Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adoption ROCKS!

Here it is!!!!  I cannot tell you how excited I am about this shirt!  Even more exciting that we are starting our pre-sale of these shirts on the day that our Home Study was FINALIZED and sent for state approval!  YAY!!!!!!!

I can take credit for NONE of these I will give credit where credit is due:

Idea and Vision - GOD!
Design - Garen McConnell
Color Choice - my friend, Melissa (who suggested blue for BOY!)
Slogan "Adoption Rocks" - That'd be the super cool man I am married to!
James 1:27 - Okay, so I chose the verse, but considering it's God's Word, we will go with GOD on this one! 

Now, for the good stuff!  The PRE-SALE IS ON!!!  We will be selling shirts starting right now and going through October 13th!  As I shared in my previous post, our hope is to get the order turned in and the shirts back to you in time for you to wear them on Orphan Sunday which is November 6th! 

It's a regular-cut, 100% cotton, shirt, and we will be offering them in both youth and adult sizes. 

Adult shirts are $25 and come in sizes...S, M, L, XL, 2X, 3X, 4X, and 5X.
Youth shirts are $15 and come in sizes...XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16), XL (18-20)
***If your kids prefer an adult size, it's fine.  The price will still be $15. ***
AND, that price INCLUDES shipping or local delivery!  :))) 

To buy a shirt, please go to the blog and look in the upper left hand corner.  There is a "DONATE" button that will take you straight to PayPal where you can place your order.  In the comments section, let me know who you are ordering for (ex. 2 Adults, 2 Kids) and what sizes you would like (ex. Adult Small, Youth Large). 

If you are a Dave Ramsey fanatic (we are, so I can relate!), or you are just not thrilled with the idea of PayPal, let me know, and I will let you know our address so you can send a check!  Please include your shipping address, as well!  If you have questions, concerns, or are just generally confused, let me know.  You can e-mail me at

Thanks so much for the support!  We can't wait to see what God does.  I am hoping that there will be at least 147 of us wearing these shirts all across the country on Orphan Sunday.  One person for every 1 MILLION orphans!  If that were true, we could EACH be interceding through prayer for 147 MILLION orphans on that day. 

"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed." - Psalm 82:3

And, if you want, please feel free to share this blog post on Facebook, through e-mail and with anyone and everyone who you think might be encouraged by our blog or who might just want a new, fabulous blue shirt!  ;)

Thanks for going on this journey with us.  We are blessed for it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Defending the Cause

A few months ago, the Holy Spirit was REALLY dealing with my heart about defending the cause of the fatherless.  It makes sense.  After all, it's biblical.  Want proof?

Deuteronomy 10:18 - "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing..."

Psalm 68:5 - "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

Psalm 82:3 - "Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed."

Isaiah 1:17 - "Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."

And, just so you know...those are just a few.  There are many more.  And, before we go on, and you go all Pharisee on me, let me assure you that I am aware of the verses that also talk about the widow.  He has been dealing with me about that, too.  But, this post is about orphans.  Thanks.  :)

I could not stop thinking about the 147 million plus orphans in the world.  Not just the 0-12 month old, Ethiopian baby boy who will one day join our family, but the other ones.  The ones that we will leave behind when we go to bring our son home.  The ones who are on the wait list because they have "special needs" or are "older" than the usual, preferred age of adoption.  The ones in the countries that are currently "closed" to adoption.  I could NOT stop thinking about them. 

One thing I can tell you, but I cannot make you understand fully unless you have experienced it for yourselves is that when God opens your hearts to welcome one orphan into your family, He will open your heart to them ALL.  It's why so many families who adopt an orphan go back again to adopt another...and sometimes another...and another.  It's why in the middle of the craziness of the adoption process, before some couples every lay eyes on their child, they are already talking about starting the process of adoption AGAIN.  For ANOTHER one.  I can't explain it.  It doesn't make sense if you haven't been there.  He has changed my heart.  And, I am pretty sure it's going to be that way FOREVER.  And, now, it doesn't make sense to me that I haven't ALWAYS felt this way...that there was a day, not too long ago, that adoption wasn't even on my radar.  Thank you, Jesus, for opening my eyes.  For showing me glimpses of what you see and who you care about.  I am SO grateful. 

