Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Adoptive Family's "Thankful Tree"

Every year we do something special in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  Yesterday our children headed outside into the woods to find a tree branch that we could use for our "Thankful Tree."  We cut leaves out of construction paper, and everyone wrote several thing for which they are thankful.  Now our tree sits in the corner of our dining room and has been proclaimed as "my favorite thankful tree of all!"  :)

Along with the more typical leaves that were labeled with "Mama," "cookies," "my warm house," and all the pets names, we also have some leaves that are specific to our individual journey as an adoptive family.

Here are some of our daughter's leaves (which she doesn't understand just yet, but it is an ever-repeating part of our "family talk"):

In big and little ways, our family tries to incorporate her life story.  It is part of her.  It is part of us.  And we truly are thankful.

And as a side note...  Five years ago today, a precious birth mother in Taiwan wrapped up her little baby in blankets and placed her in a busy place where someone would surely find her and begin her journey to her forever family.  We honor that sweet birth mom, and we are thankful for her immense sacrifice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Aging Out of the Orphanage

At the young age of 16 years old, many orphans "graduate" from the orphanage and are given nothing but their few worldly possessions and a bus ticket.  They say goodbye to friends.  (All photos provided by New Horizons for Children)

And head out on their own, having no idea what lies before them...

They leave, with no training in how to live in the world and no mom or dad to call when they run into problems.  And problems they DO run into.  One out of 5 will commit suicide within the first year of being out of the orphanage.  Two out of 5 girls will end up in prostitution.  And many will resort to a life of crime just to survive.

Please don't look at these children, feel sad and then do nothing.  Someone has to stand in the gap.  Someone is needed to PRAY for these children every day, laboring behind-the-scenes in agonizing wrestling prayer on their behalf.  Someone is needed to step forward to adopt.  Someone is needed to give of their financial resources.  Someone is needed to advocate for a child until he is adopted.  Someone is needed to go to these orphans and work alongside them.

You are needed.

I cannot help but wonder who it was that was supposed to step forward to keep this lonely teenager from the street-living that is ahead of him.  Are we indifferent to his life simply because it's not in our own backyard?

God, forgive us!  Do we really believe You when you say that when we refuse to help these children, we are really refusing to help YOU?  This is YOU walking down this road, and we refused to take You into our home...

"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!  For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me.  I was thirsty, and you didn't give me anything to drink.  I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me no clothing.  I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

"Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'  And he will answer, 'I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'  And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."  ---Matthew 25:41-46

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Today as we were driving home from church, I saw a dead animal on the side of the road.  It was really an awful sight, and I watched as the people in the convertible ahead of us turned their heads as if it wasn't there.  I shifted my eyes to avoid seeing all the details myself.  Car after car did the same thing.  If we look away, we can get the image out of our minds.  We can forget it.  We can go on almost uninterrupted with our happy plans.

Have you noticed that we tend to do this whenever there's a reality that we simply do not want to acknowledge?

Here's another reality.  This one involves human lives, and I want to share some pictures that I want to you face.  As you look at each photo, please ask yourself if you would ever want your own child to be in this situation.  (I have been given permission from New Horizons for Children to share these photos with you.)

How many pairs of shoes have you ever worn that were in this condition? This is what is provided to kids in one of the orphanages in Ukraine. 

Imagine these being your child's feet.

Here is a common bathing area. They heat water from the hanging hot water heater for use anywhere in the building. But, they fill this bathtub under it once a week and all the kids take turns to come bathe. The green bucket is used to pour water over the kids while sitting.  

Will you please for just one moment imagine sending your child into this room with other children to be bathed once each week?

Here is a ceiling inside a foster home in Latvia. Note the black mold growing on the walls. Since there are concrete walls in most homes, the plumbing was added later in this home and comes into the house by a single pipe and then goes to a couple of areas for indoor running water in this home.

Can you imagine your child living in this foster home?

Here is a typical interior staircase.  You can "see" it but oh, how you don't ever want to "smell" it!

Imagine your own child alone in this staircase.

This is a very nice bedroom in a typical orphanage. These beds were just replaced and they were all so proud of them! But, the smell! No plastic sheets for the beds means they wear out and become unsanitary very quickly!

Take a moment to simply close your eyes and imagine seeing your child sleeping in one of these beds tonight.

Really...did you stop and truly honestly picture YOUR CHILD in these photos?  Is that too far fetched or too hard to even begin to ponder?  Does it make you too sick to even consider?

This is REALITY for millions of orphans.  

And it has been found that once a family steps forward to adopt one of these children, they lock into that reality.  They really look at those beds and think, " child is over there sleeping in that room that stinks so badly.  I wonder if his sheets are clean.  I wonder if he's crying alone in that bed right now."  They see the picture of the shoes and wonder, "Is my child wearing shoes like that right now?"  They see the bathing facility and cringe with the reality that, "My child has to face that room every week!"  

