Monday, May 19, 2014

It's our week!! {Give1Save1}

This week we are so excited to be featured on the fundraising blog Give1Save1!!!  This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time and the initial reason we had lil Dragon Entertainment create our gorgeous video for us last year.  Things have changed a bit since we made the video and we are now getting two daughters instead of one!!! I think it just makes the story more beautiful though to see what God has been up to since then.  And the best part about the video is that we wrote our letters to Tallulah (or Lulah) before we even knew who or where she was, then God showed us exactly who and where she was.

If you are just visiting our blog for the first time, welcome!  We are so glad you found us!  You can find out more about our family's story here and follow us on facebook here.  There have been so many people who God has shown His love and shined His light through on this adoption journey. We know that we wouldn't be anywhere close to where we are now to bringing our girls home without so many of His people blessing us immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.  He has been so faithful to answer all His promises in ways that we could never have dreamed up, and to write an incredible story that we couldn't feel more blessed to be a part of.

We have a lot of fun things planned this week as part of our feature week on Give1Save1.  First of all, if you've never heard of G1S1, the whole idea is to have a whole lot of people give at least $1 to bring one orphan home- and this week you get to help bring TWO home!  Here's how you can help:

  • WATCH our video.
  • GIVE $1 or more. (see donate button on right column)
  • SHARE our video on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, etc.
  • COMMENT to tell me you donated AND shared to be entered in our giveaway (two winners will win either a small cross or a vintage map print!)
  • REPEAT each day for one week.

It's that simple!! 



Love for Lulah from Shawna Sheahen on Vimeo.

Second, check out our new Love for Lulah Shop on StoreEnvy.  We are excited to finally have a site to sell our handmade crosses, vintage map prints and t-shirts that so many of you have been asking about. This is my first online shop experience- so if there are issues (as I'm sure there probably will be) then please just email me and we'll figure it out!

And lastly (for now), the sweet girls at @lilliesofthefield are hosting an instasale on Instagram for me this Tuesday and next Tuesday at 8pm CST. I've got LOTS of great clothes and some handmade goodies that I'll be selling at great prices and all to get our girls home!

Whew!!!  That's kind of an overload of stuff!  More to come soon!

{Check out the gorgeous photo story that our friend Nathan Morgan  shot for us of our family making crosses and prints to bring our girls home on our "hello" page.}

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Double Portion

It's been two months since I saw our sweet Lulah's face. Two months since God blew our socks off and answered my fervent prayer of "Please Lord, just let us see our daughter's face."  And boom- there she was.  If you are just joining our blog, you can get caught up here with how we found our daughter. I have so loved to tell others about Lulah's story, and now, God has given us a lot more of the strory to tell.

To get to the rest of the story, I first need to go back to the story I told in my last post about that morning that I felt God put Uganda heavy on my heart and in my head.  The part I left out because I wasn't quite ready to share was this: the night before that happened, I had a dream.  Although I wish I were different about this, I rarely remember my dreams.  I sometimes start to faintly remember a dream I had, but then usually everything gets fuzzy and I can't really remember any details.  Well, this time was similar, except that there was one distinct detail that I remembered as soon as I woke up.  And it kept playing in my head over and over that day.  I can still picture it in the corner of my mind's eye.  It was a big number 2.  It was black, like a house number.  At that point in our journey, this wasn't really that shocking to me.  I had begun to feel strongly that maybe we were supposed to be adopting more than one for several months.  Jonathan had been coming around to the idea too.  Just a couple of weeks before I had this dream, in the week leading up to our benefit concert, I prayed a lot that week for God to make it clear to us if He wanted us to get more than one.  I was feeling more and more like He did, but the only catch was that according to the adoption laws in Madagascar, they would not let us adopt more than one child since we already had three children living in the home.  This was something we hadn't realized until we were well under way with the process, because when we first started we were definitely not thinking about adopting two children.  He provided abundantly at Pickin' & Pies, and at that point we were pretty much fully funded for what we needed to adopt one child from Madagascar.  I wasn't fully convinced that this was an answer on my question of two, but with a couple more fundraisers that were already in the works, it seemed to me that He was telling us, "Do not worry about a thing.  I've got this totally covered." Then what we thought we knew about the Mada program started to fall apart, and in comes (after looking back on it now) some clear answers from God.  A dream with a big black "2" and then "Uganda" playing over and over in my head the next morning while I was praying for God to give us guidance.  I wasn't sure how He would work it all out, but I trusted that He would.  We just had to be open to whatever His plan was.

