Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tiffany's Story

I'd like to share an adoption story with you.  An adoption story that is not ours.  This is Tiffany's story.  We have had the privilege of talking to her online.  We are in the same adoption group through our agency, AWAA.  She and her husband brought Jamesy home from Ethiopia this past year.  She's in the process of turning their story into a book.

This is chapter one:
http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/2012/01/chapter-one-once-upon-time.html

and Chapter two:
http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/2012/02/chapter-three-when-stories-collide.html

While you're there, scroll down and watch their Meetcha video and look at the precious pictures of their kids.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Leadership Rocks

I promised the youth group I would post on Leadership Rocks.

Leadership Rocks is "a world-class, high-energy Experience that challenges your students to reach beyond today and grab hold of their God-centered futures."  Here's the link if you want to read more about it.  http://www.leadershiprocks.com/

Some of the kids from our youth group attended in Orlando a couple weeks ago, and I had the privilege of chaperoning.  This was Jayde's first overnight trip with the youth group, and she loved it.

There are 3 areas they focus on during the weekend: Experiencing Scripture, Leadership Development, and Christ-centered Worship.  This year they really had a global focus, encouraging everyone to get out of their boxes and realize that the Church has members all over the world, not just here in the U.S.  The weekend really did rock!

Here are some of the kids claiming their seats on the first night (Jayde's in the purple shirt):
The stage with the rockin' band, Matt Papa. "TDL" stood for "Think, Dream, Lead".


Some of the crazies (an endearing term) with their loud "Jesus" headbands:

Being silly:


The group:
Compassion International had a table in the lobby.  It warmed my heart when a group of boys decided to sponsor a child and collect money each month for him at youth group.  They were really happy with their decision:


It was a fun weekend.  The praise music from Matt Papa was wonderful.  The song that the group loved the most was called "Open Hands" and I fell in love with the words.  Here's the link to the song and video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYxI38hLIZA

and here are the words:

"To give unselfishly, to love the least of these
Jesus i'm learning how to live with open hands
All of these treasures that i hold will never satisfy my soul
Jesus i lay it at your throne with open hands

chorus:
And i lift my hands open wide let the whole world see
how you've loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last i surrender all i am with open hands
with open hands

Verse 2:
To finally let go of my plans
These earthly kingdoms built of sand
Jesus at your cross i stand with open hands

chorus:
And i lift my hands open wide let the whole world see
how you've loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last i surrender all i am with open hands
with open hands
You took the nails and you wore the crown
You hung your head, your love poured out
You took my place and you paid the price
So Jesus now i will give my life!!!!!!!!!

chorus:
And i lift my hands open wide let the whole world see
how you've loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last i surrender all i am with open hands
Jesus i lift my hands open wide let the whole world see
how you've loved, how you died, how you set me free!
Free at last i surrender all i am with open hands with open hands

with open hands
with open hands
with open hands"

Failure or Future?

Every single day I fail.  Every single day I fail my children, my husband, in my walk with God. 

Thank goodness I am no longer required to give sacrifices like they did in the Old Testament.  I would be at the altar so frequently, I wouldn't have time for anything else.  I'm so thankful I have Jesus' grace in my life.

I wanted to share the devotion I was sent yesterday with the other homeschooling families out there.  Not that this devotional isn't good for all parents, it is.  It's just that when you are home ALL DAY with your children, they see it all.  The good, bad, and ugly. 

We are supposed to set examples for our children that they can follow.  I want my children to look back someday and remember that their mom didn't just say to read the Bible, study, and pray, but she did it.  A mom who didn't just ask them to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.  She did it. A mom who didn't just tell them to feed the hungry and serve the least of these.  She did it.  

Even though I will fail daily, the point is for my children to see that even when they fail, they can ask for forgiveness (which I do) and move on.  Keep trying.  Sanctification is an ongoing process.  It won't end until we leave this earth.  In the meantime, I want to be a witness to my children.

The time is coming when my children have to claim their faith in Jesus as their own.  I can't do it for them.  They will question whether what Christ did for them is real.  I want them to remember parents who walked the walk and didn't just talk the talk.  I want them to see Christ is their only future. 


