Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What I Owe To Others....

The Hanks Family - Feburary 2007 "Forever Family Day"

In the Eighth Grade, I had to write an autobiography for Mr. Douglas’ English class. Having already seen Jamie do this same project… I had two years to prepare and think ahead. There were several chapters… maybe ten or twelve in all. Some were about “What’s Important To Me”, “My Favorite Holiday”, “My Gang”, “Beautiful Places I have Visited”… and there was a chapter titled
“What I Owe To Others”. I saved my autobiography… and in high school when I was putting together my “Memory Book” I pasted a copy of that chapter in the front cover of my Memory Book. (It was my first crude attempt at scrapbooking… and Jana… when I say I pasted… grit your teeth, hold you breath, and steel yourself… I mean I used scotch tape, and Elmer’s Glue All… and lots of it. There is nothing acid or lignin free about this mess of a book… and the binding has literally BROKEN. It’s really scary.)

I pulled out my Memory Book just this past weekend… and I think you might find my thoughts from the Eighth Grade interesting:

What I Owe To Others
By Jennifer Schumacher

An anonymous writer once said, “I expect to pass through this world but once, any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to my fellowman, let me do it now; let me not put it off or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

I am not here by chance. I was conceived in love, trained through teaching, understanding and tender guidance by those around me.

My purpose for being is to grow physically, mentally and spiritually. That growth doesn’t come overnight, but is a never ending process. It has been directed by parents, teachers and friends who have taught me that without love, all else is nothing. They have directed my mind to learn, and have created within me the desire to persist.

With so many having an impact on my life, how can I neglect my responsibility to others? I must strive to be no less than the best, achieve my goals, and as I pass through this life, leave a heritage to be proud of.

These kind of assignments were fun. They made you think – but it wasn’t like the kind of thinking we had to do in Physics… which made me head hurt.

Why was I being so reflective this past week? There are SO many reasons… but the main reason is the Pampered Chef Fund Raising Event - beginning our journey to Bring Sara Home! It was so much more than just a Pampered Chef party… and it opened my eyes, yet again, to the wonderful people that we are blessed to have as family and friends.

I read over that little essay from 8th grade… and as immature and inexperienced as I was at the age of 12… part of that essay rings true to me even today. Growth doesn’t come overnight. It is impacted every day by those people around me… my family, my friends and my peers. There are so many of you that have had (and still have) a huge impact on my life… and I take my responsibility to you very seriously. I want to pass on a heritage to my children that we can all be proud of.

The Pampered Chef Fund Raising Event was a huge success. I have been amazed and overwhelmed by the love and support that has come from so many people. From people who had such an integral part in raising me and guiding my paths and life choices, to friends that I have met within the adoption community, to my dear friends from church and Bible Study… to friends I have made through other friends. I have been touched and moved by this outpouring of love and support. The encouraging words, the offers of prayers, the financial support… and the love to which each of you continues to show to my family and me, have quite literally moved me (and...Leigh) to tears. The Pampered Chef orders helped our family’s Fund Raising efforts by grossing us over $913 in total cash! Praise the Lord! In addition to the money raised from the Pampered Chef sales and raffle, we had many people that decided instead to send us love gifts to help bring Sara home. Those Love Gifts totaled $1,200. All in all, we were able to raise over $2,100 towards bringing Sara home. And it didn’t end there.

There aren’t enough words to express our gratitude to every person that helped in this endeavor. Tim and I have been moved to tears so many times, by so many acts of kindness. This kind of love for our family, and this kind of support, only strengthens our resolve that we are following the will of God.

We are so humbled and grateful to each and every person, each and every gift… each and every prayer.

To my wonderful and dear friend, Leigh Reed – Pampered Chef Super Woman… Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are the kindest person – with a heart that is big and pure and sincere. It has been a joy getting to know you… and for having you on this journey with me. Who else would have driven to Sadieville to meet a guy named Tiny Tim? And who else would have laughed so hard with me – and also cried so many tears with me? You are an angel – and I am blessed to have you in my life.

As I have already said - we are so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful friends. It is an awesome responsibility to know that there are so many people out there supporting our efforts. We want to do everything we can to make each of you proud of us - and to be good stewards of the gifts that God has entrusted us with. We are so grateful for a God that has directed our path thus far, and placed so many wonderful people with us along this journey. God is good, all the time. All the time He is good! Continue with us as we travel this journey – and please keep us in your prayers as we bring Sara home.

We thank you all - from the bottom of our hearts.

For those that didn’t make it to the party… I am trying to upload the video I showed that day. Please keep checking for that.

