Archive for One Meter at a Time

Fundraising Update — We’re Getting There!

First, a huge praise — we met our matching grant! Praise the Lord! We had a $3,000 matching grant running through October 15, and as you can tell from our fundraising thermometer in the sidebar, we met that goal, and then some. Hallelujah! Thank you so much to everyone who has already contributed to our adoption efforts. We couldn’t do this without you. In a very real way, you are giving the gift of family to a little boy anxiously waiting in an orphanage for a family to call his own. Thank you.

Thank you for helping us bring home Shiloh!

Thank you for helping us bring home Shiloh!

That said, we still have work to do and money to raise before we can say we’re done. We have several great fundraising events scheduled and quite a few ongoing fundraisers that are now active. Please take a look, consider attending one of the events if you can, and spread the news about our ongoing fundraisers far and wide. Many hands make light work. Yes, our need is great, but if lots of people chip in just a little, we’ll get there in no time. 🙂

Upcoming Events

Benefit Concerts:

We have two adoption benefit concerts scheduled in two different locations, one at our home church in Cincinnati, OH, and one at my parents’ church in Moneta, Virginia. If you live close to either place, I hope we’ll see you there! Here are the details:

  • Giving Love Benefit Concert
    Saturday, November 8, 2014, 4:00 pm
    Cheviot United Methodist Church, 3820 Westwood Northern Blvd., Cincinnati, OH

    Join us for a musical extravaganza that will include the CUMC Chancel Choir, Orchestra, and Youth Choir, as well as soloists from around the Cincinnati area. A reception will follow the concert, with silent auction items on display. A love offering will be collected during the concert, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Araya Family Reece’s Rainbow Family Support Fund.

cumc choir

  • Orphan No More: An Adoption Fundraiser
    Saturday, November 15, 2014
    Bethlehem United Methodist Church, 13586 Old Moneta Rd, Moneta, VA

    Arturo and Jennifer Araya will bring their musical duo to southern Virginia as they share an eclectic afternoon of music, featuring everything from their original arrangements for two cellos to old favorites by such familiar composers as Mozart and Haydn. The musical fare will include both classical and jazz, old hymn tunes and contemporary melodies. We hope you will join us for a musical celebration of life, family, and love. A reception will follow the concert, with silent auction items on display. A love offering will be collected during the concert, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Araya Family Reece’s Rainbow Family Support Fund.

araya duo

Silent Auction:

Our first silent auction was a huge success. (Thank you, Jamie Lentz, for organizing it!) When the auction donations and winning bids all came in, the full tally was over $1,000! Wow! We have a second silent auction scheduled, and this one will be a bit different than the first. Rather than being fully online like our first auction, our next silent auction will run in conjunction with our benefit concerts, with an online component to allow for extra bidding. Right now, we’re still accepting donations of items to include in the auction, and we’ve already got a great selection! Of course, we will need bidders once the auction opens on November 8. Attend one of our benefit concerts to see all the items in person, and check our blog regularly to make sure your bid ends up on top! Here are the details:

  • Bids to Bring Home Shiloh: Silent Auction
    Saturday, November 8 – Midnight on Monday, December 1

    A wide variety of treasures, from jewelry to baked goods and everything in between, will be available for purchase, with 100% of proceeds benefiting the Araya Family Reece’s Rainbow Family Support Fund. Auction items will be on display at the two benefit concerts, on Nov. 8 in Cincinnati and Nov. 15 in Moneta, VA, and most items will also be available for viewing and bidding online on the Araya blog. Bidding will close promptly at midnight on December 1, “Cyber Monday” after Thanksgiving. Let the bidding begin, and may the best bidder win!

silent auction

Ongoing Fundraisers

Thirty-One Gifts Fundraiser:

Lauren Hodges, a Thirty-One Gifts consultant, has generously offered to donate her entire commission for items purchased between now and October 28. Thirty-One has beautiful and useful bags, purses, and totes for every purpose, from bags for travel and bags for baby to purses and totes for day-to-day use. Click here to shop. Update: Our Thirty-One fundraiser is now closed, but thank you so much to everyone who participated! We had a great response, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

thirty one

Items for Sale:

We have several individual items for sale. If you’d like to purchase any of the items listed below, leave a comment or send us an email: jenniferjill.araya (at) gmail (dot) com.