Fast forward to March.  About a week after we found Lulah and started switching everything over to Uganda, our new agency emailed me to let us know that there were some other kids at Lulah's orphanage that were available and to let them know if we were interested in getting more information about any of them.  I opened up all of their pictures and info; there were five little boys and one little girl.  When I saw her, I just had that feeling.  The feeling I had read about people having, but had not experienced myself. With Lulah, it happened differently, because her name is what made me know it was her first.  But this girl. Her name was Jovia, and her precious face just looked like she embodied joy.  I immediately looked up the meaning of her name and it means "happy" or "joy".  Of course it does.  I emailed our agency back and asked about her, but the reply I got back made me think that she had already taken by another family.  I emailed back again and said to please keep me updated.  Then later I got another email from the agency asking if we would please consider Jovia, since she was at the same orphanage and of similar age to Lulah. (we have since learned that Lulah is four and Jovia is five) Later that day, I showed Jonathan all the pictures and info of the kids that the agency had sent me.  The boys caught a glimpse of Jovia's picture on the computer and started yelling "Yes!!  We want her!!  We want two sisters!!!" All three of them were jumping up and down and getting so excited about the possibility of TWO sisters.  Jonathan needed some time to process it all, so we agreed to pray about it and see if God would confirm the same child for both of us.  In the next week we both prayed fervently- that God would make it clear to us which child He wanted us to bring home with Lulah. During that time, two of my closest friends, both very Holy Spirit-centered, told me without a doubt that they felt like Jovia was the one- and they had some hair-standing on your arm kind of stories of why they felt this way.  A week went by and I felt more and more confirmed that Jovia was the one. After a couple of days of trying to ask Jonathan how he was feeling about it all, I decided I needed to shut up about the whole thing.  This is not something that I wanted to convince him of.  God needed to help him come to a conclusion about it all on his own.  One of those same close friends suggested that I change my prayer and to start praying for God to soften Jonathan's heart.  Within two days I saw this happen and he started bringing her up to me and asking me questions and what I was thinking. Towards the end of the week we had a conversation with our agency, and we got more information on each of the girls.  The next day, we were in a cute little coffee shop that had a gift shop in it. Literally everywhere we turned, there was something that said JOY or HAPPY on it.  Later that day I discovered on my phone (I think I saw something on ig) that it was International Day of Happy. Seriously.  I don't make this stuff up. When we got home, Jonathan sat in the living room by himself with his computer and pulled up all the kids pictures again.  After a few minutes, he called me in the room and said, "Okay. It's her."  I squealed and thanked the Lord.

Lulah and Jovia.  Our two daughters that God has been weaving into the threads of our hearts for so long.  Oh, how He is faithful and so full of grace.


"Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, 
 and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting JOY will be yours." Isaiah 61:7


So what now?  Paperwork, and lots of it.  Since finding Lulah, we have basically had to start everything over.  I actually can't think of one single piece of paper that we have been able to reuse for this new process for Uganda.  We are so thankful to have found a wonderful and quick case worker to do a new home study for us, and we received our new completed last week.  While waiting for that, I have been focused on gathering documents that we will need for our dossier to send to Uganda.  If Madagascar's dossier requirements seemed hard, Uganda's seem haaaaaaarrrrrrrd.  Four copies of everything, certified or notarized.  Bank statements, house deed, medical reports, employment letters, references, college diplomas, high school diplomas (I'm pretty sure if we have a college diploma, then that means we would have graduated high school?!!?), birth certificates, marriage certificates, fingerprinting... (oh there's lots more).  I'm pretty sure they could just say, "Every single piece of paper that you've ever touched in your entire life." and be done with it.  But, I am making progress.  I sent off our I-600a application to get approval from the USCIS yesterday (although I forgot to enclose a check. oops. I'm literally losing my mind) and once we get that back (hopefully in a few weeks) we can send off our dossier. After our dossier gets to Uganda, we have been told that we should travel soon for our first trip. We will meet the girls and apply for court, then travel back for our second trip whenever our court date is.  The way things are going, I am hopeful that we would be going on our first trip by the end of the summer.  We really have no idea, though.  After what we've already been through, we know not to expect anything quickly.  What we do know is that God is working it all out. And that's all that matters.

