Proverbs 24:12 (NLT) tells us “Don’t try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God knows all hearts, and he sees you. He keeps watch over your soul and he knows you knew! And He will judge all people according to what they have done.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

About Fundraising And Costs Involved In Maria's Ransom

I am sorry to jump around a little bit and share a post about money instead of adding the next chapter to our story but, I felt it is important to share about the costs involved in Maria's ransom and how I feel about the fundraising.

For those of you that have been wondering, I have FINALLY totaled our yard sale proceeds. Actually I've gone through all the financials and will be writing a blog post explaining what had been paid prior to our announcement in our local community, what has been raised through the generous, giving of folks (some that love us and some that don't even know us), as well as the cost that we anticipate still needing to be paid out to complete this adoption. It is a bit intimidating and overwhelming. As I shared my thoughts with someone earlier and told her that I know people are tired of hearing all the "begging" and seeing all the fundraising efforts, I was gently touched by God who reaffirmed to me again that "this is not about ME....this is about a child who otherwise will not know the love of a family; will be confined to a wheelchair due to lack of resources, and will eventually "age out" of the institution and probably die. We are basically asking "begging" for this child's ransom (which is defined on as "to redeem from captivity, bondage, detention, etc., by paying a demanded price."). I can promise you that the monies that we have already spent from our own account could have been spent on A LOT of other things for our existing family to enjoy and that would have been the "easy and fun" thing to do. We, however, were called to this by the Lord and, as I've stated before, it was our choice to say "yes" to His calling or say "no." This has NOT been easy for me; this process has taken me places I have never been before, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, but is so WORTH it. I know that God will provide all the remaining funds and He is in control of every bit of this. A family that was submitted (meaning their paperwork was turned in for approval for travel dates) two weeks before us received their travel dates today so we could be very near receipt of ours. We do still have a couple of fundraisers going on and will be adding a couple more but please know that we appreciate each and every one of you that has helped us along this journey. I know that all of you have not been called to this "mission" and sometimes I get overly zealous in my sharing but it is all seriously from my heart as my mission from my Jesus who called me to this and I am so passionate about it that I want to "help you be passionate about it too" lol. If I have shared too much or posted too many times, I apologize. I will, however, continue to post the fundraisers until we travel in the hopes that we do not have to take out a loan for the remaining balance for those that haven't seen them before. :):):) The blog post sharing the numbers will hopefully be up by tomorrow evening - I'm just wanting to check and double check my figures Thank you so much for allowing me the platform to share about something that is so near and dear to my heart!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Delivery of Leilani and Resignation from Juvenile Court

I left off on the day we found out that Leilani's heart had stopped and she had gone to be with Jesus. The next day we went to the hospital and labor had to be induced. There were a lot of complications with the delivery and I know you don't want all the specifics on those problems so I will move on ahead. I will say losing Leilani was the worst experience that Allen and I have ever had. It was a very devastating time for us; you aren't supposed to bury your children. We had a lot of support and love from people around us and, even though I ran to the back of the house every time someone came over because I didn't really want to see anyone, I appreciated the fact that so many people cared about us and the loss that we were experiencing. Through all of those long, hard days I could feel Gods arms around me though. I had no idea where He was going to lead us but something that someone told me then has stuck with me. They said, "The Bible doesn't say that all things are good; it says that all things work together FOR good." Romans 8:28 has since become one of my favorite verses and I have shared that same statement with other families that have lost children. I was working as a Juvenile Probation Officer at the time. Ever since I was a Junior in high school I had wanted to work in that capacity and I loved "my kids." That job allowed me so many opportunities to help the kids I worked with. I was able to give clothes to kids that skipped school because they only had one or two outfits to wear (one boy actually told the Judge that in court during a hearing); I had the chance to pick up a group of kids that lived in the project downtown and take them to T. beach because they had lived in S. their whole lives and had never taken that 25 minute drive to put their feet in the sand. Talk about an exciting moment - take a child that has lived in the project for 16 years and watch her face when she puts her toes in the sand and the ocean for the first time.....priceless! That job could be tough at times but it was a huge ministry opportunity and I loved it.

