Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

December 22nd... Christmas is just a few days away. A day filled with family, love, good food, presents and most importantly a special time to remember all that God has done for us through the birth of His Son. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday - I love everything about Christmas! One of my favorite Christmas traditions has been sending out our annual Christmas card and letter... well, if you're reading this - this is it! I had the best intentions, actually, probably too much intention! I had our Christmas picture all planned in my head from about July... the problem is that our picture involved having a photograph of Makenna to include. Over the past six weeks or so, I kept putting off taking pictures of the kids for the card - hoping that we would get a picture of our newest daughter to include. Here I sit with three days to go knowing that I will not see her face until 2013 - we received an email that our adoption agency is virtually closed until January 2nd. It's sad to know that we will continue to wait, but in spite of our sadness, we are finding joy in the Christmas season and excitement to share these days with Megan and Matthew - this is our last Christmas as a family of four. Next year there will be another set of feet running through our house and another pile of gifts under the three. This year, our family of four will celebrate the Christmas season in great anticipation of all the good things that God has planned for us!



Every year in our Christmas card I include a letter updating our family and friends about what's been going on in the Benner household over the past twelve months. So, after giving it some thought, I thought what better way to continue this tradition that writing it on our blog... here goes!

Christmas 2012

This has been a busy year for our family, so busy it's hard to believe that it's almost over! We had lots of fun and special times together. Some things don't really change from year to year, but there's always something new going on in this house! In March, we welcomed a new four-legged friend to our home! Dasher came to us as a rescue that our friends were fostering - he arrived as a scared pup who didn't trust many people. We don't know much about the first 6-8 months of his life, but it's amazing what some love and care will do. Dasher is now about a year and a half - he is loving and affectionate. He has brought new life to our Golden Retriever, Chase. So much new life that Chase lost 15 lbs. thanks to the wrestling matches with Dasher.


In April, God began speaking to our hearts and called our family to be obedient by adopting one of His children. After much prayer and research, we knew that God was preparing our daughter in China! We jumped right into paperwork, meetings, more paperwork and fundraising! If you follow our blog, you know the journey we have been traveling (if you don't read our blog regularly - you have some catching up to do!). Over the past eight months, we have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support to our family. We have made new friends and deepened other friendships through the common bond of adoption. The adoption community is truly an amazing group, and we are blessed to be a part of it!

The spring brought a new season of baseball (one of those things that doesn't change for our family!) - Matthew still loves the game and will play ball any chance he gets! Matthew also played travel baseball through the most part of the summer - Jason coached both spring and travel ball. Fall baseball started in August - Matthew's first baseball season that Jason wasn't his coach. It was a great experience for Matthew - time to spread his wings and grow under someone else's guidance.

Summer in our family means birthday season - in June, Matthew turned TEN - yes, TEN!! Hard to believe that beautiful baby and has turned into such a handsome young man! And... in August, our beautiful Megan turned TWELVE - oh my! She is growing into such a beautiful young lady and has such a heart of gold!

In the Fall of 2011 we began to plan a summer vacation for July 2012 - we decided it was time to head out to see some of the beautiful sites our country has to offer and flew out to California! We were able to see San Fransisco, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park - what a beautiful piece of our country. We were amazed by the wonder of the mountains and trees, the we loved riding the trolley cars in San Fransisco. This vacation came at just the right time for our family - we were in the midst of getting all of our paperwork ready to send to China and meeting with our social worker to complete our home study. Combine that with weekly baseball tournaments and crazy work schedules and vacation was just what we needed! We are so thankful that we planned this vacation when we did, we surely would not have spent the money for that trip had we known we would be in the midst of adopting our daughter. But, in His wisdom knew we needed to have one more vacation together before our big trip to China!



Fall brings a new year of school and a big change for Megan this year! She started sixth grade and moved up to Middle School. She is still at Penn View Christian School, but now on the Middle School end of the building. Middle school has brought more challenges and opportunities that Megan is excited about - in January she will take part in her first science fair! Her experiment is on how different flours impact a cupcake recipe. She has been busy baking to finish her project! She will also perform in her first play this Spring - she earned a part in Penn View's production of "Alices Adventures in Wonderland" and will perform on March 1st and 2nd - I can't wait to see her on stage! Matthew is in fourth grade and enjoying another great year of school! He is busy learning all his multiplication and division facts and will soon start memorizing all the state capitals!

Now that baseball season is over, we are in what I affectionatley call our "off season" - no sporting events and relatively easy going weekends! I love this time of year and cherish the quiet afternoons and evenings together at home.

When I look back over the 2012 year, it really has been a year of preparation. God preparing our hearts and minds for the next stage of our life together. In addition to Christmas, next week, Jason & I will celebrate our wedding anniversary of 15 years - 15 amazing years! It has been an amazing journey that we have traveled together and we anxiously await our next journey together. We are praying that we will receive the referral call for our daugther in the first few weeks of 2013! Jason & I will travel to China for about two weeks in late Spring or early Summer to bring Makenna home - how exciting to think about this little girl in China that will soon have a family of her own! We can't wait to see her face and hold her in our arms! Please keep praying for our family - we still have much to do to prepare our hearts and home for her arrival. There will be more fundraising needs, preparing her room, and packing our bags - we know that God will provide all that we need if we wait and trust on Him.

I leave you with a Christmas song - a song I stumbled upon last weekend that puts all our feelings and emotions to music. I believe that this is the cry of every adoptive parents heart while they wait - keep praying for the orphans and waiting families this Christmas week!

We love you all and pray God's richest blessings of love, joy and peace this Christmas Season.

Jason, Jessica, Megan, Matthew & Makenna


Saturday, December 8, 2012

{Im} Patiently Waiting...

I'm back... it's been almost two months since my last post, and well, not much has changed.  Our paperwork flew over to China on October 19th, and we were officially DTC.  We received notification that our paperwork was LID (logged into the paperwork system) on October 26th.  I've been waiting to publish the post that "we got the call" or "we saw her face", but it hasn't happened yet.  So, this post is full of the honest truth about what the last six weeks have looked like and what God is teaching me (us) during this time.

Waiting is hard.  H A R D

Our days have been filled with hopeful mornings and disappointed evenings. We jump when the phone rings. I stalk email, yahoo groups, facebook groups and online photolistings.  And I'm not proud of it.

I wish I could say that I was waiting patiently and putting my complete trust in God's timing to see the sweet face of our daughter.  But that would be a complete lie. 

We may have set ourselves up for this disappointment.  So many people told us that we would be matched quickly since we had a wide age range and multiple special needs on our list.  We believed we would see her face quickly.

