March 28, 2012

Created for Care!

WOW! That's all I can say about the Created for Care retreat! I had the most wonderful, refreshing, and FUN weekend in Lake Lanier, Georgia. I joined 450 adoptive mothers from all over the United States for a retreat that was refreshing and restorative. 1,100 children have been adopted (or are in process) by the mothers that were there this weekend!!!! 1,100!!!!! You could hear all of us catch our breath when Andrea (the amazing and selfless girl who started this retreat last year) announced that number.

I am going to do two Created for Care posts. This one will show pictures from the weekend, and then I'm going to do a separate post sharing the notes I took. I really think they're worth sharing!

My weekend was FULL of meeting other Mommys who I've known through Facebook, blogs, and adoption boards/groups. I was also able to meet some people who read my blog, which was fun (I always wonder if people think I'm different in person??)!

This is Amy, who I know through Facebook and our other mutual friend, Dena. She brought Lukas home from South Korea and he is precious!

Do you recognize this beautiful girl??? Yes, that's Lyndsie (from "A Love Worth Waiting For")!!!!! After a couple of years of talking on the phone, texting, emailing, etc., Lyndsie and I were FINALLY able to meet! I'm not going to lie, it was an amazing and very special moment! More about Lyndsie later. :)

We listened to a panel of adult adoptees. They shareed their experiences and their advice on how to handle certain situations. It was very helpful and interesting!

The super cute centerpieces!

Love this!

This was an adoptive moms Q&A panel. So interesting! Lots of great moms, including Gwen (147 Million Orphans), Shelly (Sixty Feet), Cris, Colleen, Beth (Hope at Home), and Aimee Powell (wife of Mac, who is in the band Third Day). Amazing group!

I LOVED meeting Adrienne! She is the sweetest and I loved spending time with her. We were also told that we look a lot alike several times this weekend!

This is Carissa Woodwyk, and I have a confession - I'm slightly obsessed with her. She was one of our speakers and she was amazing!!! She was adopted from Korea as an infant and has so many insights about what adopted children feel. On top of everything, she's hysterically funny. We all adored her! She wrote a book that I can't wait to read!

A special element of the weekend was "Date with God." It's an interactive experience where you go to different stations and spend time with the Lord. There was a place for you to read the Bible, pray over a large map of the world, sit in front of an altar and simply pray, and there was an area with pillows and cushions to just sit and dwell in the Lord's presence. There was a station where you were asked to sculpt with Play-doh what you believe the love of God looks like (my scultpure shows God embracing me). Then there was a station where you were asked to paint a picture of how you think God sees you. The most meaningful station to me was the prayer request area. You wrote your prayer request(s) on a Post-It note and stuck it to the wall. Then you prayed over several of the requests already there. I was moved to tears reading all of the requests and realizing that there were hundreds of adoptive mommys feeling the same things I do. It was a moment where I felt so connected to this community and not alone. At the end of the Date with God, women were there to pray over you. I always cry when someone prays over me, so it was very special. The woman who prayed over me had a British accent (which made me smile so big) and the one thing I remember her saying was, "Lord, help Ashley to rememeber that you delight in her and you delight in her adoption journey." Powerful.

The super fun (and funny!) Mary Leigh!

I LOVED meeting (and rooming with, and laughing with) April! We really connected this weekend and are very similar in so many ways! Her newly-adopted twins are very special to me because we looked at their file when they were waiting children (we couldn't proceed because they were too close to Evy's age). They hold a very special place in my heart! So thankful for April's friendship!

Worship!

This weekend I got to meet (and cuddle) Daniel and Lyndsie's newest precious baby, Aubrey! She is almost four months old and just beautiful! They also have adopted a son, Ethan, who is Liam's age! These babies are such an answer to prayer!

A big group of the Korean adoptive Mommys who were there this weekend! It was surreal to meet so many girls that I've known only through the internet!

Paula is super sweet! So great to meet her!

Maggie and I were Facebook messaging all the time waiting for our babies in Korea! She was so encouraging during our process!

My wonderful roommates for the weekend - love these girls!

Lake Lanier Lodge was beautiful!


After the retreat, Lyndsie was taking me to the airport. I had lunch with her and her mom and sister, Kendyl. We had the BEST time and laughed so much!

I can truly say this is one of my best friends!


