Your Life Speaks

We took a little trip with our friends Billy and Suzanne on Thursday and Friday…

Palmers and Popes

You remember Billy and Suzanne, right? They’re the ones that Kevin went to school with back in the day, and that we met (again) when we started going to Centerpoint, and that also adopted a little girl through our adoption agency (Lifeline Children’s Services), and that we keep bumping into at the most Amazing times throughout our adoption process. Remember them? :-)

Palmers and Popes Road Trip

Well, we all jumped in the car and headed up to attend a My Life Speaks fundraiser event in Nashville on Thursday, and man, was it a fun road trip!

Kevin Palmer and Billy Pope

Like the poster above Billy’s head reads, it felt a little Ferris Buellers Day Off-ish, LOL! :-D

That poster is hanging on the wall in the back room of the coffee shop at 2nd and Bridge Street in Franklin…

Coffee House in Franklin

We met up with (the always-inspiring) Todd and Angie Smith there for coffee and crepes, and then all six of us got to sit at Coby and Sue’s table at the My Life Speaks fundraiser that night:

Palmers and Smiths

Kevin and I are so grateful for their friendship and encouragement, and look forward to working on something special with them again very soon! ;-)

Layla Palmer | Angie Smith

(Angie’s children’s book Audrey Bunny was released earlier this month. Click on that link for more info!)

Palmer and Allens

That’s Coby and Sue on the right in the photo above. They’re adopting a little boy from the same orphanage we are and I cannot tell you how neat it was to be there with them that night!

Coby was recently asked to direct and develop a new medical clinic in Neply (Nep-lee), a rural village in Haiti that has no access to medical care. His work there is supported by My Life Speaks, a non-governmental organization funded largely by the country music group Lady Antebellum..the same Lady Antebellum that played fifteen feet away from us at the fundraiser that night!

Lady Antebellum | My Life Speaks

We knew Hillary Scott would be there, but we had no idea she was going to surprise us with the rest of the band! :-D

Click the play button below to listen to a little bit of their performance:

Hillary is very passionate about helping the folks of Neply and it was so fun to hear her heart that night. Her hubby, mom, dad, and 14 year old sister also performed some songs with her, and what treat it was to get to see all of them together! Here’s a clip of her singing “American Honey” with her little sis, Rylee…

…and here’s a clip of her singing “I’m A Lot Like You” with her mom, Linda Davis:

How great are they!? I’ll never forget that night, and I am just tickled to be able to share and save those snippets here on my blog for keeps! :-)

The next day, we wandered around downtown Nashville for a little bit and, of course, I had to have my picture taken front of this place…

Layla Palmer

After that, we met up with a friend of Billy’s at San Antonio Taco Co. around lunchtime.

Popes | Tara | Palmers

Her name is Tara, and she is an absolute RAY!! Seriously. You need to know this girl.

Tara Jill

Hands down one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever broken bread…uh, tacos with. ;-)

She went on a Visiting Orphans mission trip with Billy a few years ago. They traveled to Rwanda, and by the time they were flying back to the U.S., Tara knew that she was going to turn right back around and move to Rwanda for the next year. In her own words she said, “It felt like I didn’t have any other choice. It felt like nothing had purpose (in my life) outside those orphanage gates. The day we flew home, I begged God to move because I didn’t know how. I shuffled through my iPod and came across Aaron Shust’s song, “Give It All Away”. It was over. I was moving to Rwanda.

She sold her bed the day after she got home as a sign that she was all in, and jumped on a plane back to Rwanda six months later. She didn’t know exactly what she was going to do when she got there, but she made arrangements to live at the orphanage while she was there. Unfortunately, the orphanage hadn’t been made aware of those arrangements when she showed up, but thankfully it wasn’t a problem!  She said she still laughs at her naivety when she thinks about how that all went down. :-D (Here’s a link to a post she wrote about the first night she arrived back in Rwanda: Ntakibazo. I felt like I was right there with her as I read it last night!)

Long story short, she ended up spending two years in Rwanda, and by the time she got back to the States (a few months ago) she had successfully launched an amazing non-profit organization called No.41 in Rwanda. She created it with the intent of teaching young women (ages 18-25, from the Noel Orphanage in Gisenyi) not only to sew, a culturally relevant trade that would always sustain them, but to give back to their community through a feeding program supporting local schools. The women started by making bags, which are available for sale through No.41.org.