"His mother made him a little coat.1 Sam. ii. 19.
WHAT happy work it was! Those nimble fingers flew along the seams, because love inspired them. All her woman's art and wit were put into the garment, her one idea and ambition being to make something which should be not only useful, but becoming. Not mothers only, but fathers, are always making little coats for their children, which they wear Iong years after a material fabric would have become worn out. How many men and women are wearing today the coats which their parents cut out and made for them long years ago!
Habits are the vesture of the soul. The Apostle bade his converts put off the old man, "which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts," and to put on the new man, "which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness"; to put off anger, wrath, and malice, whilst they put on mercy, humility, and meekness. What words could better establish the fact that habits are (as the name indicates) the clothing of the inner life! Where and how are habits formed? Not in the mid‑passage of life, but at its dawn; not in great crises, but in daily circumstances; not in life's arena, but in the home, amid the surroundings of earliest childhood. Oh that the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness may ever be exhibited before those with whom we daily come in contact!
By their behaviour to each other and to their children; by the ordering of the home‑life; by their actions, more than by their words; by the way in which they speak, and spend their leisure hours, and pray ‑‑ men and women are making the little coats which, for better or worse, their children wear ever after, and perhaps pass down to after generations."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Which I can say for many years I completely ignored.  Lent?  Okay, yeah, I gave something up a few times for Lent, though I never gave it much thought. 

Many people have questions about Lent.  This year I decided to really look into the season leading up to Easter.  Easter is the most important holiday to a Christian.  It's the day we celebrate Jesus' rise from the grave!  The only way we could rise again someday after our death is to have Jesus go first as our sacrifice.  He died, went to hell, took MY punishment (all believers' punishment), and then rose again.  If you are not a believer, it's, well, uh, pretty unbelievable.  But oh so true!  I want our family's time this season to be spent in the Word with a purpose. 

Noel Piper's blog post was great today.  She talks about Lent.  You can find it here:
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/ash-wednesday-and-lenten-lights

"Lent is a season of waiting. In that sense it is like Advent. But while Advent waits eagerly for the appearance of the Savior, Lent waits, with heavy responsibility, for his death. The light of the Advent candles grows brighter as we approach the Savior’s arrival. In Lent, all grows darker as we draw nearer to the unthinkable—the death of God." (Noel Piper)

Today the children and I read the portion of Scripture where Jesus is Tempted.  You can find it in Matthew 4:1-17.

"1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' "8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." 10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' "11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him."

We discussed what fasting means.  Not just fasting from food, but fasting from anything that we choose to give up to focus more on Jesus.  We discussed how when you feel that urge to do or eat whatever you are fasting from, it should prompt you to pray.  We named some of the things we can pray for over the next 40 days.

The time of fasting and temptation is what set off Jesus' ministry. 

"12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali-- 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- 16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Alan and I are feeling a pull, a change, a tide of uncertainty.  We know we are being led to step up and step out, we just don't know all the details yet.  But God does.  We are going to use this 40 day period of fasting and prayer to seek God's will.

It's no coincidence that I just finished reading Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker.  This book was filled with fasting and prayer.  My book review is still to come.  Jen calls fasting, "an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinance to summon God's movement in my life.  A fast creates margin for God to move.  Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center.  A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves."

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, calls fasting "Exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the Spirit."

Our bodies will fast from something these next 40 days in preparation for the celebration of Jesus' death and resurrection. 

In case you're wondering, here's what we decided to fast from in our family:

Alan- sweet tea.  If you know him, you know he sucks this stuff down all day every day.  This will be tough for him.

Me- sugary drinks in any form.  No coke.  No wine.  (If you know me, you know I like my wine while cooking dinner or on a date.)  Not to mention the Strawberry Festival's coming up.  No coke with french fries?  No sweet tea with BBQ? No strawberry lemonade? Oh my.

Jayde - cereal.  The girl can go through some cereal, ya'll.  The only foods she likes more than cereal are her Grandpa's ribs and ice cream.  She loves Publix BOGO with coupons because it means I can fund her cereal habit.

Alana- computer time.  All of my children love computer time and this would have been a great choice for any of them.

