Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Raising Funds: Adoptive family website like no other…

Olive Tree Promise

Hey all - this is a message I've wanted to post for months (no, not a referral post yet .. WE WISH! :) ... I’ve said time and time again on here that I would tell you “soon” about the project I’ve been working on … well soon finally got here!!  it's a project God has had me on since we pretty much got on the waitlist. And I'm going to apologize now as I can already see this being a long post...

Since we brought our son Silas home 2+ years ago, I've been praying for direction. As many of you who have traveled to bring your child home, my life was forever changed when we traveled to Ethiopia. And I felt a void. My prayer was that God would match the talents He's given me with the passion (orphan care & adoption) He put in my heart. He revealed part of that plan about a year ago and I've been working nights/weekends on it ever since.

The idea is a website that will that will be a one-stop shop (Amazon/etsy-like) site for raising funds for families adopting . The idea of the site is to bring vendors who are willing to "wholesale" their products and let the family have the proceeds. I am asking vendors to consider giving 30-50% to the families (eg: Item retails for $20 - asking vendor to donate $6-$10).   The family does not have to buy or purchase anything – the orders goes directly to the vendors to fulfill and ship the products. 

It will also allow adoptive families who are selling product to sell your shirts/products/etc on there. You can still make money for your adoption but it allows other adoptive families to make money from them as well. Families helping families. I will continue to connect with missionaries to get products from their countries back to the USA to sell so it's a win/win by helping their country’s economy and helping adoptive families. Also, we have 'donation' items so someone could buy chickens, mosquito nets, baby formula, etc, etc that would be sent to the specific country mentioned.

So ... vendors can be...

  • Just a regular vendor who has product to sell and a heart for adoption/orphans
  • Adoptive families who are selling product
  • Missionaries who can get products back to the USA
  • Organizations working in other countries that need product donated

The name of the site is Olive Tree Promise (after Deuteronomy: 24:20) because vendors are leaving some behind for the orphan. The site is Some of you may recognize the “old” AGCI family that it is loading – they are stepping out in faith again - amazing. The site is set to load a 'featured' family when someone hits just because we want the site to be all about our families. Future featured families will be changed out every so often (eg: family about to travel that need funds as being on the main site will give them more exposure).

Families will have their own URL to give people so those sales goes toward the family. (eg:

(As an aside, once this site is up and running with all the kinks worked out, the next site that will launch will be Olive Tree Faith. Instead of adoptive families receiving the proceeds from the vendors, it will be missionaries (short term and long term). This site will hopefully be launched this winter.  And the 3rd site will be Olive Tree Hope. If someone is not an adoptive family or a missionary but wants to help an orphan care ministry, they can create a site and the proceeds would go to the orphan care ministry of their choice. Orphan care ministries can also sign up for an Olive Tree Hope site for the proceeds to go to their ministry.)

I hope some of this made sense :) I know that many of us are raising funds and have different sites where we are doing that. The thought with this site is that 1) we can help vendors who want to follow God's Word to care for orphans and 2) a site for families to have many different types of products available to attract multiple different circles of family/friends.

In saying all that, I need your help!!

1) If you know any vendor (yourself included) that would be interested in selling products on the site, please have them sign-up on the site (under the vendors section) or contact me for questions/more information. You can email vendors AT olivetreepromise DOT com. The site will only be as good as the products on it. We currently have 45+ products and hope to have over 100 by the end of the year.

2) If you're interested in signing up as a family, please fill out the information requested on the site (sign up is under the families section). As we are trying to go slow on this, I will work with the first 10 families that sign up and then the next 10, etc.

We have a facebook page set up as well at  Go like us :)

I would love your feedback. Especially, if you do sign up, I will definitely ask you for it ... the good, bad and ugly. I want to make it easy, intuitive and fun for the vendor, family, and people buying products.

I can't wait to see how the LORD uses this site to make known His heart for the orphan.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

THANK YOU! (and thanks for reading - I told you it'd be long :)


Saturday, July 23, 2011

ONE YEAR(and a day) year and one day is how long we have been on the waitlist for our precious daughter.  I have been keeping a journal since the start of this adoption journey just like I did for Silas.  I will give it to our daughter someday so she can see how God was orchestrating the events in our lives to unite us with her at just the right time.  Here is my entry from a year ago today:

Another week has come and gone—unbelievable how time flies!  We got some GREAT news yesterday, AGCI finally got all the correct documents they needed from us and we are now OFFICIALLY on the waiting list for YOU!  Our number is 78 which is quite high compared to when we got on the list for Silas; however, the good thing about that is more orphans are coming to their forever homes. The down side is that daddy & I have to wait longer for you!  We both know it’s all in God’s PERFECT timing and thus we are going to do our best to be patient(I am sure some days will be easier than others)!  Regardless-being on the waitlist means we are one step closer to you! TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY!!

God has been faithful to us and we have moved 66 spots in a year that was filled with many ups, downs, and unknowns.  We both know that God is in control so we have no doubt that the timing of our referral will be PERFECT (although Troy is praying that it will happen before my birthday at the end of September…that would by far be the best present I could ever receive:)! To those of you that still follow our blog, thanks for your continued prayers and support during this amazing journey God has us on!  We look forward with anticipation to what the year ahead has in store for us!