Mother's Day is tomorrow and I know it will feel different this year.  Besides relishing in the sweet hugs and kisses that my three precious sons will undoubtably give me, I will be looking at the pictures of my beautiful daughters and praying that the day will come quickly that I can be hugging and kissing on them.  I will be joyful and oh so thankful that God has entrusted me to mother these five little ones that are only mine because He is gracious.  But, in the midst of the joy I will also grieve for the mothers that my daughters have lost.  I will grieve that they are sitting in an orphanage, with no family- no mother to hug and kiss, no mother to make a handmade card for, no mother to give flowers to, no mother to call their own.  They need a mom.  They need love, and hope, and joy, and Jesus. Soon, sweet girls. Soon.

       //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and My daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by My name,
whom I created for My glory,
whom I formed and made.
       ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Thanks for sticking with us through this journey.  We are so incredibly appreciative of those who continually pray for us and our girls and want us to keep you updated on what's going on.  Later this week I'll give a fundraising status and be sharing about our upcoming feature week on the Give1Save1 blog- which starts Monday, May 19th!  We will have lots of opportunities that week to help, including lots of crosses and map scripture prints for sale here on the blog.  Stayed tuned!

xoxo,
shawna





Friday, March 14, 2014

God is in the business of being Awesome

So, we've got some news to share.  News that I've been dreaming of sharing for 18 months when we started this long journey.  News that I know many people have been waiting and waiting to hear.  (and waiting and waiting--I know.)   Now, it's time to spill a lot of stuff. The good, the bad and the awesome.  Did you know that God is in the business of being Awesome?  Of writing stories that only He could pen?  Of working out details that only He could know about?  Of giving answers that only He would even know of the question asked to get that answer?  Yeah, He's good like that.

First, you have to start with this post if you haven't already read it.  (g i v i n g   y o u   s o m e   t i m e   t o   r e a d   i t)   Now, let's go back to November.  The week after Pickin' & Pies, we found out some pretty discouraging stuff that led us to believe that the Madagascar program may not be the best program for us to continue with.  Without sharing too many details, it started looking as if adopting from Mada may not happen anytime soon, if ever.  We were pretty distraught and very unsure of what to do next.  We prayed a lot in that week (and ever since then) asking God to give us guidance, wisdom, discernment, and more trust.  One particular morning I had texted a friend to tell her what was going on and asked her to please pray specifically for guidance.  I sat down to eat breakfast and started to pray, asking God to just speak to me and let us know what He wanted us to do.  As I prayed, the word Uganda kept playing over and over in my head.  I can't really recall that this had ever happened to me before, so I wasn't really sure what to make of it except that I knew I couldn't get it out of my head the rest of the day.  Later I saw the same friend I had texted that morning and told her that I couldn't stop thinking about Uganda.  She asked me when that had started.  I told her it had been all day, but specifically had started at 8:15 when I was praying at breakfast.  She looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Shawna, I was on my knees praying for God to speak to you at that exact same time.  He's telling you Uganda."  When you aren't used to things like this happening, you aren't really sure how to take that.  But this friend in particular, through a crazy Africa story of her own, has taught me a lot about listening to God and those words that keep playing over and over in your head or have been put on your heart.  I shared about my breakfast experience with two other friends that day.  One (who has adopted from Uganda) said, "Looks like you're going to Uganda, sister!" and the other texted back, "He is speaking to you.  Keep listening."  I began to feel that this was a very clear answer He had given me.  So, over the next couple of weeks I started calling several agencies and inquiring about their Uganda programs.  All but one (who seemed very shady) told me that they were not recommending any families join that program.  It was just too unstable, wait times were getting really long and they didn't even know if it would be open in six months.  They were happy to tell me about some of their other programs in Africa, but discouraged any ideas I had of switching over to Uganda.  I started to think that maybe He hadn't been speaking Uganda to me or that it maybe didn't mean what I thought it had meant.  I know He is the God of making the impossible things possible, but I just kind of put those thoughts in a back corner of my mind.

