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Friday, September 11, 2015

America the Beautiful

We live in an amazing country.
14 years ago on a blue-sky sunshiny day, bad guys brought evil to us.
Tragedy. Trauma. Destruction and death.

But what did that evil bring out in the people of America?
Bravery. Selflessness. Prayer. Generosity.
That is uncommon in the world. Often, evil is met with fear, self preservation, despair, and greed.
What is the difference here? The difference is Christ. Our country was founded on Christian principles.
The influence of Christ has had a profound impact on our nation, who we are, what we value, how we respond to evil.

I was thankful then and I am thankful now that I was born in America. That the land I live in is filled with men and women who are willing to die to save others. Better love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends. Or strangers.

I am thankful to God that He would bless a whole nation in response to our imperfect, inconsistent desire to try to follow His ways. He has made us a better people. Firefighters are willing to do the job of soldiers. Civilians become paramedics. We are kind, brave, and selfless because that is our heritage.

And now, the bad guys are terrorizing Syrians. People who were not blessed to be born in the land of the free and the home of the brave are facing the darkness of evil without the light of being surrounded by bravery, selflessness, prayer, and generosity. They live in the land of the bad guys. But we are still America, and our hearts break for their tragedy. The pictures of their despair as they try to outrun the dark make us weep. And, crazy enough, some of us are willing to send the light. In the face of the enemy, on their home turf, we go, we give, we mend, we pray.

2 days ago, I saw a picture of two Syrian kids being blocked from entering Macedonia. The next morning I woke singing:

There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
There are souls to rescue there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a golden offering at the cross we lay,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
And a Christlike spirit everywhere be found,
Send the light! Send the light!

Let us not grow weary in the work of love,
“Send the light! Send the light!”
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light! Send the light!

I have seen two ways to send some light to those drowning in darkness:


This Sunday – September 13, 2015  we are inviting all churches and Christian Leaders to take a moment in your services and gatherings to discuss the incredible humanitarian tragedy and faced by largely Syrian Refugees. 
Globally we must become a collective voice and partner to be the hands and feet of Jesus and create enough leverage to start to turn the tide on this urgent and significant issue.

Keep being







Tuesday, September 01, 2015


It's September 1st. A very portentous sort of day. The air is heavy with late summer, and school is looming.
My big kids are enjoying one last VBS this week, and while they were gone tonight, I realized I had some space. And I wanted to write. But, I was making pizza sauce, so it had to wait till now.
Everyone is in bed except Jolie Noel and me. She is sitting in the old wooden high chair learning how to eat puffs.
For the past few years, I have only blogged when my heart has been so burdened by an idea or topic or issue that I couldn't rest until I had blogged about it. But tonight, I just want to write down some things.
Life is going by quickly. Summer 2015 is winding down and it will not come again.
Joe and I both had an epiphany (a piphy-what?) at the beginning of the summer- mine was that this is the only summer 2015 we're gonna get, and his was that this is the only summer that our kids will be 14, 10, 8, 5, 3, and 0. Cade, for example will not be 8 next summer. This is the summer when he's 8 years old. I'm glad we realized this in June and not on September 1 or I would be feeling quite a bit more melancholy. We spent a lot of time outdoors, and the upstairs is a mess, but we all have tans and memories of more than putting laundry away for weeks on end. Summer 2015 was well spent with lots of VBS and FoodLink and family visits. Brilyn spent the summer learning horsemanship on my horse, Hannah, that I have had since I was 13. Yeah. Life is speeding up and coming around and it feels immense.

This school year is bringing some changes; Ana is coming home from public school for 7th grade, Bri and Cade are heading off to St Paul Lutheran, and Jessup is starting the big K at home. It looks like Arwyn will be going to Preschool twice a week. And I'm hopping back on to MOPS steering. That is a lot of change. No one will be doing what they did last year.
I feel so excited and hopeful about what the school year will bring. But of one thing I can be sure- everyone will change and grow and they will never be in 7th, 5th, 3rd, K, and preschool again. They will never lose those teeth or ask for whatever delights their hearts at Christmas this year again. This is it. This is their life. I say that to Ana all the time. This is your life. Be. Here. Now. How Ram Das of me. I hope I can keep this perspective throughout the school year and keep it slow like I did this summer. We are going to have to put the laundry away, but hopefully we'll also keep saying yes to the little things that make a life.

