Tag Archives: adoption

What are you made to say “yes” to? – an interview with Lindsy Wallace

It started with an email and then a necklace she sent me. I quickly became a big fan of Lindsy, her jewelry and the way she uses her business to impact women in developing countries. When I started my summer series showcases readers who are doing amazing things, I knew she had to be in the mix. HINT : there is a special treat for you guys at the end.

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Liz: You are one of the women behind Johari Creations. Tell us a bit about that business.

Lindsy: Johari Creations is a marketplace for handcrafted products made by artisans in developing countries.We seek to come alongside our artisan partners with sustainable incomes, holistic development and shared work and responsibility. We believe amazing beauty can come from poverty and while the artisans handcraft stunning products, it is the artisans themselves we celebrate as “johari” – the Swahili word for jewel.

Endeared to the traditional African wisdom of “Ujima”, we believe our brothers & sisters struggles to be our own and therefore share a collective responsibility to work together towards spiritual freedom, justice and economic stability.

A percentage of all Johari Creation sales is given towards adoption and community-based orphan care. Our products are environmentally friendly and created from local materials in a historically indigenous trade.

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Liz: Is this something you have always wanted to do?

Lindsy: Not exactly. I’ve always had what I’ve called an injustice complex and been a fighter for the underdog.

Our experience with the foster care system and international adoption brought us face to face with homelessness, mental health issues, single mothers/absent fathers, the brokenness of the foster care system, lack of clean water, human trafficking, poverty, lack of maternal health care and drug addiction.

This is where Johari Creations was born – out of my desire to come alongside families, in particular women just like me who desire the best for their children. Only they aren’t like me because they were not born in a country where women are not educated or clean water is not accessible or there is no maternal health care… the list goes on.

So I said “Yes.”. I said yes to starting an online business and celebrating artisans from developing countries around the world because I believe in them and I believe they deserve to raise their children. Thankfully, I found a friend-turned-business partner with over a decade of community development experience, global contracts and a killer eye for design to do it with.

Johari Creations is more than just another online business. The heartbeat of Johari is family. Connecting first world people to third world people one trunk show at a time. Giving ordinary folks like me a tangible way to come alongside parents on the other side of the world so they aren’t forced to put their kids on the street or in an orphanage. So their kids can eat three meals a day and go to school. So the cycle of poverty and broken families can stop with them.

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Liz: Thinking about creating economic stability for women in poverty, running an online shop and having a family on top of that seems daunting. Is it messy sometimes?

Lindsy: Not just sometimes, all the time!

I am a high-capacity person who is not easily overwhelmed but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to shift my focus away from my to-do list and back onto the people in my real life from time to time. Thankfully, I’m an evaluator so I am constantly evaluating things to see if something needs to change, and usually, something does.

I’ve learned to give myself grace and be quick to ask for forgiveness. I also have an incredibly supportive husband and kids who don’t know any better.

Liz: How do you stay motivated when the problem is so big?

Lindsy: My motto is just say “yes” to the one thing in front of me. I try not to get ahead of myself and into the “what ifs” or worry that I am ill-equipped or can’t see the next step. I just offer my “yes” to that one thing and trust that will be enough until the next thing comes along. One “yes” at a time.

Liz: Lark and Bloom readers are dreamers & doers. Any advice for them?

Lindsy: Ask yourself, “What is my one thing?”. What are you being asked to dream? What are you being called to do? Don’t get distracted with the “what ifs”, just offer up your “yes”. One “yes” at a time.

*** In the true spirit of community, Lindsy is offering fellow Lark & Bloom readers 15% off all purchases from Johari for the next five days. Just visit their website, and enter in “larkandbloom” as the promotional coupon code at checkout. (this is not a sponsored post and I do not receive any portion of the sales.)***

LWLindsy Wallace is a Jesus follower, wife, mama, orphan advocate and justice seeker living in Kentucky. Visit her business, Johari Creations. Or check her out social media. Instagram: @joharicreations Facebook: @joharicreations. She also blogs at Light Breaks Forth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come hell or high water. Me and you? We are standing.

