Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mother/Daughter Road Trip :: Day 1

Earlier this month, my mom and I took a little road trip to Fairhope, Alabama. Mom had a work conference and didn't want to travel alone; I can work from anywhere and it was my birthday week - so it all seemed like a good idea. Turns out - it was an idea that would leave us laughing until we cried more than once in a 4 day span. This series should probably actually be titled "Mother/Daughter Shenanigans". 

I posted the following "real time" on Facebook our first night and people thought it was hilarious and begged to hear the rest of the story. So I figured I would share it here, along with Days 2, 3 and 4 so you could all enjoy a good laugh (at our expense!) Here goes!

Prequel:
[This is the conversation we had via phone when I called to tell my mom I could go.]

Mom: Oh I'm SO glad you are going!!! You are going to LOVE this place! They even have tea every afternoon at 4:00... tea and cookies and everything!
(Let that sink in people. The place where all the shenanigans I'm about to share with you is fancy enough to have afternoon tea. Lord help us.)
Me: Great! I love tea!
Mom: And don't be scared if you see two men, dressed really crazy, beating a drum and walking around the property in the afternoon. They do that every day.
Me: Uhmm.... what?
Mom: And don't be alarmed if you hear a loud noise around 4:00. It's just the cannon.
Me: Mom. What in the world?! The CANNON? Where are we staying?!? A pirate ship?!

Day 1:

We made it through our travel day without issue, and arrived just in time for tea and cookies. After that, we checked into the hotel, found our room, and started to unload the car when I realized.... She brought 8 bags - 8 BAGS PEOPLE! For a 3 night trip! Plus a hanging bag, and her purse (which is the size of a small suitcase.) I brought 3 bags (which I thought was a lot) plus a hanging bag and a purse. Then we bought a bag of groceries. SOMEHOW - we made it to our room with ALL those bags (11 bags + 2 purses + 2 hanging bags + 2 pillows + a bag of groceries...gah... we are SO high maintenance!) in just 2 trips. I don't know how we did it!

The first trip up we ended up on a service elevator by mistake that let us out in a random back room. The second trip we were literally dropping things our hands were so full, and then realized neither of us could get to our key. I tell Mom (who has one -sort of- free hand) to reach in my back pocket to get it - but I'm wearing this long, flowy tunic/blanket/sweater thing so she can't see my pocket. She jams her ice cold hand down my pants 3 times trying to get the key while I yell "that is NOT my pocket!" and "YOUR HANDS ARE COLD!" over and over again, and we are laughing so hard we can't breathe and dropping stuff all over the hall! (Mom almost had to use her inhaler!!)

Now we are listening to an old woman next door yell into her phone at the top of her lungs "I DON'T HAVE GOOD SERVICE HERE!" while we giggle. Did I mention we've only been here 4 hours and already all these shenanigans have taken place?! We really should NOT be allowed to travel alone! ‪#‎motherdaughtertrip‬ ‪#‎highmaintenancetravelers‬ ‪#‎ipacklikemymother‬ ‪#‎whereareourhusbands‬ ‪#‎weoverpacked‬ ‪#‎myfacehurtsfromlaughing‬

Stay tuned for Day 2! As the saying goes, "Well behaved women rarely make history." ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

31 years

Today I'm 31. Despite what everyone tells you ladies - 30 wasn't terrible. It was a hard year because we lost a dear, dear friend. It was a hard year because our daughter still isn't home from Thailand. It was a beautiful year, because we got to travel again, and be with the precious children we care for in Asia. But mostly - it was just a year. And any year is what you make it.


At 31, I still wholeheartedly believe everything I wrote last year. If you're struggling with aging - please, please read this: [ What I Really Think About Turning 30 ].  It's not my most popular blog, but it's probably my most favorite - because I felt SO alive and SO grateful and SO powerful writing it. 

Please know ladies - these words aren't meant to shame you, but to empower you!! I know this is a huge issue for so many women (and some men too!) I see the Facebook posts. I hear the comments. I almost let it be an issue myself. But friends - we don't have to respond to our birthdays with fear or shame. We all have things we want to change, things we didn't accomplish, and milestones we haven't met - but we don't have to live in regret. We don't have to wallow and grieve. We don't have to respond to aging the way society tells us to! WE GET TO DECIDE!

We have the power to change our perspective, to change our mind, to change our response! As one of my favorite bloggers Glennon Melton says - "let's put on our "perspectacles!" We can choose to age joyfully, gratefully and gracefully. WE GET TO CHOOSE! Every year is a gift. So, here's to another glorious year!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Our charity needs your VOTE right now!

