Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Introducing Brooks Andrew...

Carter and Kate are SO EXCITED that today we can formally introduce you to 20 months of prayer.
20 months ago, God made it very clear to both Blake and me that our family was not yet complete. We weren’t sure what it meant exactly, but we began to pray about it. Around that exact same time, a woman halfway around the world was likely finding out she was pregnant.

13 months ago, we felt a peace and certainty that God had called us to adopt from Holt International’s China program, and we nervously submitted our application. Around that very same time, the woman was likely exploring her options for the child she carried, knowing she could not raise him herself.

Eleven months ago, we were knee-deep in home study paperwork, working on our first garage sale fundraiser, and being introduced to the incredible adoption community we’ve come to adore. On September 15, 2015, at the urging of a fellow adoptive mom, I began to keep a dated, hand-written journal of our adoption process. The very next day, our son was born more than 7,000 miles away.

Nine months ago, our son was released from his second hospitalization due to complications of a virus, and we received a fundraiser check from our first round of shirt sales that would cover ALL of our social worker fees.

Five months ago, I felt this incredible burden to just pray for my son. I didn’t yet know his face or his story, but I journaled hard one week in March because I just felt in some cosmic way that he needed my prayer. I would learn later that he was undergoing medical exams and bloodwork that would be used to prepare his adoption file that very same week.

Three months ago, I began specifically praying for the vision to see our process as God sees it. I began asking Him for the perspective to see all of this as something so much bigger than US. I begged Him to keep our focus on BROOKS, and not on our selfish and very temporary frustration with waiting and disappointment. Around that exact same time, his orphanage was completing his developmental screening and submitting his file to the Chinese government for intercountry adoption approval.

And nearly two months ago, we saw the face that put the last piece of the puzzle in its place. We opened a file and saw EXACTLY how the last twenty months were preparing the five of us for EACH OTHER. As we waited and felt frustration, God was weaving our stories together in a beautiful way that only HE can. 

We never in our wildest dreams imagined how our stories would so beautifully align…but God knew. His timing is always perfect, and we are so thankful that we can see his handwriting ALL OVER our journey. We are OVER THE MOON excited to introduce you today to our SON, Brooks Andrew Ezell. We cannot WAIT to get him HOME. 
Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Very Unique Fundraiser

Y'all. What an incredible and humbling past few days we've had. Blake and I are so BEYOND grateful for your outpouring of support and love for our new son. We cannot wait to get Brooks home later this fall and introduce him to all the amazing people who have prayed for him the past year. This experience has been unlike any other in our lives, and it's been awesome to see how God has used our story thus far. We seriously read each and every name and every one of your comments last week through tears. What a blessing you all are to our growing family!
So, I mentioned on my Facebook last week that we were going to relaunch our wildly successful t-shirt fundraiser from last fall, but with a little bit of a twist. Since our news on Friday has launched our process into full speed, we are going to go ahead and relaunch it today. There are many, many fees in international adoption, but one in particular stood out to us as one that we felt our community would rally behind - the orphanage donation. Brooks has been cared for in an orphanage along the eastern coast of China since he was just a few weeks old, and we will never be able to repay the love and kindness shown to our boy by the caregivers who stood in the gap for us. Brooks' file spoke of several of his "friends" and of his closeness to one specific caregiver, and we have no doubt that he has been cared for well in our absence. We would love for you to support our efforts to love on and provide for the precious children left behind. Every dollar raised from this fundraiser will go directly back into the hands of our son's orphanage, so they can continue to provide food, clothing, and care for the thousands of children that remain.
If you'd like to order a shirt to support Brooks' orphanage, our campaign will be open for JUST TWO WEEKS and will close on Labor Day, September 5th. If you cannot support the campaign financially at this time (and I get it...hey, back to school!), we would be so grateful if you would SHARE IT with your Texas-loving friends. The shirts come in heather gray, a soft red, and a mint, and are $20 each. For those of you who either don't call Texas home or just don't want another shirt, there is a "Donation-Only" button you can use if you'd just like to support the cause.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support!

You may order shirts and make donations HERE:
Thank you, friends! 
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25:40
Friday, August 19, 2016

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait: Our Referral Story

Okay, y'all...I've been keeping a BIG secret from you for a while, and I am SO excited I can finally shout it from the rooftops...