And, so, with the orphans of the world constantly on my mind and my heart, I couldn't stop thinking about how we could help them.  I firmly believe God is calling the Gruhn family to not only embark on the journey of adoption, but is also calling us to some sort of lifelong adventure with orphans at the heart.  I think He has plans bigger for us than bringing home this little baby to our family.  And, He is SLOWLY allowing me to see pieces of what He has in store.  And, while you might think that the adoption process is big enough to tackle at this crazy time in our lives, I knew that God was up to something more. 

Somehow over the course of a few weeks, God began to reveal to me that He had a plan for us to start with awareness.  This blog could obviously be considered part of that plan.  But, I really began to sense that God was leading me towards the idea of creating a t-shirt that would serve two purposes.  The first purpose would be to help us fund our own adoption and bring home our son.  The second would be to promote the cause of adoption.

When God called US to adoption, we trusted Him with the finances.  We believed that meant to two things.  First, that God would provide.  He has. And, we have been humbled.  And, second, that we would live sacrificially to make it happen.  We will, we do, and we will continue to do so.  In fact, adoption has disciplined us more in our finances and our giving than anything to date.  So, knowing that was our previous stance and that we had never really talked about fundraising of any sort, I shared my idea with Neal.  And, he was in full support.  And, then, a God-thing happened.  I called my friend, Melissa, like you do when you feel like you're supposed to do something, and your husband agrees, but you just need ONE more person to make sure you aren't crazy.  And, if you don't know her, you aren't aware that everybody needs a friend like Mel.  She is one of the most encouraging, supportive, cheerleading friends I have ever had.  And, of course, with that said, she thought it was GREAT!  :)  But, more than that, God placed her in my life for such a time as this.  She said, and "I know WHO could design it for you!"  Long story short, she knew a teenager in her church (our previous church) that she thought would do it, despite the fact that he didn't know us!  I was SHOCKED.  And, over the course of the last month, it has been AMAZING to watch as God used a teenager who was willing to serve God by using his gift, to design a shirt for us, and to see that shirt come to fruition.  I am pretty sure I am not doing this part justice because I am SOOOOOO excited!  But, it has been SO cool.  I have loved it!
From the beginning, my heart has been that, if we could pull it off, that the shirt would be ordered, printed, and ready by Orphan Day 2011, which is Sunday, November 6th.  Of course, you can absolutely wear it and promote adoption ANY time, but our hopes are that you will wear it in YOUR church on Orphan Sunday and do your part to "defend the cause of the fatherless" on that day.  AND, I would love to see a picture of you in it.  But, we can talk more about that later.  :)

It looks like I will have the proof to show you TOMORROW, but let me just tell you that what I think (and I am SO not biased, of course).  IT. IS. AWESOME.  So, get ready.  The pre-sale will begin tomorrow and likely go through October 13th.  You will have TWO WEEKS to order a shirt and share our link with every one you know who might want one, too!  That will hopefully give us time to get our order to the company and get them back to you in time for November 6th.  That's the plan.

Our hope is that the shirts will generate discussion.  Maybe you will get to share our story or our blog.  Maybe you will get to share that there are 147 million orphans worldwide in need of a home.  Or, maybe, one day as you wear it and stare at yourself in the mirror, you will realize that YOUR family could welcome an orphan home.  ANYTHING is possible.  To God be the Glory.  I cannot wait to see what He does. 

Love y'all,

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Wow!  This has truly been the craziest summer that we have ever experienced.  I am truly thankful to have just survived it.  Neal has worked more this summer than I can remember him working in a while...probably since his Army days.  Our Home Study and Dossier preparation have kept us constantly on the go in our "spare" time.  And, we are back on our normal school, Life Group, and church schedules.  We had truly hoped that the craziness of work and the adoption would have eased by now, but that isn't how it has worked out so far.  But, we simply MUST be on the downhill slope.  MUST.  I am CONVINCED of it.  We shall see... 

Good news!  Our hard work on the adoption has indeed paid off!  We are almost DONE with the Home Study, and we are hoping to have it sent off to the state of Illinois for their approval sometime next week.  That will initiate the first of our waiting periods.  We have also been working on our Dossier simultaneously.  For those of you, like we were pre-adoption, who have no idea how to say "Dossier" or even know what it is, I will explain.  The Dossier is basically a large stack of extremely tedious paperwork and documents that you must gather and compile and then place WITH your Home Study to send to the country from which you are adopting.  If that sentence makes it sound complicated, I did not do it justice.  Please multiply it times 25 and pray hard for anyone who is currently in that phase.  It is mind-bogglingly crazy, hard, and so frustrating and overwhelming at times that I have just sat and cried.  Other times I have laughed.  Other times I have sat in the middle of a stack of papers just trying to figure out what to do next.  MANY times we have questioned our own sanity (those times usually correlate with the days we are convinced we are thoroughly messing up the three lives already entrusted to us!).  It's enough to make you crazy.  But, like I was told by a dear friend who went before me in the land of adoption, IT CAN BE DONE.  With that said, our Dossier is ALSO almost complete!  HALLELUJAH!  Glory to GOD!  I won't bore you with more tedious details of the adoption because once I start talking about it all, I can even get myself confused sometimes!  With that all said, just know that we are basically nearing the end of the paperwork phase and are closing in on the beginning of the waiting phase.  Again, HALLELUJAH!

