Monday, April 2, 2012

Help for Haiti

This month, GFG has donated towards a safe house in Haiti. I have (terrible admission ahead) only recently become aware of the tragedy of human trafficking around the world and I really like the way that this organization is going about looking for real solutions and preventative measures. Please click on this link to see what they are all about and ways that you can help if you are interested.

And, if you are looking for a way to turn your life upside down . . . read Jen Hatmaker's books or blog. That's how I found out about these houses . . . and had the garage sale . . . and donated some money from Gifts from Granny . . . and wondered which of her convictions God has for me as well . . . and if I could ever really enjoy my US Magazine again. (But seriously, some of the best books I have ever read, just be ready to be challenged.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our next gift

I have decided to just let God prompt my heart for gifts. I am taking this process slow because (at the time) there are limited funds and I want to use them well.

This gift, however, is a no brainer because I know that Granny would have wanted to celebrate my mom.

This post is copied from my family blog, Flying Years. I am so proud of my mom and so glad to give in her and Granny's honor. If you are interested in Bethany's gift catalogue or in sponsoring a birth mom or child, please go to their website

Ripples . . .

Yesterday, my sweet mom received a well-deserved award from a local law agency. For those of you who don't know, my mom works for Bethany Christian Services. In short, Bethany is an adoption agency, but what they actually do encompasses so so so so so much more. I could never do as eloquent of a job describing them as my mom did yesterday, but their goal, the heart of this ministry, is for every child to have a safe, loving, permanent home. PLEASE click on this link after you read this post and learn more about Bethany and ways you can partner with them if you feel compelled to. Mom has been an employee of Bethany for almost 21 years, but we first came into contact with them when we fostered a baby when I was 11. We had Jeff for 6 weeks--he came home from the hospital to us. When Jeff left us for his forever family, my heart hurt in a way I didn't know possible as a young girl. After Jeff, we had a little baby named Christopher briefly.

Fostering was just the beginning because Bethany saw gold in my mom and brought her on to do contract work and 21 years later, she has played many different roles in that office. She started working with birth moms. Girls she calls her heroes. And they are heroes. They make the most selfless choice in the world to deny their bodies comfort and lovingly grow another life. Then, they choose to allow grief and loss to become their constant companion as they choose a better life for that baby than they believe they are able to give him/her. I always believed that must be so hard, but when I was pregnant with Caroline, I realized that there is probably not a word in my vocabulary to adequately capture the pain and love it would take to place her in someone else's arms. To trust that 2 strangers could love her and raise her well. To believe that God had a plan for her that didn't physically include me on a daily basis. Heroes.

Mom has also worked with families. She has walked along side couples painfully struggling with infertility. Husbands and wives desperate to become dads and moms. She has partnered with families who are burdened for the orphans of our world--both domestic and international. There are families who have a heart for children that are hard to place because of disability or age or other hardship and Mom has matched them, changing all of them forever.

She stepped into the director role several years ago and now oversees it all as well as going into the community to raise awareness and money to keep this ministry going. It's not an easy job, but she is really good at it. Many days, Mom comes home with red eyes and a heavy heart. No matter which side she is working with, there is deep pain and loss in this process. She has met with adopted kids as well, helping them process the loss they feel because their birth mother chose not to raise them. An amazing life doesn't erase that real wound. Grace and dignity and wisdom allow her to find the right words for all of the people God brings across her path at Bethany. (And, somehow, she still manages to be an amazing and present mom and, now, Nana to us.) Her hours are not 8-5 . . . babies are born at all hours of the day and night. Birth moms don't all live in West Little Rock. But she faithfully treks wherever she is needed.

None of this is news to me. (Or anyone who knows her.) But, it is so nice that someone else noticed her. Of course, Mom hated the attention. We have teased her that we are amazed she told anyone she got the award. She told my dad last week and emailed me. She is just not one to toot her own horn. Which is admirable too. But yesterday, her closest friends and family and colleagues got to witness someone in our community publicly praising her and thanking her for the difference maker she is. They call their award the Ripple Award, because, like the picture at the top of the blog, her life has created ripples. Ripples of blessing and life and healing and hope. Ripples in ponds that might have been stagnant and moldy without her presence.

I know firsthand this is true. She is selfless and motivated to do the right thing even when it is hard. She has compassion and is tenderhearted. I am lucky to have been one of the first ripples. (And I know you well and truly believe this, Mom.)

From a young age, I have known that in some way I wanted to be a part of the fostering and adoption process. Thus far, Josh and I have only felt called to support others doing it. Maybe one day we will be called to do more, but we are thankful for places like Bethany that allow us to participate on many levels. So, in honor of Mom's Ripple award, Gifts from Granny has given a gift towards Bethany's efforts in Haiti and Ethiopia. One of the neat things that Bethany is doing internationally right now is helping equip these countries to foster and adopt their own so that children can be raised in their own culture and, hopefully, grow up to be leaders there. I am excited that there is hope for these children who have been abandoned because of death or disease or famine or poverty to have safe, permanent, loving homes here in America with people like my cousins, Josh and Liz, as well as in their own communities. It's like that song my kids come home from church singing--our God is a big, big God!

Congratulations, Mom! Believe it or not, you deserved the award. And Robert was right, your Saviour is pleased with you. We are blessed to be a ripple and I love you so much.

(And, yes, WAH.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Things to come

I try to post on our family blog frequently each week.  I don't have a plan or schedule for GFG yet. Right now it is sort of on an as led or as need or information arises basis.