As time moved along and days turned into months, God began working on my heart. It became very apparent that He was making some changes and had plans to move me to a new chapter in my life. I felt like I knew He was calling me to resign as Probation Officer and looked for confirmations for several days. It was with such bittersweet resolve that I submitted my letter of resignation and accepted a position at the March of Dimes. I had the opportunity to take a position as Program Coordinator and go into the community educating people on birth defects. It was a part time position so it allowed me to be home with Allena more as well so it was a win-win. I did not know that I would cry every day for an entire year after I left the probation position. That had been my dream! That had been the job I wanted since I could remember! That had been where I basically grew up - I graduated from college while working there, got married, had my first child, experienced the death of my child - so it was like family! Working at the March of Dimes opened so many doors for me to share my experience though. I joined the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Board as the only parent on the panel. It allowed me to do informational speaking engagements to medical professionals so they could learn "to-do's" and "not to-do's" with families during the hospital stay after losing a child and it afforded me the opportunity to share with so many moms and dads that had similar experiences. God was moving and, although I didn't really focus on what His plan was or was going to be, I can look back and see how the journey was unfolding.....

Newest Fundraiser - Help Bring Maria Home and Purchase A Bible That Will Be Distributed In Her Birth Country

We have a unique fundraising opportunity where you can help bring a 12 year old orphan home so she can be a part of our family AND you can provide a Bible, distributed by The Gideon's International, to the country where Maria was born and has lived in an orphanage her whole life.

With every $15.00 donation to our tax deductible Family Sponsorship Account at Reece's Rainbow (search web at link address below or click on Family sponsorship picture on left side of blog)

a Bible will be purchased in Honor of (you fill in the blank for us - either your name or the Cox Adoption). ($10.00 will go towards the adoption and $5.00 will go towards the purchase of the Bible.)

This is an opportunity to help save a child from a life in an orphanage AND provide the TRUTH - God's Holy Word - to a multitude of people that will have the opportunity to hold and read the Bible you purchased. What better way to spend $15.00?

The Gideon's International website states: The Gideon's Distribute Bibles and New Testaments Around the World (including Maria's country) a

Having God's Word can and does lead people to faith in Christ, and those new Christians then grow by studying their Scriptures and even use them to share their faith with others.

For this reason, we focus on distributing complete Bibles, New Testaments, or portions thereof. These copies of God's Word are printed in more than 90 languages and are either given directly to certain individuals or placed in selected public locations where large numbers of people, who may be searching for answers, will have the ability to encounter the Word of God.

Distributing complete copies of God's Word also . . .
Plants powerful seeds that God can use in His timing. (I Corinthians 3:6)
Allows people to read the truth for themselves. (John 8:32)
Provides a continuing witness when the Gideon is no longer present. (Hebrews 4:12)
Makes it easier for the people we reach to, in turn, reach others with the truth about Jesus. (II Timothy 2:2)
Makes it possible for new Christians to learn and grow through personal Bible study.
(II Timothy 2:15)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Looking Back...

