Thursday, May 31, 2012

pop goes the 90s

I was born a product of the 80s. My parents, which I describe as Jesus-loving hippies, brought me up on classic rock for the most part, and being from Alabama, I was a rare breed in the sense that the only country artist I remember us listening to on a semi-regular basis was Johnny Cash. As I grew into the adolescence of my teenage years, I found myself falling in love with the alt-rock station in our city known as "The X" (formerly, "The Bear"). This was largely given to the fact that I'm a baby of three boys, so rock music stayed on constant in our house and in our vehicles, though as rock evolved, it was the 90s alternative that influenced my love for music more than any other genre. Most influential were the songs and sounds from collaboration records like, "Live in the X Lounge."

Fast forward going on twenty years, I reminisce about the days and the bands of my youth such as Weezer, Third Eye Blind, Oasis, Matchbox 20, Counting Crows and others. Living even today as a full time musician, I still reflect on my high school days where we left the windows down and the music blaring, so that the back roads of Alabama became the perfect audience to the soundtrack of our lives.

This next week, I get to pull some personal ammunition (relationships) together to recreate the music of our high school car stereos. With some of my really close friends that just so happen to be some of the best musicians and live production professionals in our part of the country, we will celebrate on June 6th in Birmingham the musical decade of the 90s, all in hopes to help bring our daughter home from South Korea. Consider this my personal invitation to a night you don't want to miss... the very first performance from Pop Goes The 90s. Join us, and let your $10 cover charge help us bring Gia home.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PopGoesThe90s and/or follow @PopGoesThe90s on twitter. Thanks so much!

Mal's guest blogger,

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

shopping spree

We found some items at Target to get for Gia.  Luckily, she was there to try them on.  :)   What do you think?

Monday, May 28, 2012

orphan run

Well, it's official.  
I've survived my first 5K event as a promoter.  I've run enough of them to know what runners expect, but being on the other end is very different.  When I first dreamed this fundraiser up, I had no clue what I was getting myself into.  It turned out to be a really great event overall.  

Things I loved...
  • our volunteers
    • Sometimes I think people say "I couldn't have done this without you" because they feel obligated to say it.  Not the case here.  I honest to goodness could NOT have pulled this off without all of my amazing volunteers.  If I tried to list you all, I'd forget some, so I'm just going to say THANK YOU!  
  • my husband being home to help
    • I have to specifically mention Kevin because he took the weekend off of work, which I know was not fun for him.  As difficult as that was for him to do, I am so thankful he did. When I think back to the day of the race, I'm overwhelmed picturing it without his help.  So to Kevin I say another big THANKS!
  • the turnout
    • We tried to schedule this race for November because that's Orphan Awareness Month.  No such luck.  Then we moved it to March.  Again, no luck.  So we tried for a third date, which worked!  The downside was that it was Memorial Day weekend.  You know, the weekend everyone goes out of town.  I had to laugh that God would give us the weekend that was vacation-packed as our big fundraiser.  What a sense of humor!  It was as if He was forcing us to a place of trusting Him with this event.  I know it sounds silly, but that's how I have to see it.  Regardless of all my worries, the date was perfect and the turnout was even better!  We were praying for 150-200 runners, and we got 150.  Yay!  

  • the venue
    • I chose Veteran's Park because it was a venue that was an "all in one" package.  In one fee we took care of parking EMTs, police, seating, a pre-measured course, etc.  The course is absolutely beautiful.  Definitely a favorite now!

Things I will change next year...
  • committees
    • To say that planning this event was overwhelming is an understatement.  Wow, so much work.  I have somewhat of a control-freak problem.  There's no way I can take this on alone again, so next year I'll be recruiting some other peeps to carry some of the load
  • volunteers
    • Thankfully we just barely had enough volunteers this year.  It was cutting close.  In fact, me and a couple other people had to do double duty on some of the stations.  Can you say panic attack?  'Cause that's how I was feeling for a minute.  I learned just how many volunteers I need to make a 5K happen.  
  • advertising/marketing
    • The goal is to make the Orphan Run 5K an annual event, with proceeds going to various companies/families that are involved in orphan care.  The number one question I fielded from people this year was "Where is the money going?" That was tough to answer because with this being a Christ City Church event, we aren't really responsible for where the funds go.  We just offered to organize an event that would help our city care for orphans. We are excited, though, to know that our Gia will be one of the benefactors of this year's race.  
  • time of year
    • It was stinkin' HOT.  There's no way around it.  I am so proud of the brave souls that raced in this crazy Bama summer heat.  Go you!  I'd like to see the next race be schedule for October 2013.  Probably the same weekend as Race for the Cure.  NOT!  I'll definitely have to plan around that monstrous 5K.  
  • Fun Run
    • Along with the 5K, we hosted a one mile "Fun Run" too.  We were thinking a lot people might like to show up last minute and participate in a little family friendly run.  I'm not sure it was as productive as we had hoped, so that will probably be tossed next year.  We'll see... 

Things I was pleasantly surprised with...
  • the venue
    • I touched on this earlier, but I just cannot get over how pretty this course is.  
  • generosity of sponsors
    • We were very blessed to have enough business sponsors to get this thing going.  I was even more surprised that some of our sponsors went over and beyond what was expected of them.   

Thanks so much for all of you that have prayed for this event and helped us with it.  We are thankful for your love and friendship.

Next up...  Pop Goes the 90s!   I'll get Kevin to guest post about that event this week sometime.  It's going to be awesome!