Easton- sleeping on the couch.  This may by far be the largest sacrifice from our family.  From the time we moved into this house, my son has never slept in his room.  Well, except for the few times he has had a friend spend the night.  His room is away from the rest of us and he does not like it.  He sleeps on the couch every night.  Until today.  He says he is going to sleep in his room with Oscar the dog.  We shall see.  If it takes 21 days to develop a habit, then this could mean the beginning of Easton actually sleeping in his bed.

Hopefully these small actions on our part will be daily reminders to fill our hearts with gratitude for the sacrifice made for us on the cross. 

Father, may this season be one of thanksgiving, renewal, and praise for our family.  Thank you for giving us the ultimate sacrifice, your Son.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grandmother

This past Sunday, February 19, my Grandmother, Danise McGavin, passed away at the age of 86.  She left quite a legacy with 7 daughters, 15 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren (with more to come).  This post is dedicated to her, as well as the rest of my family, especially my cousins, who share many of the same memories of her.

This was the last picture I took with Grandmother in December:

Here is one from my sister's wedding 9 years ago on Valentine's Day:

Looking back over the last 35 years, these are the top ten things my Grandmother taught me.  I'm beginning with 10 and working my way up to number 1.

(10)  You're never too poor in America to buy a bar of soap. 
While this may not technically be true, this motto was instilled into her daughters.  Ladies, it you're going to be seen in public, at least put on something nice, use soap, and brush your hair.  You don't have to be the best dressed, but there are no excuses in our society not to look decent.  My Grandmother was always well dressed and well accessorized.  She was stylin', folks, and I was always proud to show her off.

(9)  Old movies are the best movies. 
There were heartaches, pain, love, life, death, drama, and action, but all were exhibited with elegance, class, and manners (so like her).  None of the crude language and exposed skin that today's movies insist on displaying.  It's not necessary.  If Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, or Audrey Hepburn wouldn't do it, you shouldn't either.  She loved all the classics and could name all the characters.  The Tampa Theater will never be the same.

(8)  Work is good. 
God created each of us to work.  Grandmother worked her entire adult life in some capacity and loved it.  She didn't just work to live, she lived to work.  Her active lifestyle kept her body going for 86 years.

(7)  Loyalty is a character quality to be sought after. 
Loyalty to your family means never giving up on them.  Loyalty to your job means treating your co-workers and bosses well, and in return being treated magnificently yourself. Her bosses proved that point and for that we are all grateful.  When you are loyal to others, you'll have friends for life.

(6)  Each person should have a signature item that represents their personality.
Frogs.  Just little, green, jumpy things?  I don't think so!  Spunky, fun, and sticky (as in sticking to your heart).  These are all words that describe my Grandmother, not just the green frogs given to her on every occasion.

(5)  Food is meant to be savored. 
Dinner is never meant to be swallowed at break-neck speed.  Adventurous eating?  Yes, please.  She liked raw oysters, for cryin' out loud.  She believed if it's going to be eaten, make it good.  Otherwise, why bother?  I'll never put another fried green tomato, boiled peanut, or piece of fried chicken in my mouth without thinking of her.  In her honor candy orange slices will have a place of honor on my table at the beach this summer. 

(4)  The beach is the best place to see God's glory.
My Grandmother instilled a love for the beach in every one of her family members.  Now, my favorite place on earth other than my home is the mountains, but Grandmother is the reason the beach means so much to me.  Through her eyes I saw the beauty of the waves during a storm. I tasted salt on my lips after a swim in the ocean. I saw the holes the sandcrabs dug to escape our noisy family invading their territory. I felt the squishy sand between my toes as I walked down the beach. I took my children to collect shells, each one uniquely designed by God, no two alike in the same way there are no two people alike.  What a blessing to gather together every summer and have those memories.

(3)  All holidays deserve recognition by card.
Some people like phone calls, but everyone especially appreciates the time taken to send a hand written note.  Grandmother never failed at this.  Each holiday my entire life I received a card.  She gave me my first Valentine's Day card as a child, and my own children were recipients of the last batch of holiday cards she sent this month for Valentine's Day.

