Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Memorial

Many of you know my husband's line of work - a contractor with FedEx.

And because we're super proud of it, many of you know our financial status - debt free.

The Christmas season is always bitter-sweet.  During this time, my husband and I usually kiss each other good-bye, and look forward to seeing one another after Christmas because his work gets SO BUSY.  But usually that busy-ness results in a decent paycheck afterwards.  And usually we use that paycheck to pay down our debt.  But no debt this year meant that we were going to use that paycheck guessed it...cover adoption expenses.  Woo-hoo, right?


"Usually" hasn't happened this year.  Sure, I got to see my husband a lot more than expected, but we were prepared and willing to face a hectic Christmas because the end result was going to be a huge blessing to our end goal.   Instead, the contractors prepared for certain projections that were grossly miscalculated, and most of them are asking the same question:  what happened?

Needless to say, I've spent a few evenings crying and then having to confess to my husband, my sister, and one of my closest friends that my faith has been 100% tied up in the money I expected this season, yet hasn't come in.

What a poor testimony I am to my professed faith.  =(

And I continued to wrestle with those thoughts as I sat in the back of church this morning.  I kid you not, I stared at the lights hanging on the wood beams in our sanctuary and talked to God (in my head, of course, because even if I am a doubting Thomas, I can't let other people know...right?) about how I'm upset at Him.  I'm sure it's not very spiritual to be upset with God, but I've found a decent way to justify it for now.  In that talk I had with Him, I told Him He was responsible for restoring my faith, even if I'm to blame for misplacing it. This conversation really did happen.

And then this happened:  I got up during our meet-and-greet time to go to the bathroom.  When I came back, there was a crumpled envelope on the floor by my seat with our last name on it.  The envelope was ripped open and empty but I asked my husband where it had come from.  He handed me the contents that were in the envelope.

It was a check with a donation towards our adoption.

Did it completely restore my faith in God's ability to provide for us?  Embarrassingly, no.  You guys, I'm totally human and I have so many doubts to work through.  But I'll tell you this:  it was a hand on my shoulder from God, saying, "even in your time of doubt and struggle, I am still working on your behalf."  My lack of faith does not limit God's ability to move.

So, to my good friends who gave the donation, you know who you are and more than just thanking you, I want you to know how God was working through your generosity this morning.  More than any dollar amount, your donation was a faith lesson for me.

Why write a post about it?  Because, if I remember correctly, after God led the Israelites across the Jordan, he directed them to build a memorial to Him so that people would remember His faithfulness to them.  Since I don't have 12 stones lying around, I figured a blog post would suffice.  =)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Scentsy Fundraiser!

Wow.  I was unaware it had been almost a MONTH since my last post.   Oops.

In my defense, we just faced a super busy month where 4 out of the 5 of our family members had a birthday (including me!), plus we hosted family for the holidays.  Due to the nature of my husband's business and all the birthdays and holidays, this is the time of year where we hold our breaths and see if we're alive at the end.  So far so good.

A real quick update on our progress:  my youngest daughter completed her physical the other day, which just leaves my husband to do his (scheduled for Monday, I believe).  Just one more thing to check off our list of to-do's.  We also received a call from the agency who is ready to start scheduling interviews between us and the social worker.  Somehow I didn't imagine this happening quite so fast.  I don't know, I guess I thought we'd need a lot more paperwork turned in.  Needless to say, I asked if it would be okay to postpone those until January because nailing down a date in December is next. to. impossible.

And last of all, of her very own accord, my awesome friend Sarah set up an online Scentsy party to raise money for our adoption.  How awesome is she?!?  The cool part is it's RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS so if you're looking for a unique present, here ya go!  It's so simple to order, too.  Just visit her website and look for "Jessie Hughes Adoption Party" on the left hand side of the screen.

I personally have TWO Scentsy's and love them!!

Sarah's Scentsy Website:

Thanks!  And Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Benefit Dinner Edit...

