Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who is Joy in the Journey: Meet Sarah

I'm Sarah, the newest member of the Joy in the Journey team, and a Jesus follower who is passionate about loving God and loving people. I have a huge heart for adoption, orphan care, and supporting and connecting with adoptive families.

My husband Matt and I have been married for 11 years. He makes me laugh, gets my weirdness, encourages my heart, helps me pursue my passions, and is an amazing father to our children.

We talked about adoption before we were ever married. In fact it was part of our conversations before we even started dating! We always knew adoption would be part of our family, and are so humbled and thankful for the story God has authored for our family.

I’m incredibly blessed that two of the cutest, sweetest, craziest, silliest, and most energetic toddlers in the world (not that I’m biased or anything) call me mommy! Our sons were adopted from Taiwan. They are less than 14 months apart and are biological siblings. Levi just turned 3 and came home December 2011 when he was 6 months old. Ethan will be 2 in August and came home in September 2013 when he was 13 months old.

Life with two toddlers is crazy, messy, and exhausting, but yet also full of sweet cuddles, laughter, and joy. After teaching elementary school for 9 years, I am grateful to now be a stay-at-home momma to my boys. I’m finding that motherhood is simultaneously the most absolutely wonderful and yet hardest thing I’ve ever done!  I am so thankful to my adoptive mommy friends who are helping me navigate this journey and who encourage and support me, who pray for me, and who laugh and rejoice with me.

I've seen just how vital true, deep, Christ centered friendships are to each of us…especially those of us who are walking through the adoption/foster care process and motherhood. I am passionate about supporting, helping, and connecting with other adoptive families. Last fall my heart was longing to be more actively involved in the adoption community and to help others who were going through the adoption and foster care process. My husband and I began praying that God would open up an opportunity for me. Not even two weeks later the original three Joy in the Journey ladies called! I am thrilled to be part of the Joy in the Journey team and absolutely loved seeing the amazing things God did at our retreat last year, and what He is doing through the blog, and in our Joy in the Journey community.

It is my prayer that this ministry will help adoptive, foster, and interested mommas to connect with others who also passionately love the Lord and who are walking similar paths. Our desire is that this will be a safe place where we can come alongside of each other, be real, cultivate relationships, grow and learn, and where we can support, uplift, and encourage one another. It is my prayer that together we will pursue true Joy.

I truly hope that “Joy in the Journey” will not just be a name or catch phrase, but rather reflective of how we, mommas whose lives have been blessed by adoption and foster care, live each step of this life long adoption journey. Let’s walk it together!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who is Joy in the Journey: Meet Shannon

I am 1/3 of the group who sat in the booth that night a year ago, sharing our pictures, shedding some tears, and dreaming up big dreams. Welcome to our blog! 

I am an active, stay at home mama who happens to have been blessed with two of the world’s most beautiful children (and a pretty fantastic husband, if I do say so myself).  

Our oldest, Lili, is about to embark on the big bad world of 1st grade (somebody hold me). Lili was adopted from Taiwan, and has been home with us since she was 8 months old. 

Elijah, who will turn 3 this month, was adopted from Ghana, Africa. We were able to bring him home just after his first birthday, and we will be celebrating his second Gotcha Day at the end of August. 

I am passionate about faith, family and fitness, and I love connecting with others who share my passions. Seeing our vision of an adoptive mama retreat become a reality has been truly exhilarating. My prayer is that, through our blog and upcoming retreat, we will be able to bring a connection to adoptive mamas that is hard to find. Adoption is a beautiful, horrifying, tedious, overwhelmingly glorious process. And who better to share this with than other women who have been there and done that.

I pray that through this blog, and ultimately at our retreat, we can touch on topics not common in most circles. We will hear from experts with all types of adoption experience, including international adoption, domestic adoption, independent adoption, agency adoption, foster care, adult adoptees, etc. I pray that this becomes an open forum to discuss the joy and the heartache that comes with the magnificence of adoption. 

The adoption road is long, and sometimes it can be hard (ok, it IS hard). But our goal is to focus on the joy that comes not only when the adoption process is complete, but through out the entire journey. Won't you join us?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who is Joy in the Journey? Meet Jen

Repost from July 9, 2013 {with a couple of updates}...