(2)  Time with family and friends is meant to be passed slowly and with reverence. 
There should be no rush on an evening spent with friends or family.  Lives are busy, but we should take time to be grateful for the moments we have today with people we love, because we never know when those moments will be our last.  Our dinners and dates with Grandmother better not have had a specific ending time, because there was a lot of talking and sharing to do.  Oh- the stories!  Depression and war stories, McMullen family stories, rationing, singing and big band theatrics, snippets of her 7 daughters' lives.  These were some of the topics shared over appetizers, dinner, dessert, and drinks.  We were not allowed to order the next course until the previous one was completed.  This made sure we had enough time to savor each moment spent together.  We always remembered to tip big at the end of the night, because usually if our dates were at restaurants, our particular tables were not turned.

(1)  Family loves and helps family.
God puts us in a family for a reason, never by accident.  We are the ones who will get on each others nerves the most and make each other cry.  We are also the ones who will make each other laugh, get each others inside jokes, stick up for one another, pray for each other, and come through for each other when no one else will.  The old saying, "Blood is thicker than water" certainly holds up in our family.  Let's make sure we keep supporting one another and loving one another the way Grandmother wanted us to for the rest of our lives. 

I love you, Grandmother!  Thanks for all the life lessons you taught me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess - In Process

Dude.  My excitement last night was hard to contain. I opened the front door to let the dogs out to use the bathroom and discovered a box from Amazon sitting on the porch.  Apparently I had missed it earlier in the day.  What does a book nerd do when she receives a box from Amazon, you might wonder?  A happy dance, that's what.  Especially when she chooses free shipping so it takes a while for that box to arrive.  Oh, the anticipation!

The box contained a couple school books for the girls, but 4 of the books were for me!  One on adopting older children, and 3 "Hatmaker" books.  (1) 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, (2) Interrupted: An Adventure in Relearning the Essentials of Faith, also by Jen, and (3) Barefoot Church:  Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture, by Brandon Hatmaker. 

I immediately rushed through my shower, slapped on pajamas, and settled in to begin 7.  I laughed right off the bat. It grew into a loud, obnoxious sound, much to the dismay of my husband who was trying to watch T.V. in bed beside me.  Then I cried when I got to Day 7 of the first chapter.  So hard I shook. I tried to turn away and make Alan think I was still laughing.  I think I succeeded. Then I laughed like a hysterical, crazy woman again.  Oh, the roller coaster!

It's like this woman crawled inside my brain, people.  Seriously.  How does she know my thoughts?  I am sure we were destined to be good friends.  She just doesn't know it yet.  Okay, that sounds a little stalker-ish, but you get my drift.

When I come out of my "Hatmaker" coma, I'll do some book reviews.  In the meantime, I want to do whatever I have to do to convince you to buy 7.  You want to read this!  You really do!  So instead of waiting to read the review, just buy it now because it will take a few days to be delivered.  Got it?

Sneak peak time.  Here's a quote from Day 7, after I had already read the part that set my emotions off like fireworks. 

"Before I lose my doctoral students, trust me, I know theology has its place.  And I appreciate the irony of a Bible student, paid speaker, and pastor's wife penning these thoughts.  But when the exhaustive exegesis of God's Word doesn't create people transformed into the image of Jesus, we have missed the forest for the trees.  Or perhaps Jesus explained it better: 'You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life' (John 5:39-40).  The careful study of the Word has a goal, which is not the careful study of the Word.  The objective is to discover Jesus and allow Him to change our trajectory.  Meaning, a genuine study of the Word results in believers who feed poor people and open up their guest rooms; they're adopting and sharing , mentoring the intervening.  Show me a Bible teacher off mission, and I'll show you someone with no concept of the gospel he is studying."

POW.  In the gut.  For this Bible study junkie (that would be me). I love my Bible.  I also am really liking this book.  Yeah, baby.  Bring it on!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Break My Heart For What Breaks Yours, Lord

For a while now, I've been sneaking over to the Reece's Rainbow website.
 http://reecesrainbow.org/
Scrolling down the beautiful little faces.  Reading about the children.  Picking MINE to bring home.  If I could bring one home, which one would I choose?  It's so hard to just pick one.  (I have narrowed it down to a couple.  Who wants to tell Alan?)  Now and then, I'd come across the term, "About to be transferred" and it would seem that the writer would be pleading with everyone looking at the site, insinuating there's not much time left.  Why? 