Granny's for ice cream even though it's late I'm a little sick and I have to judge a big goat show the next day. When will I be back for Granny's? I can't say.

Stopping at Camp Cherith after a long day of judging the Allegany County fair. So tired, but seriously, when will I be driving by there again with my 14 and 10 year old daughters with me to see where I worked the summer when I was 19 and I fell in love with their daddy and ran the horsemanship program? NEVER. 

The Hobbit book on tape for Brilyn and me. How can I be sure we'll ever have another chance at that? It's 10 CD's!

One more walk around at the surprise spiritual life retreat in the hills? When we will ever get back?

I am learning to take each little opportunity to live, because I am not guaranteed that I will have the chance again. Before my epiphany, I had a dull sense that it's not that big of a deal to miss out on those little things, there are lots of chances for ice cream and walks and books. But even if those chances do come again, it won't be this summer. Summer 2015 is flying off (headed south, I guess). I might get to go for ice cream in 2016, I might get to read more Tolkien with Brilyn, I might get back to Christ the King in Greenwich, but I might not. And if not, I have these moments I accepted with an open hand. I'm glad.

Jolie is now lying across my lap at the dining room table, just like I used to do across my parents' laps while they played cards at Aunt Connie and Uncle Joey's house. My mom and Uncle Joey are gone from this world. I'm glad my parents let me 'stay up' while they all played cards. Because they are in my memories. They could have put me to bed properly, but then where would my memories be?
I'm relaxing with my kids for this very reason. They sleep in my bed, interrupt my late night ice cream ritual, nudge their way under my arms when I'm praying, and come out and talk my ear off in the barn while I'm milking and I think what I'd really like is quiet.
But this is their life. If they don't sleep in my bed now, they won't ever. If they don't come down for late night talks, snuggle me when I'm trying to pray, and come out to the barn with me now, how can I be sure they ever will?
So, I've slowed down, broken some rules, and kind of chilled out. I still say "SHUT THE DOOR" about 1,000 times a day. The fly phobia is real, and so are maggots. But, when someone says, "can we...?" I am a lot more likely to say yes. Because this is it. This is my life; this is our life. We don't get another Summer 2015 or any other season. We could all have neater drawers and more sleep and eat less leftovers and pizza, (oh my goodness and don't even look at my kids' feet) but I don't think that would build our life the same as outdoor walks and talks, ice cream with Grampy, and 5 different VBS's.

I am satisfied with our summer. I can look into autumn with twinkling eyes (bring on the pumpkin cheesecake stuff and cider) without any vague unease at the changing of the season. Summer was well spent. We know each other better, we know Jesus better, and we shared Him around wherever we went. And I was smiling during some of it! And laughing and joking and not nearly so serious as I've been trying to be (thinking I had to else would I ever get through the laundry?)

I want to tell you about the surprise of Christ the King retreat center. Hopefully I'll blog again soon. And change my background to something NOT Christmas. :) XO

Friday, October 31, 2014

Increase our Faith: God has a plan for you

It has recently been made clear to me all over again that God is at work among His people. As Mr. Beaver might say, "Aslan is on the move." You can feel it in the warming wind. See it in the greening wood.

Imagine it being always winter and never Christmas.

Well, that is not too hard to imagine for some folks. For example- orphans in Ukrainian orphanages. They can imagine always winter never Christmas. Or, North American Christians...our hearts are heavy and stiff with the cold of spiritual stagnation...always winter never Christmas.

Even Christmas isn't really Christmas in our souls. Every year we long for more...we try to create magical holiday things to fill our longing. But all we really end up doing is spending a lot of money and energy without the true joy of Christmas dawning in our souls. We end up with lots of clean up and garbage and maybe some extra fat from all the treats and goodies. But in the end it was winter and never Christmas.

