An Adoption Story : Journey to Ethiopia with the Long Family

Meet our friends, Andy and Bethany Long. They have two awesome kids, Carter and Piper, and are currently awaiting the arrival of a new addition from Ethiopia. As they were introducing themselves to some new friends in our small group last week, Bethany said they had three kids but one just happens to still be in Ethiopia. 

I love that. 

Their anticipation and excitement for the child they haven't even met yet encourages faith and hope in everyone who hears their story. 

Get ready to have your world rocked by Jesus and the amazing things He is doing across the nations. 

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}


This is their story:

Our story starts the same as any other family's really. We wanted a baby. We had two children and we wanted another child. We had been trying to get pregnant for about three months before we stopped and reassessed the situation. Something didn't feel right. We weren't excited. We were nervous and unsure. This was not the way we had felt with our first two children. So we decided to take some time to think and pray. As we did, the question came up: What about adoption? 

I had a lot of reasons why we should not adopt: I was not a super mom. Only wise godly parents can adopt and I was not in that camp. I was scared. There were too many things that could go wrong. Even with all my objections, my husband and I could not let the question go. We kept talking and thinking and praying. Over the course of the next 6 months or so, God began to take away all of my excuses. 

He began to show me that I didn't need to be a super mom. In fact, there was no way that I could be. I am a sinner. I will fail my children. My hope for parenting any of my children has to be Jesus because He will never fail them. I did not need to be scared because I am not in control. I am also not alone in this task of parenting. Jesus has given me His Spirit. And so slowly everything I had been pointing to and saying, “See, there is no way we could do this,” slipped away. On April 11th, 2011, it dawned on me, that after my fears had been stripped away, all that was left was a little boy who didn't have a mommy - a little boy who needed to be loved. In that moment, I knew that I wanted to love him. It was that simple. There was no turning back then. 

I did not say yes to adoption because I became the mom I thought that I should be or had because I had no uncertainties, but because I saw that Jesus would be enough. My fears didn't need to control me. 

Jesus was bigger than all the “what if's”. 

So, six months of paperwork and 22 months of waiting... here we are. We have had ups and downs in the process. It has taken much longer than we had hoped. But during that time I have seen Jesus provide money through people who love us. I have had to trust that God is good even when it feels like He has forgotten us and our son. I have had to believe that He is working even when I can't see anything happening. Even though it has been hard, it has been a rich time. Hopefully in the next couple of months we will get our referral; which is an email that says “we have matched you with a child”. It will have a file with some facts and a couple of pictures. It may not seem like much but I have dreamed of that moment for 28 months. It will be the moment I see my son for the first time. All the paperwork, all the waiting, will be worth it. I am not going to pretend that adoption will be easy. I have read too many books to be that naive. But I am convinced that this is what I want to do. I want to walk alongside this boy. I want to weep with him over the brokenness of this life. I want to love him. I want to be his mommy. 

And that is the story of our third child. It is different than I imagined it would be. It is a bigger plan than I dared to dream on my own. God is weaving our family together. I know it will be beautiful, not because we are amazing- we are just normal people. No, it will be beautiful because Jesus is doing it.

-Bethany


{photograph by Ginny Webb @ Sleepy Fox Photography}

Jitney's Journeys has created a set of chatter tiles to express the story of their hearts with the scripture of their choosing that has carried them through the adoption process. Half of the proceeds from each chatter tile purchase will be donated to the Long Family as they continue to follow Christ in obedience and come closer to bringing their child home.


We recommend buying a set directly from us (via email) or from Andy or Bethany. However, you can also purchase a set from our Etsy shop here which we had to bump up in price because of fees and shipping costs. However, if you live in Huntsville or are friends / family of the Long's, you can enter coupon code JOURNEYTOETHIOPIA and receive free shipping [in other words, you can pick it up from them or The Todd Nest (the in-home Jitney's Journeys "boutique")]. 

For Life Ministries : Shop with a Purpose

Last week, we had the honor of setting up a table at For Life Ministries' annual Shop with a Purpose. For Life Ministries' mission is "to equip, educate and empower the next generation to meet the needs of the many orphaned, widowed and oppressed through various avenues and programs". The ministry aims "to teach and nurture them in the truth of Christ's unconditional love applied in all situations, regardless of gender, color or nationality." The event was held at an absolutely - breathtakingly - gorgeous home. The home is so beautiful, in fact, that they will be a stop on the Huntsville Tour of Homes for Christmas (which is why they already have a few Christmas decorations adorning the home).

The purpose of the event is to bring awareness to local and international orphans, and to offer opportunities for sponsorships for those children. When the event ends, each vendor donates a portion of their proceeds to the ministry as well. To learn more about For Life Ministries, you can visit their website here or their Facebook page here

We've been keeping late hours and early mornings to ensure that we had everything in place for our booth this year...


We still didn't finish everything we wanted to have out, but I think we had a pretty good selection for customers to choose from...