I'm Jen, one of the dreamers that felt called by the Lord to help foster meaningful connections for adoptive mamas.  I am a Christ-follower and mother who happens to work outside the home for about 9 months out of the year as a school counselor.  It's such an honor to get to advocate for 4th and 5th graders during the school year in this position and I am thankful for this ministry.  I have been married to an amazing man of God for 14 years and am so grateful for the partnership that we have.  He not only tolerates my crazy ideas, but supports them in every way {by the way, honey, we're planning an adoptive mama retreat and a new blog.  It will take hours and several dinners away from you to plan and carry out.  Thanks for being awesome. <3 }

I have been an adoptive mother for just over two years, a title bestowed upon me when we adopted our son, Bekele, from Ethiopia and brought him home last summer.  My journey to motherhood began several years prior when I gave birth to our daughter, Melia (now 9) and subsequently our son, Camden (now 7).  Adoption for all of us has been an amazing journey and picture of Christ's love and faithfulness.  We are grateful every day that God chose us to be the parents of these three amazing children who became a part of our family in two very different ways. 

Through our adoption of Bek, we made some amazing connections with other adoptive families, a community of people who just "got it".  Their friendships were and continue to be such a blessing in our lives, through the good, the bad, and everything in between on this journey of parenthood.  This, in conjunction with an event that I had the opportunity to be a part of, birthed a desire within me to foster connections in the adoptive community.  I believe that the encouragement of other people who are going through the same family changes as well as from those who have been there, done that (and found JOY through it) is priceless.

And that is exactly what I pray this blog and the retreat will do (and has been doing) for you...encourage, foster connections, open communication, address the tough issues, and ultimately bring you to the joy that can be found through Christ regardless of your life circumstances.  I pray that through it all, you find joy and blessings in this journey of adoptive parenting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We are so blessed to offer an amazing giveaway from Subsidy Shades
Here at Joy in the Journey we LOVE Subsidy Shades!  Not only do we love to rock their shades, we love the ministry and most importantly the people behind this company.  Read their story below...
Hi! We are Melissa, Robert and Jacquie. We are a young family of three, having adopted Jacqueline through infant domestic adoption. Adoption has certainly blessed our lives! In 2012 we started the process and in 2013 our tiny bundle of joy arrived weighing in at just 5 pounds! Our adoption costs have been tremendous. Jacquie’s sweet birthmother is a single mother to four children and had major health complications during her pregnancy. Being the adoptive parents we were responsible for all of her costs during that time. Her adoption cost us nearly $60,000. Last summer Jacquie’s birth family became homeless on the hard streets of Detroit. With the help of family and friends we were able to fly them in to our home, to live with us while we raised funds to purchase them a residence. We were able to get the family a forever home but were unable to reach our fundraising goal. Happy to help, we were put in another tight financial situation. Today, Jacqueline is a thriving one year old. We are starting the adoption journey again! (Are we crazy or what?!) Robert and I are so excited to expand our family through another infant domestic adoption and give Jacqueline a brother or sister of the same race. In order for us to do this, we need your help. We have created Subsidy Shades to help our family (and families like us) who need financial assistance in the adoption process. All proceeds of Subsidy Shades go directly to a fund to help expand our growing family. We love our family, friends and kind strangers so much! Rock those shades and spread the word! Much love! – The Mugar’s
Subsidy Shades mission to raising funds to help create forever families via adoption through stylish affordable fashion. You can contribute to the future of a child. 100% proceeds donated.

So now to the giveaway!

ONE lucky winner will get to pick any pair of shades from Subsidy Shades! 

As many of you know we have been busy planning our 2015 retreat and registration is just around the corner.  Our theme this year is "Intentional".  We believe this means that we are all called to live intentionally, following His direction for our lives.  As a team we have not been able to nail down a bible verse that we feel fits this theme.  So that is where you come into play!  

There are two ways to enter this giveaway:
1. Go to our Joy in the Journey FB page  comment on the post about this giveaway with a verse that you think fits our theme "Intentional"
2. Go to our IG @joyinthejourney2014 and comment on the picture with this giveaway with a verse that you think fits our theme "Intentional"

(If you put a DIFFERENT verse on our FB and IG then you will get 2 enteries.)

Winner will be announced on Thursday, July 17 at 9pm CST. 



Friday, July 11, 2014

What is the Joy in the Journey Retreat?