Sending Hugs

Monday, May 21, 2012

the power of a picture

My precious little niece is just over 2 years old.
Every time we see her she reaches for our phones and chants "Gia, Gia, Gia" because we have the wallpaper set as a picture of Gia.  It's so cute!  Kids really soak up more than we know.  Anyway, it never occurred to me that this "Gia spotting" would happen outside of her seeing our phones.  But it did!

Recently, my MIL had E (my niece) in Walmart, where an Asian woman was standing in front of them in the checkout line.  E begins to point at her and say "Gia, Gia."  E thought the woman was Gia...ha!  The woman, not knowing what was going on, cooed back at her.  My MIL then explained to the cashier that E was talking about her cousin halfway around the world whom she'd never met.


I'm anxious to see how the real life meeting will go down.

Sending Hugs

Sunday, May 6, 2012

baby bedding

I am so excited to share this new fundraising opportunity with you.  Our sweet friend Karen has an amazing sewing talent.  A talent I wish I had!  She has been so kind as to offer a great deal for anyone wanting to support our adoption.  Her message is below...

Sending Hugs

Bedding for Babies!

On my first overseas mission trip my mom’s biggest fear was that I would smuggle a baby back with me as a souvenir. (I did have a mom ask me to take her baby back with her but I did not give in). However, I did come back from that trip with a heart for adoption. Currently my husband and I care for the orphan by supporting an orphanage in South East Asia that rescues children, provides them with a loving environment, shares the gospel and provides a Christian education. We don’t know what our journey will look like with adoption but we do know we desire to come alongside those on that journey.

I’m excited to come alongside Malerie and Kevin to help bring home baby Gia. 50% of the proceeds from orders made “for Gia” will go to help bring her home.

A 3-piece set; bedding, bed skirt and blanket is $250 and you can choose your own fabrics. Below are some samples. Please email me at karenisbell@gmail.com to place an order. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

things learned

Welcome to May.  The month after April.  April, the month we'd hoped to travel to get our lovely daughter.

Welcome, May.

It's not so bad, actually.  May is also the month of our biggest fundraiser, the Orphan Run.  Not traveling right now gives us more time to organize finances and fund raise and pray and prepare.  It gives us more time for us; and like everyone has so kindly reminded me, this time with just the two of us is precious and should be cherished.

Oh, May...

When April was drawing to a close I started thinking about how peaceful I felt that we had not been called to travel.  Did that make me a bad mother, that I was okay with not seeing our daughter now?  I don't think it does.  I think it makes me aware of God's presence in this whole process.  About four years ago (may be little longer, hard to tell at this point), Kevin and I began walking down the very dark and lonesome road of infertility.  We didn't know it at the time, though.  Denial.  Anyway, when we realized what this monster was that we were facing, the weight of the world fell on me.  There was nothing, not one thing, I could do to make it go away.

It: the fear of not being in control, the sadness of thinking you'll never look into the face of a child and see yourself, the anger at everyone around you for not understanding (though you don't really expect them to), the loneliness of going through a death (yes, a death) seemingly by yourself, the frustration that every monthly test result confirms, the wasted wishful thinking.  It.  I couldn't make it go away.

And that was my problem.  I, me, myself.  I couldn't make it go away.  But God could, and He did.  Praise the Lord!

Let me stop here before I have some sweet friends interpret this the wrong way.  God does not work on out time table, nor does He work within our expectations.  The Bible is very clear about that.  Just because we want something that is good and godly does not mean it will be provided in the manner we ask.  Or at all, for that matter.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

During those terrible years--yes, years--I prayed that God would answer me:  Why would He give me this desire for kids and not let me conceive?  That was a daily, almost hourly prayer.  I desperately wanted to know how I was out of His will.  Was I asking for something immoral and unbiblical?  Nope.  So, why no pregnancy?  If no pregnancy, at least an answer would be nice.  What was the purpose of us having to go through this valley?  We were willing to hear from God and let Him teach us whatever we were supposed to be learning.  The more I prayed, the more frustrated I became.  No answer.  Nothing.

So how can I say that was a fruitful time?  How can I look back and acknowledge that God was indeed with us at every step, every tear, every sleepless night, every failed pregnancy test, every empty doctor's visit?  I can only do so because that's what the Word teaches.  Our plans were made, but His purpose reigned.  

So what have I learned through all these years of craziness, now that we are wrapping up this season of out life expecting OUR DAUGHTER to come home?  :)  

I've learned to trust Him.  He's God.  He knows what He's doing.  

I know that sounds trivial, and I know I'm not living that truth out daily, but that's what I believe God has been teaching me.  He took the most precious thing to me at this time of my life and forced me to a place that required me to trust Him.  Not trust in my own plans, but in His.  That is so hard to do.  Even now I'm thinking of all the fundraising stuff we need to do in the coming weeks, and I have to remind myself that He is still with us in every single mundane step.

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God. 

Now there's two commands that are near impossible for me.  Be still.  Know I'm God.  He is teaching me through all this that He is God, and He will do what He says.  Now, that may not look like what I want, but He will come through.

I'm writing this from the opposite side of the valley.  I'm no longer blinded by the what-ifs and anger that come with infertility.  Being on this side doesn't make the journey easier, it just means God has given me His eyes to see it through.  I hurt for the women who are mommas in their hearts but have no baby to love on.  That's still me.  I hurt for me and Kevin too.  We are in an incredibly joyful time right now as we wait to get our daughter, but adopting brings its own set of challenges and hurt.  Ask anyone adopting and they will confirm that!

I'm not sure what I expect you to take away from this; I just thought it was important for me to purge my thoughts on what it means for me to now be in May 2012 with no immediate hope of seeing my daughter.

I'm still trusting, and God is still faithful to remind me who's boss.  :)

Sending Hugs