Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Starting somewhere...

For a long time now we have felt God calling us to adopt from Ethiopia… and for a long time now we have felt exhausted, emptied of all idea’s on how in the world we could ever save the money to do so. Adoption is expensive- there is no denying that. And with raising seven children, one going off to college, with the economy not being the greatest- lets just say the money tree in the backyard is ‘not’.

Todd and I have sat down with our budget (thank you Dave Ramsey) and checked over every possibility of saving a few dollars here or there, to no avail. Honestly, we do not live extravagantly. We are not wasters at all.

Every single thing I research about saving money- we already do. We cut coupons, hang dry our clothes, planted a garden, collect our own chicken eggs. We shop at garage sales, have older used cars, do not take extravagant vacations (actually we rarely take vacations unless they are virtually free) and we even recycle the toilet paper when people TP our house! (LOL) Just ask anyone who really knows me, I am about as frugal as they come. And I love it. I don’t consider being frugal a bad thing- I consider it being faithful with what God has given us and using it wisely for His kingdom.

"Set you mind on things above, not on earthly things” Col. 3:2

Our clothes may be second hand, but can I just say my kids always look adorable. For exercise we walk the track at our High school and don’t go to a sports club. Our cars are not going to impress anyone but they get us where we need to go. Our house is used and comfortable- the way I like it and laying on the beach watching my kids play in the sand for free is the perfect vacation for us. We don’t need fancy to have enough- or to be happy. Growing up my dad used to say to me, “Amy, there is more than one way to be rich.” I completely get that now dad- because we are rich with love and I couldn’t be happier.

Yet, we cannot deny that we know someone in our family is missing, and we cannot deny that we have heard God call. So, we have continued to pray, continued telling God we will obey Him, and then we have continued waiting…
And waiting and waiting…

Then one day during my devotions I was reading in Hebrews about faith. Faith is not about having everything lined up- and then going for it.
Faith is not knowing that everything will turn out the way you planned- and then going for it.
Faith is not just sitting on your rump saying yes to God- then continuing to sit.
Faith is taking that first step even when you cannot see how it could possibly work- especially when you cannot see how it could possibly work.
Because after all, if WE were able to do it all in our own strength - then God would not get the glory.
We would.
And for us, this has always been about Him.

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27

Yet we also know that the bible also tell us in Luke 14:25-32 that “anyone building a tower or planning a war first should count the cost to see if he has what it takes to pull it off successfully.” We have plenty of room in our home and plenty of room in our hearts. We have enough money to raise another child- we just don’t happen to have $20,000+ laying around for adoption expenses. But I know that I cannot continue to sit around and do nothing, knowing that right now a child in Ethiopia is dying of hunger or HIV while we ‘wait'.
So, we have decided to take that first little step. We started our pickle jar.
What are you doing with a pickle jar you ask? (You were going to ask that weren’t you?)
Our pickle jar is our first step towards obedience.

Our pickle jar sits on our counter and it is a (large and kind of smelly) constant reminder of our obedience to Him.

I cannot explain the feeling I get when I am somewhere in our home and I hear another ‘clink’ of a coin landing in that jar.

I cannot explain to you how my heart warms when I know that one of our kids, or my husband, has dropped something into the jar that they could have kept for themselves.

It may have only been a few pennies- but it’s faith my friends.

It’s about a family, pulling together for a purpose bigger than we are…

It’s about a family who isn’t focused on wealth- but on love.

It's about a family who is being obedient.

It may take us 20 years to save enough money to adopt- but we have started.

Because we have been called and we know, and now we are responsible to ACT.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

You've got to think about "big things" while you're doing small things,
so that all the small things go in the right direction.
- Alvin Toffler

***If anyone has any great fund raising or saving idea’s I’d love to hear them!!


Whitney said...

At our church, we encourage adopting families to send out support letters, just as missionaries would. Is there any denying that adoption is missions?!!?

