Thursday, June 26, 2014

Through my eyes

Through my eyes I see smiles,
Kisses & lots of Love

I see her for who she is not her special needs nor her Down Syndrome
She is my sister no matter what
I wish the whole world can see through her eyes
What she CAN DO!
Yes, being her sibling presents it's challenges but what sibling does not have challenges?

I really don't know what my life would be like without her! She inspires me to be a better person & to show that having a sibling with special needs is a blessing no matter how tough it gets. We both are not perfect but we love each other no matter what.

Here's what I shared on my Instagram recently:
I just have to wonder what is wrong with this world?
Why can't other countries understand how much people like my sister & others bring joy to this earth?
I wish our world was perfect but it's not. I just pray continuously for it to get better & for the world to become a better place because of those with special needs.
This is what I want to share as people like her are stuck in cribs all day in other countries & spend the rest of their lives in a mental institution. I'm tired of presidents not putting kids lives first just because they don't think they know what love or family is, I'm tired of a president in a country thinking we are aweful Americans & that orphans are better off without families that are american, tired of countries closing to adoption, most of all I wish they all would know the love these kids have to offer the world.
That's how I see my sister & I hope for the world to be able to see what I see. Not her challenges, nor her special needs, or her Down Syndrome but a loving sister who puts up with her somewhat crazy 5 siblings, a sister who understands even if you think she doesn't, One who lights up a room with her smile, who comes up with creative responses that make us laugh. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To God be the Glory!

Three years ago, God spoke to me & put her on my heart.
I never had advocated nor thought about her before. I was waiting in line at a pizza place to celebrate my Birthday with my friend. We were chatting about some orphans my friend was fond of & I brought her up n conversation. That night I know God whispered into my heart to pray for her.
I don't know why he picked that night or why he told me to pray for her but I prayed for her. For you see this precious girl got unlisted due to a law change of a special needs list under a certain age. This little girl got relisted the next day, as she had reached the age where her special need no longer applied to that list. Only God could have done that timing!
Since he put her on my heart I started by becoming her Guardian Angel warrior, advocating, fundraising & praying her family would find her. 

Fall 2013 she came close to finding a family but they were unable to adopt her. I was disappointed but understood & knew the family for her was out there.
Fast forward to May 30, 2014 when I saw a post on Facebook saying she had found her family. I was so excited especially when I discovered the family adopting her was a sweet family with an inspiring story. 

The Joy it feels when you have been praying for something or someone for so long when it looked so far away from being answered feels like a dream you just can't even begin to describe. Sometimes it's not the answer or timing you wanted as I have watched many times but God knows & has his plan. 
I give all the Glory to him for helping me as I fundraised, prayed, & advocated for this precious girl named "Brandi" & as I continue to pray & help her family bring her home. 
It was never about me, I just listened to what he told me to do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Life's twists & turns, my testimony

This Journey has been no easy picnic but I would not change it for the world. When I was younger I understood that Jesus loved me from all that I got taught growing up in church. I had gone to Sunday School & went to Awana. I accepted Christ into my life when I was about 9-10 years old at awana at my church at the time. Each week I would hear out Children's ministry director talk about asking Jesus into our heart & each week I would think oh I will do it next week. One particular week I knew I could no longer put it off & something just clicked with me that night so I went downstairs to learn more & ask him into my life. My Childhood memories that I can remember are very few but I do remember that day and what I was thinking. Back then I had no concerns or worries, I was just a shy little girl.  

As I grew up I had my share of struggles. My pre-teen to teenage years were my hardest. In the Midst of those years up to my early days of young adulthood I struggled with feeling like I did not fit in, trusting others, making close friends, doubt about myself being worthy/beautiful, & fearful. 

Thing is I had a hard time when I was in youth group cause I could not relate to the topics most talked about. Because of my trust issues sometimes when leaders asked if I was okay I would say I was when honestly I wasn't. Crying in front of anyone was not me. I saved my tears for myself for the most part & with God. The Moments I felt like I could cry I stuffed it inside. To this day I still don't show my emotions but I know I should feel free to show my emotions.  

Through those battles and the ones that soon followed God was busy working on my heart. When I graduated I had no Idea what to do with my life. Summer 2010 took me to a new passion with Orphan advocacy that changed my life forever. Not knowing what to do after youth I joined the Ladies small group (see & still I was shy, feeling like I did not know what to say. 