We completed our Waiting Child Program application in August and officially began our wait - there are certain children that you can be matched with prior to sending your dossier to Ch*na.  We were hopeful that just maybe we could be matched with Makenna while we finished our paperwork.  But, as time continued, we realized that we would likely need to be LID before receiving our referral.  Receipt of our LID seemed to take forever - we finally got notification of our logged in date of October 26th, but we didn't find out until November 15th.  We really thought we were all set - we would hear any day and maybe (just maybe) in time for Thanksgiving. 

Silence...

Each month a shared list is released that includes new files of children that all adoption agencies can access.  The November release was scheduled for November 27th (the evening of November 26th in the US).  Again... high hopes... we would surely get the call. That night will forever be in our memories, but not because we saw our sweet girl's face.  All four of us became ill with food poisoning - ranging from me with nausea, both kids were ill and Jason became violently ill and dehydrated.  Instead of reviewing a file of our child, I paced in the Emergency Room watching Jason and Matthew struggle; and I kept track of Megan who was sick at home with my parents.  It was a horrible night for our family - I have never seen my strong husband so sick - dehydrated and passed out on the bathroom floor.  As I called 911 to have an ambulance come help us, I couldn't help but ask why?  why God?  This is not what we planned to do tonight.  After some fluids and medication, we were back home and over the few days we would slowly regain strength and energy.

Over the past week God has been leading me and filling me with a sense of peace.  I began an Advent devotional on December 2nd, and it couldn't be any more applicable to me!  I need to let go of trying to control this process - letting go is hard!  I WANT to control this, and I can control many things in my life (or try to anyway), but I have NO control over finding my daughter.  God called us to adopt; I need to remember that I am along for the ride and God's blessing for our family to receive.  So... what did it take for me to finally "get it"??? 

Let me walk you through my journey...

Day 1:  Elizabeth and Zacharias receive news from an angel that Elizabeth will become pregnant and give birth to a son.  By this time Elizabeth was an old woman, she had waited years to have a child, but was not able to conceive.  (Luke 1:7)

Day 2:  An angel appeared to Zacharias - your wife Elizabeth will have a son.  Your prayers have been answered!  What happened when Zacharias questioned the angel Gabriel about HOW this could happen at this age??  He was silenced and could not speak until the birth of his son.

Day 5 & 6:  An angel appears to Mary to tell her she is the favored one whom God has chosen to give birth to Jesus, our Messiah.  Mary, a young girl, a virgin, would give birth to the son of GOD.  Mary would soon learn that when God is willing to use you, it often doesn't align with your plans.  Being favored and used by God would come at a price for Mary.

Day 7 (Today):  "For nothing will be impossible with God" Luke 1:37 - Christmas is not about me, it's not about my plans - it's about God's plan for my life - that is something to celebrate!

The range from Elizabeth to Mary - a woman who longed for years to have a child and had given up hope... to a young girl not yet ready to begin the journey of having a baby.  Neither of these women had control over when or how their children would come into the world.  God chose them to fulfill His plan.  Just as God has chosen us for his child, this child we have been called to adopt and given the name Makenna.

This has been an amazing journey - if you would like to join me on this journey all content is taken from the Advent devotional "Joy! To Your World! A Countdown to Christmas" - you can find it under "Plans" in the "YouVersion" electronic bible - available on most electronic devices :)

I trust that God has more to teach me over the next two weeks leading up to Christmas.  Waiting is still  hard...  I still want to see Makenna's face TODAY (well, Monday!).  But, I trust that God will bring our daughter to us at just the right time.  If you think about us... pray for us over the Christmas season and pray for Makenna.  It's very hard to know that your child is waiting for you and longing to know the love of a family.  We love this child and are so excited to bring her home. 

I hope all of you will chose to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas this year - it's not about us or what we want.  God sent Jesus into the world.  "Christmas is about the intervention of God into our ordinary lives; it is about Christ being born into our disappointments and failures." (excerpt taken from devotional content)

Merry Christmas,
Jessica

Friday, October 19, 2012

We Are DTC!

DTC... Dossier to Ch*na!!

Today we got the email that our Dossier is headed to Ch*na! Our agency sends dossiers on Fridays - we were expecting an email with a tracking number so we could track the package on its way to Ch*na! The message we got was a little different... someone from our Agency is headed to Ch*na and will hand deliver our dossier on Monday! We are so very excited!

Please pray that we get a quick LID (logged in date) so we can receive our referral!

Tonight we celebrate this good news and we offer our praise to the One who has brought us this far.  I love this song - I hope you enjoy it, too!

Jessica


 
 


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our Amazing Race...

A few weeks ago we had our "Race for Makenna" - we had hoped to fund a significant amout of our upcoming expenses through this fundraiser.  At this point, we think that all the sponsorship donations have been received and once again God has provided for us exceedingly, abundantly more than we expected!  Before I give you the total raised I want to give you some background...

The costs associated with the adoption process are broken out and are applied and different stages.  Our goal for the first fund raiser in June was to raise enough money for our home study - God provided enough for the home study, our passports and our Hague training.  The next large payment was due when we sent our Dossier to the agency last week - over the summer we began focusing on the money needed to submit our Dossier to China - through fundraisers and personal savings we were able to send that out as soon as the paperwork was ready last week!  The next payment needed is when we accept our referral (when we receive our daughter's paperwork and file our Letter of Intent to adopt her to China).  After this we focus on our travel and in-country expenses.

We initally planned the timing of the Race to coincide with our Dossier submission, but with the additional yard sale, some generous personal donations, and our pinching of some pennies at home, we did not need to use any funds raised from the Race to submit the Dossier.

So...

What does that mean??

Along this journey we have prayed that God would provide everything we need when we need it - He has been faithful to us and blessed us at every stage.  In our human nature, though, we have prayed that God would just maybe provide some in advance...  that is just what HE did!  Over the past three weeks in addition to the sponsorships and donations received from the race, we have received gifts from friends and family - - all together HE has provided just enough to cover all the fees for our referral (our referral that we have yet to receive!).  What an encouragement to us - He is preparing the path to our Makenna!

It's time to raise the thermometer - are you ready??? 

The total raised through "Race for Makenna" (drumroll...)
$2,667!
We are currently 55% funded! 
 
I hope there is a smile on your face!
 
 
It is so exciting for us to see God providing, to see our friends and family willing to journey with us so that there will be one less orphan in the world!
 
 
But... can I be honest?

 
I
     STILL
                DISLIKE
                              FUNDRAISING!!!
 
I said it from the very beginning - it's not comfortable to ask for help.  We don't like relying on others to bring our daughter home - it feels weird... 
 