While we are sitting in a "holding pattern" waiting on travel dates, I thought it would be good to go back in time and share how all of this adoption advocacy came to be. After having the regular blood work done when I was pregnant with Alea, we received a phone call from Dr. D's nurse. She told me that my results came back positive for the child having down syndrome but further stated not to worry because there are so many false positives every week. I called Allen and told him the news and asked him if he felt like we needed to start exploring down syndrome. Allen, being the laid back kind of guy that he is, said no, let's just wait and see. Both of us agreed that whatever challenges this child was born with was from God and we knew He would get us through the challenges. Nothing could be more difficult than what we had already lived through we thought. Our second child was still born when I was 8 months pregnant. Not only did we have to go to the hospital knowing that our child was already dead and have to go through the tough delivery, but we lived every day for three months up to that point wondering if each day would be the day she went to be with Jesus. We had gone to the 5 month ultrasound as many expectant parents do anticipating seeing the hands, feet, beating heart, and trying to visualize what the ultrasound tech was describing as organs and positions of the baby in that big glob of black and grey spots on the screen. We went into the waiting room excited (although I must admit that I told Allen I had a bad feeling); we sat next to another coach and his wife from RH (it was their first child) and shared small talk. When it was our turn to go back, the nurse had me get on the table and started the process but very quickly said she would be right back and left the room. I really didn't think anything about it but Allen said he knew then something was wrong. She came back in and told me that Dr. D. wanted to talk with us and handed us a phone with his on speakerphone. He explained that a more detailed ultrasound needed to be done and I was being sent upstairs to S. Perinatology right then. All I could think about was Randall and his wife sitting in the waiting room and I told the nurse that I could not walk back through there in this upset state because it was their first child and I didn't want to upset or scare them. She was very sweet and shuffled me through another door into the hallway so that we never came face to face with the other couple after that. We were whisked upstairs and, upon the ultrasound being done and the Doctor explaining what he was seeing, were told that our baby was not going to live and, if he had to guess, it probably would not live longer than two weeks. Oh the devastation that we felt at that moment; being told that your baby was going to die and there was really nothing that could be done. Babies born with hydrops just don't survive he said; in addition she had Congenital Adenomatoid Lung Malformation which were cysts in her lungs. We left that office stunned, devastated, and numb. I remember calling my mama from the car on the way home, sobbing that the baby was not going to live. Our first pregnancy had been text book perfect, no problems during pregnancy or delivery. I was that sickening happy pregnant mama that bounced around, had natural childbirth, was happy and ready for guests as soon as I had Allena. So, to hear this kind of news with no indications from the first five months of pregnancy that there was a problem was more than devastating. It seemed like our world was crashing. My family had a strong faith in Jesus and I knew where my strength was going to come from during this dark time. I called every church I could in the city of S. and had us placed on their prayer lists. I just tried to hold on to the thought that this was going to be the miracle baby that I would spend a year traveling from church to church showing all the people that prayed for him/her the miracle that God had given us. The fluid actually increased to the point that Dr. D. put me on strict bed rest; he didn't really like the idea but did allow me to get up for 30 minutes when Allena would come home from daycare. I told him that I wanted to at least be sitting up when she got home because she was 18 months old and wouldn't understand why her mama was in the bed all the time. When I was put on complete bed rest, we sold the home we were living in and moved in with my parents. My daddy was retired and he took very good care of me while Allen and my mama were at work. It was a long, grueling two-three months laying in that bed. I got bigger and bigger as a result of the fluid but I still held out that we were going to have our miracle. The court where I worked as a Probation Officer was very supportive and allowed me to be out as long as I needed to be; my parents were amazing and I couldn't have made it through without them, and the support from others, including people I didn't even know via cards, letters, etc. were a true example of how God's people help others in need. The most precious thing people did for us was pray! One afternoon, when I was 8 months pregnant, Allena came bouncing in from "school" and walked into the room where I was sitting in the recliner, pulled my shirt up and leaned her little head against my stomach and began to rub my belly. She had never done anything like that before and, I've always heard that God speaks to little children....she knew something was not right somehow. The following morning was an ultrasound appointment and we were told that the baby's heart had stopped beating. I was scheduled to be admitted to the hospital the following day to deliver a still-born baby. Will continue the next "chapter" in the next post......

Trying To Rest

We have tried to take the past few days to rest. After two weekends of yard sales, we were all very tired. We were picking up items from community members that donated things to us, we were unpacking boxes, sorting, putting up signs, posting yard sale flyers on social media groups, and selling the yard sale items along with the Byrd Oatmeal Cookies on the day of the sale. We were so blessed that we were able to keep the building for a week and have the sale two Saturdays in a row. (Thank you so much Kay!) We have been overwhelmingly BLESSED by our community! We had so many families offer to donate items to us. I've been surprised that so many people that aren't in our direct circle of contact have been so generous to us! So many items were donated, so many people offered encouragement and support; so many people wanted to be a part of bringing Maria home and it has truly touched our hearts in a special way! We still have to calculate exactly what was made but it looks like at least one ticket can be purchased because of the sale (and maybe some towards a second)! I will be having another one (although I don't want to tell Allen yet, lol). Yard sales are a lot of work and I'm not as young as I used to be but hard work brings big dividends. Nothing is too much or too hard to bring little Maria home! God has chosen her for us and we want to do everything we can to get her home fast! She has spent way too long in an orphanage; way too long without constant love from parents and siblings; way too long being confined without the opportunity of travel and seeing the world. We want to bring her home and give her the world! Thanks so much to all of you that have prayed for us, donated items, helped us at the actual sale, or supported us in any other way! We APPRECIATE you!

