it's going so I thought I'd give a quick update and introduce our new fundraiser.

We have completed our home study...ALMOST! (I can't wait to just say it's done!) In Ohio, the document we are waiting on to complete the study takes up to 4 months. Each state has it's own pace, Texas gets it done in 1-2 days!! We have been waiting on this since the end of November. It should arrive in our mailbox any day now! You'll probably hear my shouts of joy when it arrives!

Once we have our home study completed, signed by the necessary people and sent to our agency, we will then begin the application with the United States Immigration. Then we wait for another two months while those papers are processing.

Key word: Wait!

In the meantime we have some time to raise the necessary funds for the next step. We are about 1/2 way there and would love your help, if you would like to become part of the story. Here's what's next:

Our friends at Wild Olive have opened a family fundraising account for us! We have FOUR WEEKS to sell as many tees as possible (see below for the fun patterns to choose from!)

If we sell more than 50, we will earn more per shirt! If you would like to help out our adoption fund, please consider buying for yourself...and then think about Mother's Day, birthday gifts, Easter gifts (the Hope shirt!). If your are connected to a church, will you consider inviting the youth group to "get their verse on" too?

We have 4 weeks to make our sales and it starts---TOMORROW! March 5 - April 2, 2011. Take a gander below at the creative tees to choose from:
Front of tee

back of tee

Available in brown and pink or black and green!

Front of tee

Back of tee

! Important Note: While Wild Olive has other items for sale, only these three designs qualify for our adoption fundraiser. When checking out, please enter our family code: SHAW0305. Without this code, we will not receive any credit for the purchase. It is not a discount code but rather a tracking code for sales. !

Click here to shop for tee shirts. (You can always use the sidebar widget as well.)

We look forward to updating you with the good news from our last fundraiser! Thanks to each of you for your loving support! Someday soon the world orphan population will be reduced by two and the Shaw family will have increased by two! :)

Wishing you blessings!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

She surpassed her goal!!!!

I am so very very pleased to report that Jensi's earring project far exceeded her  goal!! If you missed this project, check out the second to last day of the Love Strand Challenge or just click here.

Jensi's goal was to send TWO flocks of chickens to impoverished families living in Africa. She spent 2 years raising chickens herself for 4H projects. She was thumbing through Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog at Christmastime and got the idea to raise money to send chickens. She got so excited to think of all the ways that a flock could help a family: they could have fresh eggs, they could hatch new chicks and sell them, they could butcher the chickens for meat as well as use their manure for fertilizer for their fields.

After all the money was counted and earrings delivered, we were thrilled to realize she sold enough earrings to send EIGHT flocks of chickens to needy families!!!! WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!

Here's to good ideas, young kids and awesome organizations who facilitate such practical ways of helping!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Till the Cows Come Home

You might be wondering what's next...cause today

the cow came home!

Yes, literally.

And of course, left a little something behind...

People often ask me when they hear we have chickens,
"I thought you lived in town?"

We do.

That makes this all the more exciting doesn't it?

This little guy was born just earlier today, March 1st!
He had to be convinced to eat!
The  warmest he'd been all day!
Learning to stand!

DQ checks out the newborn....


Zora "welcomes" the little guy!

Happy farmer daddy!

Perhaps next week:

Pigs fly!

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