Then there's a big BUT...
                                              we couldn't do this without all of YOU!
 
We started this journey - a journey we were CALLED to walk.  We walk in obedience and trust - trust that God will continue to provide everything we need.  As uncomfortable as we are NEEDING your help, we know that this is where God wants us - we aren't called to be comfortable.  We are called to care for widows and orphans - that means different callings for different people.  For us... we are called to adoption.  God doesn't call the equipped, HE equips the called.  For us... that means providing the money we need to bring Makenna home.
 
We have prayed about each fundraiser we have approached, and we believe that each has been an opportunity for us to share our love for adoption and to raise awareness of the orphan.  The past six months have been busy - busy with preparing our dossier and busy with raising the funds needed to get us where we are today.  As we prepare the next phase of this journey, Jason & I feel like it's time to take a break, time to be still and focus on our attention on praying for our daughter and preparing our family for her homecoming.  God has used many wonderful fundraising opportunities to get us HERE - and we trust that he will provide everything we need to get us THERE.  For now, we are going to take a break - wait on the Lord for His leading.  We still have a way to go - there's another 45% of that thermometer to fill - we need to see how HE wants to get it filled!  We are excited to see what God has planned for us over the next several months, and we are so glad that you have chosen to journey with us! 
 
With a very grateful heart,
Jessica 
 
 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Promotional Hope

A few weeks ago, we received a message from the LeSuer Family. Jennifer and Nate LeSuer adopted a beautiful daughter from China in September 2011. Last Spring, as God was pulling at our hearts about taking the leap of faith to adopt our daughter, their family's adoption story showed up on my Facebook wall. I watched the video and found myself a teary mess at the end. It's a beautiful story, so I'm sharing that with all of you today - I encourage ALL of you to watch this wonderful video:




Fast forward to September 2012... The LeSuer Family has started a business - "Promotional Hope".

promotional Hope Logo


I'll let the LeSuer Family tell you about Promotional Hope (taken from their website):

Promotional Hope was born with a special little girl named Hayley Grace. She is a rambunctious, beautiful three-year-old little girl that has stolen our hearts. She is a little girl once abandoned halfway around the world, and now we are blessed to be her parents. We have seen the difference adopting a child can make first hand. Through this love for adoption, and seeing the worldwide need to save these children, we started our company Promotional Hope. As some of you may know, adoption is very expensive. When we adopted our daughter, we were only able to do it through grants and fund-raisers. By purchasing promotional products, all the proceeds we make will help support families that are adopting. These products, such as, pens, USB drives, cups, apparel and more can all be customized with your company’s logo.
 
Check out their website here! 
 
The LeSuer Family selects a family to support for two months, during that time, the "Family of the Month" receives 50% of the sales proceeds. We are excited that the Jenn and Nate have chosen our family to support for the months of October and November! I've been told that their son, Aiden, played a big role in that decision - Aiden and our son, Matthew, are in the same grade at Penn View.
 
 
This is a very unique fundraising opportunity - there are many that will have no need for promotional products. But... I know there are many out there that purchase pens, pencils,mugs, bags, etc. for their business - - whether to give to customers or employees. Christmas is right around the corner, so if you are in need of customer or employee gifts, please consider checking out Promotional Hope! There is a lot of information on their website, but if you are looking for something in particular or want some ideas - the best thing would be to contact Jennifer LeSuer directly:
or call 
(215)260-8888.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mission: Paper Chase - Accomplished!

Today was a big day in our adoption journey!  In May, we began compiling a large stack of documents called our Dossier.  This consists of birth certificates, marriage certificates, physical forms, employment letters, financial statements, police reports, reference letters, family pictures, home study report, USCIS approval and more!  Each document is newly issued or written, it is notarized, then authenticated by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in Harrisburg, PA, then it is certified by the Ch*nese Consulate in New York City.  We were thrilled to get all the paperwork completed in five months - yup... COMPLETED!!  Today we received the last set of documents back from the NYC courier that processed them through the Consulate for us.  Our Dossier is done... 78 pages to provide all the information needed to prove we are ready and able to raise our Makenna! 

The final papers were delivered this morning - I came home for lunch to scan and copy and everything and compile all the paperwork.  After work all the paperwork was laid out and organized..


Then it was packed neatly in a wonderful FedEx envelope...



And driven to the nearest FedEx drop off location...






As I type, it's on its way our Family Coordinator's office in Virginia.  Tomorrow morning it will be delivered to her office where it will undergo critical review to check everything for errors and accuracy and then...

Next Friday, October 19th, it will begin its journey to Ch*na!

I mentioned in an earlier post on the blog that the adoption journey is broken down into three stages.  If you are keeping track, we are done Phase I - Paperchasing- Mission Accomplished!  Next steps??  We wait for a referral (the referral is the file we receive to review when the agency finds a child to match our family).  We don't know how long we will wait - it could be any where from days to months.  The waiting will be hard. very. very. hard!  We are excited that we have finally finished something, but we know this also means that this is no longer "in our hands".  Sending that paperwork off is bittersweet - it's awesome that it's DONE but letting it go and leaving it up to someone else is a little tough!  We hope and pray for God's mercies as we wait  - we trust that He knows our daughter, He knows each hair on her head and certainly knows her path to us and when she will make her way home.  It's one thing to know it in your head, it's another to trust it in your heart.  Tonight... we are one BIG step closer to bringing her home! 

I hope you will wait with us - I think it is going to be well worth it when we see that sweet face!

Jessica

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thank you!

I have been behind in posting a BIG shout out to all our Race for Makenna participants from this past Saturday - you are all amazing and inspiring!

If you have been reading our blog you know that we had a "Race for Makenna" fundraiser last weekend to help with our adoption expenses.  The morning started off cool...


but once the sun came up over the trees - we were blessed with a beautiful day - Thank you Lord!!


Although our group of walkers, joggers and bike riders was small, young and young at heart, boy were they mighty!  (and so inspiring!)  We had 7, 10 and 12 year old's riding 10+ miles on their bikes!  Such a great group of kids that really want to part of the journey to bring a new friend home!  Our own two kids each rode ten miles - we are so proud of them!  Thank you to our friends who came out to walk, ride, or jog  - but most importantly, you came to stand with us and support us!  Thank you!

I was especially blessed by my parents (Makenna's waiting Grammy and Poppy!) - they have stood by us every step that we have taken and Saturday was certainly NO exception! When we first started planning a walk fundraiser - they immediately answered the call with a YES we can do that!  They set the bar high and set out on an adventure last Saturday to walk TWENTY (yes... 20!) miles!  They started at 7:00 AM and finished at 3:00 PM - and YES they did it!  They walked 17 miles and biked 4 miles (I was kidding with them and suggested that they jump in the Perkiomen Creek for a swim to make it a triathlon!) Your math was right - they actually did 21 miles in eight hours!  All for the love of a granddaughter they wait along side us to see.  I wish I had a picture of them to share (although my mom is probably glad that I don't!). When I think the next step of this journey is hard... now I just need to remember what they have done and all the hard steps they endured to support us!  We love you both!! 

