Monday, November 28, 2011

Heart is filled with JOY

I did not mean my post to sound, so sad. Truely I am fine, after I hit publish the first time I was so excited to see $100 donated all within 1-2hrs time but now my heart is filled with JOY as I saw Andrea Roberts who posted on her facebook page without me asking shared Cora Lynne needed $112 (which I was not really paying attention to) to get her over the hump to the $500 mark, well that surely got response as you can see she is now at $583! So that $112 ended up being $195 over the hump! PRAISE GOD!!! I know I just had to let it all out of frustrations, then Gods timing was perfect! Now just $356.50 to go to reach the goal!


Today I am blogging my heart out yet again. The sad truth is this is Cora Lynnes last year on the angel tree. Why is it sad? Because if she has no family by next christmas, she would have gone 2 years without a family & will not be included on the Angel Tree as she will be 6 years old in May. 6 years of her life, lost from a life a family can bring. I know every little bit helps, but still its hard knowing these girls could have already been transfered or are about to be transfered to institutions. She justs sits there lost, wondering when her day might come? It hurts my heart that she has already waited a year & still no family. I know lots of people are fundraising right now & I am not complaining as God has done mighty things already for both girls but still. I am completely lost for words to describe my feelings. Lost, just like these girls. I wonder where the light at the end of the tunnel is? I can't really do a Giveaway again as I want to give my small amount of readers a rest & their is just SO MANY going on right now it would be too hard to do one. I am very thankful my friend Christina Scott managed to get us some dates to wrap gifts at Barnes and Noble, which has already brought $42.50 for Cora Lynne so far & I am sure as Christmas gets closer it will get busier but still I wonder what else more I can do but try? I made $18 in half of my babysitting profits for her too. She is still $356.50 away from her goal, & I am happy for the other kids that have surpassed their goal but I wonder when it will be Cora Lynnes turn? why does it have to be so hard? I trust in Gods timing, but I wonder why I can't do more? I don't want this precious girl to be lost. Lost, in a world that does not treasure her with her extra gift. when will she be the lost get found in this world? Lost in a orphanage in another country. Lost from a loving family. who will love her? Lost from not knowing Jesus Loves her for who she is. who will rescue her?

Her eyes look so haunting to me, lost from happiness. I don't know if she was just not in a good mood while her picture was taken or what but don't let the picture of her scare you. She is just a lost treasure waiting to be found for who she truely is!
Right as I hit publish, I look at the donation box to the right to see $100 has been added in the past hour or so! Thank you whoever you are! Gods timing for sure!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful heart

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to say how thankful I am for YOU! YOU & THE GIRLS ARE WHAT KEEPS ME BLOGGING! I could never have all the words to describe how thankful I am for YOU. When I want to give up, all I have to do is read my comments from my reader friends to remind me this FIGHT WILL BE WORTH IT! As celebrate with my family, I want to say how much all my followers & readers mean to me! Even if you never leave a comment but come here to read my posts even if they are short or not as interesting as others, or if I don't do as good as a job putting things into words. So THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING ME IN MY EFFORTS FOR THE GIRLS! THANK YOU FOR LOVING THESE GIRLS ENOUGH TO HELP ME IN FUNDRAISING FOR THEM! MOST OF ALL THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND!!
Please keep these girls in your prayers & if you happen to want to donate an extra $5to Cora Lynne in honor of Thanksgiving I surely Thank you!
Remember the fundraising tab & the Thankful Hands fundraiser going on!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New fundraising tab!

To keep up with all the fundraising for the girls I have added the new fundraising tab. Right now with the angel tree campaign going my main focus is Cora Lynne, but keep an eye out for an auction for both the girls coming Jan/Feb 2012! Please spread the word & share our facebook page, the girls Reece's Rainbow profiles, blog about them, share this blog, share the new fundraising page,etc as you never know who might be their forever family!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cora Lynne's christmas video

A Reece's Rainbow warrior offered to do a video so I took her up on that offer! Since the video, 7 kids have found their family & 12 have surpassed their angel tree goal! Due to fb regulations, please pass on the link to my blogpost with the video so that more will know about her or you might be able to post the youtube link on fb who knows but I would not risk it. Thanks!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Precious Meeting