Kaitlyn's Fund, Lydia Fund, and Shaohannah's hope are great resources for grants. Lifesong for Orphans is a good place to start to set up a tax exempt account for your friends and family to donate to.

We have had at least 20 kids adopted in the 2-2.5 years since we started our orphan care ministry and no families have gone into debt.

I know you have experienced God's provision in amazing ways just as you need it already, but it will happen again as you are obedient!

Praying for you all!

Joanna B said...

Hi Amy! I have enjoyed reading your blog for a long time, and your family has often been in my prayers.
I don't know if this helps, or has already been tried, but we recently had an adoption party. We held a silent auction, and friends and families donated things like babysitting services, meals, game tickets, etc... We were able to raise over $5000. Best wishes!!

Stacy said...

I love your blog and you are such an inspiration! I have a 20 year old, a 7 year old and a little girl waiting for us in China. I so badly want to adopt from all over or where ever! Sometimes I think I don't have enough energy or patience to have more kids- but my heart longs to bring the orphans home!
Please continue to post your family and experiences. I learn so much.
Praying for your adoption finances!

Holly said...

I love your heart.
God is faithful and He will supply.
I know that the reality is, you have to start somewhere,so you are doing it. You are telling the world that while you don't know how, you don't know when but you KNOW that you are called and you are doing what you can on your end and are open to God's provision in other ways.....You've stepped out in faith.
I'm so blessed to be able to watch His hand on your journey...however long or short it may be.
I am just crazy about your heart for the orphan. After everything you went through with the siblings that you had so hoped to adopt, you still have a burning passion for the cause of the orphan and God WILL bless that.

Amy said...

My husband I have been having the same urging from God to adopt from Ethiopia and we just started the process. We are walking a complete walk of faith in this too and we are trusting that He will provide. We know that God will bless everyone who walks by faith and trusts Him. Here is the post I did a couple of weeks ago about the start of our journey...


TheHappyNeills said...

We started at zero, and I could second everything you say (except about having a large family already...ours is younger). NO extra $$$ anywhere, everything is already at a minimum. God provided every penny we need--exactly $40,000. He indeed sets the lonely in families, and I know he'll provide for yet another orphan to come home. We started with a few coins, too--our sweet boy's (age 3 at the time) own money, after we had explained to him about adoption and how it costs a lot of money and will take a lot of time :) He ran away to his room exclaiming that he had some money!!! How the Lord increased it!!!

TheHappyNeills said...

do you know about the ABBA Fund?

Anonymous said...

We also are in the adoption process and have NO extra funds. We have a LARGE baby bottle that we collect our change in. We keep it in the nursery knowing that someday that bottle will be replaced with the babies God has for us. We will continue to fill the bottle as He leads us! And of course we're praying for a financial adoption miracle :)

We'll add you to our prayers!

angie said...

What a great idea and the "adoption jar" is truly teaching your little ones all about faith and family team work. You're a good mom Amy.

Sara said...

A friend of mine sent letters out to everyone she knew telling them about their adoption plan and that they were collecting items for a garage sale. She had over 30 families donate small to large things and raised $5000! It was an easy way for others to give and was a great success to raise the funds needed for their adoption. Knowing God will carry you through!

Andrea Hill said...

Oh Amy, HE will provide, sooner or later but you already know that. After reading how frugal you are already, all my respect goes to you. So proud of you. People reading your blog LOVE your family and in the mean time while you havn't started an international adoption just yet (cuz The ET's don't like when you fundraise on your blog) but I would just put in a link where people can donate. Don't be shy girl, you are doing God's will and it feels soooo good giving money away that is for a good cause, ya know. I am sure I am not the only one feeling that way.

Unknown said...

Amy - you just took the first step.

Just as David had to trust in God to provide the stone to take down Goliath..we must take steps in faith that He will supply what we know He is calling us to.

I am totally trusting God to provide for all of your needs to adopt the child He has already planned to be in your home!