  • “For Unto Us a Child Is Born” Araya Christmas Album – Two years ago, Arturo and I recorded a Christmas album that includes Christmas carols arranged by us for two cellos and for cello and voice. Our original arrangements are also accompanied by musical readings of the Christmas scriptures. Purchase a copy for yourself, or give it as a Christmas gift to a friend. $12 donation each, plus $5.50 in shipping if shipping is necessary. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to our adoption.


  • Christmas Bundle for Wee Ones – This set of Christmas activity books is perfect for the 3- to 6-year-olds in your life. The bundle includes the picture book “Night Like No Other” and “Good News Great Joy: Gospel Fun for Little Ones Activity Book,” both packaged in an adorable little goodie bag. $3 donation each, plus $2 in shipping if shipping is necessary. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to our adoption.

night like no other

  • Christmas Bundle for Children – Designed for older children, ages 7 – 12, this Christmas bundle is a great way to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to your child. The bundle includes the “Good News Great Joy: Activity Book” and a set of “Good News Great Joy: Nativity Wall Stickers.” The wall stickers will also work on windows and are sure to be a hit with the kids in your life. (Let me tell ya, the wall stickers are awesome, and I would have loved them when I was that age. …. Who am I kidding, I kinda want a set for myself now!) $2 donation each, plus $2 in shipping if shipping is necessary. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to our adoption.


  • Starfish Earrings – One of the recent campaigns through Reece’s Rainbow celebrates the legend of the starfish. It goes like this: One day, a man was walking along the beach and saw a boy picking something up and gently throwing it back into the ocean. Approaching the boy the man asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back out, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach with hundreds and hundreds of fish? You can’t make a difference.” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “It made a difference to this one!”

    With this beautiful story in mind, one of our friends in the adoption community designed Starfish Earrings in honor of our adoption of Shiloh. Every time the earrings are worn, you can remember that, while you can’t save every orphan or help every adoptive family, you can make a difference to this one. Each pair of earrings costs $15, which includes all shipping costs. $5 from each pair sold goes directly toward our adoption expenses.

starfish 1

A Note About Shipping: For the Christmas Album and both Christmas Bundles, shipping is only necessary if you do not live in the greater Cincinnati area. If shipping is necessary, we would be happy to combine shipping to reduce the shipping cost for these three items. Just contact me, and I’ll help you figure out your combined shipping cost. However, the Starfish Earrings are made and shipped by an incredibly generous donor who does not live in Cincinnati. All earring purchases will need to be shipped, but the shipping cost is included in the $15/pair purchase price.

Shop in Alicia Araya and Jim Hickey’s Etsy store

Arturo’s sister Alicia and her husband Jim have agreed to donate 25% of revenue from their Etsy store to Shiloh’s adoption fees. Alicia and Jim produce awe-inspiring and 100% one-of-a-kind wood art pieces in their North Carolina studio. Most of these pieces are crafted from magical pieces of driftwood that the rivers in Appalachia create. They also craft wood jewelry, affordable digital prints, fine art pieces, photography, and other decorative home items. Please visit their store here.


Shop Amazon Through Our Link

We’re signed up as Amazon Affiliates, and every dollar earned through the affiliate program will directly support our adoption. It works like this: instead of navigating to directly, you can first visit our website and click the Amazon link in the sidebar, or any of the Amazon links on this page. Then, shop Amazon as you normally do. Any purchase you subsequently make from Amazon will send a percentage back to us. The exact percentage varies depending on the product type, but its generally between 1-5% of your purchase price. This isn’t a huge amount, but it can quickly add up, especially as we approach the Christmas season and more people begin making online gift purchases in preparation for the holiday season. Every little bit makes a difference.




Thank you again so very much to everyone who has already contributed to our adoption efforts. Slowly but surely, one dollar at a time and one purchase at a time, we’re getting there — we’re getting closer to bringing our boy home! 🙂

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We Are Fully Funded.

Yes, you read that right. The title of this post is correct.

Take a look at the fundraising thermometer in the sidebar. Your eyes are not deceiving you.

We are fully funded.