Sometimes the battle isn’t about fighting harder, but just staying on the field. Standing come hell or high water. Me and you? We are still standing…

If I could look into your eyes I’d let you know that I see you there. A bit down the road from me. I see you trying your best to hold on with all your might to the little plot of ground you are fighting for. Mustering all your strength to fight against the headwind and recover from the blows that nearly take you out. The reason I see you is because I am here too. Standing on my own plot of ground…

This is a day where there just isn’t anything to do but stand. I sit here with tears brimming in my eyes because this little heart of mine is tired. My feet are sore from trying to claim this patch of land – this promise – for so long. I ache from maintaining uncomfortable postures. Twisting around the obstacles that try to tangle me – bending to keep myself just out of reach from their fatal grasp.

I first came to this place several years ago. Decided to make it my home and chose to see the future with eyes of faith. Chose to believe that God could do the impossible with me here. At first it looked like a great spot for a picnic on my new grassy plot. Lay out a blanket and enjoy the little nest I’d made with yummy food and tasty drink.

Here I would wait until it came to meet me. The promise I was standing on. But it never came.

It was okay for a while because I was surrounded by others just like me. The dreamers and believers who decided to stake their claims in the Land of Not Yet. We were like pioneers in this new land of ours. The minutes turned to hours. Longer than we anticipated but we adventurers always pack extra supplies and faced the unexpected delay with the gusto of a Broadway musical. After all, we wouldn’t be here forever. Would we?

Month after month the strength I found in numbers began to fade. My mountainside friends spotted their dream beckoning them to come and enjoy the new relationship, job, baby, adventure, personal breakthrough, clean bill of health… whatever it was. Their number had been drawn and they got to leave their humble plot to go claim their promise.

And now, here I am. Nearly alone on this mountainside. It’s hard to tell the ghosts from the visions anymore.

Through this foggy sense of no longer knowing how to fight this battle, I see you. I see you out here just like me. Seemingly alone on a piece of ground that once represented all the good things you hoped for, but now only reminds you of all the things you are no longer quite sure of. I know there are more of us, thousands perhaps. But right now, I just see us. You and me. Camping out here. And I hate camping.

Maybe you are one of the ones who packed up your lawn chair awhile ago and are in the middle of everything you dreamed of. If that’s you, I’m glad you got what you were believing for. Sure, I have my bad days and I get envious. But really, really I am glad for you. And while you are finishing off that last party cupcake, say a prayer for those of us still living off our rations.

To my fellow hillside dwellers, I’d like to tell you what I am learning. There is power in standing – remaining. 

“…and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

When your legs won’t hold you up anymore? Kneel- it’s okay to be tired. When your eyes can no longer look for hope through your weary lids? Close your eyes and remember. Remember what led you to that little patch of promise in the first place.

There is nothing we can do to make it happen faster. No way of controlling the weather out here and the situations we have to navigate as we keep believing that someday, someday soon God will come and get us too. Through the heartache, stand. Through the storm that strips of everything we had, stand. Through the calendar days flipping past, stand.

Eloquent speech is not required. A bigger faith is not demanded. Right here? This is about standing friend. Even when we slouch on the heavy days, it’s about standing. Staying right where we are because despite it all, we are people who believe.

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Mother’s Day. Why I will celebrate and why I will cry.

 

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My beautiful mom back when we lived in Russia.

Today in the United States we celebrate Mother’s Day. There will be flowers, chocolates, homemade cards and phone calls to mothers. It is a day we set aside to celebrate and thank the incredible women who birthed and raised us. Mother’s Day is a beautiful thing.

But I have to be honest. I think we sell Mother’s Day a bit short.

Motherhood is worth celebrating.

I will celebrate today with thankfulness at the two little kids in my home. (One of them keeps interrupting this blog post to show me the newest snail he found in the backyard.) Their early morning cuddles, the way I can calm their fears just by holding them, their hilarious thoughts and creative ways of seeing the world. I can not imagine life without them. My children are the best parts of me.