And something inside just propels them to fall on their knees and pray for their child...not a simple, "Please bless Billy" prayer...but a wrestling-on-my-knees-in-anguish-and-tears prayer.  Something compels them to go through a tremendous hassle of adoption paperwork, doctor appointments, fund raisers, headaches, weary travel and abandonment of all comfort zones...all for the single purpose of getting to their child as quickly as possible.  WHY??

Because that child is one of them.  It's not just "someone somewhere" who needs help.  It's a member of their own family.  And suddenly that makes all the difference in the world.  Suddenly those photos of beds and shoes and mold become personal.  And almost all of us would move mountains to help our own family.

These needs MUST become personal to us in some way, whether we adopt or host or give financially or pray fervently for one child until they are adopted.  These photos need to sink in at the heart level...not to depress us and leave us unable to breathe...but to PROPEL us forward, to COMPEL us for the sake of love.

This needs to become reality in our minds and hearts and lives.  Why?  Why should we even give up our time and energy and money and focus to someone on the other side of town or the other side of the world?  Why would we bother when their situation has nothing at all to do with us??

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.  Hebrews 13:3 9 (ESV)

Why do we avoid reality, when we are called to enter into it?  God has called us.  Do we need any other reason? 

I close with a Casting Crowns' song.  And OH how I pray that we GET THIS!

But if we are the Body
Why aren't His arms reaching
Why aren't His hands healing
Why aren't His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren't His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Look at This Precious Asian Prince!

Chen, Yen-Lung

I was contacted today by someone who is very much wanting this little guy to find his forever family.  She is advocating for him, and I agreed to place him here for YOU to pray for.  To find out more specific information (as I'm unsure what specific information can be posted here), please CLICK ON THIS LINK.  From what I understand, time is of the essence, as he is now too old for the baby house and may be transferred to another facility.  Please pass this along to anyone interested in adopting this little guy.  He's in TAIWAN too!  :)  (We LOVE Taiwan and its beautiful people!)

Please pray, proclaiming Scriptures over his life.  It is GOD ALONE Who is Father to the fatherless and who places the lonely in families.  Join us in claiming that for this child.  In GOD ALONE do orphans find mercy.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Reason

Here's just one tiny reason why I'm so glad that we adopted...

It's the little things that make life sweet, isn't it?  The other day when I was baking biscuits, I turned around to find our daughter intent on watching the biscuits grow in the oven.  Every now and then, she'd turn back to meet my eye and smile...followed shortly by "Mmmmmmmmm!"

It's at moments like this when time just stands still for a few seconds, and I stop long enough to let it hit me again: I ALMOST COULD HAVE MISSED THIS.  There are at least a hundred good reasons why we didn't "need" to adopt.  There are at least a hundred good reasons why we could have seen the photo of this little girl, said a quick prayer and moved on without ever stopping long enough to ask, "Lord, is it ME that You want to be Your Hands and Feet here?"

And sometimes it hits me.  We almost could have missed this.  That thought always makes me close my eyes and clench my jaw.  Oh how I would have hated to have missed this!!

And the amazing part is that we may have been the ones who stepped forward to bring our daughter into our home, and we've heard many times how "lucky" she is...but WE are the ones who have been blessed. There are no words to describe the immense blessing this little one has been in our lives.  No human words.

On the day I snapped this photo, I was thinking about how thankful I was that she was relishing in the pure joy of watching biscuits rise.  A child should have little joys like that...
The smell of clean sheets on her bed
The sound of Mama's voice when she wakes up scared in the middle of the night
The feel of Daddy's whiskers on her cheek when she gets goodnight kisses
The taste of her favorite foods
The feel of her favorite blanket
The smell of dinner cooking on the stove
The smell of clean clothes (with matching bows, of course!)
The familiarity of this little place called home

The little things that we take for granted are the very things that children lie awake in their orphanage beds and wish for, pray for, cry for.

Will we have the courage to ask (again and again),  "Lord, is it ME You want to use as Your Hands and Feet to meet the needs of these children?"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing Nothing

Cover Image

Deuteronomy 27:19  tells us that God commands us not to "distort the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow." (NASB)

"So to deprive the fatherless of justice doesn't simply mean that you deny them a proper hearing in court.  It means not welcoming them into your home, not helping them when they are cold and hungry, not listening when they cry out.  In other words, the sure way to deprive the poor of the justice due them is to do nothing!"     ---The Fields of the Fatherless, by C. Thomas Davis

And yet that is what most of us do, isn't it?  We know about the plight of orphans.  We read the statistics.  We see the faces.  We hear the stories.  And yet we somehow can go to sleep at night without giving it much thought.  We simply DO NOTHING.