This post started in my heart several weeks ago, and God has been slowly working it out in my life.  You see, September 18, 2011, was a very special anniversary in the life of our family.  It marked one year since our sweet Ella gave her heart to follow Jesus Christ.  I hope that the anniversary of that day never passes without me recognizing the importance of it, so that I can once again pause to give thanks to my Savior for the sacrifice that He paid for her sins and mine to make life eternally possible with Him.  He is SO good.  We spent the day with our sweet friends, the Newmans, and we had a wonderful time in a special prayer service with our Harvest family.  During our time of thanksgiving, I was moved to tears as my heart again felt the weight of gratitude that was within me for the salvation of our firstborn.  What a God we serve that He can call and make Himself completely known to even children.  He is SO good.

Ella was five years old when she gave her heart to Jesus.  For those of you who don't know the story, our cat, Emmy, had died just 3 days before.  Those 3 days that followed were very sad for us.  Ella took Emmy's death very hard (as did her Mommy!).  She began to have a lot of questions for us about death, dying, and Heaven.  We had talked with her many times before about all of the above, but her persistence was so different this time.  Neal and I found ourselves really struggling with the idea of a five year old truly grasping all that it means to be a follower of Jesus.  It's a hard road.  It's not paved with lollipops, roses and sunshine.  To follow Jesus is to live a life of obedience..  Sometimes...often, at great cost.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  Is their joy?  No doubt about it.  But sometimes that joy is found in the darkest places, in our hardest days.  Matthew 16:24 says, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  Based on that, we aren't among those who believe that you say a prayer, get your free ticket to Heaven, and live life in whatever manner you choose.  It's a serious decision that requires that we lay down our lives (maybe literally), our wants, our desires, and our plans, and CHOOSE to go wherever and do whatever He leads us.  THAT has become even more real i our own lives these past few years, and these are the things that we wanted to make sure that Ella understood.  But, knowing that Jesus talks many times about children (Matt. 18:2-5; 19:14) and how much He adores them, we were very open to the idea that He could indeed be making Himself known to Ella.  We spent much time praying about it, and we were trusting Him to show us.  Finally, the night she prayed to receive Christ into her heart, we knew that she was ready because the conversation and her desire were clearly not going away.  We prayed with her, we heard her ask for God's forgiveness for her sins and declare her desire to follow Him, we celebrated, we cried, we laughed, and we thanked our God for His goodness.  However, I will say, that we honestly still had doubt about whether or not we had explained it adequately for a five year old.  So, we decided that we would do as the Word of God says, and we would look for the fruit (Matt. 7:20).

And, boy, did it come!!!  I cannot describe to you what a joy it has been to watch the fruit of the Holy Spirit blossom in the life of our five year old and now six year old little girl.  I wish that I could put a year's worth of her prayers and our conversations in this blog for you to read, but I have tucked as many as I can away into my heart to ponder for years to come.  The Holy Spirit has come shining through her little life in truly more ways than I can count.  She has prayed diligently for missionaries by name, mission teams, healing for her baby brother, the adoption and health of her Ethiopian brother, salvation for her friends, salvation for the world, healing for those going through sickness, travel safety for friends and family, and on and on.  She has asked deep questions about orphans as we have gone through the adoption process, and, in her very six year old way, has figured out how to make sure that ALL 147 million orphans have a home.  Her plan:  every family adopts 1 orphan.  I think she is on to something, and I have sneaking suspicion it could work.  :)  And, it truly has been a year of these types of conversations.  It's been an absolute JOY to watch God move in her little life.  She has a heart that is hungry for God.

However, NO conversation or prayer has had such a profound effect on me as the one she and I had about two weeks ago.  As we were riding to school one morning, this is the conversation that unfolded from the backseat of our minivan...

