Dec 3, 2013

Youth Encouragement Services Y.E.S Child Sponsorship Program

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Carol Adams, an amazing woman in Fort Portal, Uganda.  She has spent the last 18 years of her life devoted to serving orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda.

I will be forever grateful to Carol because my daughter, Brenda, lived at her Rescue home for almost 3 years.  The rescue home is only for orphaned children with no other option.  She is dedicated to community sustainment programs and keeping vulnerable kids in families who have families.

For $30 a month you can partner with the Y.E.S organization and sponsor a child.  This $30 opens up educational and training opportunities for the child and is proactive with health issues and welfare improvement in a Christian setting. 

Will you consider sponsoring a child for just $30 a month?  I am forever thankful for the donations that came in while my sweet Brenda was in the program.  I have personally seen this ministry in action and have seen lives transformed.  I have so much respect and admiration for what this program is doing in this community.

Please contact me at if you're interested in changing the life of a child in Uganda.  You can read more about Y.E.S organization here: 

 Y.E.S. Uganda

Oct 29, 2013

How did we end up here???

Last year, Micah and I had decided to pursue an adoption of a younger, completely healthy, little boy, aged 0-2.

However, God had other plans.

Late one night, I was sitting at the computer looking at pictures of children on a waiting list and I saw this picture: 

I knew at that moment that this child belonged in our family.  Micah wasn't entirely convinced so we started praying and educating ourselves.  To be totally honest, the kids and I prayed and prayed for God to change Dad's heart.

After LOTS of prayer God did the unthinkable and we decided to accept the referral and we started the process of adopting Brenda.

I flew to Uganda in December to meet her and spent 4 short days with her.  She didn't speak English and I didn't speak Rutooro but God confirmed in my heart that we were in the center of His will.


In Feb, our entire family boarded a plane to Africa to meet her for the first time and bring her home.  

It was an amazing experience to show Brenda her entire new family in her own country. The kids bonded instantly as a result.

While we were in Africa, we met another little boy...Brenda's biological brother.  He's 10. 

And God spoke to our hearts and asked us how can we not keep them together?????

At that time we were only approved to adopt 1 child but God was stirring our hearts.  We came home and started praying.  We knew we would need to add on to our girl's room. 

Y'all we live in a 1500 sq foot house and without that addition there was no way we would be approved.  
We simply said yes to God.  And once again He showed up BIG TIME.  We simply walked through the doors God opened. 

So many people say adoption is expensive.  And it is REALLY REALLY REALLY expensive!!!

In one year's time we have completed Brenda's adoption, added a bedroom on to our home and started another adoption and we are only $7000 short from being fully funded.  That's a miracle.  I can't even explain it.

How can we afford this?  God!!! And it's pretty safe to say that retirement will not be on a golf course.

I stand in awe at how God works through His people.  The body of Christ is AMAZING! We often hear  negative stuff about "the church" but God certainly uses His people to accomplish the impossible.   We are living proof of it! 

In 7 short months our precious girl has grown and flourished.

So many of my friends have asked how they can help or what they can pray for. 

How can you help???

1.  Pray for us and with us.  God knows our needs and I have no doubt in my mind that He will meet them.

2.  Pray for our family as we go from a family of 6 to a family of 7.

3.  Pray for Brenda's brother.  This is HUGE for him.  He'll be 11 shortly.  Pray for our hearts and his heart to instantly connect.  

4.  Pray for the perfect timing for us to travel.

Thanks for walking with us through all of this. It has been more of a struggle than we ever thought, but it is totally worth it.  

You can be involved in a tangible way by directly supporting our family with both your prayers and your financial support.  

Project Hopeful is a non-profit organization, which allows our family to raise additional support and this allows you to financially contribute to our family as well as receive a tax deduction with your gift.  All donations are anonymous and can only be used to bring Brenda's brother home.

But we mostly need your prayers.  God will do the rest.  I love you all!!

Oct 13, 2013

Joseph's Fig Account

Deja Vu.  That's what my life feels like these days.  

Exactly one year ago this month we were sending Brenda's dossier to Africa.  We were wondering what life would be like going from a family of 5 to a family of 6.