It's not enough to read about it and agree.  It's not even enough to have adopted or participated in some form of orphan ministry in the past and think we're "in the clear."  This is something God Himself commands us to make sure we do not distort the justice due an orphan.

God didn't say it just once.  The Bible mentions the importance of caring for orphans many times.  Why is it that something God repeats all throughout His Scriptures is so very easily overlooked?  

If the coach of the most respected and successful team in all of history stopped one day to lean over and give his "secrets" to success, wouldn't all the coaches want to listen and take notes?  If the most successful business owner in the world were to write a book giving the exact formula for success, wouldn't that book sell millions of copies?

And here in our hands, we hold the Living Book written by the God we desire to serve.  And tucked away in the book of James, we find a gold nugget...a prized jewel.  Here, we have the God of the Universe giving His description of what HE HIMSELF defines as pure and faultless religion.  I can picture all of His followers saying, "Oh, I want to know what Your definition of pure and faultless religion is!  I want to know so that I can offer that up to you!  Is it a sacrifice of great money that You want from me?  Is it going to church twice a week?  Is it tithing 10 percent plus an offering? Is it becoming a pastor or missionary?  What oh what is it, Lord, that You define as pure and faultless religion??  Tell me Your secret, Lord!"

James 1:27 says, "Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." (NIV)  Think about it...  The God we worship...the very one we desire to please and love and worship takes the time to give us HIS definition of "pure and faultless religion."  And what do we do?

Many times, we simply do nothing.

It's that depraved indifference.  Indifference to the lives of orphans because they aren't in our own homes.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Indifference to the God who gave us His own definition of what He accepts as pure and faultless religion.

I am beginning to pray some very bold prayers.  One of them is for God to raise up many people who will shake off that depraved indifference.  Ones who simply cannot just "do nothing."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Playing Church

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Perhaps you have heard of Amy Carmichael, the Irish missionary to India.  She once had a vision that she wrote about in an essay titled "My Brother's Blood Crieth."  She talks of the church sitting in circles making daisy chains while the lost blinded people of the world drop off a nearby cliff.  Nobody leaves the circle to go help the falling people.  In fact, the screams of the falling men and women are an irritation to those making their Christian daisy chains.  (Read the whole essay here if you've never seen it.)  I read that when Amy Carmichael sent this essay to the church back home, they were very upset.  Nobody wanted to be accused of what she was implying.

But it was is the truth.

I could go in a million different directions with this, but I am choosing one path that is very dear to my heart...


There once was a boy who had been in an orphanage for 6 years.  Six years.  Let that number penetrate your mind...  
Six years without a mama or daddy to tuck him in bed at night.
Six years without a mama or daddy to hug him and tell him everything is okay.
Six years without enough nutrition for a growing boy.
Six years without his own Christmas stocking, his own Easter basket, his own stuffed animal.
Six years of flus, colds, hurts that nobody had time to tenderly care for.
Six years of lying in bed alone every night and wondering if one day...maybe...someone would love him.

Six years for an orphan must feel like an eternity.  

So, this boy had been an orphan for 6 years.  Sometime during those 6 years, he went to America on a hosting program for orphans.  He spent 5 weeks in a Christian home, visited their church, met their Christian friends, and learned of their God.  At the end of the 5 weeks, he returned to his home country and never got word that anyone wanted to adopt him.  He lay in bed, knowing that some of his friends who had been hosted were now being adopted.  What in the world went through his head?  Do we dare even want to slip our feet into his shoes and try to imagine how he felt?

And, no matter how wonderful his experience was in America, he was again back in his orphanage with the knowledge that he was not adopted by his forever family.  Then, some time later, he was given the opportunity again to travel to American on another hosting experience.  Again, he spent 5 weeks with a host family and had a tremendous time.  He visited their church, met their Christian friends, learned again of this great God.  But again, he had to leave after the 5 weeks and return to his life at the orphanage.  And, again, he was not adopted.

Let me interject a couple of points I want to be clear about...

**Is the hosting program at fault?  NO!   They are WONDERFUL!  I very much line up with what they are doing and, in fact, have contacted one such hosting agency to see if I can work alongside them.  Hosting programs are really amazing ways of bringing these precious children into Christian homes, and the adoption rates are very high in these programs.  It's all's better than's RIGHT.  The hosting program is laying special bricks in this huge wall of orphan ministry.  They are using their bricks in amazing ways, and the wall NEEDS these brick layers to coordinate the hosting programs.

**Is the host family at fault?  NO!  Perhaps they were too old to adopt...or their health wouldn't allow it...or they didn't meet the income requirements for adoption...or whatever the reason.  Sometimes the door closes, not allowing certain people to adopt, through no fault of their own.  Sometimes being a host family is a key brick being placed in the wall of orphan ministry.  The wall NEEDS host families willing to bring these children into their homes, teach them about Jesus and advocate for forever families for them.  