No41 bags

100% of the proceeds stay right there in there in Gisenyi, and did I mention that Tara didn’t know how to sew when she came up with this idea? Her friend Alison flew over to help get things going once she had the idea for No.41, but Alison didn’t know how to sew either, so Tara hired the cousin of her good Rwandan friend to teach everyone. The first No.41 bag was sold in May 2012, and today they employ 21 women from the orphanage, as well as 11 from the surrounding village. They have 9 mamas better caring for their 13 children, and 17 of their young women are now enrolled in university. In February 2013, No.41 opened their first feeding program- providing a hot, healthy lunch to 870 students, daily.

Tara says, “No.41 is about empowering young women”. Their goal is not to give the girls the world, but to show them that God has already given them everything they need to go out there and shape it themselves. They are truly changing the world FOR ONE. (Get it? 4-1?) :-)

Suzanne Pope | Layla Palmer | Tara Jill

After we had lunch with Tara, we hopped back in the car and made our way back to Alabama. And to make matters even more magnificent, we got to meet up with another gal that’s adopting (twins!) from the same orphanage as we are! She was just as sweet as can be, and she had just received some very exciting adoption-related news before we met up with her that day, which made it even more fun to be there with her.

Kevin and Layla Palmer

She and her hubby are about a year ahead of us in the process, and it’s been so fun connecting with her through texts and Facebook messages over the past couple of months. It makes me smile every time I think about our kiddos growing up only a couple of hours apart here in Alabama! :-D

We got home on Friday night, but turned right around on Saturday afternoon for a very important date at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church in Mobile. One of the pastors there reached out to Kevin a few weeks ago about (us) speaking and (him) singing during their contemporary service. And because he had just specifically promised God that if He opened these kinds of doors he would walk through them, right before the pastor emailed, of course he/we had to say yes. :-)

Kevin Palmer

(T-shirt: Sevenly.org)

He’s smiling in the photo above, but man did he we get a little nervous yesterday morning as we made our way into the church.

Right before he went up to play his first song, I thought my heart was going to pound right out of my chest! But then…peace. And then, Pastor Brad invited us both up.

Dauphin Way United Methodist Church

And again. Total. Peace.

We were just up there facing friends. Singing songs and talkin’ testimonies.

Seven years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I’d be sitting in front of a large group of people like that. Seven years ago I had a hard time leaving the house, period. #TrueStory

God really does work in some incredibly mysterious ways! :-D

Anywho- all that to say: I am so grateful for and inspired by the people in this post!

Kevin read something recently that really made an impact on me and I wanted to share it here with you today, too. (In case anyone is still reading- ha!)

The author was describing a scenario in which he was asked a room full of people how many knew their great-grandfather’s first names. Lots hands went up in the air. Then he asked them how many knew where their great-grandfathers were buried. Less hands went up. Next, he asked how many people knew their great-great-grandfather’s first names. Even less hands went up. Lastly, he asked how many people knew where their great-great-grandfathers were buried. Hardly any hands went up at all.

The author’s point, which was a little hard for me to swallow, was that most people are two or three generations away from being forgotten by most people.

His advice was to be really intentional about trying to make a difference…to leave a difference. To be intentional about really thinking about the effect we have on people. To think more about what we’ll give while we’re here…and less about what we’ll get while we’re here.

And to echo the name of the organization at the top of this post- to let our lives Speak…and to really think about what we want them to say.

(Especially if you’re a blogger. Your great-great-grandkids might really be e-listening one day- LOL!)

;-)

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh Layla. These posts make me giddy with happiness and excitement for you! Your style/tone of writing has changed in the last year or so and is even MORE upbeat and peaceful than it was before. I’m so happy for you and Kevin and all the wonderful things that are moving & changing in your lives! :) thanks for sharing it with the rest of us!

  2. Donna Doble-Brown says

    Layla, you and Kev continue to inspire me . . . . I feel like I was along for the ride this weekend! Thanks so much for bringing me along even if it was thru your blog! Continuing to pray for you both that this adoption will continue to go smoothly for you both . . . . xoxox

  3. Rebecca says

    Loved this post and seeing all of the hearts FOR adoption! Praying for a little one(s) to join you soon!

