Thursday, June 30, 2016

Best of Facebook: June 2016

6/1/2016: Click here to see photo on FB: 

We took a big leap 3 months ago. I have always had a dream of having a traveling petting zoo business so after becoming debt free we took a leap, got an LLC, became licensed and insured and put ourselves out there. God has blessed it beyond what we could have ever imagined!!! Here are two reviews we saw on our FB page today! <3

"Amazing people! Lovely animals! Sweet kids! Can't wait to go back!"

"We hired Redemptive Love Petting Zoo for a birthday party for our one year old and they were a complete hit with ALL ages! BEST birthday party! This family-run business is nothing short of amazing with their professionalism and genuine courtesy. I cannot speak highly enough of the children helping with this operation- they were so well spoken and knowledgeable and a pleasure to be around! The animals were all very friendly and responded well to the 25+ children we had there ages 1-14. Even the teens and adults enjoyed petting them. The horses were so friendly and a perfect addition for the easiest birthday party we have ever hosted! Thank you so much Redemptive Love! We will definitely be calling again, and would refer anyone with 100% confidence!"

Here is an Italian documentary our family was featured can kinda hear our voices (speaking in English) under the dubbed voices. It is a 30 minute documentary, we are filmed and interviewed from time: 13:25-16:54. To be honest I have no idea the way they spun the story because I don't speak Italian but I do know the title is "An American Scandal".....God can use anything.
Click here to go to website with video

EDITED to add: Laura Mercier, who is awesome, took the time to translate our small segment, here is English translation:

"Sometimes, second chance adoptions truly have a happy ending.
In this farm, on the periphery of Tallahassee, Florida, Shannon and Brian Carroll live with their 7 children adopted in the last 5 years.
For them, saving children in difficult situations, with a past of abandonment and failed adoptions, is a mission, a way to fulfill God’s will.

Shannon: “If you’re trying to build a family through adoption, or if a couple can’t have children, you think “I want to adopt a little baby from China” but you discover quickly that things aren’t that simple. These children with a past of traumatic relationships or having grown up in orphanages don’t know how to act with a mom and dad. There never had any parents, they don’t come through the door telling you “Mom, I love you!”.
If we have children fill a void in ourselves, to be called parents, adoptions don’t work. But if we do it to fill their needs of love and attention, then that’s a way for those children to find healing.”

Among the 7 Carroll children there is Samuel, 9 years old, his face scarred by a birthmark. Abandoned around 6 months by his parents, Sam spent his first 4 years in an orphanage in China. First he was adopted by a family in Michigan, who after 4 years, in 2014, decided to get rid of him. Abandoned again.

Sam: “One evening, Mom and Dad told me “Go to your room, we need to talk to you”. I thought who knows what they want, it can’t be anything serious. Then, I understood… You think, OK, I’ll be here for the rest of my life, and instead I discovered I needed to leave. I was tossed about from here to there so many times. How can I trust when they told me I was going to stay here forever? The only thing I can do is wait and see what’s going to happen.”

Shannon: “When he started living with us, Sam kept repeating: “Who knows, maybe my next family will be in Texas, or maybe in California” as if it was an exciting adventure. But one day he too will need a family, he will need to know that he is wanted. We had to explain this to him many times: Hey kid, whether you like it or not, this is the last stop! Now and in the future, it will always be us."

Dr. Ware's wife once told me, "No good or generous impulse is from Satan, consider it from God and act on it regardless of how you feel."

You know that prodding to pay for someone's meal even when you don't you have the money - from God

The urge to call someone even when you don't have the time - from God

The desire to love one of God's children and cure their orphan-ness by giving them a family - definitely from God (the last thing Satan wants is to see the orphan know their true Father)

Who needs seven multicolored kids to get you attention when you have a goat in your purse! ;) I have entered a new phase of crazy...

This mama thing is hard some the stress of it all some mamas take a bath, some go out for a jog. Some mamas sniff oils, some take medications. Some mamas drink lots of coffee, some binge eat chocolate icecream. Some mamas hide in the closet and cry, some dance in the midst of the crazy.
Me...I hug a dog...or a pony...or a bunny....or a goat....or even a chicken.

We all have our thing. Don't judge. :D
Keep on keeping on mamas!

28 days had come and gone with no babies. 30 days had come and gone with no babies. 34 days had come and gone with no babies. We were about to move mama back in with the flock and discard all 12 eggs. But mama was sitting ever so faithfully, "oh, just let her keep sitting." A big thunderstorm had come through at one point causing rain water to fill her nest and we found all the eggs floating in the water. I knew in my heart at that point the eggs were no longer viable. But her faithfulness to sit on these, perceived dead, babies caused my heart to long with her, so we dried them and gave her a fresh nesting box, "okay, let her keep sitting." She refused to leave her nest. We would take food and water to her every morning and get a close enough for a whiff of a rotten egg smell. Mama duck would fluff up her feathers and hiss, this 15lb duck ready to defend her nest against a 150lb human, "If you insist on sitting, we are not taking your eggs mama duck, you just sit."

