My mother has been bothering me for years to write a blog. Every year I have the same answer… “What would I have to say that people would want to read?” I tell her when I have an answer for that question, I will write a blog. I seriously don’t know how people have time to write them. I don’t even have time to take a shower. Literally. It’s a problem. I don’t know how all these women out there write blogs. Not only are they writing blogs, they are writing blogs about all the crafts and food they make. How are they finding time for that? And most of them have more than one child. I only have one, and I need a shower, badly.
Now, I have something to write about. It’s been a long time coming and I stay up at nights thinking about it. I have been waiting for the perfect time, and I realized, there is no perfect time. I have to stop wasting time and do it …now. Four years ago, I went to Africa. Four years ago I made promises to people there that I would not forget them, that I would tell their stories. Four years ago. What have I done in four years?
My mom thought of the title “Before and Africa” and I actually love it. There are a lot of things my mom and I agree on, but usually when she has an idea “for” me, I politely turn her down. But this title struck a chord in me. I thought about all the blogs out there about style and fashion and craftiness and I thought about how my blog would probably be the antithesis of that. Maybe I do always buy the same long sleeved shirts at the GAP every three years when the old ones get holes in them. Maybe I do still have the same tennis shoes I bought for 30 bucks 6 years ago. Maybe I do only get my hair cut once a year. Maybe I am in desperate need of a style makeover, but I think this blog is more of a before and after of my soul. My soul before and now my soul (after) Africa…
So thanks mom, for the title and for recognizing there has been a change in me and that even though I have a hard time finding the words, it’s time to start trying.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Waiting Pains

It's funny how with my pregnancy, I was so scared and wasn't sure if I even wanted to be a mother. Now, this time around, I can't wait to be a mother… again.  Everything changed the day I held max for the first time, everything. It's so cliche to say but if you knew me before max, you know how true this is in my life. As we trade in the diapers for Spider-man underwear and the sippy cups for big cups, and the crib for a bed....I can't wait to do it all over again. But this time instead of dreading the day of labor I am laboring in the pains of waiting. I call it waiting pains.  

We found out this week that our wait will be longer than anticipated, we think Baby M will be 2 by the time he's home with us and this is HARD to imagine…another year of missing everyday with him.   I think of the thousands of photos and memories and moments we had with max in his first two years of life, and it's killing me. I love Baby M so much and I haven't even held him, or smelled him, or woken up late at night to comfort him when he is sick. Instead all I can do is wait for him...most days I'm at peace with that, but every once in awhile I feel it well up in me and overflow...I will pass his picture in the hallway and I will catch my breath and the tears come so fast that I can't stop them...and my sweet, precious, sensitive boy says "what's wrong momma?" And all I can say is "I am sad baby." Just really really sad.  I am sad for Tony and I am sad for me and I am sad for everyone who has supported this family and is waiting to meet Baby M.  But I am mostly sad for Max and Baby M, that they will go another year without knowing each other. 

The other night Tony was putting Max to bed and I left the room after saying prayers with them and I heard Max crying.  I went back in and Tony told me he was crying because I forgot to pray for Baby M.  We pray for him every night…that God would keep him safe and bring him home.  Somewhere in Max’s little heart, it hit him that Mom forgot to pray for his brother.  And that this MATTERED.  I get sad thinking we will be saying this prayer for another 365 days…if not longer…but we will continue to pray this, and we will continue to hope for SOON. 






In the meantime, we may have the opportunity this fall to go meet our son.  If we have to wait another year, there is no question that we will do everything we can to see him.  We thought we may only have to go once to the Congo, so this will definitely be more of a financial strain.  But we HAVE to go.  We HAVE to hug him. We HAVE to laugh with him.  Even if it's only for a few days.  We have to.  If you feel led to help us match our matching grant here is the info!  Help us meet our son!  We are halfway to our goal of $3,000! Thanks to everyone who has helped us get there!


click the donate button




Enter Family Name: Schmid
Enter  Family Acct. #: 4391


On a lighter note: Thanks to everyone who participated in our March Madness Fundraiser!!!  Congrats to the winner, Renee Dreher who is actually in the Congo right now!  Can’t wait to hear about her trip and the country that will be a part of our lives forever.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Madness...DO IT!!!!