  4. Gina says

    Always love your posts!! Especially the personal ones like this! You have blessed me as I have followed along the past few years!!! :D

  5. KK says

    Layla, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. Praying for you and Kevin and the new little one God has for you.
    Many Blessings

  6. Gloria says

    What a fun weekend! And how inspiring. The saying goes that you are an average of your closest friends. You are surrounding yourself with some pretty stellar folks. The last part about using our lives in a way that makes an impact is something I’ve known, but always need to be reminded of as I tend to get lost in the laundry, dishes, schooling, etc. Each day I should be making some steps toward a bigger purpose no matter how small those steps may be. Thanks for the kick in the britches : )

  7. Judy says

    Hi Layla, thank you for sharing about your life with such sincerity. You made mention that 7 years ago, you had trouble leaving the house-true story. Any chance your ready to share more about that and how it changed? Thank you and God bless!

  8. renee says

    Wonderful post Layla. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a wonderful trip. So proud of ya’ll getting in front of the church.

    renee

  9. Julie says

    Get out of town! Hillary Scott is the daughter of Linda Davis?? Where have I been? (Showing my age here…loved the song she did with Reba back in the day and even searched for it on YouTube a month or so ago during a night of insomnia.)

    What a fantastic few days the two of you have had! Thanks so much for sharing all of your experiences and photos, Layla.

  10. Erika says

    Great post! I was still reading . . . and the last part is my fave.

    So much joy in watching God’s plan unfold in your lives.

  11. carrie says

    I just love your blog and reading about everything you do. So inspiring! You also have such great hair!

  12. Charissa says

    I love your passion and obedience in following God’s plan for your life! As our pastor in my church says, “What you keep is all you have. What you give GOD multiplies!”

  13. Lynn in DG says

    I just placed an order at No41.org for my socially responsible, beautiful daughter’s birthday. I knew she would love their empowering mission and methods. Thank you to Tara for all she does and to Layla for letting us know.

  14. says

    Layla,
    I can’t wait to hear all of the details. I got sick and had to come home early but have so many questions for you. Love the “Layla window” and hearing about “peace falling”. smooch.
    Cindy

  15. Sherri says

    Once again you’ve got me shedding tears of joy for you and Kevin’s journey. Thank you for the post. It touched me so much.

  16. Amy Y. says

    Is that Franklin, as in Franklin, Tennessee? If so, I adore that place!
    So inspiring to hear you felt peace about speaking when it came time. I believe God gives us what we need when we need it. I too would pray for that if I was in such a position. Yikes!
    Glad you did it together as husband and wife and that you didn’t back down. You walked through the door of opportunity!!!

  17. says

    I needed a lift this afternoon, Layla, and somehow knew a visit here would be just that! Such happy proof of God moving in your lives in REALLY BIG ways! Thanks for sharing!
    xo Heidi

  18. says

    LOVED this post! To see all the fun you had, the friends you met up with, the stories of the adoptions, the Rwanda story, you and Kevin speaking/singing…one of my favorite posts to date from you. SO MANY wonderful words of wisdom to take in and digest. THANK YOU! (I am going to read it again tomorrow–without my migraine! I want to absorb everything fully :) )

  19. Dawn says

    Wow, Layla! That was a lot of inspiration in one post! I really enjoyed hearing about all of it though. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  20. mary says

    Layla,

    your blog is an inspiration to me for several different reasons. You & Kevin both seem to be amazing people. I did want to add a comment to what the minister pointed out about most people only being several generations removed from being forgotten, no matter how great they were in life.
    In our emigrant country, most of the grandparents back further than one ‘great’ or at most two ‘greats’ – were left back in the Old Country, and certainly most people never went back. I know that was the situation (with not even one ‘great’ crossing on the boat on my father’s side) for my extended family on BOTH sides. The people still living in the ancestral areas probably could raise their hands with a lot more certainty than most US residents. Having said that…people’s memories are short anyway!

  21. says

    SO much I loved about this post, and yes, I read the whole thing. :) I used to be a social worker working with foster kids, and I have a HUGE heart for adoptive parents and orphans, I LOVE reading adoption stories. Can’t wait to follow along with the rest of your story! Awesome!