We had a yard sale over the weekend that took us to $29,893.64, a scant $106.36 shy of our goal of $30,000. I called my parents, thrilled to share the good news with them, and their response was that they couldn’t leave us that close to the goal without donating a little bit more to help us get over the edge.

With those incredible words of generosity, spoken casually over the phone at around 6:00 on Saturday evening, we reached yet another milestone in this adoption process. We are fully funded.

Praise God: our adoption is fully funded.

That phrase has been playing over and over in my mind since then. I have no words beyond that. Praise God: our adoption is fully funded. What else can be said? Praise God. That sums it all up.

I’m not quite sure the enormity of this milestone has really sunk in yet. We started this process on March 30, 2013 with a blind leap of faith. At the time, it felt perfectly sane to commit to a $30,000 venture when we had barely $10,000 in savings to devote to the project. After all, hours of prayer and tears and pondering and Bible study had led both Arturo and I to exactly the same conclusion: God has set aside two children for us in Eastern Europe, our children, and we have to go get them. So we set fear aside and committed.

Looking back on that day, we had no idea what was in store for us, and we were crazy to make that leap. It was a good kind of crazy, a Godly crazy, a kind of crazy that I wouldn’t take back or change for anything in the world, but crazy nonetheless. I mean, seriously. $30,000? Look at all the zeros in that number. If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.

(I say all this in full knowledge of the fact that the really hard part hasn’t even begun. We don’t yet have our kids. We’re not yet parents. What we’ve dealt with the last 6 months is barely a foretaste of the challenges ahead, but that doesn’t diminish the hard work and frustration and time and energy we had to commit just to make it possible for us to become parents to our children.)

I had plenty of doubts over the last few months. Not doubts that we were doing the right thing, but doubts that the money was actually going to come through and that we’d actually be able to pay for this adoption without taking out huge loans. Arturo never wavered in his faith, but I certainly did. Doubts were definitely present. But despite the doubts, God blessed our crazy, insane, completely illogical leap of faith in ways we couldn’t have even imagined.

Thank you SO much to everyone who donated your time, money, sweat, and tears to make this possible. You have been the hands and feet of God to us in a completely tangible way, and our children will be able to come home because of you. Words are inadequate to express just how thankful we are for the support and encouragement we’ve received. Thank you.

Since announcing on Facebook and in church that we’re fully funded, lots of people have asked what else we need besides money. This is an outpouring of generosity that is completely overwhelming and unexpected. I will write more later about what we need now that the finances are resolved, but today my heart is too full – too full of gratitude, of praise, of joy, of amazement – to worry just yet about the next step. Today is a day for praise.

Praise God: our adoption is fully funded.

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I’m speechless …

Today’s post was supposed to be a quick reminder about the upcoming fundraising event, but a little something happened that I just had to share before getting to the reminder portion of this post:

I just checked our Reece’s Rainbow Family Support Page. I do this just about every day, but I don’t ever really expect to see much of a change in our fund total. Many of the people supporting our adoption efforts have donated through our church‘s adoption ministry, so our Reece’s Rainbow fund has remained quite small, especially considering how close we are to being fully funded.

Today, I was surprised. Today, someone took my breath away. Our Reece’s Rainbow fund has taken a huge jump, a completely unexpected jump. I have no words, except to say, “Thank you.” From the bottom of our hearts, from the depths of our love for our two children who are currently living half a world away from us, THANK YOU. May God bless you as richly and as fully as you have blessed us.

Araya Adoption Fund


Now back to your regularly scheduled programming …..

Arturo and I arrived back from Chile this past Tuesday morning, and oh what a wonderful trip it was! We’re both very glad to be home (there’s no place like home, right?), but it was also so sad to leave. Arturo’s family, who is now also officially my family as well, is amazing! I’ll post an update soon with photos of the many incredible family members I met while we were there, but first, a reminder: “Natural Children, Real Parents: An Adoption Fundraiser” is taking place TOMORROW! In just over 24 hours, you will be treated to an incredible evening of singing, acting, and performing by some of the very best artists Cincinnati has to offer. I am SO excited to be working again with Dan Doerger, the director and creator of the show. He has put together an amazing lineup of performers, and you won’t want to miss it.

