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.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Puzzle Party 4

Tomorrow is the last day of our puzzle fundraiser and we are at 8,000!!!  2,000 to go to our 10,000 goal! We have been so blown away by your generosity.  Every piece of this puzzle we have prayed over and thanked God for the role you are playing in our lives.  Here is the latest list of donors:

Ryan Klackle
Lisa Grady
Haley and Austin Stone
Ardy Frey
Kris and Joel Hamilton
Ruth and David Gerali
Dick and Jane Hill 
Ben and Jes Lyzenga  
The Roots 
Emily and Ben Lundquist
Lindsey and Dave Lassanske

Chris and Beth Howard

And to prove we actually have the puzzle and are writing each and every one of your names on it here is a pic!
Tomorrow night we will go FACEBOOK LIVE in the Schmid house as the minutes tick down to the end of our fundraiser.  We hope to make our goal by tomorrow night! To thank you all and to spread the word we will be going live...not sure I even know how to do that but I will figure it out by tomorrow ha! Tune in to Tony or I's Facebook page at 8:00pm tomorrow night! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Puzzle Party 3

Woah.  It's happening! We are inching closer and closer to our goal of 10,000! Baby Jeremiah is doing well, we will continue to keep you all updated as we hear more news.  We received the puzzle in the mail today so in the next few days I will start to post some pics of it and your lovely names that we will be writing on each piece.  Here are the latest names to be added:

Nate and Jenny Parsons
Karen and Jay Nalker
Mark and Julee Wilke
Katie Barnes
Jeff Barnes
Katie Howard
Nicole Lator 
Mimi Ponce
Kristi Conover
Kirsten and Bob Brown
Beth and Brenden Bolhuis
Cindy and Tyler Smies
Brad and Elle Sterkenburg
Kritsen and Ric Cnossen
Michael Forbes
Jaylee Hawkins
Alexis Race
Ayreaunna Forbes
Mark Forbes
Chris and Holly Dumond
Mike and Barb Dempsey 
Eileen Zilch 
Pam Otten and Steve Geise 
Ryan and Lacie Myszak 
Sara and Dave VanWinkle 
Michelli’s 
Heather Judy
Ryan Simpson
Jon and Emily Saxe
Ritcheskis 

Thank you everybody...feeling overwhelmed and so supported. We were honestly nervous to do this so publicly again after the way things ended with Moses.  But you guys make us feel like we are prayed and cared for in this new journey and that we are not alone in this.  This little boy is so loved and prayed for already.

The grand total today is :  6840! What? That's right, we are almost to 7,000! A little over 3,000 to meet our goal and we still have 4 days to do it!  I was thinking maybe the Schmid's would go "Facebook live" on the last day (the 20th) to thank you and finish out this amazing fundraiser.  (I mean the Schmid's don't even really know how to go Facebook live so this is a big deal people).  Thanks for the love! We love you!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Puzzle Party 2

Hey everyone, we are cruising along in our fundraising efforts and we are so blessed by how many of you have reached out to us and said you are supporting us and praying for us.  I will be honest, I am terrified some days, but have to remind myself FAITH not FEAR.  And it's hard to let the fear overtake me when we have so many people praying for us and rooting us on.  Here's the fundraising update from the puzzle pieces:

Day 5 we have raised 4,600 of 10,000! Almost halfway there! And still 9 days to go! So we are ahead of schedule and feeling great! (blessed)

Thanks to our newest donors:

The Wiseman Family
Jackie and Andrew Stone
Jay and Liz Taylor
Catherine Horton
Cody Delonge
Amanda Wolf
Carmen Dieppa
The Green Team
Andrea Misch
Lindsey Fisher
Susan Souza
Jenny Bander
Molly Ladhof
Josh and April Olson
Alex Cummings
Ann and Tom Fernholz
Matthew Weigmann
Heather Perry
Ben and Annie Wilke
Jake and Micaela McCarthy
Tracy Maher
Casey Ballard
Sheri Hadfield
Sarah Calvo
Sue Boike                 
Nikki Horchner          
Stephanie Soyars
Stu and Marlys Borstad
Lloyd and Thelma Frey

We will add your names to the puzzle! Once we get the puzzle in the mail I will upload pics so you can all see.

If you still want your name added to the puzzle click the "donate" link on the right side of the blog or email me if you want our address.  Jgracephoto@gmail.com 

Thanks Village!




Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Puzzle Party!

