Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 2008; Hola 2009!

2008 was a year of changes for me. Half of the year was spent with me dragging my feet on something I wanted to do. The second quarter was spent trying to figure out a way to do it without taking too many risks. I finally came to my senses during the last quarter of the year and decided to take a huge leap of faith. After all, you often have to take a risk to reach the reward.

2009 will also be a year of changes...lives will be changed, hearts will be touched. I'm already seeing some of what is yet to come through the enthusiasm and excitement that is being shown by people all around us.

2008, while happy in so many ways, did not include much of what I hoped it would. But it couldn't end in a better way.

2009's beginning is the start of another dream come true for me and I have no doubt that this will be an amazing year.

To you and your's, may this new year be the best year of your lives. May it hold the answer to your prayers and be full of blessings that overflow.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cookbook Update

Recipes are rolling in! Thanks to all that have sent them and those that still plan to. The deadline for recipes has been extended due to the holidays. To those of you that haven't submitted your's yet, please send them in the next week. I need to have the books ready to sell by the end of the month and it's going to take a while for me to get them together once all of the recipes are in.

This is going to be a GOOD cookbook from the looks of the recipes that are being submitted. We have so many "different"'s going to be SO YUMMY! :)

Stay tuned for a contest that I'm planning to help get more cookbooks sold. We need to sell as many as possible and I think this contest may help us go over our original goal.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Months

For the last 14 months, a piece of me has been missing and without it I have not felt like myself. When I left Guatemala on October 3, 2007, I hoped to return within a year to start doing the work I knew I had to do, but during the year different things took place which prevented me from getting back as quickly as I had hoped. I’ve spent much time since then living in the past…walking the streets of Guatemala only in my mind. Of course, I am thrilled that Tommy was finally able to come, but when he filled the huge hole in my heart that was open only for him, another hole was formed the day we left his birth country.

All of this feels like another adoption and in a way, it is. Longing for something yet being able to do little about it for a while. Researching until there is no research left to do. Waiting the heart wrenching wait for the right time. Raising money. Counting down the days to travel. Feeling breathless as the time to leave draws closer. Dreaming of what will be. Praying for strength to endure the obstacles ahead. Overcoming fear of the unknown. Uncertainty of who to trust and who not to. Just as we love Tommy as if he were our biological child, we also love Guatemala as if it is our home country. It makes our love for the U.S. no less, but it is equal. When we adopted Tommy, we also adopted Guatemala and just as we are committed to our son as most parents are to their children, we are also committed to Guatemala.

I am no longer living the past in regards to my hopes and dreams for Guatemala because there is now so much to look forward to.

Six months from today, I will be in Guatemala again. Six months from this moment, my feet will once again touch the soil of the country where I left a huge part of myself. Six months from now, Danny will see Guatemala in a way he never has before and it will undoubtedly change his life. Six months and Tommy will return to his birth country. Six months. 182 days. 4368 hours. The excitement intensifies each day and I honestly do not know how I will be able to stand the wait. I am overwhelmed with joy!

Bobbi, from Party of Five (, and her family (her husband and 3 children) will be traveling with us. We met Bobbi and Joe during our first visit trip in March 2007. It was our first time to be with Tommy, but they were on their pickup trip. My first memory of Bobbi is her running into the family room in a panic because she had opened an envelope she wasn’t supposed to open. My most memorable memory of Bobbi is her walking into the lobby after their embassy appointment and taking the time to come talk to a heartbroken mom (me) that was about to give her child back his foster mom and then leave the country. Her words, “One day this will be over and you’ll bring him home.” stayed with me throughout our process and while I was never able to shake the fear of losing him before he came home, just knowing that people had made it to the end of the process and were still supporting those that were in process meant so much to me. Somehow, a few months after the last day I saw Bobbi, Joe and Reese, we came across each other’s blogs. Bobbi, as always, was a great source of support during my months in Guatemala and continues to be to this day.

Her passion for Guatemala is intense and deep . Because of that, she has agreed to be a member of our board and I believe that she will be instrumental (she already is) in helping to get this going, helping it to grow and making it what it is supposed to be. Her husband, Joe, is also passionate about Guatemala and is eager to help in any way he can. Her daughters, Cassie and Krista, sound like 2 little humanitarians in the making and it will be wonderful to finally meet them. And sweet, whacky Reese….he and Tommy will get along great, I’m sure. It’s going to be so much fun watching 2 Guatetots get to know each other and start what I hope to be a long friendship.

Six months until we leave. Six months until some lives change and some lives really begin. Six months until 2 children adopted from Guatemala return and begin to learn much about their birth countries. Six months until two families are reunited for a different reason, a different purpose. Six months. Life is good!

(In case I forgot to mention it a few days ago, we ended up being able to reserve Casa Bella because the owner graciously postponed her trip a few days just so we could stay there. So it’s booked!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Are you overwhelmed?"