But, today as I was praying in my secret place, the thought of those daisy chains came to mind.  Think about this for just a moment and try to keep your mind open and your defenses at ease...  How many churches did this child visit?  At least 2.  How many Christians were in those churches?  Let's say they were even smallish churches...we could guess at least 200 Christians.  How many Christian families did this child encounter on his 2 trips to America, with visits to friends' houses, church events, etc?  I cannot even guess, but we know it's many.

With all my heart, and without any mean tinge in what I'm saying, I want to simply ask of myself and any Christian who is reading this:  Where is the church?  Where are the ones who will rise up and honestly say, "Here am I, Lord...use me"?  Where are the Christians who will enter into this orphan's pain as if it's their own pain...the ones who will not rest until he is in a forever family...the ones who will open their own homes and be the Hands and Feet of Jesus that we so love to sing about and preach about and talk about over coffee?

Please don't get me wrong.  I've been repenting my own sins in this area, and I'm GRIEVED!  Where in the world is the church??  

We are busy making daisy chains.  We are making sure our worship music goes off without a hitch.  We are polishing up our sermons and lessons.  We are going to camps, workshops, seminars, and retreats to follow God.  We are busy with Christian aerobics classes, potlucks, classes and lock-ins.  We are reading many books, memorizing many Scriptures, and debating Creation -vs- Evolution.  We are so busy for God.  So busy that when an orphan walks right into our church building, we entertain him with music and send him away without ever once entering into his pain and asking ourselves, "Is it ME, Lord?  Is it my home you want to place him into?"

James 2:16 says, "If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?"

Matthew 25:40 says, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'."

How are we missing this???

We are busy making daisy chains.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned towards the ravine. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it was a rather crude noise. And if one of their group started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. "Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven't finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."  (excerpt from Amy Carmichael's essay).

How much is a life worth?  HOW MUCH IS A SOUL WORTH?

FORGIVE US, LORD!  These are YOUR children, and we act as though it's an option to care for them.  These orphans have now heard of You through their precious host families, but do they know that You are the Father to the fatherless?  Do they know that You set the lonely in families?  Do they know that it is OUR hands and feet that you use to place them into families?  Are these orphans experiencing this group of Christians actually DOING what You want them to love them as You loved us?  You adopted us through great suffering.  Are we too busy making daisy chains to be willing to do as You did?

Or are we merely playing church?

Dumb daisy chains.  Pointless daisy chains that will be gone tomorrow.

Oh how my heart is grieved!  Lord, forgive us.  Forgive me.

I will close with this quote from the book In the Arena, by Isobel Kuhn.  "It was clearly my duty.  I have heard some say that the need is not the call.  I do not understand that.  An obvious need is a call in any branch of human life.  The Good Samaritan did not need a special Bible verse miraculously shining upon him to indicate that it was God's Will he help the poor fellow who had fallen among thieves.  Where common sense clearly points out a duty, that is the voice of God.  We do not need any other, provided a higher duty is not claiming us."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remembering Gotcha Day

Exactly 2 years ago, we were in the orphanage in Taiwan.  Here's the very first memory I have of our youngest daughter.  We followed the case worker off of the elevator, and there was our pint-size princess playing with some toys.  They told her to wave to "Mama and Baba," and I snapped this first picture.

Ours was not the "Gotcha Day" you dream about.  Our daughter had changed "homes" 3 times, and there we were to uproot her once again.  She cried a pitiful cry when we first held her.  It was a very long and exhausting day for all of us.  She and Daddy took a much needed nap in the hotel room that evening.

But oh what a difference a family makes!  Look at this munchkin now.  Can you tell she's a happy girl?!    Oh yes, she knows she is LOVED and cherished!  And top that all off with some cute bows, and there you have the princess of our domain...

This morning (which is night time in Taiwan), I was thinking about how at that moment 2 years ago, our daughter was spending her very last night in an orphanage.  Her last night without a Mama and Daddy.  Her last night alone, with nobody to rock her to sleep if she had a bad dream.  Her last night as an orphan.  There's such beauty in seeing a child go from orphan to daughter and heir in one amazing moment in time!

And as my mind pondered the depth of that, I found a sickening feeling also rise to the surface.  What about all the others?  What about those who will go to sleep tonight crying in their pillows because they want a mom and dad?  What about those who are still waiting for their forever family to come get them?  What about those who are getting ready to age out of the orphanage and will soon find themselves with no job (and nobody willing to give them a job), no food, no home, no hope?

What about Oleg?