Okay so I am finally getting around to post about Meeting Mackenzie for the 1st time! Julia Nalle's post inspired me to get around to posting this one so here it goes. So most of you know I helped fundraise for Mackenzie known as "Lydiah" on Reece's Rainbow back in June by doing a Yard Sale for her family, the Mickschls as well as the Millers. I first found out about their family when I followed their journey as they adopted her brother, John David known as "Liam" on Reece's Rainbow. A few months or weeks after they got home with him, I get an email from Hansina asking for fundraising advice since she had seen my posts on my blog & saying they were thinking about commiting to her. I was so excited when she told me they had commited & I was so anxious to finally meet a RR family! (I think I might have met Sofia before) So as you recall I got to meet Hansina, John David, & Morgan back in May at the Chickfila fundraiser for Mackenzie. We spent much time as she shared about their 1st adoption, their adoption of JD, about how they saw Mackenzie while they were in JDs orphanage,etc. I felt so connected after we met that I knew I had to help in some way. So, I had a Yard Sale & it was a success! I was so thankful that God helped me to be able to help in a small way. Well I would have been at the airport when she came home in July but I was out of town so I waited. The day I awaited was finally here, it was a little crazy as I was leading the table for Reece's Rainbow at our Step up for Down Syndrome walk but I still was so excited to finally get to meet the 1st of the kids I had helped. I managed not to get emotional but I have no clue if I can keep myself from crying when I get to meet Quinton. The moment came, Hansina pushing the stroller by the table then I saw her. It gave me shivers as I thought is this real? Am I finally meeting this little girl I helped in a small way? I did not want to rush this as she had not been out much since getting home so she can adjust so I stood back a slight bit from the stroller. While my Mom, Hansina, & Christina kept snapping pictures I just reflected at this marvelous girl. She kept staring at me in awe like she knew who I was even before we had met.

Do you see the connection in our eyes? Mackenzie is probably thinking who is this person staring at me? Not, in a rude way but a loving in awe stare of is this really real?

Holding her was even more sureal, I felt I was on top of the world knowing how long I waited & that had she not been adopted she surely could have ended up in a institution. How in the world could her country not appreciate her for who she is?

Meeting Mackenzie makes this fight worth it. Cora Lynne & Celine both deserve what Mackenzie has, a family in a country that do not frown upon people with special needs & treat them with respect.

As in Julia's words, I will keep hollering just like I did for Quinton & meeting these kids you rethink that what you do DOES MAKES A DIFFERENCE BIG OR SMALL!! I will keep the fight for these girls until they have families then I will choose another child & another til THEIR IS NO MORE ORPHANS IN THIS WORLD!!! So whether you are a orphan warrior, prayer warrior, christmas warrior, or in the middle of adopting DON'T GIVE UP!!! Be encouraged, even when fundraising is slow, even if the paperwork is a hassle, even when you want to just give it up, cause God will help you through!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful for Sarah

