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Monday, September 27, 2010

We're Movin' Some Merchandise!

It turns out that it is rather expensive to conduct two international adoptions at the same time. By far, our greatest expense is the travel. Plane tickets to Africa are not cheap -- and we'll have the great privlege of buying two additional tickets for the flight home :-) Also, once we get a court date and travel to Uganda, we anticipate having to stay in the country for several weeks in order to complete the process.

So in an effort to off-set some of this expense, we're planning a big ol' yard sale. We've received donated items from over 10 families so pretty much if you need something, we've got it in our garage.

My crazy and hilarious husband sent an email to someone last night with more detail. He puts it better than I ever could:

When you think of the Owens Family, you no doubt automatically think of two words: "Quality Merchandise". That's right, and we will not be undersold. Our garage currently looks like 2 great ships loaded down with shipping containers chock full of merchandise - one bound for Macy's and the other for WalMart - collided. Then other ships, bound for other department stores, came to see what was up, and they too crashed, pouring their vast bounties out upon our driveway. Despite the wreckage, there are some quality goods to be had here and... did I mention? We will not be undersold.

The deals will start wheeling at 9 a.m. and cease, inexplicably around 4 p.m.

Also, and perhaps the best to know is that The Cupcake Kids will be on hand for those that have, literally, shopped until they dropped and need a quick pick-me-up to get moving again. Which most will want to do because Saturday October 2 is Yard Sale day in our neighborhood and 45 other homes will be holding their own paltry by comparison efforts.

Yep, that's my man in his true form. I love that guy. Hope you can come out and join us on Saturday. If you're local and want our address, please email me -- we're in Buckhead in the Lenox Mall area.
Friday, September 24, 2010

For a Time Such as This

Last night Dan and I, along with 8 other Atlanta couples, hosted the Sixty Feet film premiere. Honestly, it was such an emtional night.

For years, Dan and I have prayed together and prayed with our children that God would give us a family ministry. We offered these prayers up in earnest and with a real desire to serve Him -- but in my wildest dreams I never imagined the plans He had for us. Wow is really all I can say.

The film featured original footage shot by our dear friend, professional filmmaker and fellow Sixty Feet founder, Michael Lines. Just as a side note, Michael is also one of the coolest, funniest and most down-to-earth guys we know. He went to great lengths and major personal expense to capture the amazing images in this film and share the story of the marginalized children of Uganda. Miraculously, he was even granted permission to sleep overnight at Mukisa in order to capture the nighttime footage he wanted. Frankly, I can't believe he even wanted to do such a thing -- much less went through with it.

Our illustrious, and hungry, and tired filmmaker Michael and his patient wife Brooks

Michael heard the story of the children of Mukisa and, out of obedience and love for Christ, he ran to do his part. May we all be so ready and willing when God calls us to use our time, treasure and talents "for a time such as this."

More pictures of the event are below. As I said, it was an emotional night. It was incredible to sit in a room and behold the official, public launch of a ministry that our family has grown to love, eat and breathe. And the film just blew me away. I intentionally did not view the footage beforehand because I wanted to have the whole "movie theatre" experience with everyone else at the event. Turns out I was really unprepared for the emotional impact of such a film -- especially the parts about the two precious ones we're in the process of adopting. My word, I'm actually crying right now just thinking about all of it.

Garry warming up the crowd

Of course, there were cupcakes in honor of the Cupcake Kids

Laura, Matthew and Scott setting up the table of wares

Of course, there were more cupcakes in honor of the Cupcake Kids

The fabled SixtyFeet Plaque

A near-capacity crowd

Me and my new sweet friend Heath :-) Sorry I look kind of scary and squinty-eyed but I just spent the entire evening crying.

It's also incredible to think about the many ways God went before us and put the right people in place so Sixty Feet was able to pull off this 250 person event at such little cost. Many people gave of themselves and in doing so, they gave a voice to some children who otherwise would never get to tell their story.

Thanks so much to everyone who made this night possible, especially my dear, dear friends Garry and Laura Hill who chaired the event and gave hours upon hours of time and energy. Thank you to the many people who took time out of your busy week to attend and support the event. But we give all thanks especially to our Lord Jesus Christ. For without Him and the works He prepared for us, our lives are utterly meaningless. Thank you Lord!

By the way, if you are interested in hosting an in-home viewing party of this film with your friends and family, please let us know. If you attended last night and wish to support Sixty Feet, you can donate anytime at http://sixtyfeet.org/how-you-can-help/.
Monday, September 13, 2010

You Might Not Want to Read This

Last night Dan and I watched a movie about the crisis in the Dafur region of Western Sudan. The images were absolutely horrific and some of the eyewitness interviews made me want to stick my fingers in my ears and run screaming from the room.

I don't want to believe that such evil even exists in the world. I wonder how I can really justify my indulgent American lifestyle, the silliness that consumes my days, the "problems" I think I have in the face of such suffering.

Although the conflict in Dafur began in the spring of 2003, the UN estimates that today nearly 5 million people (out of total population of 6 million!) are still affected by the conflict. Many of these people are still refugees today living in large camps throughout Dafur and Sudan's neighboring country, Chad.