{The Todd Nest customizable wooden board}
{1 qt. double-sided glass-etched jar}
{Proverbs 3:3 mixed media}
{monogrammed placemats}
{glass-etched mason jars with chalkboard lids}


{single and quadruple wrap bracelets}


This lovely family is the Long Family. They're in the process of adopting a sweet little child from Ethiopia. When they mentioned that they were thinking about starting to raise support soon, we began brainstorming and praying about ways we could help. Thus, the Journey to Ethiopia Chatter Tiles came into being. We sell them in sets of 4 ($20 each) and each chatter tile has a verse that has been instrumental in their adoption process. Jitney's Journeys will give $10 from each set sold to the Long Family as they continue to follow Christ in obedience and come closer to bringing their child home. 

You can read more about their story here

Please email me if you'd like to buy a set of the Ethiopia Chatter Tiles. We can ship them anywhere in the U.S. but we will have to charge a little extra for shipping. The tiles are pretty stinkin' heavy. ;)


{12 x 12 "Hebrews 6:19-20" anchor mixed media art piece}
{our nest chalkboard}
{home sweet home pillow}
{chatter tiles}


{handwritten merry Christmas and gift tags}



{Proverbs 3:3 mixed media art piece}


{12 x 12 "Hebrews 6:19-20" anchor mixed media art piece}


{Proverbs 4:23 mixed media art piece}

Thank you so much to For Life Ministries for allowing us to take part in such an amazing event! They will be hosting a few more Shop with a Purpose events before the year ends. If you'd like to come, email us and we'll give you the details {or you can follow our Facebook page here for updates}.


Guest Blogger : Lindsy @ LMR Photos

Hi, there!  I'm Lindsy and I blog over at LMRphotos.com with my husband, Dan, but as a travelling musician and full-time dad he doesn't show up very often.  I'm a photographer, work at home mom, and we have a kiddo whom the internets shall call "BB", "The BeeBs" or "Baby Bread".

I am so honored that Whitney asked me to post for her while she travels!  I wanted to post about something very near to my heart:  foster parenting!  There seem to be so many misconceptions about foster parenting and I hear some crazy things from well-meaning people so I wanted to give my two cents.  We haven't been doing this long, just a little over a year and a half.  Being foster parents has radically changed our lives and we are beyond blessed by all that God has done for us. I've been getting some great questions in response to our Why We Became Foster Parents post so if you're interested go ahead and check that out and ask us anything!



Becoming a foster parent:  While you do have to pass a background check and complete an application and interview process, you don't have to be a lot of things that you might think you need to be! Race, ethnic background, and income level are not an issue for foster care. You dont have to be rich, married, a homeowner or live in a huge house and you can be a first- time parent.  We were licensed in 90 days and start receiving calls right away!  There are so many kids in the system that it doesn't take long.  This is awesome for adoption-minded families that may not want to wait months or years for a private agency.  As far as costs and services, our kiddo gets free daycare, food assistance, therapy and tons of hand-me-downs.  The stipend that you do get paid is, um, well, not much so you can guarantee that no one is signing up for foster care to make the big bucks.  Which is a good thing because it means that we're all doing it because we want to. 

Attachment:  To be honest, my love for BB was pretty shallow at first but it has grown as he's attached to us and we to him. When it comes to foster parenting, you can never hold back your love for these kids. These kids desperately need to know that they are loved whether they're with you for a day, week, year, or forever. We were told by a long- time foster-mom, "You are the adults, you can handle the loss and that is never a reason to withhold love!"  Loving just for the sake of loving, loving no matter what, that's true love.  I guess that's what we do. What fostering a child has done for me and my heart has been life-changing. Being a foster parent has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I'm taking care of someone's child, loving him as my own, attempting to give him the best childhood possible and showing him that there is a God who loves him. It’s awesome. Simply put.

We are so honored to have gotten many messages from people who have told us they're considering foster care now, too! That is the best news! If you feel a little tugging at your heart strings, please consider becoming a foster parent or donating your time/resources/hand-me-downs to a foster family. It is truly the best gift you can give a child.  If you want to know more, find a local agency and start asking questions and feel free to contact us, too!  




Have we American-ized "Blessings"?

As a lead-in to our Mt. of Beatitudes post, we wanted to share you some real-time life ponderings in the world of Jitney...

I (Whitney) confess that until lately, have been terribly guilty of considering material things as blessings. Yes, I blame it, in part, on the American culture and even a little on the Southern culture. "Why, bless your little heart!" ;)

My sweet husband approached me the other day with a simple thought: Why do we consider a nice house or a hefty sum of money in the bank a blessing? What about people in Africa who have no shelter to sleep under but still praise Jesus for their blessings?

We ran to Matthew 5 - the documentation of Jesus teaching the multitudes about the Beatitudes.

Side Note: I always pronounced "Beatitudes" as "Beautitudes" until I was about 20 years old. It made sense that these teachings made one beautiful, right? Please tell me you've made that mistake too...