Today I am thankful for my sister Sarah.
Since her 24th birthday is this Thursday heres 24 Reasons I am thankful for her/what I like about her:
1.That she was born. Over 20 years ago people with Down Syndrome & other special needs were institutionalized right here in the USA & not accepted into society. Thankfully that has improved here but sadly other countries still feel the same way. I also am glad she was born because now sadly nearly 90% of babies with the prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome are aborted.
2.I love her dancing! That girl sure loves to Dance, if you met her or saw the videos you would know she was born to dance!
3.Her passion of disney, she loves playing disney trivia & knows everything their is to know about disney movies! I Love how she loves to sing along & knows all the words to most disney songs. If you play her at Disney Trivia know you will be beat!
4.Loves hats! Man I think she has a hat to wear for every single day of the year!
5.That she looks forward to her Birthday every year! don't we all do? She still says oh my birthday is 6 months away (etc) & tells lots of people that.
6.Her funny Jokes & things she says in her notes to communicate with us.
7.I love how she likes to sing loudly when we are away & come home to her singing.
8.That she is herself & does not care what others think
9.She has accomplished so much in her life, & very proud of her! Through dancing, "acting"/participating in plays, & much more! I will never forget her dancing to I can only Imagine at church. She also did it at the Step up for Down Syndrome walk.
10.Thankful that she lead me to be a part of such great organizations, Camp Barnabas & Reeces Rainbow.
11.That nothing stops her from living her dreams.
12.The dances she & stephanie (my younger sister) come up with are amazing!
13.She was blessed to be born without any health issues that usually come with Down Syndrome such as heart deffects.
14.She adores kids/babies as much as I do! She makes them laugh or giggle unlike anyone else. Her smile keeps babies happy.
15.Her fashion, can be pretty interesting somedays (in a good way!) when she is coming up with her own outfit.
16.Very independent! She has come so far in the past 6 years we have lived here.
17.She shines for Jesus every sunday morning dancing & everytime she dances!
18.Our sisterhood, even though we mostly got along when we were younger & had a closer relationship I am thankful to have an extra special sister. I love you Sarah, & so glad God made us sisters!
19.That she knows how much God loves her & has accepted him as her Lord & savior!
20.No matter, she continues to watch all her and/or stephanies play dvds over & over.
21.Even if she is an adult, she always says she is still has a kid like heart (or something to that likes, I can't remember all what she has said)
22.She loves watching ice skating & reccently enjoyed watching Disney on Ice show which is her annual birthday gift from grandma. This time, all my siblings & Mom had a conflict so it was her idea that she invited me. She thinks I should go back with her & I agree as its been awhile since my sister & I did something together she enjoys.
23.Absoulutely likes to play scrabble! Thats about the only game besides disney trivia that you can get her to play.
24.She matters & makes a difference!!! What else is their to say about that? God gave her an extra chromosome & built her the way he created her to be! We may have our struggles but I would not change her for anything in the world! Is it hard? yes at times but we all are people & all make challenges so she really is about normal as we are.
Happy Birthday Princess Sarah!! Know I love you very much & I am so glad we are sisters! Keep dancing like no ones watching! Love, Leah

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Adoption story: Mcmillin Family

This is story thats near & dear to my heart as Jan is a sweet friend from church & her daughter is in my class at church. Their story began back in 2005, when God told them to adopt:
After a long week at work, we have tickets for a Christmas concert with Mercy Me and Steven Curtis Chapman...While waiting at the stoplight, we debate about going...should we go home or go to the concert? We decide we should go to the concert and little did we know at that concert our lives would be CHANGED FOREVER! We heard a great concert and in addition, we learned of the many orphans waiting for a family to love them. I clearly heard the voice of God calling us to care for one of his children halfway around the world in China. And so began the reason for our journey. Little did they know the long journey they were to embark upon & that God knew he planned who their daughter would be. They thought the process would be about a year but little did they know God had a purpose for their 4 year wait. November 2006:
A year ago we announced to family and friends that we were going to adopt from China. Now, a year later, we expected to have a photo of our daughter to share this Christmas, but we are still in line. I know God has the child chosen for us, I am at peace about the wait. I know Leilani is waiting too. Here's looking forward to 2007 and the year that will change our lives forever.
& yet more waiting continued as they went through the process of adopting their daughter who would be named Leilani.
March 2007:
Well, this is our one year LID-iversary. Did we think we would be here a year later without our little Leilani? Not on your life! How much longer before we meet Leilani? That is the question. The answer: while no one really knows, the estimate is about another 10 months or so….that puts us about January 2008 for our referral. The good news: we are past the halfway point on our journey. Referrals for April are almost here; we will hope for a speed-up and prepare for the rest of the journey. Next year on our LID-iversary, I believe we will be celebrating with our Leilani! In the meantime, we are one day closer to our babies!
Several months still went by. December 2007:
I began to think about this adoption as a journey a long time ago, but I remembered one of our vacations that is an analogy of this journey to our daughter. We wanted to see the green sand beach in Hawaii, but the only way to get there, according to the travel book, was a short 20 minute walk along the ocean to the beach. We brought my parents with us and they decided to stay by the car rather than take the walk. We began the walk with great excitement and anticipation, after all, green sand is very unique, only on this one beach in all of Hawaii. After about 10 minutes of walking against the gale force winds that buffet the shore, we were less excited and getting a little impatient. We really wanted to see the beach, so on we went. After about 30 minutes of walking, we still could not see the beach, we thought, it is just over that next hill and we kept walking. After about 45 minutes of walking, we got really mad at the travel book, how could it lie to us about the actual walking time???? Still no beach. About an hour into the walk, we saw the beach in the distance. We hurried toward the beautiful green beach. It was beyond our expectations, totally green sand and the lovely blue water. As we walked back, the wind against our backs, we made much better time and before we knew it, we were back to where we started, my parents waiting for us. Like this adoption journey, we are blown back by the wind, we struggle with our expectations and yet, in the end, our magnificent children wait for us, like little gems sparkling in the sun.
Yet they still ever so paitentally waited, March 2008:
We have officially been logged in for 2 years. We probably have another 8-12 months to wait. Will the wait be worth it? ABSOLUTELY and without hesitation! I have learned a lot about myself during this journey. I have not always been the most patient person when it comes to waiting for gratification. I do like instant gratification, but who doesn’t? But anything worth having is worth waiting for…and Leilani is worth every second we have to wait. I keep thinking it must be close t the time she will be born, when we get our referral, we will see. Until then, we live our lives and we anticipate the arrival of our gift from God.
Finally the moment they had been waiting for to recieve their refferal of their daughter!
October 2009:
We got the call at 952 AM, We have a daughter, born on 6/16/08, currently in Fengxin SWI. Her name is Feng Xin Zhu which means strong pervasive fragrance and bamboo. We will get updated pictures and information tomorrow. We are very excited.