And here's one of those facts that made me want to scream and run out of the room: For families (or individuals) living in refugee camps, someone must regularly leave the camp in order to find enough firewood for daily cooking and warmth. Firewood is not just sitting outside the camp gates -- refugees often walk for many miles over the course of an entire day to find this critical resource. When the refugees venture far outside the safety of the camp, they become vunerable to attack. Often, men are castrated and killed. Women are raped. So families usually make the decision that the women should be the ones to go collect firewood... at least they might live and can possibly return to camp.

Can you even imagine sitting with your husband and having to make such a decision? Can you even wrap your brain around it? I can't. Here's a decision I made earlier today: It's 11:55am and I need to be sitting in the carpool line at my daughter's school by 12:30pm. Should I try to stop by the grocery store on the way or will it make me late? Boy, that's a toughie.

I do have a point in sharing all this. I'm not just trying to make myself and everyone else feel bad. My point is this: we do need to see and hear images and stories such as the ones Dan and I watched last night. We Americans, the richest of the rich, comprise a measley 4.5% of the world's population. For most of us, a typical day in the U.S. is a far cry from the daily realities of the rest of the world. Even the term "extreme poverty" is a bit strange. Poverty is common throughout the world. It's we who are extreme; we are extremely rich.

Next Thursday, September 23, Sixty Feet is offering a glimpse into some of these daily realities of the world's poor. We are releasing an original film, with footage from the last several Sixty Feet trips, which will give viewers an amazing, insiders look at Mukisa. These are shocking and heart wrenching stories of real children and these are images we all need to see. For many around the world, this is life.

The invitation is below. If you live in the Atlanta area and would like to come on the 23rd, we invite you to send a note to film@SixtyFeet.org and let us know. If you don't live in the area and would still like to view the film, we are inviting those who are interested to host a viewing party of your own. A viewing party could include your Sunday School class, your small group, your family and friends in your living room. Sixty Feet will provide the film, supporting information and even talking points for the host to answer questions. Please consider supporting Sixty Feet in this way -- these are realities that we should not be closing our eyes to.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adoption Update v.2

Sorry... I accidentally hit the "publish" button before I'd finished this one... here's the full story:

Anyone who knows me well knows that I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia. It comes and goes. I'll sleep wonderfully for months at a time and then suddenly, the insomnia hits and I'll go 2 or 3 weeks sleeping only a few hours a night.

Insomnia can be truly miserable but I have discovered one good thing about it -- it is one of those things that forces me to realize my complete dependence upon the Lord. I mean at my house, 7am is go-time. Whether I've had 2 hours or 10 hours of sleep, I've got to get up and get going in the mornings -- there are carpools to drive, breakfasts to cook, lunches to pack, babies to feed, hair to braid... and that's all before 8am.

Last night was not a 10 hour sleep night. It was more like a 2 1/2 hour sleep night. And today was a doozy of a day. Two carpools to drive, the baby's 9 month doctor appointment, an unavoidable trip to the grocery store (assuming my family wanted to eat dinner tonight) and an important homestudy appointment with our caseworker. So it's probably obvious that I woke up this morning knowing I was spending my day completely dependent on the Lord. And honestly, that's a good place to be.

Today's meeting was our third and final meeting with our caseworker, Donna. Though our adoption situation is unique -- we are adopting two unrelated, older children and we have young children in our home -- Donna does seem satisified and convinced that Dan and I have the resources and support system in place to handle this adoption. And that is pretty fabulous news!!!

From here, we wait for Donna to write our homestudy which should take 1-2 weeks. Then we file our homestudy and I600s with the USCIS, get fingerprinted and wait for approval. We're going to pay for the expedited processing so we're hoping it will move quickly. And once our paperwork is complete on the US side, we'll just wait for a Ugandan court date. Are you sensing a theme here?? There is a lot of waiting. Which is not really my strong suit.

On a lighter and much more exciting note, our dear friend Scott Harty is leaving tomorrow night for Uganda. He's taking care of some Sixty Feet business but also planning to spend some time with our two favorite little Ugandans (have we mentioned that we're naming them Joseph and Hannah?). We are sending some small gifts and treats for all the children in their foster home and (I'm so excited about this!) a photo album including pictures of our family, extended family, our backyard, family activities and more. Here are the teddy bears we're sending, how cute are they?

So there is a lot of emotion in this house... we are excited about completing the homestudy process, thrilled that a close friend of ours will get to spend time with Joseph and Hannah, nervous about the timing of everything and all that still needs to happen to complete this adoption and also, I'm very tired.
And on top of it all, I've also been feeling a little sad lately. Our baby Charlotte is at such a fun, sweet age. She is a crawler now... we call her our little explorer. She's at that age where she is experiencing so many "firsts." Her first attempt at standing, smelling her first flower, learning to roll a ball for the first time. I love, love, love watching her and consider it such a privledge to be a stay-at-home-mom and behold all of these firsts. But lately, it's been making me sad too. Because I think that for two of my own children, and for millions of other orphans around the world, no one knew, cared about or watched any of their firsts. And that is just wrong.
Anyways, time to get to bed. I know this post is all over the place but that's sort of how I feel these days.