So we have been totaling overwhelmed by the donations rolling in, and we smile every time we see one of your names pop up in our emails.  The image we chose to use for the puzzle:

 We chose this for a couple reasons.  Obviously this verse has meant a lot to us as we held onto hope.  Jeremiah is one of my favorite books of the bible.  I feel like several times in my life God has spoken to me through Jeremiah.  Also, our little guy's given name is Jeremiah!

Day one of our puzzle fundraiser was a huge success.  We are at about 2,955! 7,045 more to go! A huge thanks to our donors so far.  We know it's not always easy to give but we could not be more grateful that you did! We wanted to thank each of you by name...

Nick and Rachel Wolverton
Butz Family
Nicole Lator
Kari Hibbard
Hannah Harriman
Cecil
Missy Beggs
Danae Burghgraef 
Lanae Haessig
Laura Eich 
Brooke Miller
Megan Michelli 
Steph Hegle
Lindsey Mains
Sue Hurley
Keith and Kristen Rudge 
Erin Hildebrand
Allison Mender
Stephanie Soerens
Benjamin Kladder
Amanda Wolf
Jake and Suzanne Vankersen 
Danae Burghgraef 
Lanae Haessig 
Mitch Jager
Nate and Abby Netti

We love you guys!  If you still want to be a part of the puzzle click the "donate" button on the right column of the blog.  I will keep you all updated so you can see the big things God is doing.  Stay tuned!




Saturday, February 3, 2018

The letter.

I wanted to share with you all the letter I wrote Moses.  This is a bittersweet ending, but looking forward to how God will redeem it.

My sweet boy-

   I never wanted to write you this letter.  I never wanted things this way.  But I’m learning that what I want is not always in God’s plan and although this hurts the most, you are exactly where God wants you.  You don’t remember me now but part of me/if not most of me will always be your mom.  Though I will not raise you, you are known and loved by me…always.  This is my goodbye letter for now, this is me letting go of my dream and praying desperately that you get yours.  I pray you will always feel like you belong, that you feel loved and safe.  That you can become the man I know you can be.  That you will love the One who created you and you will somehow know me too, because you called me mama once and clung to me as one clings to their protector.  I wonder if you feel your dad and brother pray for you each night or if you will reach out your arms for me ever again.  You would’ve had a little sister that just learned to say your name.  But I imagine you running barefoot, your face warm in the sun and I hear a distant echo of a giggle that once rang close to my ear and I smile…and sometimes I let the tears burn behind my eyes and sometimes I let them roll out.  Because whenever I think of you there is both beauty and brokenness…pure joy and devastating loss and I carry that…everyday.  And I can’t let go of you but I feel like if I don’t say goodbye now, I never will and I need to.  So grow strong and proud and brave son until we meet again.  Goodbye my sweet boy. Mommy loves you.

Also, our Lifesong account is temporarily closed while we apply for our church grant so if you want to donate to this new adoption you can still do so with the PayPal link that says "donate" on the right sidebar.  We have already raised $700. Only 19,300 to go! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The after.

When you hold onto something for so long as hard as I had, you have to will yourself (or be willed by something externally) to let it go.  Then this amazing thing can happen…when you open your hands, release that strong grip…you look down and your hands are filled with something new, something you never would have picked up on your own because your hands were too full.  The fear was, for so long, that I would let go and my hands would be empty. And the pain of those empty hands kept the healing at bay. 

After the adoption was officially over I had a hard time letting go.  I was openly grieving and trying the best I could to heal through forgiveness and the steady flow of tears. Someone said recently, if you are crying you are healing…so I must be.  I knew I was starting to move on with my life, but there was never much time (with two little kids) to be quiet and hear from God on exactly how I was to move on.  I had experienced my first great loss in this life and I was still in it, unable to see the big picture…the redemption of the story.  The After.

I wasn’t sure how to let go…not in a way that would open my heart to another child.  Tony and I would talk about all the possibilities. Africa was still on our hearts…which was baffling to us.  Were we nuts? We didn’t know why this wouldn’t go away, in fact, we wished it would. 

I had signed up for an adoption retreat with some moms at my church months ago and as the date neared, my anxiety heightened. I didn’t want to go. I was back to “normal” busying myself with kids and life and I knew this retreat would just re-open a wound I didn’t want to re-open.  I almost didn’t go. But as with most things in my life, the more anxiety I have about them, the more valuable the outcome.  I knew God wanted to work in my heart in a place I could quiet the noise and hear Him.