The holidays came and I put off calling agencies for a while.  We were still holding on with Madagascar, but began working on writing a grievance letter to our agency with four other families in our program.  We felt like they had been negligent in a lot of areas and had not been forthright with some information that would have probably made us choose another program from the start.  We finally sent the letter at the end of January.  We waited three weeks for a reply from them and the reply we got was pretty much a whole lot of nothing. No answers to our questions and concerns.  No reason to gain back the trust that we had lost in them.  Three of the five families pulled out of the program at that time and the only reason we decided to still hold on was because the director of our program was actually traveling to Madagascar at the end of February.  We felt like we had invested too much time and money to pull out before we learned of what would come out of that trip.  I didn't want to wait any more, but it did seem to make sense to wait two more weeks after coming that far.  I wasn't expecting much, but we were hopeful that he might come back and say that they were about to start referring kids left and right.  We just didn't know.

That brings us up to last week.  There is a website called Rainbow Kids that has a composite list of waiting children all over the world.  "Waiting children" are kids who are considered harder to place with an adoptive family because they are older or because of some special need they have.  Several agencies have waiting children that are available at the orphanages they work with and they put up a picture with some general information about the child on this site.  They give you their approximate age, if they are considered healthy or not and what continent they are on.  I have looked at this sight just about every day for the last four months.  I have shown some of the children to Jonathan that I thought were cute and he has just smiled and said, "Yeah, they are cute." But ultimately (just like with the name) he couldn't "go there" until we knew for sure what was going to happen in Madagascar.  I understood, but I still looked anyway.  So last week we were in Oregon for my nephew's wedding.  Jonathan and the boys had left on Monday while I stayed with a dear friend for the rest of the week.  I realized it had been a few days since I had last looked on Rainbow Kids, so that night I decided to open up the site and see if any new children had been put up. There had been. One of them was a little girl.  And her name was...

Lullah.

Are.  you.  kidding.  me.   {just got chills all over again}  I kept staring at the name, at HER, making sure I was seeing this right.  Her name was Lullah!!!  Yes, yes, I could see that it wasn't the exact spelling that we have used, but COME ON PEOPLE!!!!!!!!  That is not exactly a common name, here or in Africa.  I don't care how it's spelled.  Her name was Lullah.  That was enough for me.  *And just a note about her name (if you didn't take the time to go back and read this post!)- I truly believe that God gave me that name.  It wasn't like we each had a long list of names that we liked and we narrowed it down to something that we both could live with.  That was the only name we could come up with and I had no idea where it had even come from.  It was just the name that had been put on my heart.*  I texted Jonathan in the middle of the night Nashville time and told him to look at Rainbow Kids when he had a chance.  I wasn't able to talk to him until late Tuesday and he hadn't had time to look.  He said, (kind of sarcastically) "What- is there a child on there that you want to bring home?"  I said, "Yeah.  There is one girl.  Her name is Lullah."  His response was almost a whisper- "What?"  I was thinking I was going to have to do a little convincing, but I didn't.  The name was enough for both of us to inquire about her and just see what happened.  I had already sent an email to inquire about her of course, but it wasn't until Thursday that I actually talked to someone at the agency that was representing her.  The girl told me that yes, she indeed was available, what the process would be like and what the next steps were should we chose to move forward.  We had been talking for a while when I finally asked, "Can you tell me where she is?" to which she quickly replied, "Oh yeah! She's in Uganda!  Did I not already say that?"  No, no you didn't.  I would have remembered that.  I was shaking uncontrollably at that point and my heart was beating something crazy.  Those three days that I had been waiting to talk to the agency about her, I kept feeling like Gideon.  Part of me was like, "Her name is Lullah.  The end." and another part of me was freaked out and like, "Well, I don't know...It does seem like it might be something..." I kept telling God (and my friend Kimmee that I was staying with) that it wasn't like I needed more confirmation, but if she happened to be in Uganda then  OH MY WORD.  And she was.  She is.  She's five years old and she is beautiful.  She has been put on hold for us and we are working to get her home.  She will hopefully be ours-- soon.