We received another $115 this morning ($100 from an amazing family who wasn't able to make it last night), so our Benefit Dinner grand total is


Someone asked me this morning how much I was hoping to make from the dinner.  Quite honestly, I would have been thrilled with $500. him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory.

Thank you, family and friends, for blessing us so very very much.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Too tired to post...

...but I'm doing it anyway.

Oh, why, you ask? could be that my kids are keeping me awake.  But that's not true because they're all asleep.  No, I'm wading through my exhaustive oblivion to let you know how amazing the Benefit Dinner went.  Stuart and I have not stopped mumbling to ourselves (remember....we're exhausted) about how encouraged we were by the friends and family who made a point to stop by and encourage our efforts.  But along with verbal and emotional encouragement, we were also extremely blessed with financial support.

$1097 of financial support.

Can you say "!!!!!!!"?

Who wants to join me as I jump on my bed in excitement?  We'll just have to postpone it until I rest up.  ;)

Also, we received another $300 in donations from friends and family who couldn't make it to the dinner, for a grand total of $1397!

At times like these I wish there were bigger, better words for saying THANK YOU because, well, I'd use them right now.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let the Home Study Begin!

We received our home study packet on Monday.  This, my friends, THIS is where the adoption process really starts.  The home study is essentially a paper chase to gather every last bit of info into our lives in an effort to prove to the U.S. government that we're suitable to bring a child into our home.  We are also required to log 10 hours of parent training.

Funny, they didn't do this when I was pregnant with my first, second or third child.  =)

As exhaustive as the home study may be, I see the necessity for it too.  Oh, but I found out some relatively good news.  Considering that Russia is a huge country with a large number of adoptions completed each year, I just assumed that it was part of the Hague Convention (a convention that many countries joined in an agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions).  Well, it's not.  This means that our home study, which I priced at $2500, is actually only $2000.

But don't worry folks.  We'll find plenty of unexpected ways to spend that money, such as our need to purchase seven certified copies of our marriage license.  SEVEN!   

Well, and there's that other $40,000 that we need to save up.  =)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our Application is IN...

Forgive the blurry photo...we were in route to the agency when it was taken.  Which, yes, that means that our application has been officially handed over!  I thought it was decently thick, but I know the home study will be thicker, and still nothing rivals the dossier (I know thanks to my friend Sarah's dossier).

We had fully intended on taking this in on Monday, but I wasn't able to pick up the family photos (we needed two pictures of each family member) until Monday night.  Then Tuesday flew by, with the packet hanging out with us in the living room.  Everything was complete EXCEPT my updated passport, however I was simply turning in a copy of my current passport with a note that said my new one would be arriving any day and we'd get them a copy when it did.  So, would you believe it if I told you it came in the mail on Wednesday, just as we were heading out to go deliver our application?  Talk about relief!  So we zapped a copy of it and replaced it with the old copy and took it over.

I'd be lying if I said I was 100% excited about this.  I am thrilled, yes, but you guys, the reality is I am also SCARED TO DEATH.  I told Stuart recently that I didn't realize how little faith I had until I was forced to live in it.  =(   Thankfully I'm also extremely blessed because I've learned that God loves to push us out into the unknown only to meet us exactly where we're at.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Officially beginning...

Can you guess what that is?  It shouldn't be too hard.  =)

Yes, it is Stuart's VALID passport and our agency application.  The application is nearly ready to go - just have to dig out a wee bit more necessary info.  But we'll be turning it in at the beginning of next week.

NEXT WEEK GUYS!!  That's like 4 days away!  Phew!

So please say a quick prayer for us, specifically for application acceptance (though not too worried about that), timing, the financial aspect of the adoption, and peace to reign in our home.