  22. Gwen says

    I am rather new to reading your blog so as I read your story I was a little fuzzy on what was going on and as I read on, I saw groups meeting and awaiting their chosen ones and I thought, how encouraging. To meet other couples whose wait has been longer and so your hope and patience does not grow dim. And to see the purse production. One woman. One idea. Listening I assume to The Lord to make that difference. Yes, I read all the way to the bottom and because my ancestors came from Sweden and Norway in the 1800’s , several were orphaned but I know these, my greats names and burial place. And my Norwegian great and great great ( they walked from Wisconsin to Nebraska!! My great great Grandma rode in the wagon with the littlest–). 1800’s…oh the stories to tell. But of note, they all made a difference. My one great grandfather started a country church which had its 130th anniversary on Sunday. The other great great Grandpa got a school started through official county seat and it met in their home, and got their beautiful church built in town (Norwegian Lutheran). Their lives spoke of faith, strength in hard times, love of family and Jesus as Lord, not love of drink nor irresponsible living…and soon you will be starting your family and having your lineage to share and the tree of your family will grow one more branch. I’m very excited for you and also will try to pray as I read your log that you not grow weary, that your eyes stay on Jesus, that Gods Word will show you ways to not grow tired of being patient in other things. Blessings!!!

  23. says

    Oh dear Layla, you hit me to my core! Every bit of this is just something. I’m so happy for you all and so glad you are surrounded by so many who are walking the same path as you, unbelievable!! And then the whole orphanage story. I visited an orphanage is Mozambique this summer and the whole time I kept thinking how can I make a difference here. They have a vocational school that is in the same village. The boys learn to farm and carpenter skills and the girls were learning to sew until they had to close that part because they had no teacher. I even thought to myself is this where I should be. Just an amazing story, thank you for sharing! And then the closing, you got me. Words that are going in my journal for sure! Blessings dear ones!

  24. says

    What a beautiful post! Look at God at work! That’s worth sharing any day! I love it when God lets us know he heard our “yes”. More doors are going to open for you two:)

  25. Ter'e Crow Lindsay says

    Ah Layla,
    I read your post and I have to wipe my eyes. I read a little more and i have to wipe again. i’m glad I am not the only one that cries thru your beautiful journey. And what a journey it is!!!!! You and Kev step up to the plate, no matter what the cause.
    I have to mention, I, too, love Charissa’s pastors passage. I love the saying and will remember this daily.
    I feel like, at your house, the doorbell rings and you answer……..”Hello God – what’s next?” You kids are just terrific!!!!!
    P.S. BTW, if you have never tried ancestry.com……pls give it a try. Searching out your relatives is such a blessing. I have no affiliation, just sharing. I have had a ball learning about my family.
    Hugs,
    Ter’e

  26. susan says

    I went to the No 41 website while reading your post and ordered a bag for my daughter. She was in Niger with Peace Corps and worked with a non-profit organization when she returned. She will love this bag and the story behind the organization.

  27. shar y says

    What a beautiful post by a beautiful person, inside and out. This was so inspiring. I am going to check out the bags. And, I am going to make sure my 5 grandkids know who their greats are. By the way, 2 of their greats are still living. May God bless you and Kevin and speed that little one to you as fast as He deems fit!

  28. says

    I read the entire post and I am so glad I did… I love the last part. It is so cool to see how God is working in and through your lives. He has definitely been opening lots of doors for y’all over the last year or two.
    I love that you are getting to meet so many people who are adopting from the same orphanage as well as others who are working in Haiti. I have only e-met people who are adopting from Hong Kong but each time I do it is so exhilarating.
    Thanks for speaking to us all!

  29. Kristi says

    Layla, I just wanted you to know that your article was amazing. Well written but the pictures were great and the story really pulled at my heartstrings. What an amazing story. My husband and I have been searching for our God given purpose and want badly to be on the front line missions but we have been held back by some things and this story really inspired me to trust that God has a plan for us.

  30. says

    Layla, I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and I’ve been praying for you and Kevin. Our family (dad, mom and three girls ages 11,9 and 7) has a bluegrass gospel ministry. None of us played a thing in August 2009 but this past year we played almost 70 events and about the same last year. We share the Gospel message, our testimony and of course music. It has been amazing. But the real story is in what the Lord is doing in our hearts. I want to encourage you and Kevin to follow the Lord’s leading and be courageous. Expect attacks from Satan and testing from the Lord. But don’t lose heart! Stepping out for the Lord is the best life you can live. God bless you both!

  31. says

    Our lives do speak and yours is speaking such beauty these days. God bless you both as you continue to step out and make a difference.

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