Then heres her at 14 months:

November 22,2009 they met Leilani for the 1st time

As you can see she was scared of the unknown, who were these strangers anyway?
This was what they wrote:
Well. this is the first time I have had a chance to update with new information. We are officially Leilani's parents! We received her last night at about 5 pm. Let me tell you, everything we imagined came true. She screamed and cried loudly for about a half hour, then we made her a bottle and she grabbed the remote for the TV and it has been peaceful since. She does LOVE the TV (Daddy's girl) and seemed to really enjoy the blow-up beach ball, she even knew how to kick a ball. She found the stacking cups all by herself and made music (sort-of) with them. She is throwing left handed at the moment, we will have to wait and see if that keep up. We ordered pizza in, so she had to join in and have some crust.
She slept like a log last night except for an occasional single cry and immediately back to sleep. This girl does not complain about a wet diaper! No poop yet, but they say that's to be expected. She giggles wildly and loves the fruit puffs, but she wants to feed herself. This morning, we had to wake her up to get ready for the morning-long paperwork. For breakfast, she had watermelon, dumplings, rice and scrambled egg. She wasn't fond of yogurt or congee.
She ran around the waiting room entertaining all in the room. She has quite the spicy personality, but we believe the worst is behind us. I carried her in the carrier most of the morning without much complaint from her. We are trying to equally share the caretaking and sometimes like putting on shoes, it takes both of us. We are tired (of course), but she is doing very well (for less than 24 hours with us) and we are grateful for that. We have a very nice travel group and everyone is helpful and willing to share.
She is a precious little thing and we are grateful to God for his wonderful gift!
Family of 3!

January 2010:
Last New Years, we had 25 days ahead of us before we would get a referral. We thought we would have a summer referral and even that seemed like a long time, but it tuned out to be a fall referral. Everything really worked out beautifully in His time. Leilani was worth the wait and she's the perfect child for us. It is hard to believe we have been home a month already! Leilani has settled in and she has claimed it as her home! She has learned to climb up and down the stairs and close doors. She knows the schedule for the day, running to the bathtub for her evening soak. She likes to dip her face in the bubbles and make a bubble goatee. She loves to climb in the laundry basket and watch the Wiggles. She is so fun, a real little character and we are blessed to have her in our lives.
Leilani's baby dedication January 17,2010:

Now here she is almost 2 years later & striving!

What if they had given up even with the long wait of the refferal? Well, I know for sure I would have missed out on getting to know the sweetest girl whos huge grin & hugs I look forward to every sunday! Jan, I am so glad I followed along with your adoption & that I am blessed to have Leilani in my class! Most of all, I am glad to call you my friend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Exciting News!

