Sunday, September 29, 2013

Happy (Almost) Birthday!!

Just a little over 24 hours left to get in on Tony's birthday giveaway!! Be sure to check it out, share it, and let me know if you donate...I'd sure love for you to win a prize! :)

The guidelines are here if you need a refresher.

Almost $800 has come in these last two weeks in Tony's honor. I wonder if we could get that number to read $1,400 by the close of the giveaway tomorrow?

$1,400 for my brave, spunky, awesome 14 year old little man...I think it's possible!

Two friends from the adoption community are running giveaways right now as well and have generously offered that anyone who donates toward Tony's giveaway can also enter their names for prizes from them as well. Follow the links below.
http://covenantbuilders.blogspot.com
http://iwillcometoyou-john14-18.blogspot.com

Time is ticking! Share. Pray. Give.

Happy (almost) birthday, Tony boy! We love you!




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wanted

Sam and I must have danced to this song twenty times today.



I held her sweet, brown little hands, turning with her in slow circles as she laughed, swayed back and forth and bobbed up and down. Not to be left out, her arms began dancing along, too.  Her elbows taking turns swinging back, my arms following their lead.

We danced.

She laughed.

I cried. 

After more than a year home, the tears still always seem to be ready and waiting at the gate.

Today they flowed.
From the day you were born And took your first breath You opened your eyes and in came the light He was watching you But all of your life you couldn't shake the lies in your head Saying you're a mistake Oh but you were made By a God who knows your name He doesn't make mistakes  
You are wanted To every broken heart, He stands with open arms You are wanted To every searching soul, look to the rising sun If you're lonely, hurting, gone too far To the outcast, you come as you are For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted You, you are wanted, you, you are wanted  
Let this be the day that joy takes the place Of all of the years that shame tried to steal away He is calling you Lift your eyes to see His face Come run into the arms of grace  
You, you have been marked You're set apart And He calls you His So you don't have to search Don't have to look for where you belong
It is a holy moment indeed when when you can look into the glistening eyes of a child, fully alive, having endured 7 1/2 years of living hell. To know, because you truly know her now, that she is healing. God is healing her day by day. And she knows it! She knows joy. She knows love. She knows HIM like few of us can say we do. And she knows, I truly believe she knows she is wanted.







Tears of joy flow for my Sam.

Tears of longing flow for my Tony.

I received a precious gift a few weeks ago that I so wish I could share with all of you.

Pictures.

The first a BABY PICTURE.

Oh, but he was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He's lying on his back, his head tilted slightly, his right arm stretched behind his head in true DS style (i.e. impossible flexibility).

Upon further inspection, I notice in the upper right-hand corner of the picture a faint, round, blue stamp. As the story unfolds, this picture was not lovingly saved by a staff member from the baby house who loved him (a mama can hope). No, this stamp tells me that this picture is from his file. It exists because my boy was listed for adoption. As a baby.

There's another photo of him at 10 years old. The size of a 1 year old, if even that. Same blue stamp.

12 years old. Stamp.

In one week Sam and I will celebrate our Tony's 14th birthday.

It would be oh so easy to let the flood gates open wide and wale and mourn and grieve those fourteen years. And truth be told, I'll cry on his birthday. Guaranteed.

BUT.

I know the real truth.

The truth is, Tony has always been wanted. Our Father has always loved him. Wept over him. Sung over him. Rejoiced over him. He has ALWAYS wanted him.

And I get to be the one to tell him.

And you can tell him, too.

You can shout from the rooftops that Anthony David Knuth is wanted.

You can pray with ALL BOLDNESS that NOTHING will hinder this adoption process, and that he will finally, once and for all be home, loved, in a family. Our family.

You can help to ease our family's burden by donating, in any amount toward the cost of his ransom. Every little bit helps. And as a big thank you, and in celebration of the big 14, for every $14 you donate, you can be entered in our 14 days for 14 years giveaway.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for journeying with us and sharing in our excitement.