This precious boy finds himself back in his life as an orphan after a wonderful summer hosting program in the United States.  What is he thinking?  What is he looking forward to?  What did he eat today?  Are his sheets clean and fresh?  Did anybody say good morning when he got out of bed?

My mind visits him over and over.  A mixture of smiles and tears floods me as I remember him.

His first Happy Meal...

His first ice-cream-sundae-building party...  Look at that SMILE!!!  He helped me set everything up for the ice cream event, and he wanted to keep it a surprise for the other children.  He kept saying to me (as if we had the most scrumptious secret in the world that he could hardly wait to share with everyone): "ICE CREAM!!"  I had the very best time experiencing this alongside him.  (And, by the way, he helped me clean the whole mess up afterward too...without me ever asking for help!  He's a very sweet boy and a big helper!)  Did you expect that?

His first birthday party...

His first trip to buy new shoes...

And quite possibly his fist time to pretend to be a fighter pilot...

Look at that face.  Imagine the breath he breathes and the dreams he dreams and the hopes he dares to hope when he's alone in that bed in the orphanage.  THIS IS THE FACE of just one of the 143 million orphans out there that is still praying, hoping, pleading to his Heavenly Father to please send him a forever family.  He's not a statistic.  He's a living, breathing, real boy named Oleg.

As I remember so fondly our Gotcha Day with our daughter, I also long to go far beyond that.  I yearn to be God's instrument to help place many of these treasures into their forever families.

1) PRAY that God will indeed place the lonely in families, as His Word says.  We have that Word, and we need to boldly proclaim it!
2) TRUST that He will be faithful to do as His Word says.
3) BE WILLING AND AVAILABLE to be used by Him.  He places the lonely in families, and WE are His Hands and Feet.  Are WE willing to be the family He chooses for one of these precious treasures?  Or are we too busy, too comfortable, too afraid?

We are the Bride of Christ, and He has left these little ones in our care.  One day, I believe, we will have to give an answer to Him for what we did or didn't do for His children.  What we do to the least of these, we do to HIM.  That's quite sobering if you truly believe He means what He says.

** If you want to read more about Oleg or other orphans who are still awaiting forever families, visit the New Horizon site.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Meet sweet Oleg

Of all the orphans I've introduced on this blog, this is the one that has most moved me.  WHY?  Because I've met him.  I've had dinner with him.  I've laughed with him.  I've cried for him.  In other words, to some degree, I've entered into his life.  It is one thing to read the statistics and to see the photos, but it is another thing to actually meet an orphan face-to-face and know that they are soon returning to orphanage life.  

Some of our friends are hosting Oleg through the New Horizons program this summer.  If you'd like to read more about New Horizons, please visit THEIR SITE.  

Some of the orphans who have been hosted are going to be adopted by their host families or by friends of the host families.  Others, like Oleg, have not yet had someone step forward to adopt them for a variety of different reasons.  These particular orphans are now on a list, and YOU can consider them for adoption.  Even if you feel you cannot adopt, please PRAY for them by name.  A photo listing can be found at THIS LINK.

And because Sir Oleg is so special to my heart, I'm highlighting him here on my blog and will advocate for him until his forever family steps up to adopt him.  So, as I wrote in my last post, we commit this to God.
1) PRAY that God, who is Father to the fatherless, will place Oleg into his forever family.
2) TRUST that it is God alone who can place the lonely in families.
3) BE WILLING AND AVAILABLE to be the human hands and feet of Jesus for Oleg.  Be willing to be used by Him as the family where He places Oleg.  We are His Body.  He uses US to set the lonely into families.

"Lord, we bring precious Oleg to You.  You, God, are Father to the fatherless.  You know this child inside and out.  You created his life and have good plans for him.  We ask you to be faithful to Your Word to place the lonely into families.  We trust You alone to do this.  And if You want to use OUR hands and feet and home, please show us.  We are willing to do whatever You ask us to do.  We pray all this in Jesus' Name, trusting fully that You will answer in Your absolutely perfect time."

The following is Oleg's photo and short bio.  If you are interested in adopting Oleg, please contact New Horizons.

Oleg: 11 years old, loves both outside and inside play. He is good at puzzles, legos, games, drawing, crafts, and foosball. He also loves outside play such as soccer, swimming, Frisbee, and he just learned how to ride a bike. He is a very persistent boy when it comes to learning new things. While learning to ride a bike, he was not reckless, but certainly not afraid. It seemed he was aware that there might be pain involved but that was what it would take to learn this new skill. He is very helpful and does things without being asked such as bringing in groceries, getting little children in and out of their car seats and opening doors. He enjoys playing with children of all ages and gets along well with our children from two up to twelve. He has a very good appetite and has never refused any food we've served him, and likes to help cook. We do not have any pets currently, but he seems very comfortable around the dogs that belong to our various friends. He has really bonded with our 9 year old son (they seem almost like twins) and just like all boys, they can get excited and a little loud, however Oleg is usually easily redirected when we request they settle down. He does not talk a lot, but is beginning to open up more and talk some, however I am fairly certain he understands a good deal of English. We have had no problems communicating with him. He seems interested in the bible, both audio and print. He seemed shy at first, but after that he has had lots of smiles, and enjoys trying to new things.