Basically, Jesus is saying that those who give of themselves for His glory, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are persecuted for His sake, who are pure in heart - those people are blessed. And what are they blessed with? The kingdom of heaven, comfort, satisfaction, mercy, the honor of being called the sons of God... a great reward in heaven. We don't see God promising a massive house, a super nice car, or even clothes (unless it's clothing of righteousness).

You are probably thinking: Well, what would you call my house? Or clean water? Or an overflowing bank account?

We're not sure. In fact, that's where we're at a standstill.

I personally think they are merely things that God has entrusted us with so that we may use those gifts in order to bring Him glory and declare His name. For example: If you have a house with lots of rooms, host a DNow weekend, adopt children to fill the rooms or serve as foster parents.

JD feels a little differently about it but our disagreements lead to some incredibly healthy arguments, so we're OK with that.

However, I was sharing our hearts with my friend and mentor Barbara here in Huntsville. She pondered on it for a couple of days and this is where God led her. It's a question / answer session with Billy Graham and we all agree that he hits the nail on the head with the ideas of "blessings"...

Question: My neighbor claims that God wants to bless us, and therefore if we just have enough faith He'll make us wealthy. Is this what the Bible teaches? If so, I must not have much faith. -- Mrs. H.G.
Answer: God certainly does want to bless us -- but the blessings He promises us aren't material, but spiritual. Nowhere in the Bible does He promise to make us wealthy if we'll just have enough faith. Remember: Jesus Himself was poor, and so were His first disciples. 
What are the blessings He promises us? The first is the blessing of forgiveness. Because of our sins we are separated from God and deserve only His judgment. We also live under a burden of guilt, because down inside we know we haven't lived the way we should. But when we come to Christ and trust Him as our Savior and Lord, God blesses us by taking away our sins and our guilt. The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). 
But God also promises us the blessing of new life -- new life right now, and eternal life in heaven. When we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit, and He promises to begin changing us from within as we submit our lives to Him. Even when hard times come, we know He is with us and wants to help us. That is good news! 
Have you asked Christ to come into your life? If not, do so today. Then thank Him that He is with you every day, and that no matter what problems come your way, you can turn to Him for the wisdom and strength you'll need to meet them.

What are your thoughts on blessings? 

And, honestly, have you ever thought beatitudes was pronounced "beautitudes?" Please say yes. :)

October 26: Chuck Norris in Israel, Adoption and Sappe



Yes. This guy. Chuck Norris. While dozing off to sleep, JD was flipping through the telly when he turned one channel too far. And there he was. Chuck Norris dubbed over in Hebrew. Needless to say, we didn't watch very long (language barrier), but we felt sparks of patriotism just by seeing his face.




Today has been a beautiful day! The past couple of days have been cloudy with a little breeze so it's been somewhat unbearable to lay out.


Today was perfect though. I laid out until the sun began to set, and oh, was the sunset lovely!


I'm really enjoying the book I've been reading. The storyline follows two families: (1) a family from India who gave their daughter to an orphanage because they couldn't afford the dowry to pay her off to a good suitor and (2) the American couple who adopts her. Since JD and I are interested in adopting one day, it's eye-opening to see how both sets of parents deal with the decisions they have made and how the daughter deals with being adopted.

After enjoying the sunset, I sat in the room until JD and Adam got back from work then we went to the Executive Lounge for dinner.

The coffee here is extremely strong!! I always add hot milk and sugar which tames it down a bit. Even JD needs to add a little sugar and he always drinks his coffee black!


Adam says we must try the refreshing Aloe Water here called Sappe.


We will probably get a few bottles tomorrow because the bottled water they serve here tastes tainted, kind of like lukewarm store-brand water. I am embarrassed to admit that I have a terrible habit of being a picky water drinker. Dasani is about the only one I can handle. I have now initiated JD into the water snobbery club. We have found a cheaper solution which I will post about later. Basically, we just bought a Brita water pitcher and use the filtered water in another pitcher. We then add rosemary, mint and cucumber. Mmm. Fresh and delicious!

We're going to try to go to sleep a little earlier tonight because JD and Adam have to leave for work at 9:30 in the morning! It's going to be a long day for the both of them, but I have a feeling that it's going to be a SUPER long day for me! :) We've made some plans to tour up north in Israel Friday and Saturday. It will be nice to get away from the hotel for a little bit. More importantly, JD and I will finally get to spend time together, doing what we love. Exploring. And in this case? Exploring the same steps that Jesus walked. How cool is that!


So friends, we want to know... 


Craving some Chuck Norris jokes now? Click here for a Top 100 List. What is your favorite Chuck Norris joke? 


How do you feel about adoption? Have you ever adopted a child and/or do you feel called to? Want to follow a real life blog about adoption? Follow this Finding Our Way Home. I met LeAnn when my friend Barbara invited me to a Woman's Bible Study in Huntsville. JD and I are both baffled by the way God is moving in LeAnn's family, and we're sure that their story will be an encouragement to all who read it. 


Have you ever tried Sappe? What's the verdict on behalf of your tastebuds?


And... are you a water snob? Which brand do you choose?