Hahaha this says it all!

I get asked so much about how Daniel and Lyndsie are doing. For lots of reasons, Lyndsie has stopped blogging, but they're doing great and are loving being parents to Ethan and Aubrey. I told her how much people miss her blog. :) I'm so thankful and blessed to call her my friend!

This picture makes me smile so much! I love this family!

I can really say, "For this child, I have prayed!"
Lyndsie and I talked nonstop on the way to the airport and HATED to part ways. I am definitely going to plan a visit where we can talk all we want to! :) Blogging really has been such a huge blessing in my life because I've been blessed with this friendship as well as others. So thankful!
And the whole reason I went to an adoption retreat in the first place.....

......was this precious boy! So thankful for his little life and how he is such a BLESSING to me!
 I'll share my notes from the conference soon! So thankful for a wonderful weekend!

March 27, 2012

Mazel Tov! Fiddler on the Roof

My sister Andrea did such a wonderful job as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof! The cutest thing was that Evy was OBSESSED with the show. On a whim, I decided to take her the first night just to see "Pinka" on stage. She sat through that entire show (3 hours) and loved every second. She was just enthralled. She ended up begging me (she even started crying) to take her back, so on the final night I took her with me again. She was so excited to be there and was just so pleased. Liam has enjoyed watching what I recorded on our camcorder because we just didn't think he'd love a 3-hour show - haha!

Here are pictures from all three nights. Andrea did a fantastic job and got so many laughs. We're so proud of her!

Evy is thrilled to be at the show!




Andrea with Mrs. Venieda, who babysat her when she was a baby. We love Mrs. Venieda!

TRADITION!







Taking her bow!

 
Will and Alyssa made it home for their spring breaks just in time to see the final performance!


March 22, 2012

Restless

Pause my regular playlist to hear the video.

Several months ago, Kodi (who I only know through Twitter/Blogging) told me that every time she heard the song "Restless" (sung by Audrey Assad) on the radio, she thought I should sing it. I listened to it and LOVED the song. It has a really unique chord progression that I really like. A couple of weeks ago I sang it in church. I love what it says - we're restless until we rest in Him.




Gearing Up for the Weekend

As usual, it's been a crazy, crazy week!

After my post about Thirty One, I have had about four people email me asking about becoming Consultants, and one is officially in the process of signing on! I also received my business cards today. :)



So I've been in the process of emailing and answering questions about Thirty One, which has actually been fun. I think my favorite part about it is that I've seen this work for me, but it hasn't been a time suck or taken me away from my family. I'm thankful I decided to do this! Since it has become more than what I even expected, I do think I might start highlighting a Thirty One product on my blog or showing creative uses for the different items. It's not because I want to be a pushy salesperson; I just enjoy that aspect of Thirty One. So if those posts don't interest you, just skip them. They won't be constant, I promise. :)

The biggest thing this week is that Evy Katie has been sick. :( It's been the cold/nasal/cough yuckiness and the worst was yesterday/last night. Her fever never even got terribly high, but it was enough to where she couldn't settle or rest, and she was NOT herself. I spent most of the night back and forth with dosing medicine, cuddling, calming her down (she would randomly WAIL if her nose started running), etc. Even though we were both very tired from it, I was so thankful to be the one caring for her and loving on her. I love giving her all of that extra attention. Today she woke up a lot better, but still not 100%. Thankfully over the course of the day she really got stronger and was smiling and laughing like the Bitty we're used to. :)

Liam has been making a lot of progress with his talking!!! I have videos on my phone of him doing some of his first verbalizations, and once I get them onto the computer I'll share! We get so, so excited every time he mimics a word. If he's in the right little mood, he'll attempt to copy a word if we prompt him. It's adorable to see him sounding out words and putting things together - so rewarding for us AND for him!

Speaking of Liam, this weekend is my adoption retreat! Yesterday I wasn't sure if it would work out because I would never leave if one of my kids was sick. However, Kurt and I both agreed that the worst is definitely over for Evy and that she's doing so much better. Kurt is off work this weekend and knowing that he will be the one taking care of the kids gives me peace (I couldn't enjoy time away if they were with anyone but him or close family!). Also, we know this is a rare opportunity for me to connect in person with other adoptive mothers. There's something really therapeutic about being with people who have gone through adoptions and can relate to all of the emotions that come with it. I'm looking forward to hearing some great speakers and meeting some blog friends in person for the first time!!!