First of all the best news is after a comment left by our matching donor I realized I forgot to include that in the total amount made through Celines Giveaway plus $20 cash from a friend so you know what that means??
2nd of all as you can see from the donation box someone has donated $100 more (I know where the $30 came from-thanks again! & the $13 came from donations from the step up for Down Syndrome walk that I put in) to Cora Lynne. If you read my blog, & were lead by the $5 challenge THANKS SO MUCH! I wish I had all the money in the world but I don't so it encouraged me to see more was added to her grant. I love her so much I would give anything to see her have enough funds & a family. If you do read this blog & are the person or persons who donated the $100 please message me (on my blogger profile) as I personally want to Thank you.
OVERALL TOTAL OF FUNDS RAISED FOR CELINE THROUGH CHANGE DRIVE, 2 JBF KIDS CONSIGNMENT SALES, & THE GIVEAWAY IS...$1,642.20! I could never have done this alone without my friends & family!! Even if I never get to meet all those who helped in real life know that your a blessing & I thank you ever so much for helping Celine and/or Cora Lynne! That was all done from August-November, only 4 months! Just imagine what that might do for her future family!
I have many ideas in mind to do locally for Cora Lynne, including baked goodies, & possibly wrap presents with proceeds split between her & Colton as my friend Christina is his warrior. I also have decided to babysit & 50% goes towards her grant so far $13 has been raised for her grant with more soon to come. I am planning on sending fundraising support letters to family & asking for donations for christmas gifts so we will see how well that goes. Stay tuned as I have more exciting posts about my experience with the Down Syndrome Walk & meeting Mackenzie, Oliviafest, & later today my 1st of the adoption story posts in Honor of National Adoption Month. I might try to sneak some posts in about some older kids on Reeces Rainbow who still need families but we will see if I can squeeze it in with all the fun stuff I have to write about LOL! Did you miss me posting or what cause now I am posting like crazy this month?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

$5 challenge!

I am challenging you if you can just donate $5 to Cora Lynnes grant through the donation box that would be great! If just 20 people each donated $5, she would have another $100! Remember donations $35 or more will recieve an ornament! Please don't feel like you have to but if you want feel free.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Angel Tree 2011

Hey Look who now has $30 more to the start of the angel tree! The goal as Cora Lynnes christmas warrior is to raise $1,000. So we have $970 left to go! You can donate to her via the donation box that says Cora Lynne on the top right of this blog or via check. Any donation of $35 or more gets a ornament of her so please make sure you mention you want one. I am issuing a $5 challenge on Facebook here to help raise some funds for her so feel free to join us if on facebook. Even $5 makes a difference! Local friends-I will have a christmas wrapping day (or week if someone wants me to wrap a gift but can't make it)& a Crazy for Christmas Cookie & food kitchen as well to raise funds for Cora Lynne. I have no online fundraising planned as I want to give those who donated to the Giveaway a break plus I have nothing in mind, so a auction/giveaway will be possibly in the near future. I might change up & do another change drive for Cora Lynne or I might try to make some handmade crafts to sell on etsy so look for that coming soon!

The Inspiration

The Inspiration who lead me to advocate & now 5-6 kids have come home or about to come home because of this Precious Little girl named Sofia!

Her adoption has inspired many & for that I am greatful to the Sanchez family!
For you see one day when I was on my moms facebook & one of her friends, Amy M. kept posting about Sofia & I kept getting on cause I wanted to follow their journey to her, after following their blog I knew I had to help the kids on Reeces Rainbow. Sofia keep inspiring as if it not been for you I might not have gotten so involved with fundraising for these girls! Is she not adorable or what? Everytime I have met her she has been so sweet.

1 year ago

1 year ago today, I found out the best news any warrior will hear. I never imagined to hear these words just a few days after signing up as his christmas warrior & the day the angel tree started I saw these words:
Today a year ago I had found out that Quinton had a family. I never could have imagined the friendship Carol & I would have sending her emails.
This is what started it all,
Hi. My name is Carol Miller and my husband and I have recently begun paperwork to pursue Quinton's adoption. I was so excited and overwhelmed to the point of tears when I read your post. We are head over heels in love with this little guy and feel called to make him a part of our family. We cannot express our gratitude enough. We have seen God work in ways this past week that we have never experienced before. Please please pass on our sincere thanks to everyone involved in your fundraisers. If there is an address I could send a card to, I would love that. If you'd rather stay anonymous, that's fine too. You will always mean more to us than you know because your efforts helped us bring our baby home!

God bless you,
Carol and Brian

Before, the boy I loved who could not be mine, orphan waiting for a family to love him & care for him

After has been home since July! Loveable little boy, happy with his parents!