Lots of love to all of you.






Tuesday, September 17, 2013

14 Days For 14 Years (A Birthday Celebration For My Boy)

On the last day of this month, my little-big boy will be turning 14 years old!! FOURTEEN!!!

In my previous posts about Tony, I've focused heavily on his suffering. His years (and years and years) of waiting for love.

But, in these days leading up to his birthday, I want to celebrate his life. Because, you see, despite 14 years of extreme neglect, my little guy remains, somehow, a ray of pure sunshine. And I'm not the only one who thinks so! (I am biased toward him, of course, but as it turns out, he is unanimously awesome.)

In honor of Big T's big day, I'm going to take the opportunity to let folks brag on him (and share otherwise interesting tidbits about him). Here's what the people are saying (smile):
"I met Tony when I was in Pleven last Spring. He is adorable!" 
From the wonderful, incredible people at our agency, "Every time I mention Tony, Dave (our International Director) lights up. He met, played with, and loved on Tony last February. He is just THRILLED that he has a forever family working to go get him!" 
"He is VERY short, like a 4 year old, and is now stocky due to all the carbs he’s been getting!  He can walk (with a little help) now, with a wide gait, and wanders slowly around and gives strong hugs.  He loves to hold hands and ”dance” back and forth to music.  As soon as he hears music, he wants to stand up and dance!  ...  He’s not in his own world, not resistant to hugs at all, and likes to sit on a lap and play face to face." 
"He's a smiley little love!" 
"He's very smiley and very stubborn...I knelt down and he was quick to climb into my lap and pet my face, good eye contact." 
"Every now and then his sweet-tempered teacher would sing his favorite song to him (about a bear), which resulted in immediate excitement on his behalf and then he would hold her hands and swing his body sideways, dancing." 
"He liked it when I crouched so as to be at his level and he maintained good eye contact then. He just looked straight into my eyes with curiosity and interest." 
"For a child who has spent the last 13 years of his life in an orphanage, he has an unexpectedly positive outlook. He smiles every time the caregivers would sing a children’s song to him and is quick to grab their hands and start dancing. He is just fascinated with music and dancing." 
"He is sensitive to the tone of voice people talk to him with. When I started jesting at him he responded with a smile and then he was laughing aloud. He smiles when praised with “Bravo”."



I can't wait to get that boy home. I've got a hunch he and Sam will be two peas in a pod. We do LOTS of singing and dancing and laughing in this house, so he's sure to fit right in!

Thank you kindly to everyone who has donated so generously to help get Tony here where he belongs! If you'd still like the opportunity to donate, I've got great news for you! In honor of Tony's upcoming birthday, I am so happy to present to you...

The 14 Days For 14 Years Giveaway!!!

Here's how it works:

  1. For the next 14 days, every donation of $14 to our paypal account or RR grant (over ---> on the side of the blog), earns you a chance to win one of more than 20 terrific prizes! Simple, right? Feel free to enter as many times as you'd like!
  2. After you donate, leave a comment or send an email (grayc77@gmail.com) with your FULL NAME and how many entries you've purchased. If you'd like, you can also tell me what prize you're hoping to win.
  3. The giveaway will end on September 30th, Tony's 14th Birthday, at 11:59pm on the dot, at which point I'll draw names to see who won!
  4. If you feel so led, share this giveaway like crazy and bless one very deserving 14 year old on his last birthday without a family.


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Now, without further ado...here's our super awesome prizes:


Y'all hungry? What's sounds good? One winner will have their choice of a $50 gift card to Chili's, Olive Garden, or Applebees.  (Thank you, Danielle!)




This one's for local families...wait for it...you can win a FREE BOUNCE HOUSE RENTAL!!! Y'all get ready to be the most popular house on your block :) Shout out to my very good and very awesome friends for your support and generosity. (Thank you Schmeeckles!)