I can't even believe it, y'all. We got "the call" in the afternoon on July 12th. I was getting the kids ready to go swimming at our gym pool, and, truthfully, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself because this day was exactly five months since our dossier had been submitted. We had been originally given an estimated wait time of 1-3 months for our match, so we were obviously a little disappointed it had taken five. All that day, I had been fighting back feelings of anger and disappointment and truthfully feeling like maybe I had heard God wrong. Maybe this was His way of telling us we actually weren't supposed to adopt at all. I was feeling disillusioned and like maybe He had a different story planned for us altogether.

And then, at 2:11pm, my phone rang and the caller ID read "Holt International." My heart began to beat faster, and I immediately felt as if I'd run a marathon. I was totally breathless. After exchanging pleasantries and getting my husband to join the call, our agency director said in a very enthusiastic voice, "Well, I'm sorry you waited so long, but, you know what they say, good things come to those who wait! I think we have found the most perfect little boy for your family."

As she proceeded to tell us about our tiny little guy, not even 10 months old yet, born prematurely in a city south of Shanghai, and very, very small, all I could think about was seeing his picture. I felt like he was ours, but I wouldn't really know until I saw him. I felt so differently hearing about this boy than I had back in March when we had received our first call about a file. With that first file, the one who ended up not being ours, I felt scared, anxious, and ill-equipped hearing about that precious baby. With this second file, I felt confident, excited, and fearless. I just knew.

And then, just 23 minutes later, I opened his picture and saw my son. It was a feeling that I can barely put into words, but I immediately felt a sense of calm, peace, and joy. I looked at the most perfect baby with full cheeks, bright eyes, and a big smile, happily sitting outside in a walker and the last 17 chaotic months of our life made total sense. He was dressed in a pink onesie (because real men wear pink, obviously), and my heart immediately longed to scoop him up and protect him forever.

For the last month, we've been waiting for the Chinese government to "officially" release his file to our agency so they could upload our Letter of Intent (LOI), and we heard this morning that it was done today. I cried my eyes out in the middle of Jump Mania, and we are SO happy to say he's ours! We are thanking God for this incredible blessing, and we cannot wait to share his precious face with you all!

Time to CELEBRATE! Happy weekend! 
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

When God's Not Subtle...

Sometimes, I believe God moves and speaks to us in very soft, very faint whispers. And other times, when you're doubting something He's called you to or just flat out acting ridiculous, he legitimately YELLS at you.

Today, I got yelled at in the best possible way, and I am so incredibly grateful.

Let's rewind about 48 hours so all of this can make sense.

Our family spent the second week of August in the beautiful mountains of Colorado (still working on that post...), and while we there, my husband and I had some very frank, very honest conversations about our spending habits. (Aren't those conversations always fun?!! Ummm, except not.) We were doing fine in the big picture of our finances, but we had noticed over the summer that we had become a little bit too lax on the day to day budgeting. We were eating out way too much, buying the kids entirely too many treats, and spending more than we should on "summer entertainment." We just needed to tighten the belt a little bit, but my husband found himself becoming legitimately concerned about how the addition of a third child (who likely will need diapers and formula for a while) was going to impact our bottom line. Add to that the stress of returning to a very demanding job after a week away, and needless to say, he was STRESSED. 

Monday morning during my quiet time, I was listening to Shane and Shane's song "Psalm 46" and the bridge of the song spoke so deeply to me that I actually wrote the lyrics in my journal. 
It says these words:

"Though oceans roar, You are the Lord of all, 
The One who calms the wind and waves and makes my heart be still.
Though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the sea, 
The nations rage, 
I know my God is in control."

I found myself sporadically praying throughout Monday and Monday night for peace for my husband's heart and that we would feel confident that we were, in fact, on the right path and following God's will for our family. I felt so confident that each and every single step of this process has been HIS leading, and that just because we were over a year into the process that He hadn't stopped guiding or providing for us, and I prayed that He would confirm that for us in some tangible way...basically praying a pipe dream, but hey, the answer's always no until you ask, right?

Tuesday morning, I was hosting a play date at a park with a few friends, so I arrived a few minutes early. I sat down on the bench to casually check my email as the kids ran off to play, and I found the most tangible confirmation I could've ever imagined. I opened an email from the Gift of Adoption Fund, and I discovered that...


I literally fell to my knees in the middle of the park and started crying and thanking God for this incredible provision. I immediately called my husband who was in a meeting but answered anyway and screamed into the phone, "We got the grant! What did I tell you?!! SEE?!! I told you He'd provide for us!" (Sorry, meeting people. I've never been called quiet, and this was certainly not the time for me to be precious.) Blake responded in a much more appropriate way (he's just a wee bit more professional than me) and called me later to show his excitement. 