I'll pray on fund raising ideas - have you contacted Gwen - Oatsville Team yet? She is starting an adoption fund type program and my friend Maria already has one I Support Adoptions.

Lots of love,

Andrea said...

Your post was a wonderful reminder for me! Thank you for sharing. I too will be in prayer for you and your family.
We had a garage sale at our house with donated items from friends. We made 3k in one day. It's a non-threatening easy way for people to give and feel good about doing it. ;o)
God will indeed provide!!!

Anonymous said...

There are several PAP's out there doing gold parties. People can donate old jewelry they don't use any more. Some of them have raised pretty good amounts.

I came across a blog yesterday of a parent that was going to start a site for other PAP's to direct people to buy t-shirts. The t-shirts all relate to adoption & orphans. I'll try to locate and send the link.

Best of luck, I have the same feeling that somewhere out there is another child for me.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link. They are not up and running yet, but maybe the timing will be perfect for you guys.

Again, best of luck, I will be praying for you guys.

Gardenia said...

I am inspired by your post, and your family ... and most of all, your faith. congratulations on taking the first step. that jar will fill up faster than you think, and God will provie, as He always does in His perfect timing and way.

Charlow Family said...

You don't know me, but I found your blog and I just love reading about your family. Is there anything you could make and sell on If you know anyone else who sells on there, you could ask them to donate a portion of their proceeds on certain days.

I also believe that if we sow into ministries that we one day hope to have, God will reward that by having others sow into us. I hope to adopt one day too, and I would love to throw some pennies into your jar as I'm able. Would you consider setting up a paypal account with a link on your blog to make that possible?

Karen in Missouri said...

Amy, let the Internet help you! How many people do you suppose visit your blog each day? Each week? Each month?

What if 20,000 people each sent you a dollar?

No one has a lot of extra money these days, but hey, it's just a DOLLAR, right? I think we can all manage a buck!

ASK! Take that step out on faith.

Ask, and ye shall receive!

He will supply your every need.

Now tell me where to send my dollar.

Amy said...

I would encourage you to look at grants and support letters (Whitney described above - we are a part of the same ministry). It was a very humbling experience for us to send out letters but it was amazing to watch the Lord meet the need at just the right time, just the right amount. It definitely was a step of faith but the Lord walked us through it. The interesting thing was that the people that we thought would give didn't and those we had no idea about gave so generously from their heart.

It is truly a blessing for others to be a part of the life of an orphan in this way, though they might not ever be led to adopt.

Praying for your family, you have been such an encouragement to me.

Recovering Noah said...

Oh, honey. If you're having a garage sale, just let me know. I'm cleaning out two very disobedient childrens' room and I'll have a nice stash for ya. *wink*

Honestly, I think you should take pictures. You are the BEST photographer. Come on, who else in the world has managed to take pictures of my Noah smiling?? You should totally have a fundraising day taking family pictures and pictures of kids. You have a true talent for that.

Love you, Amy! Love your heart. Love your family. Ya'll are the best. :-)

Leslie :-)

James 1:27 Family said...

Amy- Just when I think, "I've got to stop blogging and reading blogs. I've just got too many things to do - homeschooling, laundry, dishes, bathing, eating, etc." Then someone writes a blog entry that touches me and I see that God has set us in these cyber-friendships for a purpose... To lift each other up and encourage each other!

I feel exactly like your blog post. We've skimmed everything we can think of... we just canceled our cable TV. (That one stung a bit!) I'd love to fill our home with more children but the doors just keep closing with foster-to-adopt and we don't have extra money at all, let alone $20,000, like you said.

Your blog inspires me and I will keep my eyes on what the Lord values. I will continue to trust Him and know the He already knows exactly who will live in our families for exactly the number of days. Our bank accounts (or lack thereof) are not an obstacle for Him.

Who knows.... maybe we'll see you in Ethiopia picking up our new precious children one day!

May your pickle jar run over...

Love in Jesus,
Amy in Atlanta

Joy said...