I smile with joy for the friends who get to celebrate their very first Mother’s Day this year. The new babies that this year has brought to sweet friends who spent years longing for them. Happy Mother’s day new mamas. Soak in every drop.

I will honor all the women around me who mother so well. The ones with healthy families, the ones whose children require extra care, the women who look after other’s children as if they were their own. All the women who are brave enough to love a child unconditionally. Especially my own mom – who deserves her own theme song and fireworks to follow her.

Today is also a day with streaks of sadness.

I think about the baby I lost in between my daughter and my son. I wonder what he or she would have been like and who they would have grown into. All the bedtime stories I didn’t get to read and all the evenings snuggling on the couch doing nothing but simply being together. Today there are multitudes of women like me – who ache for the children that are no longer with them on this earth.

Each morning I think about the two children we are adopting from Burundi. Today is the fourth Mother’s Day I will have spent waiting for them to join our family. Gritting my teeth and praying that by this time next year they will be here with me. Fighting the lie that this is one more year lost. So many women feel that way today. One more year gone without the child they were hoping for.

Mother’s Day to me is not so much about honoring the role of mom, but about celebrating the capacity of the women to be mothers.

I have seen motherhood in action and it is a powerful thing. Professionals who advocate and fight for the rights of minors. Moms who sit beside their autistic children refusing to let a diagnosis define them. Nurses who care for the sick and dying. Businesswomen who support projects to improve the lives of others around the world. Those who spend their days intentionally loving and giving despite their own needs. Not all of these women have their own children, but they encompass the definition of motherhood so well.

” Motherhood: is 24/7 on the frontlines of humanity.” – Maria Shriver

To the women who are knee deep in laundry or college tuition bills – thank you for raising kids. For giving them your hours, your bodies and your hearts.

To the women who are meeting today with the ache of loss – thank you for loving so deeply even though it caused you pain.

To the women still filled with longing for the kids you don’t have – I see you. Thank you for not giving up.

There is so much to celebrate today beyond the high-five to the mom in the park (although, that would totally make my day).

Take time to notice the women around you. The women who selflessly pour into children that will never call them “mom”. The ones who will courageously attend another baby shower for a friend even though it rubs on the tender place of disappointment within them. The women who give their days and nights to wiping noses and taking care of their own kids needs. These women are all worth celebrating and support the broader meaning of motherhood. They spend their lives on the frontlines of humanity. They are mothers in their own right.

So to all the women who mother – physically, emotionally, spiritually. This one’s for you babe. Happy Mother’s Day.

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‘Later’ is a dream killer

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I’m about four days into my return from Burundi. Africa left it’s mark on me in so many ways – as it always does. I’m sure I will ramble words here in future posts that explore more of what happened in me during my time there. For now, most of those thoughts are still unraveling in my mind.

There was this phrase though that tumbled across my mind. It popped up when I was sitting with orphans in shelters, listening to drummers up high in the mountains and watching the hippos climb out of Lake Tanganyika. It was there when I laid on my bed under the mosquito net that draped like a canopy over me.

‘Later’ is a dream killer.

All throughout Africa I thought about this – a million reasons that trip shouldn’t have been able to happen. Except we decided that this was the time to move forward with our adoption. For all the reasons ‘now’ seems impossible, it isn’t.

And so we said, not later. Now.

We took a risk. And people showed up. Donations came in to help cover the cost and  a village of people surrounded my husband and helped him take care of the kids while I was away. I found myself thinking how amazing the world really is when we just step outside our front doors and start walking towards the things we feel called to.

That dream we want to chase, the idea we feel destined to birth or the relationships we aspire to build are all threatened by this simple thought. I’ll do it later.

It is true that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and that the future has zero guarantees. But, I don’t think that is what makes ‘later’ so dangerous.

Putting things off until later reveals not only a false view of the future, but a troublesome insight into the way we see our present.

What is wrong with right now?

I am not brave enough.

I don’t deserve it. 

There isn’t enough money or time now. The future will be different.