Yesterday we officially withdrew from the Madagascar program and from our agency.  We did get the report of the director's trip to Madagascar last week.  It was just more confirmation that we need to be doing something else.  So, we are.  And we are okay with that.  From the beginning of this journey we have always known that switching countries was a possibility.  We've just heard of it way too often.  So we tried to never get attached to Madagascar itself, just to the fact that we were adopting.  Of course the longer we were in the program, the more we began to love the country and get excited about bringing a child home from there, but I think after this many months of there being a strong possibility that we were going to switch that we had already grieved the change.  Now, once it has happened, we are fully at peace with it and ready to move on.  We are working on getting our home study updated and a new dossier put together.  Once we do that, we should be traveling *somewhat* quickly for our first trip to meet our girl.  Please pray that this new paperwork phase (ugh) will go super fast.

I still can't believe what I've just written.  My, how things can change in a week.  God has shown us where our daughter is and we couldn't be more grateful to Him for the way that He has revealed His steadfast love for our family.


(from December 2nd post)
We're not sure exactly what road we will be taking in the next few weeks, but we know that He will lead us down the right one because He already knows where we are headed, and I have a feeling that He's got something very special planned. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Love for Lulah: the movie


We have a lot of talented friends.  Two of them are Gabe and Mandy McCauley.  Mandy, aka Mix Master Mandy, is a rocking guitar artist.  Gabe, aka lilDragon, is a rocking video artist.  Together they are a power couple of creativity and inspiration, aka Gandy.  We love Gandy.  Gandy brought the house down at Pickin' and Pies closing out the show with songs and video magic.  This blog post is about the video magic.  

About a year ago Shawna found this blog, Give1Save1, that features an adopting family's story every week.  Here is how they explain it, "Every Monday we are going to ask you for a dollar. We’re going to tell you who it’s going to and what it’s being used for. We’re mostly funding adoption for the people, by the people. The premise is for lots of people to give a little and let it all add up!....And your dollar will be saving and restoring lives in all kinds of ways. Removing a child from an orphanage gives that child a family and a future, something everyone needs. It also frees up a bed in an orphanage for another child."  Give one dollar, save one child.  A little bit of money, a big difference.  

This has been our approach to fundraising.  Share our story and hope that a lot of people would give a little. God had something else in mind.  A lot of people are giving a lot.  Over and over again they (you) give. Whatever we thought people might give God said, "Just wait.  I am going to take your small little dream and explode it."  They bought tickets to a basketball game, tickets to a concert, stuff at a garage sale, handmade crosses, t-shirts.  They just wrote a check or handed us cash.  Strangers sent us money in the mail with a note like, "I heard about your story and was touched by it."  And the gifts haven't been limited to money.  Several people have generously given their time and God-given talents, which brings us to lilDragon, Give1Save1 and the video magic.  

After finding the blog, we decided we wanted to share our adoption story through a video.  Maybe people far beyond our circles would be touched by what God is doing.  The problem is that we stink at making videos.  lilDragon doesn't (check out their 2013 Hype Reel ). Shawna made a phone call and a few minutes later we had a video in the works.  I don't think they really knew what they were getting into.  It took seven months and several takes to get something they could work with, because we are bad on camera.  Really bad.  We both freeze when we see the red light.  Somehow they took our mess and made it into a masterpiece.  I don't know how they did it, but they captured our story and turned it into something beautiful.  We can't say thank you enough to Nick Nichols, Gabe McCauley and Dave Boyd for logging countless hours filming and editing. 

We don't have any fundraising events planned for 2014, but we do have this video.  Here is some good news- the people at Give1Save1 liked our video and we have been chosen to be featured on their blog. The bad news is that this may not happen for six months (or even longer).  When you have been given something like this it is hard not to go ahead and share, so we're going ahead and sharing.  We think the New Year is the perfect time to do that.  Here is what you can do: 1. Watch the video  2. Share the video with lots of people  3. Pray that God will bring a little girl across the world home soon.  More than anything we want to bring God all glory and praise for how His hand is working in our lives and in the life of one orphan.  Praise to the One who gave One to save everyone.  


So here it is.  Be sure to watch in full screen mode.






You can share it with either of these links:  http://vimeo.com/83075957
or: http://youtu.be/FHU7Ru_JKFs

"Called Me Higher" song by All Sons and Daughters.

jonathan & shawna