Also, if you'd like to learn more about the steps we have to take and support us on a financial level (in exchange for a delicious dinner!), please consider RSVPing to our Benefit Dinner on November 4th.  We've received a few more auction donations and are well into the planning.  We just need people to come!  As of right now we have about 40 more seats so RSVP soon!!  All who submit their info via this blog will be entered into the door prize drawing (hint hint). =)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I was at a women's retreat this past weekend (which was totally awesome!) and we were given the opportunity to make our own jewelry/key hangers.  It was a really really cute idea, but it involved painting.  Then waiting for said paint to dry.  And, if you're like me, sometimes it involved waiting for the paint to dry TWICE (right - because I'm not satisfied with just one layer of paint; I required TWO layers).  While we were sitting around staring at our projects, someone piped up and said, "it's like waiting for paint to dry..."

That's how I feel about this adoption process. We're working on it, but it mostly involves waiting.  Thankfully God doesn't stop the flow of blessings when we sit and wait.  How do I know this?

Almost two years ago a few families from our church started a small Bible study group.  There are currently three families in our group (our family being one of them), and yet, within those two other families one wife is an amazing cook and has offered to help run the kitchen for our benefit dinner, and the other wife recently put on a birthday dinner the size we're hoping to put on for our benefit.  She is very wise and talented when it comes to decorating and orchestrating the evening, and has offered to take over that area.  I am literally in awe that God would see fit to surround me with the friendship and encouragement of these women, especially as we head into planning our benefit dinner.  Those of you who can make it WILL be blessed!

Also, while I was away at my church's women's retreat, another check came in the mail from an amazing young lady whom we had the opportunity to have on our missions trip 6 years ago.  You know who you are and we send our biggest thanks to you.

my jewelry hanger with an appropriate reminder  =)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mini Check-In....

The frustrating thing about adoption is the timeline.  Things can be so slow-moving.  However, I do want to let you know that I ultimately decided to update my passport.  I know there are plenty of people who get along fine with their maiden-name passport and a marriage certificate, but I do not want this to be the reason we can't adopt, you know?  It's such an easy thing to fix, I might as well.  I struggled with this because it's money I don't want to spend if it isn't necessary, but again, the risk ultimately isn't worth it.  Anyhow, the day after I had settled on that decision, some good friends from church gave us an unexpected monetary gift towards our adoption.  WOW!  I was really humbled and unbelievably blessed.  Then that evening we got another monetary gift from some family members.  More blessings!  That, combined with some more online sales, has boosted our adoption total (as you might see on the side).  So thank you to all who have supported us, either with money or via prayer.  It is so appreciated.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Step 1: Passports

After raising enough money to start the process of an adoption, I emailed our prospective agency and they sent us the application.  I filled it out and my daughter went and spilled soup on it.  What a sweetheart.

Thankfully I have time to redo it because the very very first step in the process is renewing our passports.  Well, technically mine is still valid but it has my maiden name on it.  I used it to go to Costa Rica for our 5th anniversary (if you didn't catch my point, that means I was married then), but somehow I'm questioning whether I should attempt to use it for this situation as we're looking at a lot more flights, airports, and security. I googled it and I've found that some people had trouble with certain airlines in this situation, regardless of showing a marriage license.  Any thoughts on this?  Should I just go ahead and renew (FYI: it'll cost us $110, money I would LOVE not to spend)?

With all that said, here's to our first step.  Cheers!

P.S. For those who are OCD and find it is driving THEM crazy as well, I did add a dot to the "i" in "National."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our second yard sale is over...

Following a very long week of the flu, trying to start school and other activities, and organizing a garage full of stuff, we had our yard sale.  Phew!  We were overwhelmingly blessed by the donations we received so THANK YOU to everyone who gave!!  
Our grand total for this sale was $590 (and some change)!!!