I can't believe it's already Spring! I'm excited for everything that's happening in this season and I'm praying that God really teaches me a lot this weekend.

March 19, 2012

Thirty-One Update

I just wanted to give an update on how my Thirty One business is going. I won't do this all the time, because I've said from the very beginning that I want this to be low-key and NOT annoying (which is usually what I've encountered with direct sales people)! I actually didn't expect to ever write an update because I didn't think I'd have much to report - ha! But since joining in January.....

I've had two catalog parties and 3 independent orders that have totaled $1,264.00 in volume!!!! As a consultant, I get a commission based on those totals. Like I've shared before, I signed on with Thirty One on a whim, simply because I thought the products were cute. I loved the starter kit and the investment was minimal, so it felt "safe" to me.

A friend of mine saw my Thirty One things around the house and took one of my mini catalogs to look at. Soon, she approached me and said, "I've GOT to get that rolling tote bag that's a Hostess Exclusive. I'll do anything to get it!" I told her that all she had to do was host a party where the sales were at least $200 (with Thirty One products, that's usually VERY easy to do!). Based on her schedule, we decided to do a catalog party. She took about 12-15 full catalogs and came over the next week with a $536 party!!!! All from just handing out catalogs to her friends! That was my very first "party" (and all I did was input the orders), and I was blown away.

Then a second friend approached me about having a catalog party. She had done one in the past and already had a group of friends that love Thirty One. Again, she passed out catalogs and today I entered an order worth $579! A lot of the customers were ordering gifts for friends and families. Thirty One really is a one-stop shop.

Also, the CEO of Thirty One just released a March incentive that if you get $1,000 in sales during March, you receive a goody bag valued at over $100. With my two catalog parties alone, I reached the incentive without even really trying!

I know I sound like a commercial, and like I said - I won't do this often. However, I wanted to share that what started as a really random whim for me has become something successful. Catalog parties are a good way to ease into the business, which is what I did. Since those were so successful, I am having my first home party at the end of this month! My friends and I are wearing pajamas and hanging out at my house to eat and fellowship. A few of them have asked me at different times to see my samples, so I'm going to have them sitting out for them to browse. However, I'm not going to give a speech or a sales pitch; I'm just going to let them look and order if they see anything they like. That's why I really like this company and the products - I can do it on my terms and how I feel comfortable.

If you'd like to do an online/catalog party, I can set it up for you and help you earn free products and discounts. Or, if you're like me and feel yourself being drawn to being a Thirty One consultant, you can go to my website and click "Join My Team." I've already had a friend ask me more details because she saw how easy and successful it is. :)

I'm thankful that I took the leap and clicked "Join" back in January - it's been such a great surprise and success for me! I hope you'll take a look at the products and/or consider being a consultant. Sidenote: I've had confirmations from my director that the next catalog in May is going to be AWESOME. Come and be a part! :)

Jessica's Shower

Recently, my friends and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Jessica. They're expecting little Mercy Grace soon and we wanted to celebrate her!
This is the bedding Jessica picked out, so we used the same colors at the shower!



When people came in, we had them address an envelope for thank-you notes, and then they wrote a note of blessing on a blank index card.

The diaper cake I made! I used two ribbons, the pink and then black damask to coordinate with the shower.

The food table!


Props to my friend Heather, who copied a picture off of Pinterest to do the baby carriage!


For centerpieces, we brought glass apothecary jars we had at home and just used coordinating tissue paper in them! So easy! I found the damask candles at target.com!

A friend already had these chair covers and bows - I couldn't believe how forunate we were that they matched the theme!

Me and my friend Courtney manning the entry table!

Here's what I did with the notecards people signed - I made a blessing ring! I had pre-punched a hole in each card, so I strung them on a metal necklace ring (from Hobby Lobby) and tied ribbon in between the cards. This can hang in Mercy Grace's room and it will also be an encouragement to Jessica! I loved something something different than a traditional guest book.

The whole group of hostesses! These are some of my very best friends and it's always fun to do things together. :) Oh, sidenote: 3 girls in this picture are pregnant or in the process of adoption. BABY BOOM!

Congratulations, Stephens family!
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