And, while we have a particular child in mind, I ask you to watch this video again.  We simply cannot afford depraved indifference a day longer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Can We DO?

I've been away from my blog for a bit, spending some weeks in another state taking care of my mom after back surgery.  I'm thinking that every person should sometimes get out of their normal routines, familiar surroundings, comfortable ruts.  There's much to be said about the perspective it somehow brings...the new lens it sometimes slips over dull eyes.  Ahh...I see it if somehow being away from the familiar allows you to crest a mountain and see a view you couldn't see before.
beautiful views

beautiful viewsbeautiful views

One of many things that I encountered during my time away was a clarity about orphan ministry.  While I was out of town, some orphans from Ukraine came to spend a month in our little town.  Some of the children went to the homes of some of our friends.  I found myself away for this big "homecoming," and all I could think was, "What can I DO?"  I wanted to be there, to hug the children, to take meals to the families.  But I was many hundreds of miles away, so DOING something wasn't possible.

Seems I've found myself in that boat lately more often than I can say.  And in the what-can-I-do desperation that my busy heart can sink into all too easily, a still quiet voice reminds me that it is not me but HE who is in control.  Yes, Lord, but aren't I Your hands and feet??  I've always found this to be a fine line.  But clarity was given to me in the peaceful pools of thought that I waded in while away from my usual surroundings.

The specific larger dilemma that raked my very soul was this:  There are some children who are hosted for the summer orphan hosting program who are then adopted by the hosting family.  There are some children who are adopted by another family other than the hosting family.  But then there are those who return to the orphanage and are not adopted.  They get to experience a family but then have to leave it behind and go back to the grim reality of life without a loving family.  And this thing hit me smack in the face (again).  I began to dip my toes ever so fearfully into their shoes for just a tiny second.  Not wanting the full onslaught of pain, I only allowed one foot to cautiously press into the orphan's shoe for a moment.  And I didn't like how it felt...I pulled back and wanted to run the other direction.  Lord, I cannot DO anything!  This hurts too much to try to put myself in their shoes if I then cannot DO anything to help!!

As if He finally had me exactly where He wanted me (hurting for the orphan but completely helpless at what to do), He then began to pour His light into my soul.  While cleaning out one of my mom's rooms at her house, I ran across a book about the power of proclaiming God's Word out loud.  The Holy Spirit sunk this deep into my spirit.  His Word is powerful, and it cannot return to Him without accomplishing what it says it will do.  Like a floodlight, this flowed over me until I was beside myself with HOPE.  If I proclaim His Word, He will do what His Word says.

Immediately I thought of the orphans.  And I remembered Psalm 68:5-6.  His Word says that it is HE who is a Father to the fatherless.  It is HE who places the lonely in families.  Suddenly, the weight of this burden lifted off my shoulders.  There in my hand I held the key.  HIS WORD is powerful and cannot return to Him without accomplishing what it says.  I began to proclaim Psalm 68:5-6, with the specific names of orphans.  "It is YOU, Lord, Who is _______'s father.  It is you who places _________ into his forever family!"  As I began to proclaim this, the weight was no longer on my shoulders but rather in HIS HANDS.  I was resting in Him to be faithful to His Word.  My job was to pray fervently and with full faith for Him to place these specific children into forever families.  It was HE who would accomplish this, not me.

And the fine line?  Well, we can go too far with this.  We can slip into "praying" about everything but never stepping up to let Him use our own hands and feet.  After all, HOW does He place the lonely in families?  He uses human families!  He knows what family is best and right for each child...HE ALONE KNOWS.  And it is our place to be be willing...for Him to use our hands and feet and home if He so chooses.

So, the lens focused clearly, and I could see what I hadn't seen as clearly before...  I believe we have a 3-fold job here:
1) PRAY His Word back to Him, asking Him to place the lonely in families (praying specifically for each child you hear about).
2) TRUST that He alone can place these children in their forever families.  If we truly believe that He is capable of doing this, we won't be wringing our hands in oh-man-what-in-the-world-is-going-to-happen.  We simply take Him at His Word and rest in HIM to do it.  He alone knows His Will for each child.
3) BE AVAILABLE AND WILLING to be the human hands and feet He wants to use to care for these children.