NOTE:  Participation is by donation only...to donate, click the donate button




Enter Family Name: Schmid
Enter  Family Acct. #: 4391


Here's the link for the brackets: 
Group Name: Schmid Baby Brackets
Password: congo (all lowercase)



Friday, February 21, 2014

March Madness

Coming Soon...


Please stay tuned for a chance to win up to $300 and help us bring BABY M home from the Congo! Details and brackets will be available Sunday, March 16th! Spread the word..or donate just for the heck of it right NOW!

CLICK THE DONATE BUTTON BELOW




Love Jen, Tony, Max and Baby M

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Here we go again....

So over the last year, I have been spending a good majority of my "free time" applying for grants for our adoption.  You all have given SO much.  Some of you, above and beyond the call.  We got a phone call yesterday, and we have received a $3000 matching grant! Which is so exciting because if we can match it, we may have raised and paid for the whole adoption.  BUT...we have to match it.  We are so blessed to have received a grant..just so grateful... but there is a voice in the back of my head saying, "how can we ask people to give more?"  They have given so much.  We need this grant to cover our travel and our babies foster care ($500 a month!)  So basically, by helping us match this grant, you are putting a roof over our little one's head and you are helping us finally meet him!

 My pride is telling me, you can't ask for more.  My heart is telling me God is bigger than my pride and fear of asking.  I thought we were done asking,  I was just praying for a grant to cover the rest of the expenses.  God answered our prayer, just not in the way we thought he would.  Kind of the story of my life! God always has bigger plans than us.  Always.  SO with all that said...we have a new host fundraising site.  Again, you will be able to receive tax deductions.
Your friendship and investment in our family is so appreciated and we would be honored if you would consider helping us in one or two ways;
1. Pray that God would tenderly care for baby M in the Congo until we are able to bring him home; that God would prepare Max for the upcoming changes to our family (he actually told his preschool teacher the other day that he was going to be a big brother...it's sinking in and it's so precious); that God would give us wisdom, discernment and insight as we raise baby M in a country that is not his own.
2. Lifesong for Orphans has committed an adoption matching grant of $3000 to help pay for adoption expenses.  Will you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us meet this matching grant to bring baby M home? Our goal date is April 24, 2014 but funds will be accepted towards our adoption until he's home and/or the adoption is complete.

HERE'S HOW:



 Please use this button (and not our sidebar button) to donate to Lifesong for orphans indicating:  Schmid #4391


OR:
Stayed tuned for our March Madness contest...proceeds will go to fund our matching grant! Cash prizes included!
OR:

Please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans. In the memo, note our family account number and family name: "Schmid/#4391" to assure it goes to the correct account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744. Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fund-raising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption

OR:

Another option is to give online on the Lifesong site. Go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Family Account Number”  (4391) and “Family Name” (Schmid) Fields. In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. 

This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use. Individual donations of $250 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $250 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. 



And to tease you some more...here is a recent pic of baby M!




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Everyday

As we close out our fundraising page this week and I look back at 2013…I am in complete awe.  God has brought us so far in this journey and yet, I can’t even wrap my mind around where we are about to go.  In a few years, I know I will look back at this season of our lives and know that our faith was tested and was stretched and we came out on the other end….with…..a deeper understanding of what it means to be a “child of God”. 

Over and over and over and over again God has provided…through you.  You blessed creature you.  I can’t tell you our baby’s name yet…but I can tell you what it means.  No joke his name means “The will of God” or “God willing”  That is the name he was given by I don’t know who, but whoever it was…they knew something was special about this child.  They knew God had big plans for him.  They knew something I have felt in my heart for a long time.  It was God’s will that he should be a part of our family, it’s God’s will that he grow into a man that follows hard after Him. 