Oh what a blessing to read this! Yes, we have to step out in faith and the Lord provides. We sent out an email to friends and family and church family and said that they could forward it to anyone. We explained our heart and asked for donations for a garage sale, with specific drop off dates etc. The reponse was great and the neat thing was that all year, people kept asking if we still wanted donations for another sale. We continued to have sales every 2-3 months and we raised thousands of dollars. Also, the nicer things that I knew I could get more $ for, I sold on Craigslist.

PS - I just love your last post of the tp - too funny

whenpigsfly said...

Congratulations and blessings for you taking that FIRST STEP!!!
I am not the garage sale kind of girl, and they never seem to go well for me anyhow, but with our kiddos and their friends, we do CAR WASHES! People love to help fund an adoption, love to see people willing to work for their fund raising and are usually so super generous, often giving nice gifts and refusing the car wash. It is a super opportunity to share the wonder and the ministry of adoption with lots of folks, its a great family game, maybe add a bake sale or lemondde stand, sell some home grown eggs or veggies at your donation table.........we make more than $650 every time we do a car wash. I was also told I should talk to a couple sororities or fraternities at OSU to see if one or more would sponsor us and help raise funds for us, kind of "adopting" our adoption. Its on my list of options to explore!!
Keep plunking coins in that jar though. Jars are amazing savings devices!!!
I'm exctied to see what Go will lead you to, and to WHOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sean and Lisa said...

Can not wait to see the blessing God has planned for your family!

LOVE the pickle jar! May God send boundless coins to fill up that pickle jar and may it overflow with more than enough.

"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap".

Claiming this verse for your family!!

Gina said...

Hi. I've been reading here for a little while, though I'm not much of a commenter. And, sadly, I'm also not very successful at fundraising. I just wanted to write to say thanks because your post was encouraging. We have just decided to adopt 3 siblings from Ethiopia and now I'm kind of freaking out. Reading your post was good for me today.

Tonya Brown said...

You are such an inspiration sister! I love the $1 idea and can see Jesus multiplying dollars quicker than we could imagine.... just like the bread and fish. With facebook and blogland, and hand written letters, the idea would explode. Explode for God! "Take a photo of your loved ones with the $1 that you donate and we will post it to our blog." I've got $10 for you right here! Get an address up or a paypal link where we can begin to sow into this wonderful orphan ministry the Lord is creating through you.

On my knees for your family,
Tonya in Phoenix

Kimmie said...


Bless your heart!

I love this post, your jar, your frugality, all the comments...where there is Love...there will be a way.

Our last adoption God blessed us with $3K through a blog button that a blog friend made for us,
$4k from Shaohannah's hope, $10K from our church family (an anonymous gift). We saved and *gave* and are so thankful.

We too don't have anything for another adoption, but in October we will jump back in.

You can never out give God Amy.

Praying for you and expecting in faith for God to give you all that you need!

big hug and a huge kiss;
mama to 7
one homemade and 6 adopted

Whitney said...

Also... I thought I was frugal until I read this site:

I don't know how much you are using coupons, but she does ultimate couponing!

In the year and a half since I found this site, we have been able to shave more money off our already frugal grocery budget and have plenty for hospitality and giving.

Melinda said...

I am so excited for you Amy! It is definitly possible and God will provide! This is how we did it for the last adoption. We refinanced our house and in that process were able to skip two payments. That allowed us to pay for our homestudy update, apply for the I600 and our placement agency application fee. We then had a huge garage sale. Asked for donations from everyone we knew. We raised $3500 from that. We applied for grants and received two. One from LifeSong which was a matching grant for $3000. We had to send out letters for that unless your church allows you to announce it there (ours did not) and we received one from Shaohannah's Hope for $2000. During that time God moved mountains and got my husband's work which is union to add adoption benefits of $5000 per child. That is huge because we never would have expected it, but my husband told the big boss of the company what we were doing so asking never hurts. All in all we raised $15,000 for our adoption. Email me if you want to hear about our agency who are far less expensive especially for some special needs and older kids. I would love to help you with fundraising, it can be done!