With some money Stuart and I were able to put in, plus some books sales, our grand total has reached 

But even more important than the money has been the emotional support thus far.  We had several friends stop by to shop or say "hi."  We even had a neighbor shop, then come back with stuff for us to sell.  At one point, we started a conversation with a young lady who, along with her husband, hopes to adopt one day.  As she was leaving, she ran up and gave us all the cash she had on hand.  It could have been 50 cents and we would have been thrilled.  There is something very magical and encouraging about knowing people believe in your cause.  I cannot wait to be on the other side of this and see all the little ways God chose to meet us where we were at.  So thank you friends, neighbors, and strangers.  You're unbelievable appreciated.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Update

I'm glad jigsaw puzzles can only be finished one piece at a time.  Imagine buying a puzzle that's already been completed.  That would be ridiculous.  Or wait, they actually sell those - they're called posters.  But the point of a puzzle is not in the picture only.  Not only is there a sense of accomplishment incorporated throughout the process, especially when the last piece is put into place, but studies have proven that working on jigsaw puzzles can have immense long-term effects, strengthening the brain and warding off conditions such as dementia and alzheimer's.

I feel like this adoption is a puzzle for us:  we're working on it piece by piece, and when we reach the end we will be thrilled to see how it all looks.  But for now, we get to rejoice in the small successes as the process works to strengthen our faith.  And, if you haven't noticed yet, we have a small success that we are definitely taking the time to celebrate - we've reached our FIRST GOAL!!!  I feel like this happened in such a short time - a grand total of 5 weeks since our first fundraiser.

Sure, in the grand scheme of things we are tip-toeing across the Sahara, but progress is progress and I believe even the smallest steps deserve recognition, with all glory being given to God.  So praise God!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Financial Update!

Adoptions are expensive.  

International adoptions are REALLY expensive.  

A lot of people have asked just how expensive they are, and I hesitate to say it because it seems overwhelming to even verbalize.  But then it dawned on me that we're going to be doing a TON of fundraising, and perhaps you'd like to know why we're doing so much.   Well, because folks, to bring home a little child from Russia, we are going to have to pay somewhere close to $45,000.  (eek.)

However, as one person so perfectly put it, adoptions follow a sequence of events.  And each event requires different sums of money.  So THANKFULLY we do not have to write a check for $45,000 to start the process.  Instead, we have different goals we'll need to reach at different times.  

As I posted on our Financial Goals page, our first goal is to be able to pay for the application fee and home study.  The home study will require additional fees throughout the process (in excess of the $2500) but I'm sure we'll be able to tackle those as they come.  

On another note, I've been told that as we get further into this process, sharing our financial data will most likely be frowned upon.  I'll do what I can, when I can, but you are always welcome to ask!

And last but not least - Stuart and I started our fundraising less than 3 weeks ago.  I finally sat down and transferred the last bit of donations into our adoption account and we have reached $2,416!!!   IN THREE WEEKS!!!!  

Again, thank you to all who donated for our first yard sale, for those who gave monetarily, and for those of you who have been praying for us.  I have no doubt God has been multiplying our efforts and we've been thoroughly encouraged.  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why Not America?

Stuart and I have always talked about the possibility of adoption.  But it wasn't until last year that we actively started telling people, and it wasn't until last month that we started fundraising for it.

To that end, I'm convinced that all major events have one thing in common: The Question.

I don't know exactly how to define this, so if you aren't nodding your head with enlightenment already, perhaps I can share some examples:

To the bride: Are you nervous?
To the expectant mother:  When are you due?
To the twins (in case you haven't received the memo, being a twin IS a major event):
Are you twins?
To the winner of the Super Bowl:  What are you going to do next?

To the couple pursuing in international adoption:  Why not America?

To be fair, most people are very encouraging and want some honest insight.

Unfortunately there have been others who have been angry or dumbfounded that we'd go to so much work to adopt another country's child, as though America's children are somehow better and more deserving.  In my Cultural Humanities class in college I learned a very important word:  ethnocentrism.  This is the mindset that one's country is superior to all others.  And while I absolutely love my country and the ideals on which it was founded, I absolutely refuse to believe there is a caste system out there for children.  I think it's unnecessary for someone to judge another persons good motives simply because, in their opinion, they aren't good enough.  In the words of a brilliant elephant, "a person's a person no matter how small."  Or where they come from.