You'd be lucky indeed to win a poster or T-shirt from my talented friend over at Basment Ink. If you ever need custom, super-good-looking shirts printed, I know a guy. (Thank you, Ben!)


Two lucky winners may pick any item from this section of the Baruch's Lullaby store, courtesy of an incredible fellow adoptive mama who I had the privelege of meeting in Bulgaria. Check out a few adorable samples below. And while you're at it, you should read her blog. (Thanks Shannon!)













Oh man, if Sam wasn't growing SO fast I'd want to snatch up these adorable pjs from GAP. Girls size 5T. (Thanks, Elisabeth!)



$10 Starbucks or Target gift card from a generous, fellow-adoptive mama and friend. We got to meet this lovely lady in Bulgaria. Check out her current giveaway to bring home two more beautiful Bulgarian kiddos.  (Thank you, Lauren!)

















Who's thinking about Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Ok, how about now? Starbucks giftcard AND commuter cup! (Thank you, Renee!)


I adore cute little kids clothes, don't you? This size 2T little number from GAP would be perfect for Fall! (Thank you, Elisabeth!)



My friend Elisabeth has the cutest taste! I would love to shop in her closet :) And actually, you sort of can... Ladies silk blend blouse, size large (Thanks, Elisabeth!)


GORGEOUS gold heart necklace, valued at 59.99. Tell me this isn't adorable... (Thank you, Kalia!)





Someday I'll have to tell y'all the incredible story of how God led me to the beautiful friend who donated this lovely silver necklace, valued at $100! It'll make you cry for sure :) (Thank you, Kalia!)



$20 to Red Lobster. Who needs a date night?
Beautiful, framed, embroidered rose. This would look gorgeous in any room. I love it! (Thank you, Natalie!)



It Works brand Ultimate Body Applicator from my friend, and fellow Pleven mama :) She's so close to being fully funded for her current adoption of three kiddos who need out of that place badly. Check out her current giveaway. (Thanks, Amanda!)




Absolutely adorable Bumblebee Plugin Scentsy Warmer with blueberry cheesecake and sugar cookie scent packs. Love this! (Thanks, Katie!)


Y'all don't start a fight or anything, but I know you're all gonna want this gorgeous maple jewelry hanger... (Thank you, Katie!)



Two lucky donors will receive one of these handcrafted, non-slip hanging towels. How cute would these be in a little girl's bathroom? (Thanks, Katie!)




Handcrafted, outdoor-themed plastic bag holder. This thing looks seriously handy. (Thank you, Katie!)





Lots of love to all of you.



Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Musical Stylings of Sammer Love

She has yet to meet an instrument...

video

...she doesn't love...

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...or know just how to play!!

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Gentle. Purposeful. Creative.

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I sure love my little music lovin' girl!

Lots of love to all of you.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Only God. Seriously.

Last spring, maybe some of you remember that a 2nd grade class from my old home in Lodi, California decided to help the abandoned orphans of Pleven. They baked cookies, made the most beautiful signs, and raised a thousand dollars to help pay for nurses to care for the least of these on that orphanage's 6th floor. 




But this class also did so much more than sell cookies. They prayed. Every day they prayed for Sam and others who were stuck on that dreaded 6th floor. And as they prayed hearts were broken. And God's Spirit began to move.

Sometime after their cookie sale, I received a phone call from Sarah (who, it's important for you to know, I've never met!), the mother of one very precious student from my friend's 2nd grade class. Her daughter had been sharing the great need of these orphans with her family, and upon hearing, they knew God was calling. Here's an excerpt from an email Sarah sent me only days later.
"We've been praying and praying and researching and reading about adoption non-stop...we feel God may be calling us to adopt a child from China. God used you and Samantha and the children at her orphanage to open our eyes to the tremendous need of the children who have been orphaned around the world.  And we want to answer God's call, for whatever child He has in mind for us."
Only God. Right?

Well it gets even better!