An "Ah-Ha" Moment

Sometimes I just have an "ah-ha" moment. As I was giving Alea a bath, this thought hit me.....I have been so busy over the last two weeks picking up items for the yard sale, loading, unloading, carrying, unpacking, sorting, and doing it again and again and again to the point of just pure exhaustion (which I still don't think I'm over yet; I guess I'm not as young and fit as I used to be, hahahahaha). Prior to these two weeks though Tonya and I have been unloading HUGE 2nd Harvest trucks of food to feed people in Bryan County and we have carried heavy boxes off of the pallets that the food comes on, sorted, moved, delivered, etc. As Alea was getting in and out of the tub, I began thinking about and visualizing what it will be like when Maria comes home. Since she has never walked, we will have to pick her up, carry her around at times, move her from place to place at times, etc. Guess God has been preparing me all along without me even realizing it; I've lost weight and used muscles in the last few months that I didn't even know I had And to think that a while back, I didn't even know I was open to a child that was unable to just goes to show that God is really in control; my thoughts and expectations really don't matter. Gods plan is perfect and we are going to learn and grow so much through this whole experience of adoption. Thank you for following along with us and being a part of this journey; and most of all, thank you for caring for the least of these as God commanded in Matthew 25:40. You all have been great support and encouragement for us thus far and I am sure we are going to lean on many of you once she is home as we work toward building our "new normal."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Some Of The "Real, Raw Emotions" Of It All

In sharing our journey with you, you need to see all sides of it so I'm just going to share my heart as I'm feeling right now. Adoption is not easy, convenient or for the faint of heart. It is hard! It is exhausting! It is emotional! It is uncertainty! It's one step forward, three steps back! It's what God has called our little family in the midst of this Huge universe and the devil does not want it to come to fruition so he has attacked an area or issue every day! I'm tired! I'm sitting here crying because this has been one of the longest weeks and most challenging of my life . We have delivered cookies, we have picked up yard sale stuff, we have pushed shirt sales, raffle tickets, Stella & Dot sales; we've had people question why, we've had people not follow through that left us eating costs, we've had people "help us by giving their opinions on what we should do" and I'm just tired!! You don't just decide one night sitting in your living room you are going to adopt a child, with special needs (Down syndrome and not walking) on a whim; you are called to this by God and you have to make a we follow where we know The Lord is leading us with disrupting all sense of stability and security of our little world as we know it or do we "Go" just because He said go? Alivea, our 10 year old, said to me last night "oh mama are you sharing those shirts know you are driving people crazy; if you were my friend I'd delete you, I know she's right! So I'm sorry! Fundraising for yourself is awful! I actually hate this to be quite honest! Because every time you do anything that's part of your normal life that requires money, you immediately think "what are people going to think...I'm fundraising but I'm spending money on "insert item." We don't have 25,000 to 40,000 sitting in a bank account. I wish we did and I could write a check but I've come to the realization that this process is part of how God is growing me. For those of you that know me well, you know I don't like to ask for help for anything. This is humbling, it's hard! God keeps bringing me back to the point that it's not about me though. None of this is. We are not special people; we don't have any special powers; we aren't different from you. We are a family that lives in a loud, chaotic house (okay maybe your house is calm and quiet - then we are different lol) cuz mine is sometimes nuts with the schedules and activities and work responsibilities, family responsibilities, buying groceries, paying bills, therapies, doctor appointments, etc. All I know is God revealed a little child tied to a crib that broke us in a way I can't even explain. She was tied by her left arm to the front of the crib and her leg (while on all fours) tied to the back of the crib. It's a picture you can never get out of your head once you see it. And the Bible tells us that, once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do; He knows our heart and calls us to act (paraphrased) so really we come back to the we follow God and go? Well that means sacrifice and totally humbling ourselves to a complete point of transparency to people because we are collecting donated money. So we work hard picking up yard sale items and delivering cookies and then you wake up to a storm and you feel like "really are you kidding me?" God is stretching me, He's changing me, He's strengthening me even tho it's not fun. So I'm going to sit back, continue to praise God knowing that He's called us to it and He will bring us through it. I've heard the phrase "His will; His bill" and I'm going to trust Him. In the midst of all of this I'm going to remember there is a reason. If it rains and we can't have the yard sale God will bring all that we need, not just monetarily, but ALL that we need! He's got this. The song "Our God is Greater" came to me as I was bawling a few minutes ago! How true! (And I'm not going to reread this post because it is raw emotion and, in the future, I want to reread it and remember how this morning felt.).