Hello my dear friends and blog followers!

As many of you know, my husband Rusty and I founded a charity several years ago that helps orphans and vulnerable children around the world. Right now our charity, The Sound of Hope, is in a video competition called "Project for Awesome" - and voting is ONLY tonight and tomorrow. If we are one of the videos with the most votes, we could win a LOT of money. (Last year the Top 20 videos got $40,000 each! WOW!) Our goal is to win this funding for education for our kids. That amount would be more than enough to put ALL 200 of the children we care for in school for an entire year. That means every single little boy and girl in our care - in Thailand, Burma, India, and Swaziland! And we all know, education changes everything for a child in poverty.

All we need is for people to VOTE! That's it! You don't have to sign up for anything or log in - you don't even have to watch the video if you don't want to (but it's pretty awesome if you do!) - just click on the link and then click the red VOTE button. It only takes a second!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW
(and help us win thousands in educational funding for children in need!)


[To donate directly to The Sound of Hope, simply click HERE.]

And if you're feeling really helpful, we would LOVE it if you'd share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Maybe you know of a group of friends you could share it with via email? Or a facebook group you could ask for help? Anything you're willing to do on our behalf would be a blessing! It's going to take everyone we know working together to make this happen!

Voting ends at 11am Sunday morning. (So ask your friends in Sunday School to vote too! Just go to ProjectForAwesome.com on your smartphone and search for "The Sound of Hope". )

Please help me give our sweet kids the gift of EDUCATION for one more year! Just one click could change a child's life!

Love you all so much - thank you in advance!
Ericka

ps - You can vote from any personal device you have, so don't forget to log on to your desktop, laptop, ipad, and smartphone! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

1,000 days

Today is National Adoption Day. November is Orphan Awareness Month.

It all seems fitting, since this is the month that we hit the 1,000 day mark. November 6th marked 1,000 days since we announced we were adopting. 1,000 days of pursuing our daughter. 1,000 days of working, fighting, and waiting. 1,000 days of wishing she was home. And sadly - we still aren't even matched with a child.

I never wanted to 'celebrate' a day like this. I never dreamed when we began our adoption that we would have to wait this long! I have so many thoughts and feelings in my head and heart right now. Spending time in Thailand this month - and knowing our daughter is likely alive (and was probably very nearby) only made this benchmark even more poignant.

It's hard to find the words to say all I'm thinking or feeling. Luckily, Jen Hatmaker said them perfectly. (And Jandie Waggoner, a fellow Thailand adoptive momma put those words into this beautiful print!)




We WILL get you home baby girl. I don't care if it takes 1,000 more days or 10,000 more days - we will never stop working and fighting and waiting to bring you home. On National Adoption Day and Christmas Day and just a normal Tuesday - we will still be working and fighting and waiting for you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sent

We've been in Thailand for almost a week, and I can't wait to share some of our pictures and stories with you all! But first - I wanted to share a couple of pictures from the weekend before we left.

We've been doing this type of work for 7 years, and done a lot of traveling, but I'm not sure that we've ever had a send off like this. First, some of our closest friends got together for a dessert, coffee, and prayer night. We got a chance to share some of our videos, talk about the specific work we'd be doing on this trip, and share some of our prayer requests. Then they all took turns praying for us (while I cried - because I'm emotional like that) and we ended by singing the Doxology. It was such a special time!


Thank you to Scotty and Stef (above) who hosted our prayer night!


Then, a couple of days later, our church shared one of our videos and took the time to pray over us at the end of both Sunday morning services. The elders led this time, and it was awesome to have our church family reach out their hands and pray a special covering over us. We also had the opportunity to set up a table and share more about our work with a lot of our church friends. We feel truly blessed to be a part of a "sending" church!


Of course, there are also the 2 churches in Arkansas (First United Methodist of Monticello) and Mississippi (Emmanuel Baptist Church) who sent us through prayer and by donating our travel funds, as well as dozens of other individuals who gave sacrificially so that we could go. We were so humbled to see the money we needed to travel come in so quickly. THANK YOU to all of our generous donors. You are "senders" too!

We have never felt so supported on a trip before. When we landed in Thailand, our travel day picture had more than 300 "likes" and 48 comments where people were encouraging us and praying for us. You may not think things like Facebook "likes" are important (and in the grand scheme of life - they aren't!) but to us it was a testament to the love and support we had covering us. We were blown away!