And here we are again.  Wondering what life will be like adding an older child to our family.  Excited and scared to death all in one breath.  Going from a family of 6 to a family of 7.

Two adoption in one year.  

Wondering how we are going to do it. Simply holding on by a prayer.  One step in front of another trusting God with our future.  

It's so scary planning for the logistics of adoption. Traveling half way across the world to bring one child home while you leave the other kids back.  Do we bring we leave them??  Who stays in country?  Do we do this in 2 trips??

How on earth are we going to afford travel?
All the unanswered questions swirling around our heads but yet God miraculously took care of it with Brenda and deep down amongst the chaos i know He will take care of it with Joseph.


Let me tell you about Project Hopeful.  This wonderful organization helps educate, encourages and enables families to advocate for and adopt children with HIV/AIDS and other of the most overlooked children for adoption. 

Project Hopeful has partnered with us and set up a fig fund to help bring Joseph home.

What is a Fig Fund

It is an Adoption Fund specifically for Joseph through Project Hopeful. All donations are 100% tax deductible, anonymous, and the money is not ours – which means it can only be used for Joseph's Adoption costs and all disbursements are done directly, not through or to us at all. This means great accountability and that it is ONLY for his adoption expenses. 

So if you're looking for an awesome tax deduction and want to partner with us to help bring Joseph home, click on the link below.

Joseph's Fig Fund

Sep 30, 2013

Simply Wow!!

Grand total of the online auction is....

Y'all blessed the socks right off of us!! 
We are so thankful for everyone that donated items, services, and talent. And we are incredibly thankful for those that bid on items.

We are continually blessed. As I receive people's receipts I noticed they've paid more than their total. Time and time again we are surrounded by such giving and generous hearts.  THANK YOU!!
Our fundraising is over.  So many have rallied around this adoption with incredible support.  Now we ask that you cover us with unceasing prayer.
God is working to make this adoption happen and he is using people we would not have expected! I cannot tell you how this humbles and encourages me.  We ask that you simply pray with us because prayer changes EVERYTHING!

Sep 20, 2013

Auction Ends 9pm Tomorrow

Yes Folks...i know y'all are sick and tired of hearing about it.  

I am sick and tired of talking about it!

But....we have a little over 24 hours and lots of great stuff.

Local folks--Hillsong Tickets live!  Current bid $40

Lots of Photography donated!

Gorgeous items and Christmas is around the corner!!

Click on the link and check out all of the other items here:

Smith Family Silent Auction Items

Bidding ends Saturday, Sep 21 at 9pm.  

Sep 13, 2013

Silent Online Auction is live!!!!

For ONE week this auction will run!!! From Now until 9pm Sep 21. 

Go here: Smith Family Online Auction

Happy bidding!

In the very first comment, the minimum bid price will be listed. If you wish to bid on an item, simply post a comment with the amount you wish in dollar increments.

Shipping IS included for all US addresses unless stated local item; if you're outside of the US, you will pay for the difference in shipping cost. Thanks for bidding!

The auction will run from now until 9 pm Sat Sep 21.

If you are not on facebook, please send me an email to: with your bid and i will place the bid for you.  

Sep 9, 2013

4 days and a wake up!!!

Until the start of our auction!!!!  

As of today, we have over 90 FABULOUS items donated.  

The online silent auction will take place on Facebook.  

You can check out the items here:  Smith Family Online Silent Auction and on Sept 14 you simply bid on your favorite items under the photos on facebook while you are lounging in your pjs.  No stress!!

The auction will remain open until Sep 21 and bidding will end at 10 pm.

Sep 7, 2013

Happy 6 months home precious girl!

Oh my sweet Brenda...

How i thank God everyday for you.  

Six months ago we could barely communicate.  

Today, I treasure your stories...the glimpses into your life before God gave you to us.

Happy 6 months home precious girl.  I love you!

Sep 2, 2013

Adoption update

Things are happening around here!!

We received our biometrics fingerprint appointment this past week for September 19.  We have heard they may accept us as a walk in so we are going to drive to Tampa to see if they will fit us in early.