The first night I met a woman who was another DRC mom. (The only one there that had been through a DRC adoption) Their timeline was very similar to ours.  Her little boy was the same age as Moses.  They met him when he was a little over a year in the fall of 2014 (we went in August).  I was so encouraged by her.  She had been through what I had been through and although her outcome was different than ours (they were able to bring their sweet one home) it was so refreshing to be able to talk to someone who just knew.  She understood my loss and we bonded through our shared pain…and I have a feeling we will be longtime friends.  Tony always talks about the comraderie soldiers have…going to war with your brothers and they have your back and you go through so much together.  That’s how I feel about my other DRC moms…we went to war together.  We fought so long and hard for our kids.  

The retreat turned into much more than I anticpated.  Sitting in the first session Friday night it was maybe the first time my mind was quiet and empty and free from the static.  I heard a voice audibly say “It’s time to say goodbye to him” and in the next moment I heard “Write him a letter and let him go, and be free” I was like, “woah, heavy.” But then I couldn’t wait to do it. When I had a break the next day I wrote him a letter through tears (of loss mingled with hope and joy for the first time).

 After I finished I felt like a weight was lifted…I felt free.  I will always love him and grieve not being able to mother him, but I feel free to step into the “after” the redemption, the rest of the story…

Being in it,  I didn’t have a clear view yet of what God was doing or what he COULD do…I had lost my hope.  My dreams were going to have to change shape and morph into something else…something new and unexpected.

I saw another old dear friend of mine at the retreat and she gave me the words “severe mercy” It’s the severity of the pain with the mercy of the “after”  I am ready to run with open arms into the after.  His mercies are new everyday am I right? At the end of the weekend they encouraged us to leave something there.  Something that was weighing us down or keeping us from moving forward.  They gave us each a little piece of wood to write on the thing we wanted to leave. I wrote one word “Moses” It was time to say goodbye. To leave him at the alter…knowing the alter is the only/best place to leave him…right at the feet of Jesus.

So I did it. I left him there and walked away.  I said goodbye for the last time to my sweet boy.  And for the first time in a long time I had hope for the future.

The day after the retreat I was having some quiet time while Lucy napped and I got a text from the DRC mom from the retreat…who just happens to work with our new agency.  They were looking for a family that was far enough along in the process to be able to move quickly on a little boy (about 9 weeks old) from Africa.  He is in need of heart surgery and this would be a very high risk adoption.  She said she hesitated to bring it to us after knowing all we had been through.  I asked a bunch of questions and told her I would talk to my husband.  Honestly when I brought it up to Tony I thought he would laugh (just at the idea of us doing this again) and then we would pray that God found this little boy the right home.  That’s what I was kind of hoping for.  But Tony did not react that way at all…and now after much prayer, not that much time and a couple “are we freaking nuts?”, we have decided to go down this road.  We are obviously terrified and we know more than anyone how this could end.  But what if it ends another way?  What if this is the after?  What if we are the right family for this sweet little boy, who at the moment, has no one?  I won’t get to ahead of myself because I know how I can do that…you all know me…it’s like I fall in love quick, so I am cautiously stepping into this. 

The logisitics are nuts.  We have to pay for an adoption that we have no money for.  We poured everything we had into the last one and now we are depleted.  So there are already funds due and we are praying that our people will rally around us (even though you all may think we are nuts too) Our agency asked if they thought we could raise the funds in time…and we have no idea…and honestly we are freaked out by the amounts.  But we have decided to approach this adoption in faith not in fear…the worst scenario has happened to us already and we made it out on the other side and I wouldn’t change a second of it because it has taught us so much about our need for God and it has brought us closer as a family. 


So, that being said, we are about to battle for this little boy friends, will you battle with us? Will you pray for us?  Will you help support us?  (the asking is humbling and HARD you guys) Both Tony and I wish we could do this whole process in private or just asking for prayers until he is home but the truth is we can’t.  We didn’t have time to save for this one and we are humbly asking for our team to come through.  We can’t wait for the day when we don’t have to ask anymore and we can start giving and blessing others in their own adoptions, missions trips, endeavors.  This little guy needs us village.  He needs surgery and he needs us to step up in a big way.  We love our people and if all you can do is pray, we get that cuz we broke too! And we need those prayers.  

We also need about 20,000 more dollars...so yeah there's that.  Uh, and we need it soon. So if you feel led to join us on this crazy adventure...there's a couple ways to do it:
1) Keep an eye out for any fundraisers we may be doing 
2) Donate now! You can donate on our PayPal in the sidebar at the right or for a tax deductible donation you can send a donation to Lifesongfororphans.org go to "give to an adoptive family" type in number 4361 and name Schmid. 
3) keep following on facebook/my blog for more updates.  

Here we go again...