Purchase tickets online here, or you can buy them at the door. Leave a comment on this post if you have any questions, but otherwise, I will see you tomorrow at 8:00 at Monmouth Theatre in Newport, KY for an incredible, one-night-only show!

benefit show

Natural Children/Real Parents:
An Adoption Fundraiser

8:00 pm, September 7, 2013

Monmouth Theatre, Newport, KY
$15 Admission
Created & Directed by Dan Doerger


If you don’t live in the Cincinnati area and as a result can’t attend, please be in prayer for us that we have a good turnout, that the performers are all able to perform at their very best, and that the evening goes smoothly. Putting on a show is no easy task! Thanks for your prayers.

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Get your tickets! Get your tickets!

Our final (and perhaps most exciting) fundraising event is LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY! I can’t wait! On Sept. 7 at 8:00pm, we will present an incredible musical-review-style show titled “Natural Children / Real Parents: An Adoption Fundraiser” at Monmouth Theatre in Newport, KY. The show is the brainchild of area director and actor Dan Doeger, and it’s going to be amazing.

benefit show

Some who have heard the title of the show have somewhat lightheartedly questioned us. Natural children and real parents? Versus unnatural children and fake parents?

Those questioners are right. On the surface, the title does seem somewhat unusual. However, the title of the show is a reference to a pet peeve of many adoptive parents: the question “Are those your REAL children?”

You would be amazed how often adoptive parents are asked this question, particularly those with interracial adoptive families, like ours will be. This question can be particularly hurtful to adoptive children, who upon hearing someone ask this then ask themselves, “How can a child not be real? Does that mean something is wrong with me because I am adopted?” The message of the show is that all children have value, regardless of how they were brought into their family.

The first lines of the show are these:

Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial.
Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.
Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else’s child.
Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.

Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased on our Events page. The theatre has limited seating, so don’t wait too long before reserving your spot.

Danielle Muething, Matt Dentino, Patrick Phillips, and Jennifer in Showboat Majestic's production of "Babes in Hollywood." All four are performing on Sept. 7th.

Danielle Muething, Matt Dentino, Patrick Phillips, and Jennifer in Showboat Majestic’s production of “Babes in Hollywood.” All four actors are performing in the show on Sept. 7th.

Every ticket purchased helps make us into real parents who are that much closer to bringing our natural children home.

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Silent Auction is closed!

Whew! Our silent auction is officially closed. A few bidding wars commenced in the last hour, and a couple surprise bidders swooped in to steal the win. What a great time! Thank you SO much to everyone who placed a bid. We so appreciate your support! Thanks to your help, we are $1,940 closer to bringing our children home. Wow! I am overwhelmed! 🙂 There are no words.

God is so good, and we are so blessed.

This set of wooden dolls, #61, was one of the most hotly contested items late in the bidding.

This set of wooden dolls, #61, was one of the most hotly contested items late in the bidding.

If you were a winner, Heather Wigle or I will contact you tomorrow to give you the details of how to pay. If you don’t know if you won your item(s), just visit the item’s page, where each item’s winner is indicated. Congratulations to everyone who won!

This post wouldn’t be complete without a HUGE shout of gratitude and appreciation to Heather Wigle, who made this whole venture possible. She came up with the idea, solicited most of the donations, and helped set up and tear down each time we displayed the items (which is an even bigger task than it sounds … and it sounds pretty huge). Heather, thank you so much for your generosity and for your friendship! We are lucky to know you, and our kids will be lucky to have your positive influence in their lives. Thank you.

We’d also like to send a huge shout-out thank you to all those who donated items. There are too many for me to list right now (it is well after midnight, after all), but in the next few days I will definitely be posting an list of all the incredible people who donated their time, their goods, or their services (or all three!) to make this auction possible. Thank you so very much!

God is so good. 🙂

Thanks to your support and your bids, we're now closer than ever to bringing our girl home!

Thanks to your support and your bids, we’re now closer than ever to bringing our girl home!

(Sidenote: I haven’t yet had time to update the fundraising thermometer to the right. I’ll get to that in the morning — it’s nearly 1:00 am, much past my bedtime — so don’t be confused when you see that the thermometer hasn’t moved. I’ll get to it soon, I promise!)

Good night, all, and God bless you.

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Silent Auction Ends Tonight!