After standing guard over the snacks for five hours (seriously, I bought way too many apples - plenty to make applesauce)...

 
It was time for our family to hit the trail on our bikes! 
 
Jason really wanted to do a thirty mile bike ride for the race, but we also thought that it was important to do the race together as a family.  So, the weekend before, Jason got up early on Saturday morning to do his thirty mile ride before he went to work - yup, he rode 30 miles!  But on Race day we decided that we would ride together with Megan and Matthew - we left Plank Road and headed to Collegeville (aka:  Wawa) - we promised the kids that we would get hoagies for lunch.  We were quite hungry and they were yummy!  Before putting the helmets back on to head back, we shot a quick picture (ignore helmet hair!!).
 

It took me a while to get all my thoughts together to share with you about our day - the past few weeks have been mentally and emotionally exhausting (I'll share more in an upcoming post).  We were really hoping to have a large turnout so that we could raise enough funds to get through the rest of our adoption.  So initially, I was sad and a little disappointed.  But, like everything else, God is continuing to provide exactly what we need through this process.  We still don't know what the exact numbers of funds raised are - over the next few weeks we should receive everyone's contributions and the thermometer on the blog will go up!  My initial disappointment has been replaced with peace... peace that God will continue to provide for our family, for Makenna, and our adoption needs.

THANK YOU to all who came out and walked!
THANK YOU to all who came out and biked!
THANK YOU to all who came out and jogged!
THANK YOU to everyone who prayed for us!
THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored someone who participated!

and

THANK YOU to God who has given me exactly what I need for TODAY!

Blessings,
Jessica



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Donation Link

We have so much to share about our Race for Makenna today, but right now I'm honestly too tired to think quite straight!  We have had a long day, including a 10 mile bike ride, so we're ready to relax for the rest of the evening. 

Thank you so much to all our friends and family who came out today to support us in our Race to bring Makenna home - you are all so important to us, and we feel so blessed to have your support.

There has been some confusion about finding the form to make an online donation directly to our agency - so I wanted to repost that link below: 

 
At the top of the form there is a drop down box for Designation, select
"Eternal Family Program"

At the bottom of the form there is a notes box, please enter
"Jason & Jessica Benner"


For those that sponsored Megan and Matthew - they worked hard today and did a full ten mile bike ride! 

I will post more about our day shortly...

Jessica

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Six Days and Counting...

Hello again!

The Race for Makenna is THIS SATURDAY, 10/6/12! Boy that came up quickly... Just some final preparation items to put out there. Jessica and I will be stationed on the trail, at the two main parking entrances, Green Lane Park at Deep Creek and Snyder Roads, and at Plank Road, just off of Rt. 29 and Rt. 73. We will have bottled water and snacks available, as well as a injury waiver form for participants to sign.  Copies of the injury waiver form,
trail map and parking lot information is also available by following these links.  On the trail map, it shows all distances between stops. This is very helpful for figuring out your route if you have a goal for a distance in mind.

I did 30 miles this past Saturday. I want to pass on some of the important things I saw along the way. For example, if on the map you see a restroom and water notation, be aware that some of these are restaurants. The only 2 points where I saw facilities were at the two points Jessica and I will be at. Point "L"-Green Lane, and point "G", Plank road. I stopped about a mile past Collegeville, so I can not speak to what is past there, but until you then would reach the end of the trail down at the Schuylkill, there is nothing on the map.

There are some nice things along the trail. There are pizza places right on the trail at mile markers 13.5, and 8. There are two quick marts at markers 11.5, and 11. Landis Supermarket Schwenksville is at marker 9.75, and Moccia's breakfast, lunch and ice cream is at marker 11. There is a CVS, Divinci's Pub, McDonalds, and Wawa, glorious Wawa, at the top of a long hill, which is at the Collegeville entrance, which is mile marker 5.5. Please note, there are not mile markers at each of these spots. I am giving you the locations for the establishments if there would be mile markers at those locations. There are mile markers at locations along the trails, but some have disappeared over time, and some are hidden. The mile markers start at zero down at location "A", Schuylkill River Trail, and go to 20 at Green Lane Borough. The mile markers I did see were 6 and 6.5 between Collegeville and Rahns, 7.5 between Rahns and Graterford, 9.5 between Hollywood and Plank, 10 at Plank, 11 between Plank and Schwenksville, 12 at Cedar, 12.5 between Cedar and Spring Mt, 14, 14.5, and 17.5 between Spring Mt and Crusher, and 18 between Crusher and Green Lane.

Other things to know; Spring Mt to Green lane is a 5 mile long, quiet and mostly flat (other than the 1/4 mile spring mt that is a 12% grade) section of the trail. There are no restaurants or anything along there. If you want access to food and benches, stick to the areas between Spring Mt and Plank Road. There are a good amount of things in Collegeville, but you got to make it up a mile long hill...

The park opens at 6am. We are going to officially start at 7am, and will be at our stations until 12 noon. We hope you stop by and see us and grab a water and snack.

Feel free to email or message us with any questions. Remember to wear red if possible, and we will see you on the trail!!!

Thank you so much for walking/running/and biking with us on this journey! Think of Makenna, and say a prayer for her while you are participating. Please pray that God takes us to her soon, and that He prepares each of us to join our lives together in the near future. We are very grateful for all the help and support that we have been shown!

Jason

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Red Thread...

There is an ancient Chinese belief which states that when a child is born an invisible red threads connect that child's soul to all those people - present and in the future - who will play a part in that child's life. As each birthday passes, those threads shorten and tighten, bringing closer those people who are fated to be together.
 
 
 
 
Since we began this journey leading us to China, I must admit that I find myself wearing red and thinking about Makenna in red.  There is just something about red that reminds me of the richness of Asian culture! As a prospective adoptive parent, I love the idea of the red thread, that we are somehow tied to Makenna; and I firmly believe that God has planned for us to be her family.  It surfaces a difficult question; a question that I don't think any of us can understand this side of heaven:  why?  Why was she abandoned?  Why were her parents put in the difficult position to surrender her to another's care?  Why and how long will she wait?  I can't answer these and I won't minimize the question with a pat answer.  Someday, my daughter will ask me these questions, though.  She will look at me with her beautiful dark almond eyes and want to know why she was forsaken by her first Mama.  I pray that the Lord would continue to strengthen us and prepare us to help her understand and give her the loving answers that she needs to hear. 
 