We Are Submitted!

Yesterday we received some FANTASTIC news! We were submitted! Woo Hoo. It was a great day that started out fabulous! I didn't have time to do a blog post because we were so busy; work was a revolving door and then we picked yard sale items up. Some relatives are here visiting from Tennessee too and it was their last night so we spent a good bit of time there too. We are now just awaiting travel dates and, hopefully, it will be soon! We are so excited! June 5th - a great day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stella & Dot Online Show - All proceeds Will Be Donated To Adoption Of Maria!

Stella and Dot - Shop for a Cause: A friend of mine, Kristi Fillers Cox is having a number of fundraisers to help her family with the expenses associated with adopting a handicapped child from an overseas orphanage. Order directly from my web site (be sure to use Kristi's name as the hostess) and I will donate 100% of the proceeds to the Cox Adoption Fund to help bring Maria home.

Thank you so much for helping us bring Maria home!

Getting Ready For Yard Sale!

The week has come!  Our Adoption Yard Sale is this Saturday, June 7th from 8 a.m. until ??? (hopefully every item is gone).  We have had a great outpouring of items from our local community!  I have said it before and I will say it again...Our hometown is AMAZING!  The people here take care of one another and pull together when things happen in people's lives.  We appreciate every one that has helped offering prayers, support, words of encouragement, by donating items for the yard sale, buying cookies, buying shirts, kiddie bike raffle done by The Children's Village Day Care, Brianne Yontz donating proceeds from the Stella & Dot show that will be held on Friday, June 13 from 5 to 7; the spaghetti supper that is coming up on June 20 in connection with Alisa Arms who is raising money for a mission trip to Guatemala (more details to come but I can share we will be selling dinners).  We also have a few more fundraisers that have been discussed, but details haven't been finalized so I will share more later.

It has been EXTREMELY busy around the Cox household.  We have all pitched in - Go Team Cox - and helped pick items up, toted boxes, posted on the RH online yard sale, and organized. We are working hard to get Maria home and know that every minute of this hard work is going to be worth it.  We have missed the last two Friday date nights in the "normal fashion" (for those of you that know us, it's always been Smokin Pig BBQ and Hawaii Five-O night but lately it's been "delivering Byrd Oatmeal Cookie" and "Pick up Yard Sale Item" night, hahahahaha.  It's amazing how priorities are rearranged when something awesome is happening in your life.  God is using this to change us and He will continue to change us through this adventure.  What seemed "really important" to us in the past has somehow lost value along the way as we now have a "real life" issue before us.  We are now talking about the life of a child and how she will spend her future!  That is so much more important than issues and events that have taken up so much of our time in the past. Once we get her home, she will have the love and support of a family that will be able to devote the time needed to help her with all of her milestones and help her accomplish great things.  And we will have followed what Jesus instructed for the Cox family to all boils down to that really.  God said "Go" and we said "Yes!"  We are on an adventure and we don't have control and we don't know where we will end up.  We know that, months ago, when speaking to a social worker, we discussed countries and children that we were open to adopting.  At that time, I told the SW that we would not choose this country because of the travel time that it requires and I told the social worker that the child we adopt would have down syndrome, not be older than Alea (who is 7) and needed to be able to walk out of the orphanage with me because I didn't think I was strong enough to adopt a child that couldn't walk or was medically fragile.  Eighteen months later, we are going to "that country with the long travel requirements," "wanting a child that is not only older than Alea but is also older than Alivea (who is 10)," and "has never walked."  We just don't know what God has in store around the corner and we can look back and see how He orchestrated this plan.  We have NO doubt this little girl is meant for our family.  There is no guarantee, of course, but we believe that God has used her as a vessel to get us where He wants us to be. 

Stay tuned for the next phase of this journey.  I am off to sort yard sale items and have very little time left to get everything ready for Saturday.  Thanks for following our journey!  Please pray for us as we embark upon this next part of this "paper pregnancy!"  :)