And I always love what Mary Beth Chapman once said: "Be willing to go beyond easy."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Both Hands

"Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us."  --James 1:27

We've been working at getting the word out about orphans.  But what about widows?

I recently was introduced to an organization called BOTH HANDS.  Here is their mission statement (copied from their site):  Both Hands is a non-profit organization with a two-fold mission. We serve widows in a very practical way in our communities, while raising funds to help willing families adopt

To see this in action, please visit the video at the top of this blog: "Getting Liam and Keane."  This is a family who is in the process of adopting 2 boys from China.  One of the fundraisers they had was a Both Hands project, where they and their friends were sponsored by other people to  work for a day on a widow's home.  All the raised funds went to their adoption, and the sweet widow lady was blessed with many people who worked on her home (cleaned, painted, etc).  The video will touch your heart.

What a WONDERFUL way to bless both orphans and widows at the same time!  If you know of anyone who is trying to raise funds for their adoption, please pass along this information.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On a Mission to Unite Twins!

A friend of mine passed this information along to me...  It's an amazing true story of a family who adopted a little girl from China.  Their daughter mourned significantly, and they soon discovered that she had left her twin sister in China.  The adoptive family had no idea that she had a twin.  For several reasons, they are unable to adopt their daughter's twin, but we are all in prayer that someone will adopt her and will allow the girls to maintain contact as they grow through the years.  The adoptive family lives in Wisconsin, so it would be extra wonderful if a Wisconsin family could adopt the sister.  I ask you to pass along this information to your circle of friends.  Perhaps someone reading this will be the bridge between these 2 precious sisters.  PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK to read the story.  The blog post is titled "Left Behind."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update on Kirill!!

In April, I asked you to pray for Kirill.  In March, when his adoptive family went to court for the final ruling, the judge denied their adoption request on the basis that Kirill has Down Syndrome and would be better off in an institution instead of a family.  We knocked on Heaven's doors for this little guy, and God was faithful to His Word to indeed be the One Who places the lonely in families!  Just a few days ago, the court overturned the judge's decision, and Kirill will soon be going home with his forever family.  Please check their blog to keep updated.  This is going to be a sweet story to follow.

God is good!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

5/5/5 Warrior Project

Reece's Rainbow is celebrating their 5th anniversary this year.  This is the organization that featured our youngest daughter on their list of waiting children 2 years ago.  They seek to find forever families for children with Down Syndrome (as well as other special needs) before the children are sent to mental institutions.  They have found forever families for 500+ children!

You can get involved in their current project.  GO TO THIS LINK to learn more about their 5/5/5 Warrior Project, which is seeking to raise awareness and funds for their 5-year-old waiting children (the ones most in danger of being transferred to mental institutions).  YOU can be a warrior for a specific child and make an eternal difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

UPDATE on Vladislav!

A sweet wonderful family stepped forward to host Vladislav!  :)  Now, they have only a few short days to get all paperwork and such done.  Please pray for them as they handle all details.  And pray for all the necessary funds for them to host him.

Prayer is the big work!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Vladislav Needs a Host Family for the summer!

Meet Vladislav.  He lives in a rough orphanage and is awaiting a family in the US to host him this summer through New Horizons.  He is the only one left who does not yet have a host family.  READ HIS STORY HERE and please pass it along to your circle of friends.

When they took the photo above, he didn't know how to smile....he's never had a reason to smile.  :(

Pray for Vladislav to be chosen by a host family.  He has a grant of $500, and someone just doubled it, so he already has $1000 towards the fee of $2500 for hosting him.  Many times families are able to raise the funds very quickly for this, so if you feel God leading you, STEP OUT in faith.   Please pass this information along to others.  He has just a handful of days until he will miss his chance to come to the US for the summer.

You can host an orphaned child

Have you heard of New Horizons for Children, Inc.?  We've had friends who have hosted orphaned children through their agency, and I've only heard GOOD things about New Horizons.

They are in need of host families.  You can visit this link to learn more.

If you've never heard of New Horizons, here's a brief description from their site:

New Horizons for Children is a non-profit, 501(c)3, Christian ministry. Our goal is to identify children in orphanages in other countries who would benefit from and most likely be able to adapt to a Christian family environment in the USA. We aim to teach English, prayer time, cultural differences and how a loving family life can and should be. This one example, may well be, the only example of a functional family in these children's lives. Because of the mission of our program, all our hosting families must be of the Christian faith and attending a Christian church. We are a non-denominational organization, but we are all Christians, serving one God and following Jesus Christ as His son, and as our personal Savior. Teaching and modeling these Christian principles is a primary goal for our hosting families.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carrington's Amazing Progress

I want to introduce you to another angel.  This time, the story is an adoption success story that will touch your heart.