Tonight, we signed the paperwork saying we accept the grant, and we are just in awe and so thankful that we serve a God who meets his children exactly where they are and provides for them in His PERFECT TIMING

And, we are so incredibly thankful for a Heavenly Father who sometimes finds tangible ways to smack his children in the head and YELL when they are struggling and doubt Him. There was no whisper today, and we couldn't be more grateful.
"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7
Saturday, August 13, 2016

Our Boy Has a Name...

We are so excited to share with you all what we have decided our son's name will be...


Here's a little background into how we chose it.

Both of our kids have one name that we liked (no real significance) and one name that has a family origin. Our first, Carter Wade, has the family tie because Wade is my maiden name. Our second, Kathryn Reese, has a family tie because Kathryn was a very special aunt on Blake's side who never had children of her own, so she was almost an adopted grandmother to him. Brooks Andrew will have the family tie because Andrew is also Blake's middle name, and they will share the initials BAE. We loved that the meaning of Andrew is "a manly warrior," as that is one of our prayers for his life. He has already shown amazing fight, determination, and strength from what we know of his story, and we pray that he continues to show courage and bravery as he grows.  

So, why Brooks?

Well, I loved the idea of his name having something to do with our journey to him. The name Brooks means "water or a small stream," and although the ocean we will cross to get to him is a little larger than a small stream, I loved the water connection. Water has such a calming effect on people, and we also pray that our Brooks will find a peace and a calm with our family here. We pray that we are safe place to land, and that he finds contentment with us. 

So, there you go! We hope that the next adoption update here will be the BIG NEWS that we have our match and are beginning the process to bring him HOME.

Thanks for your continued prayers, friends! 
Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Fall Collection is HERE!!!!!!

YOU GUYS - eeek! It's launch day! I have been waiting SO LONG to share all the beautiful things with you guys today. I seriously can't even stand it. I don't even want to talk anymore because there are beautiful things that you just need to see...

Okay, I'm starting in Uganda with this INSANELY beautiful Great Expectations necklace. I literally GASPED when I saw it in the look book. Those gorgeous cobalt, turquoise, and burgandy beads? Yeah, they're rolled out of recycled paper BY HAND around a toothpick. Each and every single one. It seriously blows me away every time. This necklace comes on a gorgeous braided rope that you tie at the neck so it can be work short as a statement piece, long as I've done above, or mid-length. I've paired it here with the Catalina earrings that are hand-stamped in Kenya and an arm party that I'll discuss below...

Okay, I love throwing in something new with some old favorites. The turquoise and teal bracelets you see here are some staple Safari Stacks - again, hand-rolled paper beads - that I've layered with the Addis bracelet (top). The Addis is on my wrist at least five out of seven days a week. It's kind of my boyfriend because I love to tell its story. All of our Ethiopian pieces are made of upcycled artillery. Yep, artillery. As in bullets. That bracelet was made from melting down something meant to do harm and re-purposed into something beautiful that gives life and purpose to the hands that make it. Talk about a beauty from ashes story! That multi-color cuff on the bottom is a new friend - meet the Effortless cuff. She's a beauty, y'all, and pretty much goes with everything.

Okay, let's take this look from top to bottom. The Concentric earrings are made in Peru and have a perfect little blue stone at the center of this fun geometric earring. So modern and such a statement earring without being in your face. LOVE.

Around my neck is the beautiful Evangeline. I mean...ALLLLL the heart eyes for this girl. Gorgeous colors, a little fringe...I'm in love. On my right (your left) wrist are the Alvaro bracelets from Guatemala. These two come as a set and stack together beautifully. These bracelets are hand-beaded and conform to fit almost any wrist size.

(Alvaro again on bottom arm.) The arm party I've got going on here on my top arm begins with the Azure wrap bracelet. These are teeny, tiny paper beads from Uganda and a gorgeous blue. Behind that is the Equatorial cuff. These are truly one-of-a-kind, wearable art. These cuffs are each going to be different and unique, and I love that about them. They are made using the Guatemalan huipil - a traditional women's dress - so each is cut to fit. No two will ever be alike which is so fun and special. The gorgeous Mojave scarf seen above features the beautiful scarlet color and two fun black tassels, which are unfortunately hidden behind my arm.  

Ohhh, Ecuador...THANK YOU for this beautiful necklace. This is the Skyward necklace made from tagua - a process that can take 4-6 months from the time the nuts are gathered. I've paired them here with the Elemental earrings from Peru - another quick favorite. 

