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May 2014

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Little Happies: All About Jack Bauer

May 12, 2014

This week’s Little Happies is officially brought to you by the best show ever…

24-return-img

 Jack is officially BACK!!! As of this past Monday, a brand-new season of 24 began. Jonathan and I have watched all 8 seasons prior to this, so we were more than a little bit excited.

Below is how we rang in the event:

jack cheese wrapersIn honor of Jack Bauer, we bought three jack cheeses – pepper, monterey, and colby.

cheese trayThis, paired with crackers, was dinner. Yup, all we ate was cheese and crackers and I am not one bit ashamed. We sat down in the living room and watched highlight videos from every other 24 season to pump ourselves up for the viewing. It was a lot of fun remembering old episodes and all the great characters. The season premiere finally came on and it was AWESOME. I was afraid it would disappoint, since it’s been so long since the last season. Nope – still the same ole 24 and Jack Bauer.

Without further ado, I present you with some of our Little Happies from the show 24:

–one–

chloe-jackJack and Chloe. Perhaps the most dynamic duo in television history. Whenever Jack is in a pinch and needs anything, somehow Chloe can pull it off instantly…usually by decrypting, hacking into, or analyzing databases.

–two–

david palmer

President David Palmer. If he were alive and running for President of the USA, he’d likely have my vote. Best Jack and President Palmer interaction? Season 4, when Jack had to fake his own death to prevent the Chinese from taking him into custody…

David Palmer: This is probably the last time we’ll ever speak. Jack, you do understand – when you hang up, for all intents and purposes, Jack Bauer is dead.
Jack Bauer: I understand that, sir. Mr. President, it’s been an honor.
David Palmer: Same for me my friend. 

–three–

cordelia virusSeason 3 and the Cordelia Virus.

This reason I remember and love this season so much was that it was perfectly timed with another virus I am sure you’ve heard of – Swine Flu. The very weekend that a friend lent me Season 3 of 24 is the same weekend that I came down with the Swine Flu. All my roommates were out of town. I sat in bed with a bag of Tostitos and a box of Alka-Selzter cold & flu pills while watching the entire season in a span of three days.

Let’s just say the Cordelia Virus I was seeing attack people made my 104 degree fever seem like nothing. I did have occasional panic attacks that my Swine Flu was turning into this made up (or perhaps real?!?) Cordelia Virus. Discerning reality with a fever is hard work.

–four–

kim bauerMost annoying character in all of 24: Kim Bauer – Jack’s daughter.

You wouldn’t have many reasons to believe she is actually related to Jack based on her lack of decision-making ability. Many seasons involve Kim making the worst decisions possible – like getting kidnapped, driving a car off a cliff, and nearly getting eaten by a mountain lion.

But as annoying as she is…her character provides some much needed comedic relief in a show that could cause a heart-attack due to sheer stress.

–five–

collage

The villains of 24! Every season there are numerous bad guys that Jack Bauer hunts down. Every now and again there would be a villain who carried through multiple seasons like those above. Of course – these villains were introduced as the good guys but their malice was discovered over time, usually by Jack.

–six–

jack meme

Last but certainly not least – Jack Bauer himself. Jonathan and I declared a few years ago that Jack has a lot of natural virtue. Yup, Jack needs to meet Jesus and he needs some lessons on how the ends don’t justify the means. But for what he does know…he’s incredibly sacrificial and always willing to put himself in danger to protect and save others, even when they don’t ask or even want his help.

We leave this Little Happies post with a montage of the best Jack Bauer “Where is ______?” moments in 24 history:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9DijlVkIGA

 

 

Infertility, Marriage

How We Plan to Fund our Adoption

May 10, 2014

Some of you may or may not know that adoption can come with a hefty price tag – average being about $35,000. Yowzers.

Most couples don’t just have that kind of cash just laying-around without a purpose.

If you know us well, you know we are incredibly diligent and intentional with our finances. We’ve been thinking about how to fund adoption without debt for a while now. We don’t believe God wants us to pursue debt to grow our family, since He has a lot of negative things to say about debt in scripture. 

Listening to The Dave Ramsey Show one afternoon, I heard an interview with Julie Gumm, author of “Adopt Without Debt” and it confirmed our conviction in this area. Knowing we will not go into debt, we are still left with a few options to grow our family. On this blog, I want to document how we plan to pursue funding for our adoption – for others in the future who pursue a similar journey AND to provide a glimpse for those who don’t know all the ins and outs of adoption.

The agency we are working with carries a price tag of $25,000 for domestic infant adoption with the possibility of a few thousand extra depending on the situation. Now, there is a possibility of pursuing designated adoption (getting matched together with a birth mother ourselves) which would be approximately one-third to half the cost. We will do all we can to pursue designated adoption and we will talk about that below and how you can help us with this!

Without further ado, here is our plan:

1. Budgeting and Savings

Understanding how to be a good steward of your finances is vital and key. I don’t think this step can be stressed enough. Jonathan and I have been on a journey the past couple of years toward financial peace. We read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and facilitated Financial Peace University. We recommend them for everyone who handles money, adopting or not.

Specifically applying this to adoption – Jonathan and I plan to more or less go back to “beans and rice” while we are scrimping and saving for adoption. We’ve already cash-flowed nearly $3,000 from our budget through intentional budgeting and saving. With each step in the adoption process, we will continue to say “no” to wants so we can say “yes” financially to adoption.

2. Adoption Grants

In “Adopt Without Debt” she lists off many adoption grant available out there. She also makes them available on her website.

This summer, we plan to take a couple weeks of accumulated time off so we can dedicate 60-70 hours/week filling out grant applications. We’ll probably camp out at a local coffee shop so we can stay stimulated at all hours of the day through the process. There will not be a grant we qualify for that we will not apply for. We will turn over every stone in due diligence with grants.