Anonymous said...

We had a "pickle jar" that we just cashed in yesterday so we could pay our home study fee because we are adopting 2 children from Ethiopia. We went through every room in our house and picked out things that we hadn't used in the past couple of months and sold it on craigslist and had a yard sale. The kids were more than willing to sell some of their toys, we sold the entertainment center (even though it was only worth $100, a rocking chair that we really didn't need, and sold donuts at the yard sale. I normally am a health nut but I was willing to do whatever it took to make some cash to bring the kids home. It didn't make much money but a local grocery store was willing to sell the donuts to us for $.25 each and we borrowed the huge coffee maker from church. We made about $200 off of that. For 6 months we just kept sticking every little amount of money we could into this container and then cashed it in yesterday at it added up to $1,077. I cried at the bank yesterday. I didn't realize that it was going to be that much. I was thrilled. Our bill was $1185. You might also want to look into Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministry. Our church does not allow us to do any sort of fundraising at our church either and I am very frustrated by it and I don't understand it at all. We can not even put anything in the bulletin about it. Ridiculous!!! Be careful once you do start the process, the Ethiopian government does not want people fundraising for their adoption so be sure not to put anything on your blog. They do actually monitor it. I am sure your agency will tell you about this. God's blessings to you and your family. God will provide. Our adoption is also and complete leap of faith. We do not have the money but know this is what God has called us to do. He said "Go" and so we are going. Do fear, doubt, and insecurities overwhelm us sometimes? Absolutely! It's our sinful nature. But then we see those pictures and the tears of joy start flowing and our hearts start pumping and we keep on pushing and remember what this fight is for. Keep on fighting the good fight! I love your blog!Your are such a motivation.

Violet said...

I am so encouraged by your obediance. IT's a testimony for so many, especially young women like me who know Gods calling them to a life so different from what she has been taught, and observed in her own family. I desire so much to adopt someday. I long for the day I can be a Mommy. Something I KNOW God called me to, is to be a stay at home Mom. I don't know when that will happen. I do know that as a young single woman, I can begin to take steps to that dream. I can get out of debt. I can learn ways to be frugal now. I can prepare myself.

My good friends and mentors, a family of 6 and soon to be 7, started making their own laundry soap over a year ago. It's a small thing but, she says saves her remarkably by the end of the year. I live at home with my Dad and brother. It's a small measure but, I now make my own laundry soap. It's relatively easy, and so cost effective.

I'm researching making even my own dish washer soap, and possibly toothpaste.

If your interested, I'd be happy to share this with you!

I will be praying for your familyand Gods faithfulness to your obedience.

I'd love to send loose change to your adoption jar... how can I do that?

Sarah said...


Just came across your blog. We were in this same situation almost 2 years ago. We were pretty sure that God was calling us to adopt again, but we didn't have the finances. One morning, I was working out the details of how to raise the money, and I realized that we just couldn't do it (and remain faithful to the other things that He had called us to do). God would HAVE to do it. He would just have to give us the money.

Well, that day we called the adopotion agency that we had worked with in the past. They had a new list of referrals from China and we went to their office to look over the referrals. When we got there, they told us that each child had a $5000 grant!! We knew that God was in it and He ended up providing EVERY PENNY for us to adopt our sweet Grace. Not only that, our other 4 children were able to travel with us to China when we adopted our little girl. God's love is EXTRAVAGANT!!

Blessings and prayers for your little on waiting in Ethiopia.


Laurel said...

Beautiful post!

Our church actually has an "adoption support" ministry ... yet they haven't supported us at all in our adoption ... even in the CRISIS we are now walking through. Truly SAD! A close friend of mine (who also attends the church) went through an adoption disruption and the ministry directors never once returned her phone calls. Can't quite figure out what they do.