But like I said, I have seen that Jesus is on the move. That means that we can expect to have Christmas this winter! We can expect to hear the sleigh bells of Father Christmas in our hearts. We can anticipate the joy of the Gift we will receive. I can assure you it will be just what you've always wanted, always needed. It will be just what you need to get you through this adventure of your life.

But, like the children in Narnia, we have to trust the message that Christ is really on the move. We have to obey Him and take some risks in order to find Him. We have to follow a talking beaver we just met (hearing the Holy Spirit and following His direction can be a lot like following a talking beaver- you keep wondering if this is really real and if it is wise to take advice from such a person). We must resolve to not be distracted by luxuries and lulled to indifference and ultimately disobedience.

Our family heard from the Holy Spirit in October 2011.  I clearly heard that Christ was coming this Christmas if we would open our hearts and home to an orphan from Latvia. We were about as confident as the Pevensie's, we truly felt like children in a strange land following a talking beaver. But the reward was amazing. Christ came at Christmas! Christmas morning dawned in our hearts that winter. Now we know what it's like and we can't get enough of following the Holy Spirit any direction He takes us, because whenever we do, we see Christ. The real Christ, bringing spring to a winter landscape. Thawing our hearts of stone and giving us hearts of flesh.

And then, over the last few years, I have watched the Holy Spirit speak clearly to people who have not heard so clearly up to this point. People who are called by His name who were nonetheless stuck in winter with no Christmas. And it all comes from hosting orphans. I have seen God do BIG THINGS with folks as soon as they start to follow the iffy directions of the Holy Spirit. Did I really hear that? Was it really from God? Is this really the best way to spend my hard earned money? Is this really good stewardship? Is this going to harm my family? Those doubts and more plague every one of us who have followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. But the reward is Christmas in your soul. That lasts all year, even longer!

That's why I want to write this post. I want to somehow let you know that YOUR SOUL stands to gain or lose a lot, based on your willingness to listen for and follow the call of Christ in your life. And I just have so many AMAZING God moments and Jesus magic to share that all revolve around hosting orphans. Obviously, there are lots of ways to hear and follow God's Big Plan for your life, but hosting is way that I have seen with my own eyes the way God works in the hearts of those who say yes.

I've got names and numbers of lots of folks who have said yes to hosting and now know Jesus as well as if they had met Him in the woods and walked miles by His side.

I will tell you those stories, or let them tell you through guest posts so that you can get the idea.
If your heart longs for Christmas, truly joy-filled and lasting, listen closely to their stories and listen carefully for the Holy Spirit to guide you into a magical land....where Christmas comes and warms the heart like springtime.


Jennie Allen sums it up in three lines:

"The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk...
...To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.” -Jennie Allen, Anything

That's what hosting an orphan does- it willingly places your life in God's hand.

It's like when I was trying to describe to some folks about getting more Holy Spirit in your life. Well, this is a loose analogy, so don't analyze it too closely, but your life is like a car. And you have a choice. You can let it sit in the driveway, or you can start driving down the road. The Holy Spirit is the gas. If you just have your car sit in the driveway, God will give you enough gas for that. And you'll look at the gas gauge and say, "well, I can't go anywhere anyway, I hardly have enough gas to make it out of the driveway." But, if you are willing to maybe drive around the block, you find that there is always enough gas to get you where you are supposed to go.

Hosting an orphan is a drive around the block. It shows you how God supplies all your needs. It shows you how real the Holy Spirit is, how real God is. Like what Jennie Allen said in three lines.


#'s 10 and 12 from left are kiddos who changed my life...and whose lives have been changed. Talk about setting the lonely in families...Yeah. Hard to be lonely with Joe's family. :)
Forever family is a gift only God can give.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting? Who?

Today's post is from Kara over at Just Simply Live. This story is far from over and has changed even from when this written. I will request that Juliane and Kara keep writing to keep us updated on their journey with hearing God and hosting. Let's just say, the road is rocky and therefore I'm pretty excited to see what God is up to.

I am not a patient person...


Psalms 37:7 says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Jesus)".

Apparently God wanted to teach me a little lesson in patience and grow my faith muscles.  All while being still.  WOW....

I have this thing called, "bleeding heart syndrome".   I'm sure others suffer from this as well but basically I HATE any injustice.  My soul bleeds for children particularly that don't feel or know what love is due to life circumstances.  My heart cries out for orphans.  My mind is blown away by the children who are sold into slavery right in front of our faces.  Even as I write this, I feel that little blazing fire within me getting fueled to run out and stop it.  To bring EACH AND EVERY orphan into my home.  To love EACH AND EVERY child who is hurting.  To END child slavery as a whole. 

That being said, I married a practical man. A man who first of all loves Jesus but knows that it is just not practical to have 1,000,000 children living in our home.  Lets say he "balances" me.  He doesn't like any of the above situations either but knows that God has given me a mission right now to love and disciple the four children he gave to me.

Then came along a friend with a passion for orphans in other countries.  New Horizons for Children is an organization that places children from overseas orphanages into homes during the Christmas and summer seasons.  During these times, the orphanages "shut down" and the kids are left to celebrate (or not) Christmas on their own.  Like...NO ONE is loving them?   NO ONE buys them presents?  NO ONE cooks a yummy meal for them?  UMMMMMMM NO!

So this lovely friend decided she should host.  Then another lovely friend decided to host.  Then another.  So of course I should host.  Right?  Aren't we called to take care of orphans?  Isn't this a huge example of injustice?  But Zach...ummmmm not sure how he would like that idea.  Well, I guess I should pray.

Then one day I was completely blindsided.  I sat down on my computer to check facebook and what would you know.  There she was.  MY GIRL!  Let me say I was not thinking of hosting at all this holiday season and I knew that Zach wouldn't be on bored with it but I felt and overwhelming pull towards this girl.  I immediately sat down with God and prayed!

 An excerpt from my journal that day:
There are so many kids wihtout moms and dads.  My heart grieves for them.  What do I do with this grief?  I want to host and orphan ("o") this Christmas but I'm not sure it's your will.  You command us to care for the orphans and widows.  Please, PLEASE change Zach's heart.  Help him let this child into our home.  Please Lord.  "O" needs you!

She consumed me for the next 24 hours.  My heart bled like it never had bled for a girl I had never met.  I could see her sitting in my living room.  I could smell her sweet head.  I could imagine snuggling with her, reading a book.  I WAS SURE she was suppose to be here.  God laid this girl on my heart.  He told me to pray for her.  Why shouldn't she be here?

Zach and I talked about it and prayed more than ever about "O".  My heart didn't waver at all.  Zach's didn't either.  He wasn't hearing what I was hearing.  He was hearing, "no, she isn't for us.".  WHAT?????  I begged and pleaded with God.  My core group of friends were all praying that Zach's heart would be changed.  I called NHFC and found out more information about "O".  There was no way she wasn't meant to be here!

The next few days my journal opened with this:
I'm so confused Lord.  Which way are you leading me?  

I am worn and confused Lord.  I was so sure I heard your voice and went out on a limb only to get burned.  My heart breaks.  

I cried out to God.  He answered me with these verses.  "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him".  1 Corinthians 2:9.  "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14.

As I sat in my living room pondering these verses, I felt I NEEDED to talk with my friend Juliane about the whole thing.  Why wasn't Zach hearing what I was hearing?  Why was God saying, "Be Still" when this was obviously not a time to wait?  I called her, heartsick over "O".  As I retold the whole story she told me to go outside, take a deep breath and know that I obeyed God.  He was going to do all the work, I just need to "chill out" and relax.  What happened next was what one of my friends would call a #MJM (Magical Jesus Moment)...

I said "O's" name...

Immediately a light bulb went on in Juliane's head.  "She is for me". 


Juliane went on to describe a vivid dream she had 2 years ago about a girl named, "O" who lived in an Eastern European country.  She asked me to send her the picture.  I did and the rest is history.  

God WAS talking to me.  I WAS listening. The little girl who my heart grieved for WAS going to come here.  I WAS going to see her sitting on my couch.  I WAS going to smell her sweet head.  Not sure about the snuggling part but its possible.  My husband WAS hearing God saying she wasn't for us.  I WASN'T going crazy.  

Juliane immediately talked with her husband and they went forward.  "O" will be here this Christmas.  

My lesson from this was that I am not in control.  God may put things on my heart but it's not up to me to decided what to do with them and when they should happen.  As Juliane said, "Take a deep breath and know you obeyed God"!   I look forward to hearing God more as I learn to fine tune my hearing.  


I'm excited to see what God has in store for us ;)

PS. You can read all about the Worthington's journal to get "O" home here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting Zi

Thank you to the Burkhardt family for sharing their story! Just in case any of you are wondering about the connection here, my family had the joy of hosting Zi this summer. God is good, and sets the lonely in families, sometimes not the host family!
In the beginning of Luke 5, Jesus uses some fishermen in an unexpected way. He preaches from a fisherman’s boat, then tells him to launch out into the deep to catch some fish. The fisherman was no rookie; he was seasoned and knew fish. Furthermore, he had just been fishing all night and knew there were no fish in there. He began to argue with Jesus, but then made the profound statement, Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will. Jesus blessed his obedience and filled his nets to bursting. I have heard Jesus through this telling me that same thing: Launch out into the deep. I have questioned His request. In fact, others have too.

“You’re adopting.” They say. “Doesn’t that cost a lot of money?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

Says another, “We don’t think we should give to just one child as a ministry.” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“What about the language barrier?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“Aren’t you a little afraid to bring someone that old into your home?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“What if he brings a disease into your home?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

Many of these have been questions we have had to answer. We have to be honest and admit we have had our share of fears throughout this journey. But faith and obedience go hand in hand. God said to launch out into the deep.

We ask, “How deep, Lord? Aren’t we already giving and doing enough?”

He answers, “It’s not about you; it’s about showing you what I can do.” We obey, fearful but excited, scared of the unknown. He opens the windows of heaven and showers down everything we need.

Last winter, I met Jocelyn at a friend’s house. My husband and I had been discussing hosting. Through conversation, I found out Jocelyn had hosted and adopted, so I began asking questions. Winter and spring came and went, and the topic of adoption was still on our hearts. We didn’t know where to begin, so I decided to get ahold of Jocelyn and ask which home study agency they used. Through our messages, she discovered our desire to adopt and mentioned Zi.
Our idea of adoption was a young 2- to 3-year-old boy from the Philippines with minor special needs. I even stated to a friend, “We don’t mind a special needs child, but not one with something like cerebral palsy.”

Jocelyn asked if we’d like to meet Zi; she told us he was eight years old, from China, and had mild cerebral palsy. My immediate thought was, OK, Lord, this was not what we had in mind. Being able to meet Zi was of the Lord, especially for our ten-year-old son, who was very apprehensive. After that day, my husband said, “Let’s take the next step.”

We contacted CCAI and started launching into the deep. We found out another family had pulled his file; I was fearful. We waited all day to hear from the agency to see if they were interested in Zi; meanwhile, I prayed. I poured my fears to him, and when I was done, I submitted and said, Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will. I have never looked back. Just as the fisherman said those words in Luke 5:5 he let down his nets and, “they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net break.” The Lord has provided every payment, has allowed every document to be on time, provided us with the right home study agency, and the material things that we needed for when Zi gets here all for free. We have been shown over and over what HE can do when you have faith and obey. Has it been a sacrifice? Yes! Have we experienced resistance from unexpected places? Yes! Have we and our children had to give concessions so that we could move forward with the adoption? Yes! But eclipsing all the doubts, fears, obstacles and resistance is the attitude that the Lord impressed on us: Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

I, Jocelyn, like to add a fundraising link for each of these families who are still in fundraising stages...these families have not requested that I do this, I go find the information on my own and add it in here...I do it in case any of you readers are so moved by these stories that you want to participate. 
You know- Give This Christmas Away! :)

Fund the Burkhardt Family adoption of Hudson


To read more Increase Our Faith stories, please go here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting Boys