3. Adoption Tax Credits

Adoption tax credit laws are changing all the time. This website helped provide me with information on just how important the adoption tax credit can be. For 2014, the maximum adoption credit and exclusion $13,190 per child.

I am not sure how big of a difference this will make on our bottom line…since it’s non-refundable like it was in 2010 or 2011 (jealous of those of you who got back big checks post adoptions back then). Basically we will be able to claim that amount as a tax credit, making our taxable income lower but not really significantly since we aren’t high income earners to begin with. It will be something but really won’t change our situation much, like a refundable credit would.

4. Fundraising

This can be the scary part for some adoptive couples out there. Since Jonathan and I already fundraise our of income this portion isn’t that frightening. We know too many generous and kind people to be afraid of fundraising. We also have watched God provide for our needs time and time again in the most random ways. If adopting is God’s will for our family – the money will come some way or another.

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction…” James 1:27

Sure, we could simply rely on grants, tax credits, and personal budget/savings to do this adoption. But we feel an actual calling to involve others. In our self-sufficient society, we feel God asking us specifically to make ourselves vulnerable in this way. To expose our needs to others – for judgement, generosity, kindness, cruel comments, etc. I have no idea as to what people will think but we are being obedient to God in this, so I can’t care what people think.

This adoption isn’t just a means of growing our family. It can be a way to bring The Body of Christ together in a powerful way to answer God’s call to care for orphans. Who are we to prevent others from being able to answer this call in a concrete way by supporting our adoption efforts financially? For most, this will be the only way they ever have to care for an orphaned child in an up close and personal way. Through financially supporting us, they are giving a child a family.

We aren’t sure exactly how we will pursue fundraising. There are TONS of ideas out there in books, blogs, and on Pintrest. Once we become home study approved, we will take more concrete steps to put together a fundraising initiative.

5. Designated Adoption

I mentioned up above that pursuing designated adoption versus agency domestic adoption is significantly more affordable. As in one-third to half of the cost. It involves locating a birth mother on our own or via family/friends connections and then going to our agency to set up the legal paperwork and proper counseling to facilitate the adoption.

The hardest part of this type of adoption is locating a birth mother. We plan to make an adoption video/profile and set up some sort of social media campaign to let others know we desire to adopt and are looking for any connection to a birth mother out there. If you have any connection at any time to a birth mother discerning adoption, LET US KNOW!

Again, a very vulnerable thing to do but we are convinced that if God wants us to do a designated adoption – a connection will be there. If we are supposed to pursue domestic agency adoption – the connection won’t be there. Time will reveal His will for growing our family.

There you have it my friends. Our basic game-plan on how we plan to financially pursue adoption.

I have experienced many emotions in the past couple of weeks. In any given day I can range from excited and happy all the way down to bitter and resentful. Thankfully the happy times are winning out far more often than the negative. What works me up so much is the seeming unfairness of it all. We’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to have biological children over the past couple years and no baby. Now we are spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to adopt a child but we have no garauntee it will work out. While this is happening – women are aborting their babies, parents are neglecting or abusing their children, drug-addicts are using throughout their pregnancies, and couples everywhere simply try for a baby and end up pregnant seamlessly. All those situations humiliate our infertility and it’s hard to process them in the midst of so much struggle.

By God’s grace we will teeter onward towards His will for our family. Jesus, have mercy on us! All you holy men and women, angels and saints, pray for us!

Infertility, Marriage

Little Happies: Submitting Our Application

May 5, 2014

I thought this week would be riddled with many Little Happies to share since it was Jonathan’s birthday on May 1 and we had some fun parties we were invited to over the weekend….

However we both got sick. I had a 48-hour sinus headache and Jonathan had 102 degree fever/flu/cough thing. So no parties…and no big birthday celebration.

Big change from his last birthday.

Although we did not have any Little Happies to report, we do have one BIG HAPPY to share this week. (MAKE SURE TO READ BOTTOM FOR A WAY YOU CAN HELP)

–one–

app pic

You’re looking at our adoption application!!!!!!!!

It was actually a funny story about how this photo got taken. We went to the local USPS and took the envelope to the counter to purchase postage. Well, apparently after they stamp that “first class”, they cannot return it to you. It’s now officially the USPS property. My heart sank because I wanted to document this entire adoption journey via photo/video.

I looked up at the USPS worker with puppy dog eyes and said, “You may think this is weird but that is our adoption application and we really want a photo of us sticking it in the mailbox.” To which he replied, “Yes, that is weird, but it’s a weird I can appreciate!”

Despite there being about 25+ people behind us in line, he was only one of two people working, AND closing was in a few minutes…he walked out from behind the counter with us to the outside drop box (since he had to watch us drop it in, being USPS property now). Originally I wanted to do a couple photos and even a video of us talking to our future kiddo about this adoption application…but this kind man clearly had limited time and needed to get back to work. I snapped this one photo and in the application went.

After this, we went to the library and rented ten books on adoption. I have already read five of them. 🙂

The journey is officially beginning. I know that this process will likely feel like it drags out and takes for.ev.er. but it will be worth it. Just like that time I walked El Camino de Santiago in Spain. I can draw many parallels from that pilgrimage on this journey through infertility and now through waiting for adoption.

Next steps will be the infamous Home Study and piles of unending paperwork. I can’t wait to tackle it head-on and just get r done.

Want a concrete way to help?

1. Please continue to pray with us in this journey. 

Thank God I am out of the infertility-despair-pit for now…but I still need to grow in patience and trust.

2. Please let us know if you hear of ANYONE thinking about placing their baby for adoption.

Anyone who is pregnant and contemplating adoption for their child. Your cousin’s, brother’s, friend’s, yoga instructor’s…you get the idea.