So that was a little tangent, but it's something that Jason & I think about often and wanted to share with all of you!
 
 
Back to RED...  since there is so much RED in Chinese culture and International Chinese adoption (the red thread and the ladybug) - - I thought it would fun to incorporate this into our upcoming Race for Makenna - - we are asking everyone  participating in the race next Saturday to wear a red shirt.  How incredible to have a swarm of red on the Perkiomen Trail?   We hope it helps identify who is participating in the fundraiser, too, so if you see someone in red, stop and chat!

 
Jason is planning to hit the trail tomorrow to finalize a map and mile distance markers.  We are one week out and we are getting excited - please pray for a beautiful autumn day!  If you have any questions, shoot us an email and we will get right back to you!  And... if you are wondering how the competition between Jason and kids is going - it's pretty close right now, but I think the kids may be just a little ahead!  If you would like to support them, it can be as easy as using the paypal link on the side of our blog - just put a note in the payment details and I will make sure the right one(s) get the credit!!
 
I wish you all a beautiful fall weekend!
Jessica

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Post from Jason...

Hello again!

I continue to be amazed at how much support we have seen throughout this adoption process! We have received over 2500 hits on our blog since May! I don't know if that is the same 3 people checking our blog 10 times a day or not, but I doubt it... I am so very thankful for the encouragement, prayers, finances, and questions we have gotten from so many people! When Jessica and I decided that this adoption was going to be for real, and it was no longer just talk, I had no idea that what kind of response we would get. We have been trained/warned through much of our reading, that we should not expect everyone to be supportive and encouraging. For the most part, I would say that we have seen almost nothing but kind words and encouragement the whole way.

I want to say a special thank you to those who have partnered with us financially. We had no idea what to expect when we set out trying to raise a significant portion of the over $30,000 needed to complete this process. We had no doubt that we were being called to do this, but we had nowhere near that kind of money set aside for this endeavor. I don't know about anyone else, but my pride is a huge issue for me when it comes to asking for help with anything, and specifically financially. I receive dozens of requests for donations at work every month, and honestly, I get tired of them. So for me to now feel like I am constantly asking for money, has been a humbling and painful process.  However, when I think about the situation that Makenna is most likely dealing with, being uncomfortable seems pretty pathetic. That all being said, THANK YOU to everyone who has been so generous with us, especially in light of the tough economic situation we are all going through!

Jessica is always keeping the blog updated with all the details of the paperwork, so I will save that for her. Let me just say, that we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train!!!

In two weeks, on Saturday October 6th, We are having a "Race for Makenna" biking/walking/running fundraiser. We have received our special use permit for the Perkiomen trail, and  we will be located at two starting points. I will be at the Deep Creek Road entrance in Green Lane, and Jessica will be at the Plank Road entrance in Schwenksville. If you would like to participate, please see the previous information on our blog, or on Facebook, under "Race For Makenna". The start time is 7 am, and we will be having two stations--the above listed points, where we will have water, and snacks until noon. There are bathrooms and water fountains along the route, as well as some restaurants and such.
I will be riding it all again this week to get mile markers for those who are planning on stopping along the way. I will have that info posted before the race. We will have injury waiver forms for participants to sign at the locations above, and also on line.--Required to get the permit and the insurance.

If you want to participate, or just stop by and see us, feel free as we will be out from 7 am till 12 noon. After that, the trail remains open, but there will not be support other than the above listed restaurants and rest stops. Jessica, Megan, Matthew and I will then be doing our miles. I am planning on 30, and Jessica and the kids are planning on 10 miles. If you want to sponsor any of us, we would greatly appreciate it! We are having a friendly competition to see who can get the most sponsors, and I am currently in the lead! Megan and Matthew would love to beat me, so if you want to help them, email Jessica or I and we will let them know that they are being supported!


Jessica:  thebennerfamily@verizon.net
Jason:  jasonbenner@landismarket.com

I will also note that we are trying not to keep asking the same people over and over for support. So if you have not heard from one of us, it is probably because we don't want to be hound dogs to our friends....

Thank you so much for all your help and support so far in this adventure!!! We are nearing some very exciting times, and can hardly wait to share our excitement with all of you who have been such a blessing to us and our hopes!

Jason

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blessings, Surprises and Miracles

Each week as I reflect I am amazed - it makes me ask myself what I have been missing along the way? Walking this adoption journey has forced us to rely on God to provide what we need - we've been here before...when I was a stay at home mom there were many weeks that we were held in the palm of His hand to provide for us. But, since going back to work and being a dual income family, it has been easier for us to think we can do it on our own. This has been a good reminder and a great learning opportunity for Megan and Matthew.

This has been a week of blessings, surprises and miracles! Last Saturday we had another yard sale fundraiser and bake sale - mostly we hoped to sell the majority of the leftovers from our June sale. Yard sales are hard work - I could not have done either without the wonderful help of my amazing mom! We both took off last Friday to get everything ready... Some of you remember the goal we set for our June sale and how God provided in amazing ways for our family. We set a goal of $500 for this sale and God again surpassed our goal and blessed us with $700! We had another great day - the rain held off until we were unloading the boxes into my garage at the end of the day. To those of you who helped by baking and donating items for us to sell... THANK YOU! We had quite a bit of stuff left at the end of the day and I was very excited to donate the majority of it to another adoptive family that is having a yard sale fundraiser this weekend - praying for them this weekend that God would provide what they need! 

I've made it quite known that I LOVE surprises - this week we received three surprises!  ( so much fun!) 
We received two surprise financial contributions to our adoption fund - it is humbling and exciting! We are honored that many have chosen to join us in bringing our daughter home. THANK YOU for helping us. One of the gifts was anonymous... You know who you are and we are so grateful for your gift! The final surprise appeared in the form of a FedEx envelope delivered to my desk on Wednesday - all ten of the documents we sent to be certified at the Ch*nese consulate in New York City were returned with a beautiful certification seal! We have spent so much time (and money) getting the paperwork ready, it's an uneasy feeling to ship them to someone we don't know to walk them through the certification process in NYC... I was so happy to have them back home! 