We also heard that there may be a slight chance that we may be traveling earlier than we had originally anticipated.

As a result of this news, we are going to start our online silent auction September 14th through September 21st.  This is a whole week earlier than we had planned.

If we do travel in Oct, we wanted to have the auction completely finished. 

This will be our ONE and ONLY fundraiser.  It's just not for us.  We have decided to simply pray and tell God our needs and will rely on him for His help.

Please pray for:

1.  God's perfect timing.

2.  For our hearts and Brenda's brothers heart.  This is huge for him and for us!!  Will we instantly love a 10 year old?  Will he love us back?  Realistically, probably not.  He is leaving everything he has ever known. 

Logically, it doesn't make sense, but our ways are not God's ways and our thoughts are not God's.  We can simply pray for God to knit our hearts together.

3.  Logistics.  God knows what we need and when we need it.  I'm a lightning bolt kind of gal.  I want to pray God in doing what I want him to do and how I want him to do it.  And NOW.  It never really works out well for me.

4.  Our silent auction and all that is involved. 

Our prayer all along has been for God to open the doors that need opened and to close the doors that need closed. 

I believe in prayer with every fiber of my being.  So please come alongside our family and simply pray with us and for us. 

I appreciate all of the donations that have come in for the silent auction.  From the bottom of my heart--THANK YOU!!

Check them out at:  Smith Family Silent Auction

Aug 28, 2013

Mud Love Fundraiser $10 Shipped

Mudlove is a great company that gives 20% of their sales to help give clean water in Africa! So when you buy a bracelet from our fundraiser, not only will 100% of the proceeds benefit our adoption, but 20% of the actual cost of the bracelet will go towards clean drinking water for people in Africa.

For every $10 you donate towards our adoption fund,
you can pick the MudLove bracelet [no shipping fees] of your choice.

To order yours, use the donate button to the right and let me know in your note which band(s) you want.
Check out our Smith Family Adoption Fundraising page for up to date band colors and quantities. 

Aug 12, 2013

Online Silent Auction

We are headed to Uganda again to reunite Brenda with her brother and we so need y'alls help!!!  This is SOOO out of our comfort zone, but we have no choice but to fundraise to bring him home.

As many of you know, this will be our second adoption this year.  Who would have thought this would be apart of God's story???

From September 21 until September 28 Sep 14 until Sep 21 we will be holding an online silent auction to help get us closer to our $12,000 goal.  

If you have anything that you'd like to donate or if you know someone or a business who might be willing to help, please contact me by September 4.

Ideas include gift cards for national chains, handmade items (knit, lotions, soap, sewing, etc), jewelry,  electronics, books, local services (photography, lawn mowing) and almost anything else new/unused that you can think of. 

All money raised will go directly to our adoption fund and we will give any shops/businesses who donate a lot of good PR!

The online auction will open on September 14 and it will run for about one week. 

If you would like to contribute an item, please:

1. Email me a clear photo of the item(s) with a description and approximate value to

2.  Links to your Facebook page, website, and/or shop.

3. Your name and the best email address to reach you.

Y'all, I’m believing that God will use this auction to provide far above and beyond what we need to complete this adoption. 

I know, I’m dreamin’ BIG here. But I believe the GOSPEL changes everything. 

Please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this post so we can get as many great items as possible for the auction!

Come on over and like our facebook page: 

Home Study Finished

A quick little update:  We have finished the home study.  

Next step:  Send off our I-600a.

Never in a thousand years would i have guessed we would be in the midst of another adoption...especially, in the very same year.

Dear Jesus, Let the money fall from heaven!!

Jul 31, 2013

It's a crazy hard but close to God road

It's official!  We have started the process to bring home Brenda's brother.  Crazy!!!  As the ups and downs of adoptions go, we must recreate our homestudy.  

From scratch!!  

It is what it is....not much has really happened in the past few months as Brenda just came home. Anyways....

So the first huge chunk of change went out in the mail yesterday and wouldn't you know it God already provided for it.  

Let the good times roll!!!

Jul 26, 2013

And we are expanding...

We are currently in the middle of a bedroom addition so we can have all 3 girls in one room and little man will have his own room..........FOR NOW.