I figured out why.  After researching the terminology, I discovered that "transferred" is what happens to these children around 4-6 years of age in lots of other countries.  If the children aren't what society deems "perfect" enough, meaning they have some sort of physical or mental disability, ranging from severe to mild cases of things like Down Sydrome, they have a very short adoptable window.  Then they are transferred to a mental institution to spend the rest of their lives with no one to love them, in a bed, never going outside, until they die.  Because they weren't "good enough".  

There is NO GOOD EXCUSE for the body of Christ to be turning a blind eye to these children all across the world.  I have been guilty right along with everyone else.  Because it's hard.  We don't want to look at them.  Our lives would have to be interrupted, our plans not followed through, in order to take them and give them a family.  Our finances stained.  Our vacations altered.  Our date nights more expensive because we need to hire multiple babysitters instead of one.  Our bodies more tired.  Less time to watch T.V. and read magazines and do what we want to do, what the world tells us "we deserve" to do. 

I hope you read these posts. I hope you are disgusted.  Not with the children, but with us.  With our sinful, selfish natures. This is REAL and IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY and THESE CHILDREN DESERVE LOVE.  The same way we deserve love.  Not because of anything we've done.  But because Jesus Christ gave his LIFE to save us when we deserved NOTHING.  How can we not do the same for others?  

I love Proverbs 24:11-12, but I especially love the way The Message puts it: 11-12 "Rescue the perishing;
don't hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, "Hey, that's none of my business,"
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
Someone not impressed with weak excuses."



Please read all three of these posts so you get all the story and info.  All of it.  Please. And then pray.

READ THIS:
http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/if-not-usthen-who.html

and this:
http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/treasures-of-darkness-part-2.html

and this:

http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/02/treasures-of-darkness.html

Pray about what we, as the church, should do for these precious ones, the least of these.  While we're praying, we can at least give up some of our fun money to help a child find a forever family.  It's possible through sites like Reece's Rainbow. 
  

**Adding this in later:  I liked a comment made on the blog I linked you to.  The commenter says, "God did not create borders. Humans did. There are no borders on kindness, no borders on love, no borders on charity. The "there are just as many starving/abused/orphaned children in America" argument separates God''s children from one another by synthetic borders. " 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

35 Dollars, again

Sometimes it's good to know I'm not alone.  I wrote a post about what $35 can do a while ago (September).  Here it is:

http://partakersofgraceblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/35-dollars.html

This morning I saw this from one of the blogs I follow (Jaime) from our group.  She gets it, too!

http://survivingthechaos.blogspot.com/2012/02/35.html

In case you missed the point.....It's only $35 a month.  Use your computer mouse to do something good.  Head over to WorldVision (or Compassion Int'l) and sponsor one of the children.  Or 2.  Or 3.  Or 4......... You get my drift.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adopting Older Children

We are getting ready to update our homestudy to expand our age range.  This could mean potentially we will receive a referral for older children.  We have been reading books on adopting older children and have ordered some videos from Karen Purvis.  Most of the "real" stuff that gives us a glimpse of what we can expect, though, comes from the blogs of other families that have brought home older children and are very open about the challenges they face.  Here's a post that I thought was good today, so I'm going to link you to it.
http://heisalwaysontime.blogspot.com/2012/02/mean-stepmom.html

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fundraiser: Blessings, Part 2

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thess. 5:11) 

In the weeks leading up to the fundraiser, we were blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ in a multitude of ways.  I'm going to list some of them.

1.  Libby Libretti, our church secretary, came up with our flyer and printed the tickets and flyers using her own time and creativity. 

2.  Our friend and accountant, Nate Kilton, sent out our flyer to his contacts and sold tickets for us.

3.  Friends and fellow church members, Marco and Jessica Caporale, who own Family Firearms, donated the guns used for the raffle and silent auction.  They also sold over 50 raffle tickets for us through their store.  Way to go, Family Firearms!