I can’t handle it yet. There is too much I still need to learn.

I am too afraid. Afraid that I will fail, that I will loose or even worse – that I was not made to do it after all.

There are a million reasons we say ‘not now’. And those are the very reasons that ‘later’ will never happen.

The future version of ourselves is always better. We have more money, we are confident and shake off the haters with a passing glance. Our future selves don’t fear failure or making bad decisions. Our future selves are deserving of good things – weaknesses are a thing of the past. We are no longer afraid of ourselves in ___ years.

The future is where we imagine our dreams can happen.

Our assumption is that things will change by the mere passage of time. But, that isn’t how it works.

The future is painted by what we do today.

We gotta look at all the real reasons we say ‘later’. All of our walls we hide behind or the excuses we make that let us get away with being people we aren’t proud to be. Time doesn’t change the way we see ourselves. We gotta deal with our reasons head-on. If not, today’s excuses will become tomorrow’s excuses.

Yea, we may not be able to do all of our dreams right now. We have families, jobs and financial responsibilities that we need to take care of. However, most of the time it isn’t really responsibility that stops us. It is a belief that right now, we can’t. We aren’t enough and don’t have what it takes.

It is my personal belief that we are all created by God with an eternal destiny within us. We were made for more than haphazard living with idealistic views that one day it will all be different. Each of us holds something valuable. Right now. Today. Even if it is baby steps, we gotta start walking towards something bigger.

Let’s create the things, have the conversations, board the planes and start the businessesLet’s be honest about the lies that tell us that it can’t begin now. ‘Cause we got dreams people. And ‘later’ is a dream killer.

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It’s like a field trip of sorts – but without the permission slip and sack lunch

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I was gonna be all impressive and grown up, but it just didn’t work out. I’ve known this was coming for weeks and had lined out some posts to automatically publish over the next two weeks so you guys wouldn’t even notice that I was in Africa.

Yea, Africa. Life didn’t quite follow my highly-detailed plan this past week and therefore I didn’t get any posts lined out to publish tonight. I sat down to do it now, but my malaria medicine is making me a smidge loopy so I decided creativity probably isn’t a wise attempt at the moment.

So, I’m gonna get personal and just tell you the truth.  I tend to stay away from talking about the ins-and-outs of my personal life on here since Lark & Bloom isn’t really about me as much as it is about us. And it certainly isn’t an adoption or parenting blog. B I’ll briefly take a moment and fill you in on whats happening with me.

This isn’t news really if you follow me on social media, but I’m going to Africa tomorrow. My husband and I have been in the process of adopting for over four years now. It’s been a long journey – a story for another day – but in November we shifted our plans and began the process of adopting from Burundi. We are hoping to adopt a set of siblings actually. I refer you to my previous post about doing the crazy thing.

If you’ve never heard of Burundi, I suggest you read about itI will be giving my paperwork to the government officials in Bujumbura and be introduced to the amazing country nestled in the heart of Africa.

I went to Africa for the first time when I was 15. I have been back twice since then and am beyond excited to return again.

I am unsure if I will be able to blog from there, so we are gonna do something a bit different. I’ll be posting photos from my trip on Instagram and I’d like to invite you along. Its kinda like a field trip of sorts, but you don’t have to sign a permission slip or bring a sack lunch. It should be fun.

Follow me on Instagram @larkandbloom and come to Africa with me. We were made for adventure.

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Adoption Update : Part of our Story

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Well this one is gonna be short and to the point because we gotta leave town in a second for a Crossfit competition. Before you choke on your coffee at that thought, you should know it is my husband who is competing. Not me.

If you are new to Lark & Bloom, you can get a quick overview right hereIf you have nothing else to do today and want to read all my posts relating to our adoption, be my guest.

So, what’s new???

We are on the waiting list for both Ghana & Uganda waiting to see which country has kids that match us first. Here is an update by country:

Uganda: Things will be slowing down a bit with Uganda adoptions. However, there are a few referrals for some boys that may be available in the near future. For those who don’t speak “adoption”, a referral is where you are matched with a child.