We have decided that we will add to our crew.  God willing.  Another boy.  :) :) :) 

Apr 25, 2013


As i write this, i am watching a little girl swimming in my pool with her new sisters and brother.  Even though her English is broken, they are laughing.  They are playing.  They are being typical kids.

You would never know that less than 4 months ago she lived in an orphanage that is filled with older kiddos living with more heartache than i will ever see in my life. 

They all have a story to tell.  Some are sadder than others.  Some are terrifying.  If we took them to see a shrink, they would be labeled with some scary label with 3 or 4 letters.  Now don't get me wrong, these are real issues and shouldn't be taken lightly, but we are talking about kids that have lost parents and suffered trauma that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

There WILL be issues.

So often when my friends come up to me and ask how things are going, i give a smile and say,

"Great!!! Everything is so much better than we anticipated." 

And there is TRUTH to that statement but we have had some dark days. Brenda wouldn't be in my home if we didn't have issues that we needed to work through.

There are days that are HARD.  Adoption is exhausting, expensive, uncomfortable, and some days not rewarding AT ALL.

Do i know what the future holds?  No.

Will i have to deal with some sort of attachment issue with Brenda?  Maybe.

Will we have to spend years in therapy?  Perhaps.

How will this affect my bio kids?  I'm not sure.

On the days that i long for what life was like as a Mom of 3, God reminds of Redemption.

Definition: Redemption is the act of buying something back, or paying a price to return something to your possession.

Redemption is costly.   Buying back lives costs A LOT.  When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.

But, Redemption is a BEAUTIFUL thing.  Jesus didn't call me to an easy life.  He didn't promise me the American dream.  He didn't promise obeying Him would keep my kids out of harm's way. 

The reality of God's Kingdom is that this life is not my own.

This life is about letting Jesus do His thing.  He redeems lives, and y'all, He will keep doing it with or without me.

 It’s not about me, but I'm honored that Jesus chose me to shine a little of His light into this precious life.

Apr 17, 2013

It's official

We have finalized our adoption today in the State of Florida.  It consisted of 7 questions over the phone with a notary present while our lawyer was in court with the judge.  Super fast and easy!!

She is officially ours!

Apr 7, 2013

One Month Home

We have been home for one month and we have had lots of firsts.  Here is a glimpse into Brenda's first month...

First time on a Horse

First Easter Egg Hunt

First time on a bouncy slide

First Birthday party

First Day of School

Apr 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Today we have the opportunity to celebrate Brenda's 7th birthday. Older child adoption has been such a blessing.  Don't get me wrong, some days are HARD, but despite the difficulties I can see God's hand on this entire transition into our family. 

Mar 18, 2013

Please forgive me President Obama

Tonight at my therapy session (AKA 3 mile run) God humbled me in my tracks.  You see, I'm not a huge Obama fan, but if it wasn't for Obamacare I would have a little girl going without health care coverage tonight.  Jesus made me eat my words.

Tonight i learned a few things: 

1.  God is Sovereign

2.  Way back in November God had a plan for a little girl that lived in Uganda to come to the United States.  He knew that Micah and I would have trouble adding her to our health insurance because of preexisting conditions, but yet again He is sovereign.

3.  God works out everything according to His will. 

Mr President, i may not be a supporter, but i am thankful for Obamacare tonight.  I am thankful that i can add my soon to be 7 year old to my Blue Cross coverage with no preexisting conditions and at the newborn rate. 

Jan 27, 2013

Living a radical life...

First, let me start off by saying that i honestly feel all Christians are called to live a radical life.

We are a mere 9 days and a wake up before we travel as a family of 5 to become a family of 6.

Am i excited?  Absolutely!

Am i nervous?  You betcha!

Do i know what the future holds?  No!  Does anyone?

BUT--Something is missing!  And it's been missing for a little bit.

I am neck high in adoption stuff.  We have 7 suitcases packed.  The kids are vaccinated.  We have our taxes done.  We have umpteen copies of our paperwork!  We are ready to go! 

But something is still missing...

I was sitting in church today and it felt cold.  It has NOTHING to do with my church, but i just haven't felt that closeness to Jesus that makes my heart pound. 