A few months ago, Sarah sent me an update. (Sarah, no matter how I tried, I just can't tell the story as well as you can! So I'm using your own beautiful words.)
"Hi Grace, 

Last spring I talked and emailed with you about the possibility of adoption.  After hearing about your sweet Samantha Love in Mrs. Steiner's 2nd grade class, our daughter, Emily, became passionate about helping the orphans.  A fire was lit in her by the Lord, and before long that same fire was lit in her 2 sisters and in me, and very shortly after, in Steve (my husband).  We hadn't thought about adoption before this, but your journey with Sam opened our eyes to the needs of the orphaned around the world.  We of course baked a ton of cookies for Mrs. Steiner's class cookie sale and gave money toward Sam's adoption and for the babas at Pleven.  But we knew God was calling us to do more.  After much prayer, it was clear that He wanted us to adopt a special needs child from China.  So we eagerly jumped into action and were soon matched with our sweet little Peter.  He was 15 mths. and had a cleft lip and palate.  We met him for the first time on January 27 and arrived home with him Feb. 6.  He has flooded our family with joy and we are so honored that God chose us to be his family... 

Although in the end God led us to adopt from China rather than Bulgaria, our hearts are deeply attached to Bulgaria and especially the children in Sam's orphanage.  These children and the country in which they live will always have a special place in our hearts because they are the ones God used to open our eyes to the plight of His children around the world.  God used them to lead us to our sweet Peter.   

So here's another little story of God's goodness... 

Peter's 2nd birthday was last Friday. As his birthday approached, we were debating whether or not to have a party. We just couldn't decide.  But in the end we decided that we would have a party, because all those who prayed with us and labored with us on our journey to Peter really wanted to be a part of his birthday too.  Once we decided to have the party, I really wanted to do something other than presents for him.  I felt like God wanted us to ask people to bring something for someone else, rather than presents for Peter. But I just didn't know what. I prayed and asked God how He wanted to use Peter's birthday for His glory. I asked Him what He wanted us to do.  But no direction came. As our girls were making the invitations for the party, I got a text from Pam Steiner saying "Read Grace's blog NOW!" I did, and as soon as I read it, I knew THIS was what God wanted for Peter's party. He wanted us to raise money for Anthony. And His timing was absolutely perfect. The girls and Steve jumped on the idea and we quickly typed up an invitation for everyone to join us in a special project to help bring Anthony home, rather than bring gifts to the party.   

Everyone loved the idea, and we are so excited that God used Peter's birthday in such a special way.  Some people donated online, but we have a number of cards and checks that we would like to send you, if you'll email me your address.   

Also, Emily, our middle daughter who was in Mrs. Steiner's class last year, wrote a song for you.  She loves to write songs for Jesus, and she wrote this one for you...She is also selling duct tape bags to earn money for Anthony. She's made $7 so far..."   

Is your jaw on the floor like mind was? Need a kleenex? Yeah. I did too.

Here's Peter, meeting his family for the first time!
And here he is...at Home!! I remember seeing this picture for the first
time and the tears that flowed freely down my face. Praise Jesus!
Invitations to Peter's Hungry Caterpillar Birthday! 

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And here is beautiful Emily, singing her very own song for Tony.

Sometimes, at just the right time, God sends encouragement. Someone to tell you, "we're behind you," or "you're not crazy". (Or maybe more like, "You actually are crazy. But we're behind you.") This family has been God's encouragement to me. An immeasurable support and encouragement on this crazy journey. 

Eby family and friends, please know that this beautiful gesture, and your VERY GENEROUS gifts, mean more to us than you can ever know. You've given so much more than just money. We thank the Lord for you. His glory shines so brightly through your love and obedience. 

Now, why it took me so long to share this incredible story...well, we may never know :) But, I figure maybe the timing is actually perfect. Because now... it's my boy's birthday month!! In a few short weeks I will be the proud future-mommy of a FOURTEEN year old!! 

And in celebration of his life, I'm putting together a little something...stay tuned!

Love to all of you.