We wait for the LORD; He is our help and shield.  For our hearts rejoice in HIM, because we trust in HIS Holy name.  May Your faithful love rest on us, LORD, for we put our hope in YOU.”  Psalm 30:20-22

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hoosier Time

This past weekend, Troy was a great sport to accompany Silas and I to Indiana for what was originally going to be a reunion with some of my physical therapy school roommates, but turned into seeing high school, undergraduate, and adoptive friends as well.  It was a very busy weekend, but there is nothing like catching up with great friends.  I love how it’s so easy to pick up right where you left off with good friends you haven’t seen for some time.   God has definitely blessed me with great friendships at each stage of my life. 


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We started off the weekend at the above cutie’s house!   Her mom, Susan,  and I were roommates where I completed my undergraduate degree.  The cool thing about the cutie above is that she and Silas came home on the same plane together from Ethiopia.  Talk about a God story.  Yes, her parents were called to adopt from Ethiopia as well although they used a different agency.  They got their referral months before we got ours for Silas, yet we traveled at the same time.  So two girls who met in college, who ended up becoming roommates, who moved to separate cities after college, who both felt called to adopt from the same country, had their children come home at the exact same time.  ONLY God above could have orchestrated that.  I love it!

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Next stop was to spend the night with two of my PT school roommates(in picture above) and their kiddos(Troy opted to stay at a hotel:).  From left to right you have Silas and I, Nicole with her daughter & son(on far right in the orange shirt), and Maureen with her two boys on her lap.  Maureen was a great hostess and we did lots of what we always did best in PT school, EAT!  Let’s see, I think there was consumption of homemade bruschetta, homemade salsa/chips, monkey bread, cookies, etc…  We definitely didn’t go hungry.  This was the first time I have seen these girls since our wedding almost eight years ago.   What a blessing to reconnect if only for a short time. I was able to capture a few pictures of the kids below:

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We then headed over to the Alexander family’s house.  They are a beautiful family that we met during our adoption of Silas. They used the same agency as us, and they brought their twin daughters home from Ethiopia shortly after we came home with Silas.  They have three biological sons, their two adopted daughters from Ethiopia, and they are in the process of adopting again from Uganda.  This couple is making some amazing sacrifices in order to bring more children into their home, and we are truly blessed to know them. 

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Beautiful girls!

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Silas enjoyed the sno-cones AND the sandbox at the Alexander’s house.  It was fun times washing his hair that night:)

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She wanted me to capture a picture of her blue tongue!

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Silas enjoyed the activities Tisha had for him to do!

We left the Alexander’s and spend the night in a hotel. On Sunday, we woke and headed to the Children’s Museum of Indianaopolis where we met up with one of my childhood friends and her family.  We enjoyed the museum for about three hours before having lunch and heading back home.  We could have easily stayed all day because the exhibits were wonderful.  I captured a few pictures below:

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So that wraps up our weekend. We got back home Sunday evening.  Silas was pretty exhausted but he napped for much of the car ride home which was great!  As I have reflected on the events of the weekend, I realize that I am one very blessed individual!

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friends, Fellowship, & New Number

This past weekend we had the amazing blessing of having Paul & DeeDee Aarseth & their children, Jackson and Olivia, stay with us.  They are a beautiful family that we initially met through our adoption process with Silas because they used the same agency.  We were just one stop on their ‘homeless tour’ this summer as they have sold their home because they are moving to Ethiopia as missionaries at the end of the month.  It was quite amazing to hear about all of the training and preparations they have made as they answer God’s call for their lives.  I am blessed to see how they are ‘walking the walk’, and I will be excited to see how God uses them to make an eternal impact in Ethiopia.  Here are a few pictures from their visit:

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Jackson posing for the camera


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Sweet Olivia


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Silas & Olivia holding hands at breakfast


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I painted my toes so Olivia needed hers painted too.  I love the color contrast on her beautiful brown skin!


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Silas giving Olivia a kiss(with no prompting from us….starting a little too young for me:) )


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Olivia attempting to return the love but Silas wasn’t having it!


On Saturday night, Kristi and her husband Will hosted us for dinner.  They are the parents of Silas’ buddy, Lucy Lane who was also at Hannah’s Hope with Silas and Olivia.  It was fun to catch up and visit.  We also love to reunite Silas with his Hannah’s Hope buddies whenever we can.  We managed to get a couple of pictures from the night.

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The kids table.


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The newest addition to the Johnson Family, Wes.  Isn’t his smile just adorable? He is the 6th child in their family and Kristi and Will just take it all in stride.  He came forever home from Ethiopia this past Spring.


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One attempt to get the three Hannah’s Hope buddies picture


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Another attempt….unsuccessful but at least they are all in the same picture!


Paul and DeeDee had to head back to Texas on Sunday morning, but we managed to squeeze in a breakfast at Cracker Barrel with them.  Their family loves Cracker Barrel and apparently they don’t have an abundance of them in Texas like we do here.  They have even made a game out of who can spot Cracker Barrel signs first when they travel…too funny:) 

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DeeDee & Silas


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Success! Everyone is smiling and somewhat looking at the camera


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Olivia and Silas testing out the rockers

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The Aarseth Family.  I am so glad God brought our two familiies together. Thanks for stopping Paul and DeeDee.  We would love to have you back anytime!

Finally, I wanted to share our July numbers.  We are officially #:

What a blessing to see how many children have been matched with their forever families and how many steps closer we are to meeting our daughter!