And, heyyyyy, date night! Here, I'm holding my favorite new clutch, the Dahdi! This modern, geometric print pops on most any color palette and can be easily dressed up or down for any event. In this look, I've simply swapped my Skyward necklace for the gorgeous Tradewinds made in India.

The Tradewinds necklace here is a fun cross between sophisticated and boho. The glass beads are hand-cut and strung with these cute little leaf details. So easy and an easy to wear white. 

Ummm, how fun are these shoulder-dusters?! These are the monarch earrings and basically speak for themselves. 

A dressed down look featuring the Great Expectations worn a little shorter. Here I've paired it with the Elemental earrings for a more casual feel. 

And, meet Zelda! Zelda is our new, modern extender for those who like a more sophisticated look. Sold with the necklace seen here which has such a classic, pearl-like look, Zelda will be a staple for years to come. I've paired it with the Minaret earrings from Vietnam. 

And this one, you guys...I just had to share this hilarious outtake from my photo session with a five year-old photographer. This picture perfectly sums up what it's like to parent Kate. ;) She's a girl with big dreams, big plans, and a highly skeptical mother who will likely be the reason she ends up in therapy. This one cracked me up! 

I had to share these, too, because at $11 or $20, these little add-ons would be just perfect gifts to stock up on! Unless you attend a trunk show in person, I have to add these to your order myself, so if you are interested in placing an order that qualifies ($60+) and you'd like me to add them, be sure and email me - - so I can help! 

And just a quick reminder for my local D/FW Mystery Hostess two-day event starts TONIGHT at 6:30pm! I will also open my house from 11am-2pm Saturday, so be sure to let me know if you'd like to come by! If you are not local or just prefer to shop online, be sure to use my link below by the 14th! Every $10 spent enters you into my raffle for FREE NOONDAY! 

Okay, this is not even close to all of the new stuff, so be sure to click the link above to see it all. BUT, I'm just dying to know what you think! Which piece spoke to you? Leave me a comment and let me know! XO!   

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1st Dreaming...

Well, hey, August, hey! So glad to finally see you!

I've been waiting for August 1st for quite some time. I'll keep it real, y'all - July was NOT my jam. It was long, slow, hot, and full of boredom, truthfully. I'm sure I'll be wishing for a July day come October or so, but right now, I'm okay moving on.

August is going to be a really big month for us around here for a few reasons.

1) I turn 32 tomorrow. On a Tuesday. Sigh.

2) The Noonday Collection fall line launches on the 4th, and I have FIVE trunk shows scheduled so far this month! Amazing! I am SO grateful that so many incredible women have stepped up to host and create a marketplace for our artisan partners in their home. I cannot wait to see how these shows will make an impact both globally and on our family's adoption expenses. Check back here on Thursday for some preview pictures, the link to shop, and to hear a little more of my heart for this amazing company. I've set some lofty goals for myself this fall, and I cannot wait to partner with my amazing hostesses and customers to make it happen. 
(Psssst - local ladies, if you'd like to come see the new line in person and hang out with me, I'm hosting a Mystery Hostess Open House with TWO attendance options: Thursday evening from 6:30-8:00 AND Saturday from 11-2pm! I'd love to have you!)

3) We celebrate Kate turning 3 on Sunday! I cannot believe my baby girl is turning 3. She has really turned into such a little girl this summer. She's becoming very independent, smart, and caring, and even though she still has some seriously sassy moments, we love seeing her little personality blossom.

  4) We head to Colorado on vacation in ONE WEEK! ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL the praise hands! I seriously just cannot wait to be in beautiful country with my little family. I'll recap the trip once we return!

5) We are asking God to move some pretty big mountains in our adoption this month. We had some exciting news come our way last month that we absolutely cannot wait to share, but until we cross the hurdles we are currently facing and get some approvals we need from China, we cannot share any details publicly. We would covet your prayers for quick movement on that end. Once we have that approval, we are planning to relaunch our wildly successful "No Place Like Home" t-shirt fundraiser with a little bit of a twist. We cannot wait to share all of these details with you...stay tuned! 
(Also, I'd love to hear in the comments what color shirt you'd like to to see us offer! We are considering mint, navy, berry pink, red, or a deep heather gray...let me know what you think!)

So that's what we have coming up! Well, all of that, AND I return to work for some training starting the 23rd. :( It's going to be a whirlwind month, but so many good things happening! Have a great week, friends! XO!

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