I am so happy that he is home & I hope this year the girls might be too! Please keep praying for them to find families!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Interview with Patti from A Perfect Lily

Here it is the much awaited interview with Patti:
So I have followed along half a year, but for those who have never visited your blog how did it come to you to start writing about Lily?

I started writing letters to Lily when I was 20 weeks pregnant with her. Actually, I started a journal to her in a book when I first became pregnant with her, just as I've done with all of my children. When several markers for Down syndrome showed up on Lily's routine ultrasound, as well as a possible heart condition, I decided to start a blog to journal, so that our family could read about what was happening. We have a large, close knit extended family spread out across the United States, and this was more convenient than making a dozen phone calls after each doctor visit (which were becoming more and more frequent!). I was also very emotional during those months, and I was more comfortable with sharing our ups and downs through a blog than crying on the phone about everything!

I have been wondering this for awhile since I was following when your blog started but how did you find out about Reeces Rainbow?

I hope you're ready for a novel, Leah :)

After Lily was born I became pretty obsessed with blogs about children with Down syndrome. I wanted to see what raising a child with Down syndrome entailed, and blogs gave me that window into life better than any other book or resource. SO while reading other blogs, I stumbled across two blogs: Living in the Light and Saving Sophia. I still remember the night I found these two blogs- I was sitting up in bed nursing (or trying to!) Lily, still sort of reeling a little on the inside about her diagnosis- and here were these moms who were CHOOSING to adopt a baby with Down syndrome. And they each already had a child at home with Ds! It blew my mind. Both Lisa and Jennifer were in the process of adopting their little girls- in fact I believe they were both in Eastern Europe at the time, rescuing them. I stayed up long into the night, scrolling back through their blogs and reading all about their adoption journeys, and my heart was so gripped. I could not stop reading. I wish I could say I immediately started blogging about RR, but the truth is I was so overwhelmed by the pictures I saw of the kids on RR who weren't being rescued, that I avoided the Reece's Rainbow site for months.

A few months later, one of Lily's readers emailed me asking me if I'd heard about the kids on Reece's Rainbow...she pretty much plead their case, saying my blog could have so much impact if I alerted Lily's readers to the plight of these children. I really did not want to go there emotionally, so I tucked that little email away for another day. But God had other plans!!

Shortly after that, my friend Stephanie blogged about a little girl named Olga on Reece's Rainbow. This time when I read Stephanie's words, I didn't turn away. I looked at Olga's face and fell in love- here was this beautiful little girl who had done nothing wrong in life. And she would never know the love of a family if someone didn't rescue her. I started begging Sam to let us adopt her. I cried myself to sleep plotting ways to help her. We gave what little money we could to help her, but I knew it was a drop in the bucket compared to what it would take to ransom her.

One day I read about a little girl named Elizabeth who had been transferred to an institution. That post shook me to the core- I was consumed with the idea that Olga could be transferred if someone didn't rescue her. I pleaded her case to Sam, but honestly there was no way we could have adopted her given the size of our family and our income- we do not qualify to adopt internationally. That night Sam and I watched a video on Serbian mental institutions. We both sat there with tears streaming down our faces, and afterwards Sam turned to me..."What are we going to DO, Patti?"

We talked and prayed and decided that we would focus on just one. We might not be able to save all the kids on Reece's Rainbow, but we were going to do everything we could to save Olga. I got on the computer and Sam got on his laptop, and he started writing emails to every single contact he could think of, asking for help. While he was emailing friends and family, I googled every fundraising idea I could to try to find a way to help save Olga. I stumbled upon- or maybe God lead me to- Adeye's post called The Most Important Post I have Ever Written. I turned to Sam and said, "I just read about a woman who raised $20,000 for one orphan in less than a week by running an iPad giveaway. A family claimed her by the end of the giveaway."

I turned back to the computer and continued reading out loud to him...when I was done I went into the kitchen to wash dishes, and a few minutes later Sam came out. He told me to close my eyes and put out my hands...and in them he placed a brand new iPod touch. It was worth $229 and he was going to sell it so we could buy Christmas gifts for our kids (it was a tight year!)

We had no idea if our little iPod giveaway would work, but we were willing to try. Just a few weeks later readers had given almost $13,000 to Olga, and $3,256 to another beautiful little girl, Kareen. Less than a month after that, two families came forward to claim Olga and Kareen...and that was just the beginning of all that God would do :)

You have been so inspiring to me throughout my advocating for Celine & Cora Lynne, who inspires you to be a better advocate?