When the idea for the Joy in the Journey ministry was birthed, it began with a spark of an idea that a retreat could take place in the heart of the country, right in Southwest Missouri.  The idea quickly spun into the Joy in the Journey ministry and has taken on a life of it's own, including not only the retreat, but the blog and social media connections as well.  The various means of connection have served as an amazing blessing to the Joy in the Journey team, allowing us to encourage adoptive families, advocate for adoption, foster connections, minister to hurting hearts, advertise adoption fundraisers, and feature amazing companies through giveaways.

When it comes right down to it, though, the Joy in the Journey Retreat is the one weekend that is the very heart of the ministry.  Following are some frequently asked questions regarding the Joy in the Journey Retreat...

Who should attend the Retreat?

Any adoptive, foster, or prospective adoptive/foster mom

What can I expect from attending the Joy in the Journey Retreat?

You can expect a weekend full of encouragement and connection with other adoptive and foster mamas where you will be poured into and taken care of.  The weekend will include main sessions, breakout sessions, worship times, meals, connection times, and some recreation time.

When is the Retreat?

This year's retreat will be March 27-29, 2015.  We have extended the retreat one night/day to foster additional time for sessions and connections.

Where is the Retreat?

The retreat will take place at Maranatha Bible Camp/Retreat Center in Everton, MO.

How much is the Retreat?

This year's retreat will cost $100.  This includes 2 nights' lodging, 5 meals (dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch), snacks, all the coffee you can drink, and an AWESOME swag bag.

How do I register for the 2015 Joy in the Journey Retreat?

This is the tricky part.  Registration for the retreat will go live on October 24th, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. CST.  If you are planning to attend the retreat, you will definitely want to be prepared to register by purchasing your ticket at that time.  Slots are limited based on space at the retreat center and will go quickly.  Last year's retreat was full within 7 days of going live and we anticipate this year's to fill up even faster.

How do I know this retreat will be worth the trip/registration fee?

Honestly, the best way to answer this question is to have you click here and see for yourself...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What is Joy in the Journey?!

As July is our birthday month, our plan is to revisit some of our initial posts on the Joy in the Journey ministry and reintroduce you to our team.  First up is a repost of our very first post from July 2, 2013, with some updates added in...

We sat in a booth at a local restaurant in our hometown of Joplin, Missouri.  It was April 2012 and the three of us came to dinner with heavy burdens.  Each of the three of us held pictures of longed-for babies in our hands that we displayed as the proud mamas that we were.  Through our laughter and our tears, we shared our journeys with each other, connecting in a way that only waiting mamas can understand.  Our emotions were scattered, but the fellowship with each other, with other ladies who “got it,” was pure refreshment to our souls.

We marveled at how God had crossed our paths and how, after only a couple of hours that evening, we had built a deep bond and had discovered a glimpse of joy through connecting with others on the journey of adoption.  We dreamt big that night, or so we thought.  We knew that the connection and rejuvenation we had received should be shared with other women.  That’s when we realized our common goal: ministering to other adoptive mamas in all stages of the adoption process.

It wasn’t until a year later that our dreams were made even bigger when the Lord revealed how we could best do this in our community.  It was at that time that the inspiration for a local retreat open to adoptive mamas in all stages of the journey was realized.  Once we caught the vision of this retreat, we began to meet and work out the logistics.  Well, the truth is, God began to work out the logistics.  Throughout the process of planning the first ever Joy in the Journey retreat, He showed up again and again, working out the details and confirming that He is in this and that His heart is for this process…both for adoption and for finding and fostering Godly connections.  He is good and He gives us Joy in our Journey, even when things are difficult.

Fast forward several months and we were so encouraged and inspired by the love and support we'd received through the ministry.  The blog had taken off, many gifted writers with a heart for adoption had signed on and shared their hearts, and the ministry was larger than the three of us could handle.  It was at that time the Lord revealed our need for a fourth team member and it quickly became apparent who He had in mind.  When we approached our fourth team member about the possibility of joining us, she immediately said "YES!" and revealed that God had been stirring in her heart for this ministry opportunity.

Our Crazy Team

Our prayer is that this ministry has blessed your heart as an adoptive, prospective adoptive, and/or foster parent.  And, if you are able, our additional hope is that you will join us for our second annual retreat…a place where you will be able to relax, rejuvenate, and make lasting connections that will help to foster joy in your own journey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happy First Birthday {Giveaway}

We're celebrating our birthday over at the Joy in the Journey FB page.

Click here for details and to enter!