Some big changes are coming up for the Schmids….and even though it hurts that he’s not with us yet…my sister in law pointed out to me that we are a lot closer than we were a year ago.  Amen to that.  I’ve been journaling a lot lately when I don’t know what else to do with the constant thoughts of our son that overtake my brain.
  I want to hold him now.
God’s will
I want to know what he’s doing
God’s will
I want to know who’s taking care of him
God’s will
I want to know if he gets a kiss at night
God’s will

I am struggling with the worry.
God’s will

Afterall, he isn’t mine…not really.  He’s always belonged to someone else.
God’s will.

Journal entry:

I wake up to your beautiful face
Everyday
I fall asleep thinking of those big brown eyes
Every night
And time keeps moving without you here
Minutes
Hours
Days
Months
And we pray that you are warm
Every night
We pray you can feel our love
Everyday
And love has never meant more
Or felt so strong
We talk about you
Everyday
We dream about you
Every night
We didn’t know how hard this wait would be…
Everyday
I didn’t know the tears would come as I put my head on the pillow…
Every night

Everyday
Every night

That goes by…without you, is another day of heartbreak
Of hope
Of waiting

We miss you everyday...every night.


With only 2 days left on our fundraiser, if you would still like to make a donation and receive a tax deduction, we could still really use the help.  BUT we did reach the goal we had set for ourselves and for that….we are just…so…grateful.

God Bless,
Jen,Tony, Max and Baby boy #2

Pure Charity




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

We are praying for you...


           I have been asking God a lot of questions lately.  Not necessarily the normal “why do bad things happen to good people” but more “what do we do when bad things happen?”  and worse “what do we do when bad things happen to the people we love?”  How do we help? What do we say to comfort?  How much can they take?  My brother in law has been battling cancer for four years.  When he was diagnosed his daughters were 3 and 8 months.  They are now 6 and almost 4.  Basically their whole lives their dad has had cancer.  But you wouldn’t know it because Dave is a strong dude.  He doesn’t complain (at least not out loud) and he doesn’t let it affect his fortitude to keep living as normal a life as he possibly can.  Lately though, the doctors are finding more cancer and the treatments are getting stronger and we are all ….well, scared.  
        Cancer is scary.  We don’t want it for the ones we love, we don’t want it for anyone, but it’s here and so what do we do?  Pray, yes.  At times, that’s all I know to do, but if this was my husband, and all anyone ever said to me was “we are praying for you” you know honestly I think I would get sick of hearing that.  Don’t get me wrong, I think prayer is THE most important thing we can do for them right now, but sometimes people just say it because they don’t know what else to say.  Hopefully everyone is REALLY praying, and hard because I believe God can do miracles.  I also believe that we live in a world where crappy things happen to great people.  So yes, we should pray, but when I asked God what can I do, he answered in a different way.  
       Over the last few years I have realized what an amazing support system we have as we have raised money for lots of worthy causes.  We have seen our friends and family give in huge ways and we have been humbled to be blessed by you…especially this past year as we have raised money for our adoption.  If you have ever been one to say “I am praying for you!” and then went home and totally forgot you ever said it….let me challenge you with this.  Pray longer, pray harder, and DO what you can as well.  If God is tugging on your heart to GIVE or SERVE or GO or whatever….DO IT.  Don’t just say you’re going do it.  (believe me when I say, I am as guilty of this as anyone)