Honestly? The families rescuing these kids. They sacrifice so much, they put their hearts on the line, they endure home studies and mountains of paperwork and fundraising, they take the heat from folks who just don't understand why orphan rescue is so important, they basically put their lives on hold until their angels overseas are safely home...THEY are the heroes, and they inspire me to do everything I can to make their jobs easier.

How has having Lily changed your life?

In a nutshell, she has completely changed all of our lives by opening our eyes to the beauty of life. And I say that at the risk of sounding corny or dramatic, but unless you've experienced the blessing of Down syndrome, you probably don't know how true that statement is. We don't take little things for granted, we have a greater appreciation for those who struggle in life, and we value so greatly the gift we've been given in her. She is a GIFT, and I do not deserve her.

I bet its crazy with 10 kids, I don’t know how you (or the Duggars for that matter!) handle that many kids even though I am 1 of 6 kids. I know my Grandpa who was 1 of 9 handled it pretty well. So how do you handle the craziness of life?

LOTS of prayer, my awesome husband who supports me in all of my crazy projects, and a merciful and gracious God. I could not do what I'm doing without the grace of God.
Oh, and chocolate. ;)

Having seen you do many successful Giveaways/fundraisers for Reece's Rainbow what are some of your tips for families or advocates trying to fundraise?

I'm no expert, but here are a few things I've noticed.

One- readers don't owe us anything. They have their own personal needs, their own financial situations, and we would be making a mistake to just expect them to give to our cause just because we think it is worthy. And it is worthy. But there are many noble and worthy causes in the world, and I think we make a big mistake when we try to pressure or guilt people into giving, because we just do not know what others are going through - even five dollars just might be impossible for someone to give. I hope nobody ever leaves Lily's blog feeling pressured into donating. I personally would rather be rallied to a noble cause than bullied into giving.

Secondly- I hope I don't step on any toes here, and this is just my experience...if you're doing a giveaway keep it simple and short. Elaborate explanations or rules, or an overly extended giveaway is not necessarily going to bring in more money. People ARE giving to help orphans, but the prizes are great motivators too! Knowing that you get to find out who won the iPad or quilt or etsy item next week can sometimes be a better incentive than wondering if the winners will ever be announced:) Just my opinion there!

Third- SPREAD THE WORD! Something I've tried to do is get the word out to people OUTSIDE the Ds blogging community. Our little network does not have limitless bank accounts! When I ran the Pure Love giveaway for Peter, which brought in over $15,000, I prayed for weeks ahead of time that God would bring in new readers. Right before that giveaway I ran a little post called Worthy of Life. I had no intention of it doing so, but that post went viral for a few days- Children's Hospital Boston picked it up, and in the matter of two days I had dozens of new readers and potential donors, who had never heard of Reece's Rainbow. Right before the giveaway for Albina I prayed the same thing- God bring in new readers. I entered a blog contest, called Circle of Moms. I hate self promoting BUT, the truth is, these contests bring tons of new traffic, because they open our blogs up to readers outside of our community! Again, Lily's blog got so much traffic prior to the giveaway, that as a result we were able to raise over $5,000 for Albina (plus a matching $5,000 thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor!). Something else I did prior to that giveaway was to contact non-Ds bloggers and ask for their help in promoting the giveaway. Again, I was trying to reach outside of the DS blogging world, to bring our message to others who have never heard about RR. I found three "big" bloggers who were willing to help blog about the giveaway, and we had many, many hits from those sites, and lots of new readers and donations. Facebook and twitter and online forums are wonderful places to promote your giveaways- do not just rely on your own readers to promote the giveaway or give to it! Send emails, print flyers, post it on Craigslist, in a newspaper ad, do everything you can to spread the word.

And PRAY. That should go without saying, but God is the one who brings the increase. Don't I sound like a pastor's wife?? ;) But it's true!

What has been the most memorable moment through advocating?

hmmmm...hard to pinpoint. I think the moment I heard a family had committed to Olga. And then to Kareen. And Peter. And Albina. I was literally shaking from head to toe crying my eyes out when I heard that families had claimed these kids. It never gets old- it's actually a bit like giving birth:) I get high on it!