I am researching some organizations and listening to my heart as I look for her next gift, and I am excited to say that the donate button is now functioning. If something you read stirs your heart and you want to give, just click the button and you can use paypal or any major credit or debit card. You are welcome to specify if you want your donation to go toward the general fund or a specific cause spotlighted on here. I am also planning a big garage sale with proceeds to go to the fund. We will be accepting other people's "junk" too. I have not selected a date, so please don't bring it by yet :).

If you are just looking for a way for your family to give during the holidays, please check out this Compassion website. We are giving our kids each a sum of money to spend here as one of their gifts.

Thanks for all the encouraging responses to this endeavor. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Granny loved family. And if she loved you, you were family. So many people referred to her as Granny or Granny Bernyce and it warmed her heart.

Two of the people she dearly loved were my cousin, Josh, and his wife, Liz. Granny was my maternal grandmother and Josh is a paternal cousin, so they were "related" by marriage. But she was always fond of him and would be so proud of the choice that he and Liz have made to adopt two Ethiopian orphans. They are already Mom and Dad to two adorable boys, Hendrix and Hudson, but their family wasn't complete. Because of some health complications, God led them towards international adoption. They have been on the waiting list, anxiously anticipating the arrival of their precious girls for almost 16 months. Think about that--that's almost 2 pregnancies of time spent praying, hoping, wondering, dreaming of the little people whom God has placed in their hearts as surely and strongly as He placed the boys in her womb.

It is a delight and an honor to send our first check to them because I know Granny would love to have written the check herself. Josh and Liz, we are so excited for, proud of and inspired by y'all! We cannot wait to meet our newest nieces (even though technically I know that they are 1st cousins once removed). We love them and we love you!

Please keep up with them and The James Initiative through their blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Who she was and what this is

First of all, let me say, Happy Birthday, Granny. It's your 2nd one to celebrate in heaven and I'm sure that it is beyond imagination.

Birthdays provide great opportunities to honor someone, and that's why I chose Granny's birthday as the official launch date for this endeavor. Granny was a generous person. She couldn't bear for someone to hurt or lack for anything. The first time I remember this quality in her was in the 2nd grade at Grandparent's Day. One of my friends was grandparentless for the occasion and Granny couldn't stand the idea of Brooke missing a second of the experience, so she and Pop adopted her for the day. Brooke became one of hers and Granny asked about her frequently for the rest of her life. She loved to give to people--her time (she was always visiting the home bound or chauffeuring her friends to the doctors), her money (she would tell me all the time, "Easy come, easy go--you can't take it with you!"), her love. I can remember her rolling down her window and handing street peddlers money and turning back to me and saying, "But for the grace of God, Rachel, that could be any of us." I always thought she was incredibly rich because of how much I saw her give away.

When Granny died, she left me some money. Josh and I dreamed and despaired over how to spend it. WWGD? What would Granny do? It's been the standard I have used when spending bits of it here and there. We bought a huge sectional for our family room. It was a great purchase because it physically draws our family together and I know she would have loved that. The first year she was gone, I bought all of my kids one birthday present from her with it. (More for my sentimentality than theirs.) And when our washing machine broke, "Granny" bought us a new one. That made me smile, because Granny loved to help with the laundry. She knew it was a very tangible way to love on me. We've tossed around the idea of using it to help with private school tuition, but that never felt right to me because it would probably only benefit one of the kids (and Granny was all about fairness) and when that school year was over and the money was gone, I knew I would feel empty.

What it has boiled down to for me is how to make her money last as long as possible with the most meaning. She wouldn't have wanted me to hoard it (remember, easy come, easy go--you can't take it with you), she would have wanted us to enjoy it (and we have splurged on a few things), she would have wanted us to use it if we needed it (check), but I think the most honoring thing I can do now is spend it like she would have . . . on someone else. The best way I can keep her memory and her money going is by using it for the hurting or the lonely or the needy. I want to donate to ministries that, sometimes, our family budget isn't as available for as I would like it to be (you know with 4 kids and all).

But what if I had a way? What if I had a fund for that? Not a monthly commitment, but the opportunity to see something that stirs me and say, "I can help you!"

Thus, Gifts From Granny. I am attempting to get non-profit status so that anyone who chooses to join me and contributes can receive a tax break, but we are not there yet. GFG is in the early stages of what I hope will be a long standing ministry. I envision us giving money towards causes that were near and dear to Granny's heart.  This blog will also provide an opportunity for me to spotlight any ministry we give money to and announce fundraising opportunities for Gifts From Granny. There is no pressure to give if you read the blog. It can be merely informative--expose you to people and ministries to pray for or point you their own websites where you can give directly to them. There is a donate button on the side of the blog that will be functional sometime this week. Again, I can't offer you any kind of tax break right now for a donation, but of course they are still welcomed and appreciated. I promise that I will be wise and discerning with my ministry choices. GFG has absolutely no overhead or administrative costs. It's "run" out of my house by me, so at this time, 100% of donations will go to out.

Tomorrow, I will share about the first official gift from Granny. It's one I know she would have given money to on her own if she were still alive.

I am relieved to have this opportunity. I know that it's a weird word for something like this, but it is the best emotional description I can give. As soon as I landed on this idea and dream, I was certain it was right because everything calmed within me. I knew that when the last dollar was spent this way, through this ministry, however long it lasts, I would not have to grieve my last thing from Granny being gone. I won't be sad that there is no money left because it won't be gone, it will be invested . . . eternally . . . in things that matter here and in heaven.

So, thank you, Granny. I have the chance to give to people and things that I couldn't have given to without you. I love, love, love knowing you are still impacting lives. And I love you.