This is not to say that I don't believe the children in the American foster children aren't in need of a home.  They absolutely are.   My in-laws and MANY of my friends have fostered and/or adopted within the American foster care system.  They are hero's in my eyes and it is my prayer that many more of these children will continue to be fostered and adopted.  But my husband and I have talked about this, we've prayed about this, and we feel led to adopt a child internationally.    And to be more specific, adopt from Russia.

Why Russia?  Well, that'll have to be anther post for another day.  =)

Author's Note:
I apologize for my vent.  To be completely fair, my husband and I have received more encouragement then we ever expected.  Most the naysayers are simply strangers with a strong opinion.  Hopefully this post will eventually answer all questions and explain our hearts completely, but if you do have questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thank you! Thank you! And Thank you!

Thank you!
Well, our blog has been up for a week now and I just have to give a huge THANK YOU to all the people who have shown their support for our decision.  We have known for well over a year that our family would eventually embark on this journey to adopt internationally, and in that time we've gotten some positive feedback as well as some very negative feedback.  But in this past week, the positive feedback has been overwhelming, and the negative feedback has been non-existent.  Hmmm...perhaps I should extend a thank you to those who don't support our decision and haven't said anything?

Thank you!
Also, our family had a garage sale a week ago and raised a surprising amount of money.  I've told a few people that I honestly believe God was doubling each dollar that we took in because our grand total from the sale was


And THAT was just from the sale!  A dear friend also gave me a ton of collectible glass that I've been selling on ebay.  I have sold just over half of the items and have brought in over $300!!  (I won't know the exact amount until I've paid shipping on all the items.  But a rough estimate right now is $331).  

So far, our grand total is over $1000!!! 

With that said, I owe a HUGE amount of gratitude to all those who donated so freely to our yard sale, and to those who stopped by and shopped.  We are so blessed.

Thank you!
We've also had a couple donors which was a total surprise and a HUGE blessing!!  Thank you!

We are now HALFWAY to our goal for the home study!!  I'm so excited!  And, yes, everything deserves an exclamation mark!  Especially this --->  THANK YOU!!

Love, stuart and jessie

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stuart's Thoughts...

It is official, my family and I are going down crazy street full blast. We seem to think that God wants us to adopt internationally. He also has put it on our hearts to adopt without debt. Sometime when someone says, “God laid this on our hearts” I wonder what exactly that meant or if maybe they were influenced by last night's dinner or some other outside circumstance. Yet we find ourselves in this position following an invisible leader to an invisible child.

My wife and I have talked about adopting as long as we have known each other. It was one of those ideas that floated around, like many others that never amounted to anything, but it has finally taken form. We have had a lot of support and plenty of “Oh WOW”s (which really means, “They let mentally ill people adopt?”).  For our 6th anniversary we went to a couple of adoption seminars to get the ball rolling and got a pretty good idea of how the process works. We left ready to start the process but realizing our next step, or gigantic leap, would be to get a majority of the money to start paying for all of the fees that would come up. While numbers vary $20,000-$40,000 is very normal. So we began to work towards our goal.

Enter, financial planning extreme style. We had always wanted to live debt-free but hadn't quite been able to do it between our growing needs, a new business, and some errors of our own. Last December we worked extra hard (read “over-time”) to make some money and used it to pay off all of our debt except for our family car. We were pretty excited to say the least. Then we were introduced to Dave Ramsey. My wife and I read through his “Total Money Makeover” book which is comprised of common sense, hard work, working towards goals, and stories of people who actually did it. We were off and running. We started doing a monthly budget that accounted for every penny. My wife was the real hero in this as she does almost all of the shopping for household needs. Our next goal was to pay off the car as soon as possible. Not 2 weeks later, after finishing our tax return, we were surprised to find that our return had enough in it pay-off the remainder of the loan. We took it as a completely undeserved blessing from God encouraging us that we were on the right path. So now we were on to start beefing up our savings account for the goals ahead of us.