Just as memorable was watching Kareen (Mia) be rescued. Our whole family was gathered around the computer every day watching all of that unfold- it seemed so surreal that she was actually leaving that orphanage and going home to a was almost incomprehensible that the little girl we had only seen in a picture was a living, breathing child who was being RESCUED, in small part because of Lily's blog. Unbelievable joy.

What has been the hardest thing through advocating?

That's easy. Critics. Just a few, but you would not believe how much their words cut to the heart. Especially because my biggest grief is being misunderstood. I hate to have people think anything bad of me, and when someone leaves a comment or sends an email questioning my motives or falsely accusing really makes me want to quit. How silly! God's really helping me to quit focusing on the few rotten apples that want to ruin the whole bunch:)

Any advice you would like other advocates to know? I know support is such an encouragement myself.

Keep doing what you're doing, Leah. You are a rare and beautiful young lady- someone who would put her heart on the line constantly, by being a voice for these children. Only Heaven will tell the complete impact you had on others lives. You are a hero in my book:)
Thanks Patti for being willing to share & continuing to inspire me to be a better advocate! First of all since Patti, has been advocating for a little boy named Artem I thought I would share his picture with his Reeces Rainbow link cause I know how much he means to her & that he finds a family!

Heres Artems profile link
Please also visit Patti at her blog A Perfect Lily

Giveaway Winners!!!

Just wanted to thank you all so much! Although we did not reach the goal, we came super close & put Celine 1 step closer to finding her family! I mean really $900, thats HUGE & only in 3 months!!! Thanks to everyone who has chipped in funds and/or prizes! Many thanks to our secret contributer who matched the $100 earlier in the Giveaway! Some of these families are adopting themselves & took the time/funds to donate prizes/funds so I will be posting the links below for you to donate if you can as they so kindly shared with me & you their kindness.
The winners are...

Just incase you can't view the video the winners are:
I wished for you book-Christy Hill
Tutu-Judy Altom
Crystal Bracelet & $25 gift chilis gift card-Elaine Hardwick
Starbucks Package (mug & $5 gift card), All Life is Precious Necklace, & Unlocked-Molly Auble
A Special Athlete book & $15 gift certificate to Handi Work for Lily- Carol Miller
Hippo & Adoption Necklace-Christina Scott
2 Handmade bracelets & Weiner dog Print-Denise Pequignot
Rockin my extra chromosome shirt-Amy Peterson
Congrats to all the winners!!! Thank you all for supporting Celine!
The following prize donors please contact me just click on my blogger profile & you should find my email address so I can put you in touch with the person to send your prize to:
Gretchen Thibault
Handi Work for Lily-Sarah
Katerina Morris
Reagen Lynn Inspirations
ALL WINNERS PLEASE CONTACT ME AS WELL SO I CAN PUT YOU IN CONTACT WITH WHO HAS YOUR PRIZE! The following just need to contact me & I will ship your prize (with the exception of christina scott as I can directly give them to her).
Denise Pequignot
Molly Auble (with the exception note of the book)
Carol Miller (only 1 prize will be shipped from me, the other I will put you in contact with the person who is shipping it)
If your not on the list but won a prize please contact me so I can put you in contact with the person who has the prize.
All other prizes will be shipped by me & I will be in contact with those winners shortly. Molly Auble-their will be a bit of a delay with the book as I don't have it yet. It came with a book I preordered, but the store was kind enough to give it to me even though it was out of stock so when I get my book I will make sure to send it to you. Again thank you all! Please keep sharing the blog, their RR profiles, & our fb page For the Love of Celine & Cora Lynne so these girls have the best chance at finding their families! Later I will post about the Angel Tree campaign with my christmas warrior efforts for Cora Lynne but first the Guest Post from Patti from A Perfect Lily. November is sure to be awesome month with adoption stories coming soon in Honor of National Adoption Month! I am back to blogging hooray!!! I am hoping to host another Giveaway and/or auction December/January/February so if interested in being a future prize donor let me know!
Heres the links to the families that have supported Celine even in the midst of their own adoption fundraising so if you can go donate to one or both cause every little bit helps!
Carlene for Katerina & Steve
Mateo for the Moore family
Thank you both for contributing even in the midst of your adoption fundraising! I appreciate you both very much!