I love the song that Jamie used when making this video. It talks about finding the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl...then, it poses the question: "What Now - What will you do, now that you've found me? What now? What will you do with this treasure you've found?" (Stephen Curtis Chapman)

In the process of begining this journey of parenthood, our focus has certainly changed from just wanting children - to following God's will for our family... and making a difference in a child's life. I was reading my step-brother's web site. If you want to be inspired... I suggest you check it out. He is an awesome person - with such insight and ability to express his thoughts. ( On one of his recent posts he quoted Parker Palmer, a Quaker educator, who wrote, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.” Tim and I had a plan for our lives. By that same token... God had a plan - and His way is always perfect. I wonder how many of us spend our lifetime trying to force OUR plan to work, rather than to listen to His plan?? I am glad that we finally opened our eyes and ears... and began to follow His perfect path.

So...What Now?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Journey of Faith continues...

My childhood is full of the most precious - yet hysterical memories. I wouldn't trade them for any amount of money in the world. Despite our best efforts... my sisters and I did not send my mother to the funny farm... and let me tell you, with four girls in the house (all born within five years) we gave her plenty of opportunities to pull her hair out. I can't think of ONE favorite memory... and not have it include my family. My sisters, while all very different, are very much a part of who I am... and they are the most precious and dear part of my childhood. I cannot imagine life without them... and it breaks my heart now as an adult to have Jean so far away, although I know they love being in Arizona. There is just something wonderful and amazing about sisters. And I am blessed to have three! (And a mother with the patience of Job!)

Because of this, I have always known that I wanted to have a big family - full of the same joy and energy that we had at home when I was a child! When Tim and I began this journey of parenthood - there was never a question that we would have a large family.

We began our journey...with Ali and Rachel... and celebrated our 3-year anniversary of our Forever Family Day on February 3rd, 2007. (It took us 15 months to bring the girls home... so they have really been in our hearts much longer. That was just our final adoption day in Guatemala.)

Then last year in April, we traveled to Guatemala to bring McCaleb home. It was such a wonderful experience to be able to take the girls back to Guatemala... to attend a church service in a small community church with our friend, Hugo and the Blanford's from Bardstown who were there to bring Eli home as well. It was such a blessing... to spend time with and worship with the local people. To be so involved and intimate with them. Already there was a tug at our hearts that still... we could do more. We had learned of a young boy who was 8... and of a family trying to bring him home... and the challenges and difficulties they had faced for several years. The story was heartbreaking enough... but worse when Tim, Robbie and Hugo went to the orphanage and met this young boy - as well as the other older children. They saw what precious children they are... and what a huge need for these older children still exists. It was during this trip that we became painfully aware of the urgent need of these older children - waiting for their forever families. We began talking about the "next time" while we were still in Guatemala.

Somewhere along this journey - our focus has changed from what we want as parents... to making a difference in the lives of children. It's not about us... and despite whatever we might want to think... it never has been. God had a reason that He set us on this path. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We are simply trying to be faithful and obedient in that service. We still want a large family - and we know that we cannot bring every child home. We can only make a difference one life at a time.

As we began to talk about adopting again... our hearts were immediately drawn to the older children. The children that were waiting, and are so often passed over for the younger children and infants. Everyone, it seems, wants a baby. With this need on our hearts and minds- as soon as we returned home, we began making phone calls to learn more about the plight of these older children.

That is when we learned of Sara. Sara was six years old and had recently been relinquished to a home in Guatemala City.

They say that adoption is a calling… and not for the faint of heart. This is certainly true for our family. Knowing that our plate was already full… McCaleb had only returned home… we began to network with others to find a home for Sara. However, after several weeks and months of prayer and counsel… we turned this decision over to God. Once again, His voice was clear – He had already found a home for Sara, and two parents that had already opened their hearts to her. Now… we simply had to find a way to bring Sara home.

It is with great thanksgiving and joy - that we introduce you to our new daughter, Sara.

This new path on our journey brought with it many challenges of its own. Primarily; how do we handle this financial commitment after just bringing McCaleb home? With that in mind - we have set up a few Fund Raising events for Sara's adoption expenses, the first of which was Sunday, February 11th in our home. My good friend, Leigh Reed, is a director with Pampered Chef. She is one of the kindest and most energetic people you would ever want to meet! She held a Pampered Chef Fund Raising event that is going on now through February 25th. She gave out packets for people to help us by collecting orders... and by selling $4 Raffle Tickets for one of several $200 Pampered Chef shopping sprees! She is an amazing person...with a very big heart! If you want more information, you can log onto her website: or you can call her at 502-867-0814. Each order placed will help benefit Sara's Adoption Fund!

As for the Hanks Family... we find ourselves very blessed and humbled by the family and friends that we have. The love and support that you all show us is overwhelming. We ask that you continue to keep our family in your prayers as we face this new adventure... and we also ask that you pray especially for Sara: that God would begin to prepare her heart for this enormous change that will occur in her life.

I have (again) been studying a Beth Moore Bible Study. (For those of you unfamiliar... you are missing a blessing.) This one is "To Live Is Christ" about the Life and Journey of the apostle Paul... and I will end with some of his thoughts to the church at Ephesus:

"I keep asking that the God of our LORD Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."

Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV