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      Hello-I'm Layla!

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  • 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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