Are you ready to hear about a miracle?? We have tried to explain this away in a logical way... But we have come up with nothing... So we opt to give God the glory and thank HIM for his loving care! Friday morning I was switching the laundry before work - the kids clothes needed to be switched so Matt's baseball uniform was ready for the weekend. As I was pulling out the KIDS darks from the dryer, twenty dollar bills started falling on the floor - what on Earth?? I took all the kids clothes back to our bed to gather all the money... $110... another $20... $130! Ummm... Kids.. Did either of you have money in your pockets... No! Did anyone give you money...No! Are you sure... Yup! Are you really sure...??? You get the idea, this continued for a little while - are you both sure that no one gave you money? Did you feel anything in your pockets? The best logical explanation is that someone came into or house and put money in the kids laundry.... Really?? Who knows... Maybe someone did plant some money on one of the kids, but it just doesn't add up. However it ended up in our dryer, it's a gift from God and we are so grateful!

It hit me yesterday morning after receiving all these blessings this week... This is really happening! We are bringing a little girl home to our family - God is making sure of it! That makes this mama cry some happy tears!

Friday, August 31, 2012

A road trip and a trip down memory lane...

It's really August 31st.... tomorrow is the start of September!  Unbelievable...

Megan and Matthew started back to school this past Monday, and they have really had a great week!  The week started off with the familiar feel of excitement, dread, anxiety and fear, but by Monday afternoon walking off the bus for the first day - it was all good!!  So, even though I was reluctant to give up the flexibility of summer, we are happy to back into the structure of school. 

Today, however, there was no school, and since Jason works Friday nights... - it was the perfect excuse for this mom to take the day off!  And... since I took the day off it seemed to make perfect sense to head out to Harrisburg to get the state authentication on all of our completed documents... so... that just what we did!  We left the house at 8:15, made a quick stop at Wawa to get some coffee for Jason and donuts for the kiddos and then we hit the road!

For those of you who don't know - I started college at Messiah which is just on the other side of Harrisburg.  When Jason and I were planning to get engaged, we decided it would make a lot more sense for me to transfer and commute to finish my degree.  All that to say... we are both pretty familiar with the drive out to Harrisburg, but it has been a long time since we've traveled that road.  It sure did bring back memories - - memories of early Monday morning drives back to school after a great weekend home --- memories of the first drive out when I was first starting "on my own" --- memories of great times and great friends at Messiah College --- and memories of the last trip home and looking forward to the life ahead for Jason and I.  Those memories are so clear, but they are more than 17 years ago (oh my goodness...  really???)!  Even then, God was beginning to lead us down this path of international adoption.  When I met Jason (on a blind date), I was an International Business major and my goal was to work in the International Adoption Community in some way.  Well, meeting my prince charming and planning a family of my own really made me re-think that idea of traveling the world.  My roots took hold and I re-focused my attention on Human Resources.  BUT... the desire to be involved in International Adoption was still there and it was in Jason's heart, too.  It has taken us 17 years (there's that number again - oh my!) to finally be on this path.  Having come this far on the journey - we still have so much to do - but even at this point, I know that our lives and our family will never be the same.  Adoption has captured our hearts - caring and advocating for orphans will always be a part of our family.  God calls all of us to something - HE has called us to this wonderful opportunity, HE has raised an awareness in us that will not fade, HE is preparing us for something, and we know that HE will finish that which HE has started.   From the very beginning our commitment to Makenna is based on our firm belief that God will carry this through to completion - when doubts start to poke their heads - we keep going back to the verse at the top of our blog. 

So that's my journey down memory lane today - it fun to look back and see how everything that has happened along the way helps to clearly paint the picture that only GOD could draw of our lives.  Thanks for journeying with me today!

Back to the road trip...  we were able to get (almost) all the documents for our Dossier authenticated today at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office.  Everything was approved and sealed without a glitch.  I say almost because we will need to take the final approval from USCIS (Immigration) out to be authenticated when we receive it, but we wanted to keep working on getting everything else finalized.  On Tuesday, we will be sending ten documents up to a courier in New York City.  They will be delivered to the consulate for certification and then sent back to us.  We will also have a second set of documents to be certified after the USCIS approval.  But, we are making progress - one step at a time!

When we got home from Harrisburg, we had a surprise in the mailbox (remember - I LOVE surprises!) - we received our fingerprinting appointments for our Immigration approval.  This is great news - the application was just received two weeks ago so this is really fast - and we get fingerprinted in 20 days - also pretty quick.  Lord willing (and we pray HE is) - we could have our approval from USCIS by the end of September!  So... please pray that we would continue to move through this paperwork process in September at this steady pace.  We are anxiously awaiting the day that we get THE phone call and receive a picture of our sweet Makenna - the LORD knows her face and her heart, and right now we find comfort knowing that HE can meet all her needs right where she is!

I hope all of you enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  Labor Day in our family is birthday weekend - I am blessed to get the opportunity to celebrate my amazing hubby's and my wonderful mom's birthday each year on Labor Day weekend.  I can't even begin to imagine my life without these two wonderful, loving and supportive people - I love you both and hope you have a wonderful birthday, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds!! xoxo

Jessica


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Race for Makenna - more info

It took me a little while, but I finally figured out how to post the documents for all of you about the Race for Makenna.

So, here they are...

We created the Race for Makenna flyer - please feel free to share this with everyone on your email list or facebook friends.  This will tell everyone what the race is about and how they can be part of Makenna's story.

We also have a sponsorship form that you can use to track your sponsors and donations.

You have a few options to submit your donations.  You can bring the donations with you on the day of the event, you can submit them via the paypal link on our blog or you donate directly to our agency (see link on the Race for Makenna page of our blog). 

We would love if you would use these documents to spread the word about this event. 

Thanks so much - have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Some Exciting Happenings...

I feel like I have so much to share so go ahead grab a cup of coffee or iced tea, sit back and relax!

First... a new page is up on the blog all about our "Race for Makenna" - we are so excited about this event and hope that many of you will come out and join us on October 6th at the Perkiomen Trail.  If you're on Facebook - be sure you "like" our Race for Makenna page (and if you're not on Facebook - what are you waiting for???).  Make sure you go read the page dedicated to the race!

Second... the first one was such a success that we have decided to have a second Yard & Bake Sale!  We have set the date for Saturday, September 8th starting at 7:00AM.  So... if you are a baker, cleaner or yard saler - we are asking for your help again!  We will come pick up any items that you would like to donate - feel free to email me!  If you are a yard saler - mark your calendars now (this one will be held at my Mom's house!).

Does it feel like the end of summer vacation to you?  I can't believe that in less than two weeks we will be back to homework, agendas, lunchboxes, and bedtimes!  Ugh...  these are not a few of my favorite things!  I love the freedom of summer vacation - staying up late with kiddos, letting them sleep in, and making lunch at lunchtime (not breakfast).  Well, like it or not - here it comes!  In the midst of our "laid back" summer we managed to get all our paperwork ready for the first phase of our adoption - mission accomplished! 