From our special guests, the Dawson Family!
Living Like I Believe

Do you ever feel tired of living this safe, saved, American dream life? Where you have your people, and your home, and your routines, and God is there. It all fits in a neat little box that you can somewhat control and predict. For the most part, it is fulfilling, and happy. It’s hard work, but it’s good. But there’s just something missing. Something that is inside you that longs for more. Not in an “I’m not content with my life” sort of way, but in a “God…I know there’s more” sort of way.
That was me. I love my life. I love my Jesus. I love my husband. I adore my children. I like my house. I love my life. It’s hard work, but it’s good. But you know what? I realized that I have been living very safe. I am not downplaying the importance of being a wife, a mother, a home manager, and EVERYTHING that goes along with those jobs. They are important. As moms, we are called to make disciples at home. We are called to respect and serve and love our husbands. We are called to discipline our children. We are called to be busy at home, holding down the fort, so to speak, so that our home is a haven for our man and our kids. We have a BIG job. But you know what? We also have a BIG God. And He doesn’t want us to live safe lives in our white fences. He wants us to live like we believe in Him. Like we believe He can provide. Believe He can carry us. Believe that he will give us wisdom, if we would only ask, and BELIEVE.
That’s when I called about hosting a little girl through New Horizons. That’s when I explained to the sweet woman on the phone that we were adoption minded. And that’s when she told me about these two.
These two sweet boys. She said “I think they would be the perfect fit for your family. But if you were adoption minded, you’d be adopting four. They have a little brother and a little sister as well.” And so she told me their story, and I cried. I hadn’t even seen their faces yet, and I felt God. I felt Him changing my mind. You see…we only wanted to host one little girl. Not two. Not boys. Adoption minded… yes. Adoption minded…meaning we would love to adopt ONE child. Not FOUR!!! But I told her I would talk to my husband, and that I would call her back soon to let her know. I hung up the phone and looked them up, and I just cried a little bit more.
Needless to say, Russ said yes. We pray for them all the time. We literally love them already. We talk about everything from the challenges, to the good stuff, like how we sure hope they like Lincoln logs. And Ava, our sweet Ava, she talks about them like she’s known them her whole life. The other day she yelled at the cat for sleeping on “K”’s bed.
Not everyone gets it. Heck, I’m just starting to wrap my brain around everything. But I know I want to live like I believe in my very BIG God. Believe that he can provide. Believe that he can give us strength to do this. Believe that he will protect our family. Believe that he will help us help these kids.
People say things like … its just such a hard time of year, with Christmas coming, to ask people to give. And to that I say I want my kids to learn that people matter more than presents. They will learn, first and foremost, by what they see. But aren’t you worried you wont be able to give your kids the Christmas you want because you’re spending all of this money? After I just shake my head in disbelief that someone actually would say that out loud, I respond the same response. People matter for eternity. Kids matter for eternity. THESE LITTLE BOYS MATTER FOR ETERNITY. Toys don’t. Plus, I asked Ava if she would rather have a toy or a couple big brothers to play with for Christmas, and she said big brothers.
Christmas is truly a magical time of year, full of Jesus, family, traditions, lights, music, cookies, food, and footie pajamas. I love Christmas. I cannot wait to share Christmas with these boys. Because we believe they matter. Their souls matter. And we believe that God… He’s got us in His hand. I bet He’s happy that we’re doing this.

If you'd like to help the Dawson family host these boys this Christmas, please click here!

