8.08.2016

A Geranium Dress and Letting Your Light Shine

This summer, one tragic thing after another has happened in our world.  It's easy to feel despondent.  Yet, even in the darkness, so many people are shining brightly in their love and goodness toward humanity.  Unfortunately, those people don't tend to make news headlines.


I wanted to honor a woman named Chrystal whose light has inspired me.  She has three biological children and added a fourth child to her family through adoption through the US foster care system.  She not only welcomed this beautiful child into her family but has opened her heart to her daughter's birth mother who had aged out of the foster care system.

Chrystal also started an organization called Foster Village Austin, as a way to support foster and adoptive families.



In Austin, 67 children slept in CPS offices in two months time because of a shortage of licensed foster homes.  Often, when foster parents are approved, a child is placed with them almost immediately.  It's not uncommon for children to come to families with only the clothes they are wearing.  So Chrystal started a project to create Welcome Boxes for these children and their foster families.  These boxes contain several days worth of clothes, basic necessities, and comfort items.
  

I knew I wanted to collect donations to give to this project.  But as I was working on that, I felt a strong prompting to do something to give back to Chrystal.  When Dan and I were in the early days of our adoption journey, there were many times when we felt depleted, unsupported, and alone. It took years for Tia to heal from the extreme neglect she experienced having spent her babyhood in an orphanage.  When you don't go through a pregnancy or birth, sometimes people assume the process of growing your family is an easy one.   But adoptive families can and do struggle too.  Adoption always starts with loss and children often come to us hurting.


I have never met Chrystal, but I asked one of our mutual friends about what she might enjoy.  I wanted to encourage and uplift her.  She said Chrystal loves handmade and suggested I make a dress for her lovely daughter.

I decided to go with a geranium dress.  It's a classically cute style and the shape of the dress is pretty forgiving.  I wanted this all to be a surprise and didn't have her daughter's measurements.


I made muted rose piping for the neckline and matching rose buttons for the back.


The fabric is this print from Art Gallery's denim collection.


I also bought two gift cards for her to be used only for pampering herself.

One of the most important values I want to impart to my children is to have a heart to love and serve others, especially those in the greatest need.  December is a common month for people to focus on service projects in the spirit of Christmas.   But we have found that December is such a busy time with so many other commitments, we aren't able to give as fully as we'd like then.  So this year we decided to focus on doing service projects in July.  The timing was perfect since we weren't homeschooling.

These project ideas came from others, mostly those in the adoption community.  All of these projects are easy to do with kids, so I thought I would share them.
  • We shopped for and delivered food to our local food bank. The food bank is in great need during the summer months because children who normally receive free or subsidized meals at school aren't in school and often go hungry.  Our food bank had a list of the foods which were needed most.

  • We put together kits for homeless people who wait at stoplights.  We used this article to guide us.
  • We purchased items to support Chrystal's project.
  • As an ongoing project, we sponsor five children through Compassion International and we try to write to them on the first Sunday of each month.  The letters make an enormous difference in the lives of these children and we have been so blessed by the letters we have received in return.

Thank you, Chrystal, for shining so brightly!  The world needs your light!

19 comments:

  1. You are good people, Rachel. And thanks for taking the time to highlight the good work of others, as well as things that each of us can do.
    The foster care system has a special place in my heart because I worked with children and families for several years as a CPS worker. It's am imperfect system but it's made better by the input of caring people and communities and I love that you shone a light on this.
    And that you made such an adorable dress.

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  2. As Chrystal shines, so do you Rachel. Thank you for the beautiful example you are setting to your children AND to us, your readers! Love that you are so intentional about teaching that we are Christ's hands and feet. That is love.

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    1. You are such a beautiful person, Lucinda! Thank you for all of the ways you encourage me and love those in your life so well! xx

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  3. Beautiful dress, photos and sentiment. I'm off to read about the advice for kits for homeless people.

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  4. This is just beautiful Rachel, all of it. I'm sure the dress will be lovingly received. Every kind and generous act, large or small, makes a difference in the world. I've really been feeling this lately too.

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  5. This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine ; ) I kept humming that song while reading your post. Amen to all of this. Blessings on you all.
    I gave wanted to foster children for YEARS but hubby isn't on board with that and it has to be both of us so.......
    We sponsor 4 children through different organizations as well. Compassion is a good one . Enjoy your summer!

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  6. This is such a lovely post. And now I've spent a little bit of time reading Chrystal's blog, and it is so moving! I am grateful to know you, Rachel, and be exposed, at least a tiny bit, to some of the incredible people you know. This post filled me a desire to do more for my community - you're right, lately the bad stuff has been pretty overwhelming, and it is natural to want to hide your head in the sand. I need posts like this to remind me to focus on the good, and on being one of the helpers.

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  7. Thank you for this post, Rachel. It's beautiful how you are modeling this kind of caring to your children. The idea of welcome boxes for foster children is great. My friend had her first children placed with her this Nov. Like you said, they came with truly nothing. Some pjs, a book or two, a simple toy, would make the transition just slightly easier. I wonder if these boxes could be an option around Christmas time as a local version of Operation Christmas Child?

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    1. That's such a fabulous idea, Rachel!

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  8. Loved this post! Such pretty fabric you chose for the dress.

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    1. Thank you so much! It was a last minute idea and I was working from my stash! It's so much more nerve racking to sew for someone else's child!

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  9. What a beautiful thing. We foster and have adopted one that came with nothing. It is a scary world for this kids and you are right about adopting not having the 9 months to prepare. It is a sacrifice, but I wouldn't change it for anything. These kids who come in and out of our lives have changed us forever and we pray that we have imparted God's love into their lives.

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    1. Wow, Kayla, you are so amazing and inspiring! Thank you for showing the love of Christ to these little ones! That feels so inadequate, typing it out. I pray you feel held and uplifted by those in your own community as you give sacrificially. Many, many blessings to you! Thank you for your light!

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  10. Oh Rachel! You are the sweetest person on earth! I don't know you in real but I really admire the way you write about your kids and the world around you. Every time I read one of your posts, I feel inspired to share that love, so your mission has succeeded! And the buttons on the dress are gorgeous. So sweet of you!

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    1. Thank you so much, Eva! That means so much to me! <3

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  11. You are teaching your children the most important lessons in life, and you are doing so by providing personal example. I am sure they will grow up into caring, loving adults. I admire people who open their hearts and their homes to children who need it. These people are real heroes. I am sure Crystal's girl will love the dress. It is beautiful, and you chose my fave print in the collection :)

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  12. Aw man, Rachel - you have the biggest heart and I love you! This is a beautiful gift.

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  13. inspiring and beautiful post Rachel! Thank you for sharing Crystals story as well as your heart for adoption & foster care.

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