Today we shipped off our I-800A to USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Service)! 


I was so excited to send that packet off today - the first real sense of accomplishment.  This "paper chase" is coming to an end just like summer vacation.  So, this August I find myself with a sense of excitement and anticipation as we start a new school year - hopefully Makenna will be home to celebrate the end of the school year with us in June!  That is something to look forward to - so let's see if we can get some comments - what are you looking forward to this "school" year? Post your comments below...





Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Month and More Progress!

It's hard to believe that another month has come and gone since I last posted - the fact that time continues to keep flying by makes me hopeful that I will be on a plane to China before I know it (a girl can dream, right?).  In the midst of vacation, softball games and baseball tournaments, we managed to make a lot of progress on our "paper chase".  We arrived home from vacation via a red eye plane flight on Saturday, July 14th; within two hours of landing in Philadelphia we found ourselves in the blazing July sun at a baseball tournament.  It took us a few days to recover from jet lag and in that time we met with our social worker two more times in order to  finish our home study visits.  Our social worker is completely awesome and finished the report within two days and sent it to corporate for final review and approval!  Our goal was to have the draft completed by August 1st and then it takes about two weeks for final review and approval - we are hoping to have our final review completed this week so she was able to get us ahead by two weeks (YAY!!).  We have also received our passports (complete with horrible mug shots of both of us!).  In the last week, we have been busy working our way through the 10 hour Hague required training course, Waiting Child Applications and talking with medical doctors about our list of special needs - WOW!! 

I hope that sounds impressive (LOL!) - it has definitely been a whirlwind and taken a lot of work to get all this done so quickly.  So - where are we in the process?  We are getting closer...

As soon as the home study is approved, our social worker will send us the required notarized copies (she leaves for vacation on August 10th - pray that we can get these completed prior to her leaving!).  Once the notarized copies are in our hands, we can send one copy along with our I-800a form to the USCIS (United States Immigration) for approval from the USA to adopt internationally.  We will be issued a fingerprinting appointment at the Immigration office in Philadelphia - after the fingerprints are taken, we wait for our I-797 from USCIS - this gives us approval from Immigration to adopt Makenna.  We've been told this process takes approximately five weeks. 

Then what??

Then we submit our dossier to China and wait for a picture of our daughter... 

In the meantime... please continue to keep our family in your prayers - we are excited about these next steps, but the reality of the financial impact at each step continues to try to steal the joy in these moments.  God has provided what we have needed at each step (remember that amazing yard sale ?!?!) and we TRUST that he will continue to finish that which HE has started.  Adoption has stolen our hearts - we have a love for orphans that has come alive in these past months and we firmly believe that God has called us to adopt Makenna and continue to advocate for orphans and adoption after Makenna is home.  We were reminded on Sunday morning about storing our treasures in heaven and not on earth - what a sweet reminder and challenge to keep trusting, hoping and praying that God will continue to direct us and lead us.  We are planning our next fundraiser - an event for the whole family - our "Race for Makenna"!  Check the page out on facebook here, mark your calendar for October 6th and stay tuned for more information right here on our blog! 

Thank you for journeying with us - we know that we have so many faithful readers and prayer warriers standing with us as we wait and pray... may you all have a Blessed week!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Update on our Adoption Process...

Well it's been a few weeks since we posted anything on our blog, but we have been very busy chugging along through the first stage of our process!  I am very excited to say that we have almost all our paperwork "ready" (ready is a loose term!).  I just sent the last batch of clearances to our social worker that she will need to complete our home study.  We have also gathered almost all the paperwork we will need for our Dossier (the Dossier is the final set of paperwork that gets translated and sent to the Chinese government).  At this point, we are in a holding pattern of sorts for our Home Study to be complete.  We had the first meeting with our social worker back in the middle of June - the meeting went very well and feel so blessed to have been assigned to this individual!  Due to her vacation schedule and our vacation schedule, the home study process is taking a little longer than usual, but, we know that this is in God's timing and we really didn't want to rush through the process.  We will have our final two sessions in the middle of July. 

Once the Home Study Report is finalized, we submit it to the US Immigration Department (USCIS) to receive approval from the US Government to become adoptive parents. Part of this approval process will include Jason & I heading down to Phildelphia to get fingerprinted for the immigration process.  The time line for USCIS approval is currently about 6 weeks.  Realistically... this puts us at about October 1st to receive final approval.  With the final USCIS letter of approval we take all our documents out to Harrisburg to be authenticated and then we put them in the mail to the America World Office in Virginia; all the paperwork will be translated and then sent to China - at this point we are considered DTC (Dossier to China).  When the Dossier is received in China we are then LID (Logged in Dossier) - this looks to take 2-3 weeks.  Then we wait for our referral... the chance to see the face of our daughter!

Keep praying for our family - the past two months have been busy (so very busy!).  We continue to rely on God's grace and wisdom through this process, we trust that He will continue to provide all that we need physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially thorugh this process.  Last fall we planned a family vacation to head out to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.  As we embarked on this journey to adopt Makenna, we began to feel guilty about taking a vacation and spending the money on this trip.  We certainly wouldn't have planned this if we knew where we would stand right now.  But, God knew where we would be and He knew that this is the exact time that we really need a vacation - time to recharge and spend some extra special time with Megan and Mattthew, too!  We still feel guilty at times when we think of Makenna in China waiting, but God had planned this as part of our journey, too.  Please pray for safety for us as we travel over the next few weeks! 

As I write about the progress we have already made in the past two months, I must admit that I am EXCITED!!!  So excited that we are privileged to be on this journey - excited to see Makenna's face in a picture in a few months, and excited to travel to China to meet her and bring her home to her forever family (hopefully next Spring).  Every now and then I need to stop and almost pinch myself - we are having another daughter!!  Keep praying for all five of us - we certainly have felt the overwhelming flood of support from so many of you - we know we still have a long way to go on this journey, we pray that God will find us worthy of the calling that we have received to journey with Him to our daughter!

Blessings,
Jessica

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Double Digits...

Last weekend we were excited to celebrate Matthew’s 10th Birthday – I say it every year, but I can’t believe that he is already TEN!!  What a tremendous blessing to watch him grow from this adorable baby…

Into such an awesome “big kid”! 

We celebrated Matt’s actual birthday last Friday with a night at the Movie Tavern to see “Madagascar III” – we had so much fun!  It was our first time at the Movie Tavern and we will definitely be back.  If you haven’t been there – check out their website here.