I remember praying to God asking Him to give me a sign.  (I'm a lightning bolt kinda gal.)

I remember telling Jesus, "I will do whatever you ask.  I will live a radical life.  I will sell everything i have.  I just need to hear you.  I need direction. Just speak to me Jesus!!"

And in that still small silent moment God spoke.  Y'all didn't hear it???? 

Seriously...He said to me, "Sheila, I'm here.  I'm in the mundane while YOU'RE trying to live the radical."

My heart was ripped into two.  As we are preparing to venture into this new season of our life, I've missed God. I've missed Jesus in the mundane.  The God that created the heavens and the earth.  He also created the radical and the mundane!

You see, Satan has been keeping me busy trying to live the radical life.  I haven't sat at the feet of Jesus in some time.  Sure, I've been in my bible.  I've been to church, but i haven't had the hunger for God's word like i should because I've been busy trying to live radically for God.  That's a fine line to walk.

Contentment is hard for me.  Relishing where God has me at this very moment is a difficult concept for me to grasp.  I'm truly a work in progress.  Aren't we all? 

I still long for that crazy, radical life.  I still pray for that next big thing God wants to do. But i don't want to miss Jesus in the process.

Jan 19, 2013


We finally have a court date schedule for Feb.  Thank you Jesus!! 

We are coming for you sweet girl!

Jan 17, 2013

Uganda Packing list

We are taking the ENTIRE family to Uganda.  Call us CRAZY!!  But that's how we roll...

Thanks to some near and dear friends, we have a family packing list that i'm going to share:

For plane:

Luggage scale to weigh suitcases upon return

Packs of tissues (for toilet paper later)



Empty water bottles (so you can fill up after going through security)

Travel blanket (airplane size)/Earplugs/Neck pillow

Tooth paste and toothbrush for plane



Kindle/books for adults
Kindle/Ipod/Books for children

Medications and prescriptions needed during travel

Kid's card games
Baby wipes

Any liquids in quart sized ziplock

Extension cord/surge protector for recharging in airport

Laptop (DVD player)

ipod with music for me, video, audio books for kids

ipod charger/phone charge/All chargers

Change of clothes/Court clothes & shoes for court

Court paperwork/kids birth certificates/Yellow fever documentation

Eye drops

Hand sanitizer

Tickets/Itenararies/Crisp $50 bill for each traveler for visas




Surge protector and converter
Check all electronics for voltage (if the range is through 220, you should be able to plug it in with only an adaptor, without a converter)

Camera charger

Extra camera batteries

Memory cards for camera

Mini flashlight

Battery charger

Flash drive and/or card reader with USB with all of court documents uploaded (We also uploaded them onto Amazon cloud).

DVD’s and kids video games
Walkie talkies for kids(helpful if you split up and they love them)

Electricity converters

Phone (arrange to rent, borrow, or buy one)


Piece of rope (to tie bags together) or hang laundry on later

Dummy wallet with old credit card, fake license, and little cash

Local US Embassy contact and security info

Embassy registration (do this on the website)

Dog tags for kids (with name, nationality engraved; can also put local info on masking tape on tag)

TSA approved luggage locks (only lock allowed)

Bike lock (in case you have to lock bags together)

Copy of passports (in case of loss or theft)

Copy of birth certificates

Copy of front and back of ATM and credit card

Pepper spray

Phone numbers and addresses for home

Phone numbers for local contacts, shared with family at home

Passwords, copies of important papers, and wills shared with family at home

Color copy and laminate driver’s license (for corrupt police)

Notarized parent authorization letter if only one parent is going

Note card for thank you notes for people on the trip and small gifts from your hometown

Financial things:

Credit card (bring one that you rarely use and call the company to tell travel dates and locations)

Suspend magazine, newspaper subscriptions/mail at home

ATM card (bring one that is not attached to your main bank account and call the company)

PIN’s for credit and ATM cards

Copied front and back of credit and ATM cards or scanned onto flashdrive

Cash (bring as much cash as you feel comfortable carrying)

Important financial account and phone numbers (in case of theft or loss)

Old or fake credit card in case of theft put in dummy wallet

Back up ATM or credit card for emergencies


Small candle (for light and for smells!)