That's what someone asked me tonight. Normally if I were to be asked that question, I would say "no", but tonight I said, "Yes. Yes I am overwhelmed." I will not deny it.

The past several days have been very productive...speaking to a new contact in Guatemala, getting the best information yet from the person that is going above and beyond what he is being hired to do for us, having more people call and email asking what they can do to help. I will never forget this feeling of amazement that fills my days now. But I will also not forget these waves of fear that are hitting me so hard.

I'm getting very real here. I'm terrified. There are moments that I think I can't handle this and times when I wonder how I ever got myself into this. How can I, as one person, handle all of this research just to get an idea of where to start first? How can I handle making sure that I do not knowingly put our teams into danger? How do I keep my child and our children safe? How do I think I will be able to decide which area to move in to first when every area we visit is going to be begging us to stay? How can I handle all of this stress in getting this started, planning fundraisers, trying to get teams together, trying to help people survive. How can I emotionally handle walking into an orphanage and not collapsing on the floor in tears while looking at my son who could very easily have been living the same life as the rest of the children in the room? How can I handle helping people have a better life or maybe just to simply survive?

At night, now more than ever, I hear the cries of some of the children I met in Antigua..their cries to help them and I hear myself say the promise I made to one over and over again..."I promise I will come back to help Guatemala." I am woken up by the cries of mothers that have watched their children die due to malnutrition or some other issue that is preventable or treatable. I see the sick walking around on the street, just waiting to take their last breath. I hear children begging me for just one bite of food. In my dreams, I find myself in orphanages, standing over cribs, looking at children that will never know what it is like to be part of a have moms and dads that adore them...and I ask myself constantly how I will ever be able to make them understand that even without families, they are loved.

Yes, I am overwhelmed and yes, the fear is sometimes paralyzing. But fear will not stop me from spending the rest of my life doing what I know I was born to do. I will handle this because I have been given the capability to do so. Every day, I find myself surrendering for the same reasons I did the day before..."Help me. Tell me where to go. Tell me what to do. Take away the fear. Take it all. I cannot handle this alone. I am not alone. This is your work, not mine. Whatever you ask, I will do. Wherever you lead, I will follow." It all sounds so similar to the prayer I prayed on that beautiful day in Antigua last year...the day I realized that I had been so selfish, so foolish, so blind.

We've accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Our board is nearly completely filled and will be complete by the end of December. Our first fundraiser is coming along, even though it won't be sold until February. Our 1st annual golf tournament is in the beginning stages, but I have no doubt that it will be a success. I now have a list of places and orphanages that we will visit on our first trip and will likely have a much better idea about exactly where we will be working before we leave than I thought we would. Our trip has been scheduled for June 19-
26th and an AWESOME family, that includes another Guatemama and one of our board members is traveling with us (and possibly even another Guatemama that is also on the board). We have a good idea of where we will be staying since Casa Bella is no longer an option due to our travel dates. I'm working on a way to help the area and orphanage we decide on while we are there because we can't just go and leave them with only our promise to return. I'm slowly beginning to figure out all of the paperwork that is involved in getting this started and will start working on it soon after the holidays. We will be officially launching in January. Overwhelming? Yes, but so, so rewarding. I've never been so happy to be overwhelmed in my life. And I've never had so many people step up and ask to be overwhelmed with me.

I still haven't said exactly what it is we will be doing or announced our name. I promise, right after Christmas, closer to the official start of all of this, I will share every detail.

For now, I want to say thank you again to everyone that has been so supportive.

And to the person that I know is defintely traveling with us....Thank you so much for your support, for you willingness to do whatever needs to be done to help, for your involvement and for agreeing to be my very far away board member :), for helping with travel arrangements, for being an instrumental part of all of this and just for loving Guatemala so much that it hurts. I will never be able to thank you enough for your offer to travel with us which has turned into something much bigger than I ever expected. I'm so glad to have you and your family on this journey with me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Submit Your Recipes

Our first fundraiser for the new organization will be an adoptive families cookbook. This is the only fundraiser we will do that requires selling something. This is basically just to get us started.

I'm asking adoptive families (ALL adoptive families, not just those with children from Guatemala) to submit a few of their favorite recipes to be included in the cookbook. I would also love to have a section of recipes that are authentic to our children's birth countries, so if you have a recipe from wherever you adopted from, please send that as well. Also, your family members and friends may also send recipes, so if your child's grandmother or aunt or whoever supports you wants to contribute, please feel free to ask them for a recipe.

Recipes need to be submitted no later than Dec 31st. You can email them to me at terry dot bracey at gmail dot com. The cookbooks will be ready to sell in the beginning of February. If you think you would like to help sell them, even if you think you may only be able to sell 1 or 2, please let me know. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

And yes, if you want to post this on your blog, feel free to.