Everyday we looked at this mama duck with a hopeless sigh but Mama duck knew better than us, for this very morning a fuzzy yellow baby greeted us. We don't know if any more will hatch but we do know that even if this is the only baby that hatches it has made all the patience and faithfulness of sitting in the heat and the rain worth it to this mama duck!

What a lesson in not acting in haste yet just faithfully waiting on the Lord this morning! :D

Follow-up to previous mama duck post: 10 out of the 12 eggs mama was sitting on were very rotten. She hatched out one more sweet yellow baby today and then we gave her two more eggs that were just starting to hatch in our incubator!

So she hatched two bio + two adopted = four REAL ducklings ;) lol
And mama loves them all!!! <3

4 years ago this tiny dude became ours! I still remember the days leading up to his placement in our family! When the first sibling group of three came I, vainly, prayed that they would be cute, and terribly cute they were. When just 3 months later we were called for a baby girl and my very cute, big three were wearing me out I prayed that she would just sleep through the night! At 6 weeks old she she slept soundly through the night, but during the day she was a very collicky, fussy baby. So when just 6 months later we were called once more for a baby boy, I said yes through tears of exhaustion and prayed, "Lord, just let him smile."

This baby was dropped off an hour after they called us with nothing but the dirty clothes he was wearing. The first couple days this baby sat quietly, no crying, no laughing, just would sit and watch. When baby girl cried (which was often) I would meet both babies needs. This quiet little boy who now was getting all his needs met before he could ask, yet before he came he had learned to stop crying because in his past his cries had been ignored.

Something began to happen, this baby began to happily smile and laugh all the time! I would walk to the table carrying dinner, three whiny, pouty kids would complain, baby girl would be screaming because I was too slow getting the food to her and this baby boy would be smiling and clapping! He became my personal cheerleader in the drudgery of life chores! His tiny hands and huge tooth-less grin are forever etched in my mind as God's perfect blessing bestowed on me to drive me to continue on in love!

I wanted to say no to number five, I was SO overwhelmed with four, but if I had I wouldn't have had that breath of fresh air, that tiny smile sent from Heaven that said, "you're doing good mom, keep going!"

6/22/16: Click here to view link on FB:

I finally got around to telling our story going from $250,000 mortgage + two car loans + other small debt = $300,000 total debt to the freedom of not having to pay a mortgage, owning our cars and being debt free ($0 debt)!!!

6/26/16: Click here to see post on FB:

Memory from one year ago, I can still feel the deep feeling of frailty as I remember this time being separated from my family, sitting in the hospital by my sweet girl.

6/26/15 - Today marks 2 weeks since we loaded up Clifford, our big red Excursion, with 7 kiddos and a trailer full of medical supplies. We drove home embarking on a new journey, a new path that God had set before us with another gift buckled in behind me laughing with her new siblings. We spent the first day unpacking box after box and making room for another member of the family. It was a peaceful day with visitors bringing meals and Brittney quietly adjusting, exploring her new home and playing with all her new toys.

The calm before the storm.

In the past we have had a honeymoon period with our behavioral/trauma roller coaster kids, usually a month long calm before the storm. This new medical roller coaster whipped us right up to the peak of the drop before we could even get our feet wet. In just 24 hours at 1am that 2nd night home we were awakened by vomitting and rushed to the ER. After a long night we were admitted due to Pancreatitis. Now even though her Pancreas levels are back to normal we are still going to be here in the hospital for an indefinite amount of time unitl her body gets back up to par.

For 12 days I have sat by this little girl's bedside, comforted her, held her hand and let her know I am here for her. For 12 dats I have held dozens of vomit buckets, changed a truckload of yucky diapers, went 72 hours straight without sleep, lived out of a suitcase, and cried enough tears to fill a bathtub. At times it felt like this path dropped out from under us and I was falling. My human fraility, weakness and emotions have been deep these past 12 days.

But God is still good and He is big, bigger than this hospital stay. God is still showing us His endless lovingkindness, grace and mercy. God's promises are shown more, not less, true in times of trouble and His supernatural peace can only be found in the midst of a storm. God is still on sovereignly on His throne and this temporary trial did not take Him by surprise. This is the path He paved for us. For. Our. Good! And this ship is staying course through the fiercest winds and rain.