If you are inspired by these stories of hosting so far, and you want a chance to stretch your faith, I have an idea! I had this idea in the middle of the night, so if it seems weird, that's why. I would like to suggest a "sponsor a day" donation. The total hosting fees to New Horizons are going to be $5,800.00 (that doesn't include a lot costs, like airfare and stuff, but it's a starting point). If we divided that by 30 days, it comes out to $193.33! Considering we Americans are planning on spending an average of $800.00 per family on unneeded gifts that are junk by July, I'd like to ask that you consider sponsoring a day for 'D' and 'K' to have a family this Christmas! Let it be your first gift of Christmas!
XO Joce

Monday, October 13, 2014

Increase Our Faith: Hosting Reno

Guest Post from Danielle, over at Rich in Love:

Honestly, when I think about the past 3 months, maybe even longer than that my head spins. We have been busy. Four children is nothing to shake a stick at, especially four vibrant, intense and passionate children. For the gift that is each of them, we are so very grateful. However, sometimes I really have to make the choice to practice feeling that way. Like, when someone is in a hurry and spills a whole bowl of soup on the dining room floor that I have finally finishing mopping, literally ten minutes prior, after three weeks of accepting that Sandy the dog’s “spot cleaning” will have to do. I am so grateful for our time together. Yes, perhaps the loudest family in Cazenovia. But usually that loud is from laughter, from intense children with so much to share that they can’t contain it. It is so full of life around here; this home is just bursting at the seams.

About two years ago, my husband and I learned about orphan hosting from a friend’s Facebook wall. We both thought it was a cool idea, but just automatically wrote it off as one that we would consider more seriously when we were older, when our kids were older (they were 6, 4 and almost 2) and when we had a bigger house to host in. By that time we would surely have more financial means too. This is the time in our lives when we began to see firsthand how often God's plans for you are not even remotely close to what yours are.

After dismissing this hosting idea as a current plan, I had a dream about a young boy and it was a simple dream. (I have since learned that God uses a “still small voice” in my dreams, to speak very clearly to me to this day.) He was with our family, it was Christmas and he was sharing a bedroom with our then oldest son. I woke up and thought, “of course, he would sleep in there. Look at that, there IS enough room in this house.” In fact, reflecting on it now, with four kids living in our home comfortably, I can’t believe it was so hard to imagine at first. My husband and I talked again about this whole hosting idea and I shared that I felt this incredible weight, and that we needed to say yes to this. Our relationship is strong; we are committed to these types of things in each other. He saw that it was important to me so we began looking more seriously at the photo listing with the hosting agency. We noticed that many of them had scholarships, something that made the cost of this calling seem much more affordable. We also had an idea that we were looking for a teenage boy and then we found our boy, our now oldest son.

What was most noticeable was that he had a scholarship for over $1700, more than half of his hosting fees. Again, that “still small voice” made it very clear where the deposit to start the process was and there was a sudden awareness that we could fundraise. We could ask for others to step out in faith with us, to show their love in prayer and if they were moved to, to make a donation. We met our son on December 17th, 2012 and our lives will truly never ever be the same. Ever.

Over the almost two year adoption process we came to know Jesus. We began to learn that there is so much more to this life than just knowing who Jesus is and how much He loves us. Our hearts were stretched and opened to something amazing. Not only to loving an orphan child and seeing that he was our own and our family was his own, but that nothing is too hard for God. He is all powerful and He does have a plan and He does work for the good of all. We learned what it meant to “wait on God” and to “find rest in Him.” We saw Him fill us with ideas and words to ask humbly for donations, and within almost an 18 month period raise over forty thousand dollars for our son’s adoption. We saw our story of an “impossible adoption because of an age-gap law” move through our family and friends and their families and friends and pretty quickly it was moving across the country and the world. God was using our little family’s mission to ripple across His creation to change the hearts of many! What a gift to us. I still can’t grasp what it all means, that this is our family’s story. I am humbled.

However, as I write this, I keep thinking of what it is that I am most grateful for throughout it all. I am brought to my knees with such gratitude for the way God has shown me how to depend on Him. How only He can love wholly, only He can give me rest in times of great uncertainty or exhausting trial. How He never ever leaves us and although sometimes we don’t hear His voice He is always there, His plan is still in motion and it is a good plan. How I cannot be a parent of these children He chose for me (and me for them) without His constant guidance and wisdom. I cannot do this life alone. I need Him.

As a very special and very wise friend has said to me, many times, “Thank God for God.”

We are SO thankful.

We are a family that has been blessed by the gift of adoption.

About Me

About Me
I love Jesus, my hubby, my 6 kiddos, my farm, good books and good food.