Hello dear blog readers. Just a quick reminder that our silent auction ends TONIGHT at 11:59 pm. If you’ve been pining after some cookies, lusting after a pair of toe socks, contemplating a rock-wall-style ride among the tree tops, or pondering a model car, now is the time to make your move. Once the auction closes tonight, the bids will be tallied and the winners notified, so it’s now or never. 🙂

If you’ve already placed a bid via our blog, you know that your comment didn’t show up right away. That’s because we typically have “comment moderation” on our blog: comments must be approved by us before they are actually published. However, at 8:00 tonight, we will turn off comment moderation for the duration of the auction. This means bids placed in the comment section of an item’s listing will show up immediately rather than needing to be approved.

We will do our very best to keep all of the “high bids” current on each item as the bids come through, but please also check in the comment section for that item to make sure a higher bid than that posted at the top of the page hasn’t been entered in the meantime. If you’re watching an item, be sure to refresh the page frequently using your browser’s refresh button, as new comments won’t pop up automatically on your computer screen. You will need to refresh the page to see any updated comments or bids.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me: jenniferjill.araya (at) I’m happy to answer any questions you have, and I’ll do my very best to respond to all auction-related emails ASAP. Thank you so much for your support, and good luck!

A quick side-note: Don’t forget that our BBQ dinner is coming up soon — less than a week! It’s scheduled for 6:00 pm at Cheviot United Methodist Church (3820 Westwood Northern Blvd., 45211) on Sunday, Aug. 11th. If you’re planning to come, please let me know ASAP (jenniferjill.araya (at) so we can get an accurate head-count and have the appropriate amount of food. We are also still in need of two volunteers: 1 person to help make cornbread on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 2:00 pm, and 1 person to help set up on Sunday. Let me know also if you’re interested in helping out. Thanks!


Items that are currently bidding
far below retail:

(meaning they’re a huge DEAL! 🙂 )

Mary Kay Pamper Kit

Value: $80. Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): $31

The Mary Kay Pamper Kit includes everything you need for a full spa treatment: Satin Hands, eye gel, lotion, and TimeWise. It’s currently bidding below half of its retail value! Place your bid here.

Item 54 c


Rose Blossom Brooch

Value: $30. Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): No bids yet. You can be the first!

This Rose Blossom Brooch was handsculpted by yours truly. I have one just like it that lives on the lapel of my formal winter coat, and I constantly receive compliments on it all winter long. Place your bid here.



Cincinnati Symphony Tickets
& Cincinnati Symphony Lollipops Tickets

Value of Symphony Tickets: $120. Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): $65
Value of Lollipops Tickets: $80. Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): $60

The Cincinnati Symphony is the premier arts organization in the city of Cincinnati, and these two items are perhaps my favorite in the whole auction. The symphony tickets include 2 ticket vouchers to any classical symphony concert this season, and the Lollipops tickets are 4 ticket vouchers to any of the CSO’s Lollipops concerts, which are designed specifically for children. Place your bid here for the Symphony tickets or here for the Lollipops tickets.

Item 56 c


Tree Climbing Session

Value: $150 Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): No bids yet. You can be the first!

The Tree Climbing Session with professional climber Landon Smith is one of the coolest items in our whole auction, and you can easily snap it up for WAY below retail cost. The session gets you a two-hour tree climbing session for two people. This would be the PERFECT birthday gift for an adventurous teen or pre-teen, or an awesome adventure-packed couple’s day out. Climbing with Landon is nothing like your childhood tree climbing. This is rock-wall-style climbing, complete with harnesses and state-of-the-art pulley systems, among the branches of towering trees overlooking the gorgeous Cincinnati skyline. Watch the video below for an idea of the adventure in store, and then place your bid here.


Green & Yellow Baby Quilt

Value: $75. Current High Bid (as of noon on Aug. 5): $25.00

This baby quilt is one of my very favorite quilts or blankets included in our auction. The design is gender-neutral and full of soothing tones of green and yellow. The backing fabric is a SUPER soft micro-fleece fabric that your baby will love. Right now, the high bid is only $25 — an absolute steal! Place your bid here.

Item 46 g


This is just a smattering of the incredible items we have available. Visit our Silent Auction page to see all of the items, and hurry! The bidding will be over in less than 12 hours!

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