Band-Aids/First Aid kit

Antibiotic cream

Fever reducer for kids

Pain reliever

Diaper rash cream (in case of diarrhea irritation)

A couple old towels you can leave when trip is over

Small packs of tissues


Baby wipes


Visit pediatrician before trip.

Malaria medication (by prescription)

Diarrhea medicine (by prescription)

Liquid benadryl

Lotrimin for fungal rashes

Antibiotics for family

Over-the-counter diarrhea medicine

2 bars of soap (if you have a favorite)

2 sticks of deodorant (if you have a favorite)

Cold medicine for kids and adults

Hydrocortisone cream

Tylenol/Mortrin for adults


Gauze tape

Shampoo and conditioner
Laundry soap/plug/line for hand washing

Cotton swabs

Mosquito netting if not provided by guesthouse

Mosquito repellant

Alcohol pads

Feminine products (tampons are hard to find)


Nail clippers



One towel (super absorbent camping ones are great)

Kid’s vitamins


Skin so soft for mosquitoes

Alcohol wipes

Clorox wipes

Personal hygiene (toothpaste/floss/toothbrush/hairbrush)

3 months worth of contacts and solution

Body wash

Face soap/wipes

Nail polish (kids love their nails painted)

Make up (Makes us feel pretty when we are grimy)

Hair dryer/straightener (better to have than not have and wish you had)


In the villages:  Long skirts or dresses/modest tops/shrug or cardigan

In Kampala:  Capris and pants are fine.  Very similar to what is worn here.  I wouldn't advise shorts.

Lots of underwear

2 pairs of pjs--it gets hot at night


Hair things--what you would use at home

No expensive jewelry


Shoes: 1 pair of dress shoes for court, flip flops (for bathrooms), shoes for walking (I wore a Mary Jane leather teva style that went fine with capris or skirts).


Eye Glasses



We are traveling with our 3 ages 10, 7, and 5.  Our adopted daughter is the same size as our 7 year old.

8 outfits for each girl.  Some skirts/leggings/capris.  1-2 pairs of bermuda shorts.

Light jacket

4-5 socks. 

Pair of sneakers/pair of crocs/shoes for court

Bathing suit

8 outfits for my son.  Long shorts/collared shirts/swim trunks/jeans/khakis

2 pairs of pjs each.

Lots of games/legos/coloring books/a whole suitcase of fun stuff to do and we will leave it there.

Lots of baby wipes


Reusable, washable bags for dirty clothes, shopping, storage, etc…

Mesh laundry bag

Dry bag (if you’ll be in a lot of water)

Stop mail at

Variety of Ziplock bags

Give neighbors a letter

Photos of home to share (people are always interested; you can put them on your ipod)--Locals love to look at photo albums

Small notebook (to carry daily to jot things down)


Leatherman/good quality knife

Matches or lighter

Rope or laundry line

Small dish detergent and sponge

Laundry powder/Woolight for hand washing

Sink stopper

Plastic bowl and cup for each traveler

Utensils for each traveler

Several storage containers

Several food bag clips

Gifts for new friends

Bungy cords (just in case)


Duct tape

Large trash bags (to keep things dry)

Lantern or light (if somewhere without electricity, I like the round, small stick-up LED lights)


House/pet sitter for home

House sitter’s list

Over door hook

Safety pins

Masking tape (to write on and label things)

Candle (in case of smelly rooms and emergency)

Contact info from home

Back up computer on USB

Calling cards for home to call you or Skype account

Donations (bring used kids’ toys to donate if desired)


List of must know words in child's language
Begin blog/email list to update family

Collapsible suitcase or duffle bag for souvenirs

Envelopes (you never know)

Pencils, colored pencils, pens, sharpener, crayons, eraser, note books, folders

Ant/Roach traps


List of Questions to ask birth family

Bring photo to leave with birth family


We are also packing a whole tote box of snacks

Crystal light





Protein bars

Granola bars

Peanut butter

Dried fruit

Tuna/Cracker packets

Trail mix