        My sister in law is a strong woman.  She takes care of two kids, her husband, works, and still has time to ask me how I am doing.  She doesn’t break down very often, but who could blame her if she did…she has a lot on her plate.  When I spoke to her this weekend, her voice was shaky as she talked about the next steps they have to take in their journey to fight this cancer.  You can tell she’s scared…for herself, for her husband, for her girls.  The one thing I feel God telling me to do right now is help them raise the funds they need to payoff their medical bills.  They should be enjoying every minute they have together…not worrying about the bills that are due.  I have seen how God can work through people just giving $1.  We raised almost 5,000 dollars in a week, mostly with small donations.  So here I am again friends, asking that you open your hearts, and give to this deserving family.  It’s easy to read about someone’s story, think to yourself “that’s sad” and then go about your day.  I know we are all busy…I am just asking you to give five minutes of your time…to give a dollar…or more if you can to Allison and Dave and their girls.  We can fight cancer by prayer…we can fight cancer by support….we can fight cancer with love….we can fight, but we can’t fight alone.  So please share this link on your facebook pages, and please keep our family in your prayers…and if you can, please give!


Click here to read their story or to give!
https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/4cv3/dave-thornton-s-cancer-fund









Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2013

I just laid your big brother down to sleep for the last night of 2013.  We found out who you are today. 4:57 pm, New Year’s Eve 2013.  A new beginning for our family, a new year.  I am hoping against all hope that we will get to hold you in 2014.  You are so beautiful.  Beautiful boy.  My precious, beautiful baby boy.  My heart leaped in my chest when I saw the phone call from our agency today.  You see, we have actually been waiting a very long time for you, and we were told the call would be coming any day…so when I saw the call coming in, my heart start pounding and my palms started to sweat….this was it! We were about to find out about you.  I was in the middle of trying to get your big brother Max to go number two on the toilet when the phone rang.  Someone from the agency was on the other end of the phone and she asked me again if we had specified boy or girl…my heart sank a little thinking she just had another question to ask us, but when I told her we didn’t care if you were a boy or a girl, she said “Well we have a little boy for you…he’s nine months old and his name is -----.  She told me to go check my e-mail.   Your Grandma heard the excitement in my voice and took over at the potty with Max.  I ran in to find your dad.  (He told me he thought I was excited because Max finally went poop on the potty) Nope.  I was excited to open up an e-mail together with your dad so we could see you for the first time.  You did not disappoint son.  You are just perfect.  You are the perfect fit for our family.  I instantly wanted to get on a plane and go hold and kiss you.  

Waiting will be one of the hardest things I will ever do in my life.  It was so fun to see your dad smile from ear to ear as he looked at you for the first time.  I have seen that smile on him before…it’s not a normal smile…His face looked like that when I told him I was pregnant with your brother, and the day your brother was born.  It’s a proud smile. An excited smile.  A special smile, reserved just for his boys.  His TWO boys.  We have two boys! How fun is that? I keep staring at the 5 pictures they sent us of you. It's like I have known you forever, it's like you have always been a part of us... but we are just "meeting" you for the first time.  I can’t seem to wipe the smile off my face today.  I kind of feel like I am floating around the house.   But I also feel like a huge part of our family is not with us. 
I hope you are warm tonight as you go to sleep.  I hope you can feel your mama’s love.  You have no idea we are coming for you and will take you into a world where nothing is familiar.  But someday, you will only know us as your family.  You will fight and wrestle with your big brother, you will snuggle in bed with mama as I read you books, you will play baseball out in the yard with your dad, you will torment your poor doggies.  You will be home.  Someday.  We’re coming for you little one.  We cannot wait to meet you in person. 


So yeah...it's a boy! We wanted to share the news with everyone that has been supporting us and praying with us for such a long time.  Unfortunately we can't tell you too much about him or show any pictures until things are more final...so you will have to just trust me when I tell you he is insanely beautiful.  His eyes will look into your soul...
Also, many of you may have already seen but we reached our fundraising goal! Just hours before we got the call.  Hours.  So if you don't believe in God, maybe you should.  This is by far the best New Year's Eve I have ever had. By far.  

My resolutions this year:
1- Get on my knees in gratitude everyday and pray 
2- Get our baby home
3- Somehow try to personally thank every single person that helped us reach our goal

Happy New Year everyone!
Love,
     Jen, Tony, Max and Baby boy


Getting our first view of our little man


Baby Schmid