Ella:  "Mommy, I have a plan."
Me: "What's your plan, Ella?"
Ella: "I think that one day, we should go to every house in our neighborhood and write down it's number.  On the second day, I think we should go to every one of those houses and tell them about Jesus.  On the third day, I think we should look back at our list, and we should make sure that we got them all."
Me: (I have forgotten my exact response, but I am pretty sure it was a shocked, mumbled version of...) "Wow, Ella!  That IS a plan!"

On the rest of the way to school, I shared with her how she could share Jesus with her teacher, her friends at school, and other people she meets.  But, she was still pretty adamant about her plan.  When she got back in the van that afternoon, here's how the conversation resumed...

Ella: "Mommy, I have been thinking more about my plan." 
Me: "Yeah?"
Ella:  "I'm kind of nervous about talking to people about Jesus.  Maybe we should just start first with our street, and tell everyone on our street about Jesus."
Me:  "That's a good idea."

And, that's where it stopped for about 2-3 days...And, isn't God funny?  He wanted me to know He heard our conversation.  As I was forcing my cardio-hating self to do torture on a treadmill and listening to my praise and worship music so as to distract myself from staring at the slow-moving clock, I very clearly heard the Holy Spirit whisper this to my soul...

Holy Spirit:  "So, are you going to do the plan?"
Me: (gulping for air and grabbing the side of the treadmill) ....(no words)
Holy Spirit:  "So, are you going to do the plan?  OR, are you going to teach her about fear?"
Me:  (again, nothing)

And, that is where it sat for a little while.  Me, just thinking and processing and deciding that I was going to HAVE to be obedient.  I canNOT be the one to teach my precious child that we are AFRAID to talk to people about Jesus.  Oh, how I don't want that to be me!  And, then, just as clearly as that treadmill conversation was to my heart, came another one...

Holy Spirit: "Unhindered."  I felt like He whispered it over and over and over again.  "Unhindered.  Unhindered.  Unhindered.  Unhindered.  Unhindered."
Me:  "Unhindered?"
Holy Spirit:  "THIS is what the unhindered Holy Spirit looks like." 

And, then, I got it.  Or, I am starting to get it.  It's been a process.  But, in that moment I got that my six year old little girl doesn't know that it's not typical to go to church, to hear about Jesus, to hear that we should share Him because He is great, because His Word is true, and because He is SO good, and JUST NOT DO IT.  She doesn't even begin to understand why anyone would hear all the wonderful things about Jesus, know that there are those who do not know Him, and just CHOOSE not to share Him with them.  And, I can either be the one to teach her that fear, that disobedience, that total lack of love for another, or I can CHOOSE to show her how to be obedient to the Great Commission, to lead by example, and to reach out to others with the love of Jesus Christ.

And, if I needed further clarification, a few days later, I went with my good friend, Ginny Smith, to the Beth Moore simulcast.  God spoke so much to me through His word and through Beth's teaching.  I am still processing through the event.  But, I have to tell you that I almost quit breathing in the last few moments of the simulcast when one of her parting words to us was, "We were meant to live the UNHINDERED life."  Are you kidding me, God?  Who even SAYS that word in normal conversation???  Being an avid note-taker, I wrote it down.  And, on the way home from the simulcast, I told Ginny the whole story.  Apparently God knows how slow I am to get things through my thick head.  I am tracking with you now, Lord.

And, so, I am saying it here.  The Gruhns will be laying out a plan for evangelizing our neighborhood...starting with our street.  Or, I should say, the Gruhns will be following the plan laid out by a six year old little girl to reach our neighborhood with the love of Jesus.  And, as I told my friend, I have a feeling when we choose to be obedient, that He is going to blow our socks off!  Not because of anything that Neal and I have done or will do, but because I think He has a plan in all of this to show Himself, to make Himself known, to get the glory, and to show a six year old little girl that He IS EVERYTHING that she believes Him to be.  And, I have a feeling that her two slow parents are probably going to be humbled and amazed.  I already am.  Thank you, precious Jesus, for saving my sweet little girl.  I hope to be a lot like her when I grow up.  :)

One more note on adoption before I sign off...BIG news coming soon for how you can help us with our adoption process, just in case you were dying to do so!  :)  And, you can be a part of promoting an incredible cause!  I'm going to be posting again in just a few, short days (you don't believe it, but it's true!!!). Be watching! 

Thank you again for going with us on this crazy ride.  It's like a wild road trip.  The more friends you have with you, the better!  Your love, support, and encouragement make us feel less crazy most days!  :)

Love to you all!