We are getting real creative in trying to limit our spending and grow together as a family. Instead of getting a family dog (which we would love) we have started dog-sitting. All the dog-kisses and lawn presents at 0 cost. We also have opened our home to international students which has been a blast and is moving our adoption fund in the right direction. Our last project was a huge yard sale.

Our convictions have really been confirmed as we have moved through this process. Two things in particular: debt isn't a necessity and adoption isn't an option.

Debt & Adoption -
Like I mentioned earlier, we felt the need to adopt and do it without debt. Here are my wife's thoughts on the matter.
Well, the final night of the retreat ended with an extended time of worship and prayer and I knew more prayer on this situation could only be good.  So as I silently attempted to word my prayer request just right (tacky, but I was really fearful about how I was even going to ask for prayer!), the same visual kept coming to mind:  this situation was like a giant mountain that I didn't know how to climb, and I didn't have the ability to move.  There was a lull in the worship then and I opened my eyes to see if the prayer and worship time was coming to an end, but no, the worship leader started into the next song, singing, "Saviour, He can move the mountain..."  Of course that turned me into a crying mess.  It wasn't even an answer to my prayer request - it was an answer to my stupid attempt to grammatically format my prayer request!

But then I shared my request with  a couple ladies who had made themselves available to pray.  And before we even started praying, one of them let me know that adopting a child is worth going into debt for, and that we have to be willing to make sacrifices sometimes.  I was taken aback and wrestled with the "wisdom" that she shared with me.  Of course I would be willing to take out a loan, if that was really the only option and God made it clear it was necessary.  But is He not able to provide in a manner that doesn't require 14% interest?  

I spent that night talking with my friend about the incident.  Why would it seem like I was given a promise (God could move mountains) only to be told that debt shouldn't be considered bad in this situation?  Why have my husband and I both been convicted about our debt, and been blessed so richly when we purposed ourselves to get rid of it?  

It didn't take long for my mind to find peace.  The next morning I was browsing through some books when I picked up one entitled "Fragments That Remain." 

 It is a compilation of notes and letters written by Amy Carmichael, a missionary to the children of India.  I flipped open the book, not to be spoken to, but to see how the book was formatted (I'm starting to see an odd pattern), and the page I opened to had the heading "Finance" written in bold italics.  That caught my eye so I read what it had to say:

Are we asking for too much?  But is God poor?  He whose city streets are paved with gold, cannot He give us not spoonfuls only, of the dust of these streets, but handfuls too?  I love the symbol of those streets - gold underfoot, just where it should be.
So long as the word is in the Bible, "It is NOT the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish," so long surely must we continue to save children, 
and therefore we shall have gold enough to save them.

In summary, I don't believe God would give me competing desires.  But I do believe God's heart is for His children, and He wants to provide in a way that will bring glory to Him.  I just don't think a loan accomplishes that goal.  For one, He has provided my husband and I with creative abilities, and I think using those to do fundraising will be a great start.  So look out friends, we're headed on a wild ride!
Regarding the option of adoption for us, it was a no-brainer. Children need a home and we have one. As we were pondering adoption and children, the one cultural mindset here in America that has surprised and saddened us is the number of people we have met that view children as such a burden (even in the Christian community). It is sad that the first question we get asked about our 3 children in 3 years is how expensive diapers were. Yes, children require time and money but so does a house and a car yet most people seem to make the time and finances available for that. That said, we don't believe that everyone has a Biblical command to adopt, however a different command is given.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

It truly seems that caring for orphans, however you tangibly do that, is a biblical imperative. God takes the lead in adoption. It is a theme that runs through the Bible.

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
Rom 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Rom 8:17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thanks for checking out our adoption blog!  For those interested in following along, please feel free to subscribe.  We'd love the emotional support.  And stay post coming soon!