On Saturday (after our physicals for our Home Study and Dossier) it was time to get ready for the family to come to our house to help us celebrate.  Matthew wanted me to make him an “Angry Birds Space” birthday cake… When I agreed to make his birthday cake, I was thinking a nice simple traditional birthday cake… somehow it ended up becoming a two layer domed shape cake covered in fondant with fondant angry bird characters (thanks to the creative efforts of the birthday boy and his big sister!).  It became quite a stressful project, but I’m really happy with the results (and so was Matthew – so that made my day!)



I think you can tell from the look on his face that Matthew had a great birthday! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our Sweet Megan

Megan is just the sweetest girl... she has a heart of gold, loves everyone and always tries to do the right thing.  In so many ways, I wish that I was more like her!  From the time she was a little girl, we have known that she had a faith much deeper than we could imagine, she trusts with everything she has, and loves everyone as Jesus taught.  Megan also has a wonderful way of working with children - whether it's her brother, younger cousins, children of friends, or the Sunday School class she volunteers in each month at church - and the kids all love her!  She is fun, but firm - she's a natural teacher!  It was no surprise to us when she wanted to get right on board with our fundraising efforts to bring home her little sister.  It took us a little while to come up with the perfect fundraiser for Megan to do.  So... it's with great honor I introduce to you...

Megan's Jars for Makenna!


Megan wanted to so much to be a part of each effort to bring Makenna home - she really can't wait to have her little sister here!  So, we came up with these jars that Megan has decorated as a way to collect spare change from anyone who wants to be part of this story.  If you are interested in taking a jar into your home or office to collect spare money, please let us know and we will make sure we get one to you!  When the jar is full, you can either drop it off at our home or let us know and we will pick it up - it's that easy!  Feel free to post a comment below this post if you're interested, and we will get a jar to you shortly!

Megan would certainly appreciate your help in filling her jars for Makenna!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Saturday like no other...

How do I begin to tell everyone about the amazing yard sale that we had yesterday?  The experience of planning this fundraiser was exciting from the very beginning - and it wouldn't have been such a HUGE success without the help and support of so many of you!  Most importantly, we recognize that none of this would not have happened without the blessing of God and HIS control of our adoption journey.  Now for the details...

Over the past month we have gathered donations from co-workers, friends, family members and strangers.  We gathered clothes, household items, furniture, baby items, sporting equipment, and much, much more.  We had friends and family members donate their home baked goods for our bake sale!  Everyone worked together to help us bring home our daughter.

Saturday morning started for our family at 4:20 when our alarm clocks went off!  I woke up excited and ready to see what God had planned for us.  By 5:00 AM, the kids were up, too!  Megan was making frosting to ice her home made cupcakes for the bake sale.  At 4:45 we began pulling all the tables out of the garage and laying out all the wonderful donations from all of you!  The first customer arrived at 5:30 - yeah, seriously!  We couldn't believe it when a car pulled up at that time of the morning!

I can honestly say that this yard sale was so different - God brought so many wonderful people for us to meet.  We met families that have been foster parents, families that have adopted domestically, families that have adopted internationally from Columbia, China, India, Korea and many other countries, families who plan to adopt.  We met a woman and her children who were home on vacation - they live in China!  It was so interesting to talk to her about the travel, the culture - she gave us some very practical advice!  She looked at my fair skin and told me to make sure I take sunscreen with me - I am so grateful for this advice (I certainly don't want to suffer from sun burn when we are meeting our daughter!). 

I also can't tell you who many times people found out what our yard sale was for and told us to "keep the change" - I have witnessed the generosity and compassion of so many people this weekend, and I will forever be changed!

Jason and I have been very honest with all of you about the financial concerns surrounding  our adoption.  I will also be completely honest with you about our fundraising efforts.  I want everyone that feels led to support us to understand that we are not raising funds for ourselves, every dollar is going directly towards the adoption of our daughter.  I also want you all to know that we are also funding the process through our own finances.  We have discussed many options about how to raise these funds - we have discussed taking out loans and trying to do this on our own, but this is not how God continues to lead us on this journey.  I have said it before and I will say it again - God is writing this story and we are so grateful that many have decided to be part of this with us.  The two fundraisers that we have already held are evidence to us that God will provide every dollar we need to bring Makenna home. 

Megan and Matthew ran the "food tent" selling baked goods, bottled water, soft pretzels and hot dogs.  Megan is a natural salesperson and wonderful communicator - every person she spoke with knew that she had a sister in China waiting to come home to our family!  Thanks to all the bakers out there - the food tent raised $179!!

I am humbled and honored to let all of you that yesterday was a HUGE financial success for Makenna.  Around 3:30 yesterday we decided it was time to see how we did, so I sat in the middle of the driveway with my parents, and my mom started pulling the money out.  It was like eating a bowl of angel hair pasta - it felt like the money kept growing as we took it out of the bag!  She started counting... when she got to $1000 in twenty dollar bills, I couldn't keep the tears back any longer.  We called Jason at work on speaker phone and told him that we raised $1550 - like all of us, he was shocked!  But... the story actually gets better!  This morning, Jason pulled the money out to organize it to take to the bank.  We counted wrong...  we actually raised $1700!  Can you believe that?  I could start crying again just typing that number!  My mom and I set a goal of $1000 on Friday night with a "stretch" of $1500... God blew both those numbers out of the ballpark.  We have been waiting to send in the check for our home study - praying that we would have enough after the yard sale to write that check for $1850.  We now have enough to pay for the the home study, our training course, passports and the rest of our clearances!  This is everything we need in order to get our home study and dossier completed. 

Thank you seems so simple... but with all of our hearts, our whole family is so grateful to all of you that have helped us.

With grateful loving hearts,
Jessica and family

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sweet Surprise

Do you like surprises?  I do - actually, I love surprises!  Unfortunately, I've come to learn that when you LOVE surprises you become very difficult to surprise.  Inevitably, one way or another, I ruin most surprises... bridal showers, baby showers, Christmas and Birthday gifts.  I always stumble upon the evidence and just like that the surprise is ruined.  For someone who actually enjoys the thrill of the surprise - that's so disappointing!

Well... I have to share with all of you the WONDERFUL surprise our family received in the mail last week.  When I got home from work that evening, Jason and the kids were all sitting in the kitchen waiting for me - there sitting on the kitchen counter was a card from an unknown friend.  The card had a beautiful message about wanting to help us bring home our baby girl from China and included a cash donation towards our adoption expenses.  All four of us were in shock - we have heard stories about this exact thing happening to others, but to actually be the recipient of such a gift is truly an amazing feeling.

From our whole family we would like to thank our anonymous Friend from the bottom of our hearts for helping us along this journey. Your act of kindness is not only helping us bring home Makenna, it brightened our spirits and gave us a sense of encouragement! THANK YOU!!