Ghana: There has been a adoption ban on Ghana that is supposed to be lifting shortly. Even once it lifts there are new regulations that have to be ironed out and we have been told that there will likely be no referrals for quite some time.

Summary: Ghana has boys & girls, but they are not doing referrals anytime in the near future. Uganda is cutting back on referrals, but there are some boys that will be available.

So, what are we gonna do?

Well,  it has been nearly 4 years since we started the adoption process. One thing we have learned is that God is in control and we are not. His plan may not be what we planned. After a lot of prayer, we have decided to do two separate adoptions rather than adopting both a boy & girl at the same time.

It was a bit difficult to emotionally transition for me, but I am really peaceful about it. The plan is pray that we get one of the referrals left in Uganda and bring our son home this spring.

Then continue to wait until Ghana is processing adoptions again and bring our daughter home. Uganda rarely has females available for adoption, so she will most likely need to come from Ghana.

How can you help?

So nice of you to ask. I’d love it if you would pray with us for these three things. Or if you aren’t a praying kind of person,  you can wish on a star or something.

1. Pray that we get a referral for our son.  – We would love it if we could get one of the little boys that is going to be available soon from Uganda.

2. Pray for Ghana to open soon. At this moment no one seems to know when Ghana will be starting new adoptions again. Could be a few months, could be another year. Pray that God would allow all the new government requirements and changes to work smoothly so that adoptions will start moving again.

3. Pray for provision. Two separate adoptions is quite a bit more expensive than doing both at the same time. We still need quite a bit of money to come in at this point, but we know God’s got that.

Thanks for walking with us through all of this. It has been more of a struggle than we ever thought, but it is totally worth it. Every hour spent & and dollar paid. They are worth it…. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

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an adoption update

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Did you know we were adopting? If you are a newer reader, you probably didn’t. I don’t talk about it here too often. Although I did discuss it on Valentine’s Day. There was the time I mentioned it when I wrote about hope and when I told you about the thing that made me cry. I have gotten quite a few inquiries lately asking for an update, so…here it is!
We have been in the adoption process for three and a half years now. Trying to adopt a little boy and a little girl from Uganda. When we began the adoption journey it was estimated to take approximately a year. After many late nights of filling out forms and gathering countless documents, we were finished. But then we moved to California. 

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And we were underway getting all of our paperwork changed when six months later we moved from California to Texas. Our adoption agency is amazing and got all our paperwork ready for Texas very quickly. A year ago we were so excited to be placed on the waiting list for our kids! Unlike other countries, you are not matched with a child until one of the last steps. But then all sorts of delays happened.

The waiting list slowly moved forward & we finally got to #4 in line! This past week we received an email that the babies home we are adopting from is halting all international adoptions. Bah. I totally cried. I mean, what mama wouldn’t?

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Despite the unforseen turn of events, I know that God is in control and has better timing than I do. It really isn’t anyone’s fault that this journey has had so many twists and turns. Our agency is amazing. Uganda has changed some things along the way, but they have done so in the best interest of the children and that is the most important thing in adoption. I cannot say enough how much I love the country of Uganda.

So, now what do we do that the home we are adopting from is pausing their international adoption program? That’s a great question. We basically have two options:

Option 1 – switch countries and adopt from Ghana instead.

Option 2 – pray and trust God to open up another home for us to get children from in Uganda

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I know that you are not all praying people. But for those who are, would you help us? See, after carrying this for 3.5 years, my heart is a bit tired. I’m so thankful that I am surrounded by people who are believing with us to bring our  kids home. Seriously couldn’t do it on my own.

These next two weeks will be very telling regarding which option we should choose. Would you pray:

1. That God would make clear the path we are to go? And move every unknown mountain that would stand in our way?

2. Pray that God would provide all the remaining finances we need for adoption.

3. Grace to keep pressing in even when it hurts.

This mama would sure appreciate it. I’ll keep you posted regarding what we end up doing. Fully expecting God to do some miracles in these next few months! And we all said….”amen”.

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