This work may seem exciting and fulfilling (and it is!) but at times it can also be really lonely and heavy. With this important trip ahead of us (and knowing we'd be traveling to some dangerous places) it really means the world to us to have this kind of covering. I believe there is a difference between going and being "sent". We have been praying for God to move in and through us in powerful ways this trip - and we believe that with this kind of prayer covering, we're going to see BIG things happen!

Thank you to all of you who helped "send" us, and to each of you who are covering us daily in prayer. You bless us more than you know!


"And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? 
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
 - Romans 10:15

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! 
As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”
- John 20:2

"Declare his glory among the nations, 
his marvelous deeds among all peoples."
- Psalm 96:3



Saturday, September 27, 2014

We're headed to Asia!

I just realized today that those of you who aren't on social media probably haven't heard our great news! We're headed overseas!

Now before you get too excited - no, this is not for our adoption. This is a work trip, for our non-profit The Sound of Hope. My husband and I co-founded this non-profit in 2010, and we work full time to care for almost 200 orphans and vulnerable children in Thailand, Burma, India, and Swaziland.

We normally travel more frequently, but the past 2+ years we've been "stuck" in the US - partially due to a lack of travel funds, and partially because we really needed to finish all of our adoption paperwork before we left the country. But now it's done, and thanks to some very, very generous people we were able to buy our tickets!

We leave in 3 days (Sep 30th), so we are pretty much running around like crazy people right now - trying to finish up all of our packing and preparations before we go. We'll be gone for 47 days and we'll be working in 3 countries, 9 cities, and 5 Children's Homes! We are SO excited to be back with our precious kids overseas. We love these little ones so much, and it's been too long since we've been able to hug them and spend quality time with them. These children know that we help provide for their needs, but nothing says "I love you" to a child like spending time with them!


(Above) Ericka with the Asha House girls
(Below) Rusty with the Asha Mission boys


We have a lot of work to do while we're there. For those who may want to invest in this trip, we do have a few needs still. So many people have given so generously - and for that we are grateful! You can see from the list below that most of our needs have been met. We just have $600 to go to have our list completely checked off and our trip fully funded! If you'd like to donate, you can give online through this link.


I will do my best to post some blogs here while I'm overseas, but my main focus during any internet time will be keeping our Sound of Hope blog and social media up to date. We post a lot of "real time" updates (videos, pictures, and stories) - and we would LOVE to have you follow our journey! There are actually 5 ways you can follow us on this trip.


We hope you'll follow along and be a part of what we're doing around the world! 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Love Is Waiting

We just got confirmation this month that our dossier has been translated into Thai and received by the orphanage we'll be adopting from in Thailand. Our agency assured us it would get there, but it was still so good for this momma's heart to have it confirmed. And now, we really do know that there is nothing for us to do but wait. So it seemed like the perfect time to share these photos!


We are adopting from Pattaya, which is a coastal town, so a beach shoot seemed appropriate for our little beach baby! You would think (after my last post) that we took these on our recent beach trip - but this "Adoption Photo Shoot" was actually done on our Florida family vacation last October by my sweet baby brother (thanks Jaron!) At that time, we thought we'd be done with our paperwork by Christmas. We thought we'd share these within a few months. Little did we know it would be almost a year! But finally - after working for so long - the day has come that we can say, "We are waiting."


The song, "Love is Waiting" by Brooke Fraser is one that is really special to us. For those that don't know, Rusty and I dated long distance for 11 months before getting engaged. (And by "long distance", I mean that he was in a different country every month, on a trip called "The World Race".)


It was really difficult. We actually had very little time together, in person, to fall in love. We learned to love each other while we were apart - waiting to be together.


And so, the phrase "Love is Waiting" seemed appropriate for this shoot. We are here waiting, and our daughter is half a world away...

We don't even know her yet, but as we wait, we fall more and more in love with her.

Some families have a little empty chair in their home to remind them to pray for their child. 
We have a bunny.


We bought this little handmade bunny when we lived in Thailand in 2011 - long before we decided to adopt from there. I have a big thing for bunnies (Rusty's nickname for me is actually, Bunny!) and the idea was that it would sit on our child's bookshelf someday. Little did we know, that child would be a little girl from Thailand!


Baby girl, we cannot promise you that a perfect family will be waiting when you come home. We cannot promise you that a perfect house will be waiting when you come home. But my darling, we can promise you that so much LOVE will be waiting here for you.