4.  The following people and businesses donated items for the silent auction:  Cody Glisson, All A Bloom Florist, Tausha Krohn, I-4 Power, Mitch Rodriquez, Ginger Blackmon, Jim and Robyn Jeffries, Barbara Kicklighter, Heidi Johnson, Shelley Murrell, J & G Jewelers, Jules Burt, Phil Engstrom, Carol Taylor at Sudio 3 Salon, Dan & Gay Smith, Courtney Murrell, Arrowhead Archery, Angie Zavodny, Remco Transmission, and Selina Keely at Martin's Place Salon.  Some of them donated more than one item.

5.  Roy Peterson at Toufayan Bakery donated the hamburger buns and cookies.

6.  My mother-in-law took me to Sam's Club with her membership so I could buy paper goods.

7.  Publix "happened" to be running a special, BOGO, that week on tea.

8.  Our church allowed us to set up a table in the lobby to sell tickets for the fundraiser.

9.  Our friends from church, Rob and Sheri Dusse, donated strawberries which they hand dipped in chocolate for the dinner.  They spent a lot of time helping us in various ways. 

10.  Avery Kicklighter and Rob Dusse loaded tables and chairs with Alan at the church the day before the fundraiser. 

11.  Avery Kicklighter, Rob Dusse, Nate Kilton, and Jim Sun went with Alan late Saturday night after the fundraiser was over to put the tables and chairs back.

12.  Family members Johnny and Penny Lee, Gary and Jan Nelson, Mark and Wendy McLeod, Bonnie Futch, Becky Kicklighter, and Avery and Barbara Kicklighter served food.






13.  Friends Cindy Cunningham, Stephanie Kilton, and Rob and Sheri Dusse served food.

14.  Friends Marie St. Brun and Stacy McCoy worked ticket tables.



15.  Niece Kelley Giovannucci worked at a ticket table.

16.  Pam Bell from Everyday Blessings spoke.

17.  Neighbors came over for the event. 

18.  Friends came for the event.

19.  Family came for the event.

20.  People we didn't even know came to the event.

21.  People who couldn't come purchased raffle tickets. 

22.  My sister, Ginger Blackmon, and her friend, Stacy McCoy, drove all the way from Jacksonville to come over and help set up.  They came Friday night and all day Saturday.

23.  My parents, Jim and Robyn Jeffries, kept my nephew, Bode, so that Ginger and Stacy could spent time helping.

24.  Sweetbay Supermarket donated water bottles and wine.

25.  Five Alarm Party Rentals gave us almost a rent one/ get one deal on bouncy houses.

26.  Youth Group members came to help park cars and play with kids:  Allen Hall, Joey McIntosh, Joey Coleman, Marty Crosson, Noah Humphrey, Berlyn St. Brun, Sydney St. Brun, Carly Manfre, Jennifer Tharrington, Cynthia Tharrington, and Cat Howard.

27.  Hannah Dusse helped Jayde paint faces in the kids area.

28.  Grandpa Johnson's BBQ gave us a huge discount on the food.  It was delicious.

29. Jeremy Burris donated strawberries.

30.  Our septic system backed up with over an hour left of the fundraiser.  Everyone had to use the bathroom in the barn because the bathrooms in the house were not working.  In spite of this, not one person complained. 

31.  Ace Jackson and the Jump Kings, consisting of Jeff Jackson, Paul Woods, Paulie McGoldrick, Keith Buckingham, and Carlton Cunningham played an entire show for free.  They rocked it!  The night would not have been the same without them.

32.  The weather was perfect.  Warm, but not hot, and no rain.

33.  All of our animals behaved.

34.  No neighbors complained about the noise.  They were probably rocking out to the band from their porches.

35.  People were able to read the board and papers about orphans and take home a paper with ways they can help.

36.  Every silent auction item was sold.

37.  Some people gave donations even if they could not attend the evening.

38.  My in-laws, Avery and Barbara, came early to help set up (Avery moved lots of tables and chairs).

39.  We raised about $6000 after expenses!

If I counted each person separately and every single act of kindness that was extended to us in connection with this night, I would not have room on the blog.  I am so very thankful for all of our family and friends.  I cannot imagine life without them.  God made us to be in relationship with each other, and Alan and I are blessed to have many wonderful relationships.

I'll sign off with a huge THANKS to everyone who had any part in the success of the night, and some pictures.