Summer 2011 would be some of the most painful memories I faced. That summer I'm sure was not all bad but that summer also brought my hardest hurt since my elementary days when I fought with my best friend next door and when her sister hurt my feelings. I was not expecting to feel or experience that pain as I headed to serve at a summer camp. For you see I had many years at that place but during those few days I now realize God had something better for me. Note-It's still a great camp that does good for others & I still support them which is why I won't state their name publicly on this post & none of it had to do with the camp so I have edited any info that might Identify the camp. Some of this story I share shall be kept between me & the pages of my journal, the friends who I have shared the whole story of what went on, & God. I ask that you please respect my privacy of that & don't ask me to share more details. If I want you to know I would tell you but this is what I wrote & was on my heart one day in my journal. This picture was taken on the day I got dropped off before I knew God had a different direction than I had planned.

On a stormy, yucky night he was with a sad, hurt, teary girl as she exited the camp and the next few months to year it would take to mend her broken heart. Part of me blamed myself, wondering I could have lasted longer not getting sick. It might have been easier if I had not gone but then again God knew their was some room to grow in my life. 

As I said that was a hard year as I struggled with feeling angry with the person(s) I felt hurt from and the topic of forgiveness certainly came up more then once. I worked past all that and I forgave myself & that person. Little did I truly know what more lessons he would soon teach me. h

Like I mentioned earlier I knew Jesus loved me, I had accepted him into my life but I still had a stage when I doubted my faith & truthfully felt like I was not going to go to heaven. About mid/late 2012 I went through another point of my life. I felt empty, dried up like I was missing something but did not know what. After I had an opportunity fall through it added disappointment and more heartache which was hard for me leading into 2013. (See
I questioned and wondered why God? Why did he shut the doors to that opportunity? I still will not get why but I trust in his plan in my life. The week of VBS, I expected God to work in kids lives. I did not expect him to change my own. &

God has grown me and made me who I am today of what I have gone through. Without him I just imagine life would be so different. Of course I'm not perfect but I try hard. I never grasped fully the love of God til I moved to California and I guess that's part of why I forever call it home. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

THANK YOU & The Key to Quito: El Regalo (The Giveaway) WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

First of all I want to say a HUGE THANKS FROM ALL OF US who are related to Matthew & I'm sure he would say thank you all if he was not already in ECUADOR!! Yes, HE MADE IT & GOD PROVIDED JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME LIKE I KNEW HE WOULD DO!! Matthew would not have been able to go without the love, support, & prayers of sooo many of you so again THANK YOU!!! From those who donated to those who shared our giveaway, to those who donated prizes, & for the many efforts combined together of all the Hardwick clan to make this Giveaway/raffle the success it was THANK YOU!! I just want to give a HUGE SHOUTOUT TO MY SWEET SISTER, Rebekah she truly has tackled this thing & I could not have organized this without her. Another shoutout to Matthew who has helped with a spreadsheet to make sure all who entered were included & it was done right. Now, without further ado the winners of the Giveaway! Whether you won a prize or not God is the ultimate WINNER HERE & Please continue to pray as he uses Matthew for His glory in Ecuador! Winners will also be personally notified so for their privacy last names will be just initials.
Homemade, Gluten-free bakery item-Jackie K.
1 pound of Matt's Mom's famous fudge-Kimberly G.
1 pound of Matt's Mom's famous fudge-Judd G.
1 pound of Matt's Mom's famous fudge-Kayla K.
1 pound of Matt's Mom's famous fudge-Gina K.
Every day Wristlet-Rachel A.
Mini Zipper Pouch-Denise M.
Little Carry All Caddy-Dr. Ogle
Starbucks 1-Christy S.
Starbucks 2-Cindy M.
Starbucks 3-Bobby M.
Starbucks 4-Pat H.
Cloth Napkins-Diane S.
Starbucks gift card-John P.
Olive Garden gift card-Dr. Jonathan H.
Scentsy Package-Linda G.
Mary Kay Pedicure-Daniel W.
Moms day out-Dr. Burch
Photography Session: Steph-Susan J.
Photography Session: JADA-Yancey B.
Photography Session: Hannah Way-Dr. Johnson
Crystal Pendant-Ethan P.
Tablet-Robert S.
Again CONGRATS TO ALL THE WINNERS! We will try to get your prize out as soon as possible just please be patient with us :)