Although our family is in different cities, Brittney and I here 4 hours away in the hospital and Brian home with the kids playing the single parent game we are growing deeper in love with each other every day. This trial has deepened our understanding of what family truly means.

"Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten." - Stitch :D
Powerful words little, blue, alien man...powerful words.

Posted by Shannon

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DEBT FREEDOM! A Story Only God Could Write!

Since our very first announcement of Plan Move and our debt-free journey back in May of 2013 we have been on a roller coaster of a ride. Now we can look back and see how God perfectly directed each and every step!

To think since then we have saved up and paid over $60,000 to own two properties, and adopted two children! Wow!

This post is the follow-up to point out the very hand of God throughout our debt-free journey....let's start at the beginning!

In May 2013, "The Next Great Leap" we announced the blind leap of faith we were about to embark on. Destination: debt-freedom!

We had already paid off all car, loan and credit card debt thanks to Dave Ramsey's snow-ball techniques before the kids joined us. Shortly after making them ours we made the decision that the kids needed one stay at home parent more than they needed the pretty house in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. We realized paying our $250,000 mortgage would be a long and uphill battle that, frankly, didn't have the energy for. 

So we outlined our plan, contacted our realtor and prepared for the journey ahead. We figured if living a year or two in our 300sqft motorhome at an RV park meant paying cash for whatever house we wanted then we were so there! And we were off, "Alright God lead us!"

In August 2013, "Do You Ever Slow Down!?!" everything was happening so fast!

Our house sold the moment we got the "for sale" sign in the ground before it was even listed. We sold all our stuff and prepared to move yet didn't quite know where but as fast as the house sold we found and purchased a 7 acre plot of raw land that was beautifully trashed. We thought we could clear enough to temporarily park our motorhome on it while we saved up money to build....but God had other plans.... 

In November 2013, "So...Are You Moving or What?" we were working hard to get our land ready before Dec. 6th, the closing date on our house.

We found out that temporary housing permits restricted people from living in motorhomes in our county which put us in a bind...we have a month to get out of our house and we were now the owners of a 7 acre property but we couldn't live on it. What were we going to do and what was God up to!?!

November was also the month that God began tugging hard at our hearts making it clear that we needed to renew our homestudy again and be ready to open our home to another child...sounds crazy because at the time we didn't have a home! But God always knows and is in control. Read more here: "It is Not a Good Time"

In early December just before we moved out we were made aware of a tiny trailer on 4 acres for sale, we made the decision to take out a very small loan and buy it with the plan to pay it off in one year. That same month we were matched with our son, Sam. If we had been set on our plan to move into our RV and set on not borrowing money we wouldn't have been able to bring our amazing Sam home! 

In January 2014, "Debt Free Here We Come" we shared details and pictures of our new tiny home!

This tiny house was nothing special, it was a lot of work and we were hesitant about getting into debt to get out of debt. But if we had been set on our plan to move into our RV and set on not borrowing money we wouldn't have been able to bring our amazing Sam home! God knew what He was doing for sure and we grew to love that tiny house!!!

In December 2014 exactly one year since moving into our tiny (now paid off) home we were felt a strong pull to move out to our original 7 acre raw property. How? We owned the land but we knew that building a home or buying a mobile home to move out there would mean taking out another loan....the whole point was to get out of debt so why such a strong pull, God?

In December 2014, "Move in Progress" as quickly as we thought about moving again it became a reality. 

After finding a realtor who sold repo mobile homes we only viewed a few before we found our new home. God worked out the miracle of interest-free financing quickly and now we had enough to buy the home, move it out to our property and put in water, electric and septic. The repayment plan for the loan was one year. Although not debt-free, we were moving again. It was happening.  

In February 2015, "Feels Like a Mansion" we had finished all construction and repairs, were moved in and settled. 

As soon as we had hung up the last picture and began to take a breather we were contacted about a little girl, our Brittney. We can see now that if we had stayed in our tiny house another year as we saved up money to pay cash for this new home we wouldn't have been able to take her. Our tiny house could never become handicap accessible. We would have missed out on our sweet and joyful blessing that we have in Brittney!

In June 2015 we brought our sweet girl home!

In February 2016, one year after we moved into our current home we paid off our $20,000 loan! We were now mortgage-free!


In May 2016 just three years after we announced our original debt free journey we paid off a couple more small debts and are now proud to announce that we are DEBT FREE!

It certainly took some determination and focus but most of all it took the ability to be in tune with the Holy Spirits promptings and the readiness to trust God wherever He led us. We could have been debt free sooner. We could have chosen to not borrow another dime. But we just may have missed out on two great blessings if we had! 

Now on to the journey of farming, self-sustainablity and starting our own family business...and who knows, maybe another blessing on the way! ;)

Posted by Shannon