Meet Carrington.  When her mom and dad left the orphanage with Carrington in arms, she looked like this:

But when they took off the layers of clothes to change her diaper, this is what they saw:

Little Carrington was 3 years old and weighed 11 pounds.  You can imagine the horror they felt as they saw how malnourished their daughter was.  When they landed in the U.S., they headed straight for the hospital.  You can read the story here.

It has been a long road, but sweet Carrington is finally now HOME from the hospital and is filling out beautifully.  You can see the latest photos and keep up with Carrington's progress at her mom's blog.

Carrington was so blessed to have a forever family who adopted her before she died.  Many children die in institutions because they don't have a Mama or Daddy to care for them, feed them, get them medical care when they most need it.

My daughter just did a presentation about a missionary today.  The missionary was living in China many years ago and was unable to leave her post because she was caring for 200 orphans.  She asked God to send her a husband.  But, no husband came.  Later in her life, she said something like, "I believe God answers prayers.  I believe God DID call a man to come to China to marry me.  But that man didn't listen!"  We all laughed at her sense of humor, but it got me thinking...

How many children are waiting in orphanages and institutions right now because the people who are being called to adopt them simply haven't obeyed?  How many people have had their hearts tugged and burdened to adopt...and then walked away for any number of reasons?  This is not a guilt trip.  In fact, please don't make any decision out of guilt.  But, what if instead of listing our reasons why we cannot do something...what if we simply prayed, "God, do you want me to do this?  I'm available.  I'm open.  I have no plans but your plans."

Do I believe that everyone is called to adopt?  NO.  I've heard stories of children who wished they had never been adopted because their adoptive parents adopted them out of guilt or other wrong reasons.  So, NO, I don't believe every family is called to adopt.  We all play different roles...some adopt, some foster, some give financially to make it possible for other families to adopt, some pray for children awaiting adoption.  EVERY ROLE IS IMPORTANT.

But my challenge is: go beyond easy.  What would happen if you just opened it up, laying all reservations, excuses, fears aside and said sincerely, "God, I'm here.  WHATEVER you want me to do, I'll do."


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Miss Joanie

Date of Birth:  July 2006
Gender:  Female
Eyes:  Blue
Hair:  Brown

Lookie at this little gal all dolled up in polka dots and glasses!  Miss Joanie is waiting for her forever family to find her.  She needs prayer warriors to faithfully pray for her.  Remember, she has no Mama and no Daddy and probably nobody at all praying for her.  This is where WE come in.  You, right there at your computer screen can lift this little girl up to Him in prayer.  Far from an inferior role, PRAYER is actually the big work.  It is not us who place the lonely in is HIM (Psalm 68:6).

Just today we were reading about how Joshua stayed in the valley to lead the Israelites into battle, while Moses went up to the top of the mountain to pray.  Moses lifted his hands and prayed.  While his hands were raised, the Israelites were winning.  But when he dropped his hands, the Israelites began to lose the battle.  Moses couldn't keep his arms raised because they grew tired, so Aaron and Hur held up his arms until the battle was won.  

THAT is what we do in prayer.  We may not be the family who adopts little Joanie, but we can sure play a significant role in bringing her home.  Prayer is the big work.  It is the lifting up of our arms, just like Moses did.  Battles are won in prayer.  

If you stumble across this blog and find yourself reading this, please know that it's not by accident.  YOU are a wonderful part of Joanie's story (or any of the children featured on here who are awaiting a forever family).  YOU can pray as Moses did. You can print Joanie's picture and place it somewhere where you see if often...and commit to praying for God's perfect Will in her life.

You can advocate for Joanie by sharing my blog address with your friends and family and church prayer groups.  Joanie cannot speak up for herself, and we have the amazing responsibility of being her voice in our own circle of influence.  If we could only see the potential of  many of us across the globe coming together in prayer for these little ones!

A fun part of committing to praying for a child is watching as God moves in a family's heart to adopt them.  At this link, you can check to see if the child you are praying for has had a family step forward to commit to adopt them.  Keep praying for them!

If you'd like to donate to Joanie's adoption fund, you can do that here.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Last year we helped advocate for this little munchkin.  We spoke to friends who prayed about adopting Kirill, but the door did not open.  Soon after, another family stepped forward to adopt him.  Their adoption process has been very long and rough.  Recently, the judge ruled that they could not adopt Kirill, simply because he has Down Syndrome.  They are appealing that ruling and are seeking prayer warriors to rally together for their cause.  It is GOD who sets the lonely in families...God and God alone.  So, please join me in lifting up in faith-filled prayer precious Kirill and this family who loves him so dearly.

I urge you to visit their blog to read their story and join them in urgent prayer.   On their blog, scroll down to their blog post titled "Kirill's Story."


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pray for Ellis

Here's another sweet pea who is HIV+ and in need of a forever family.  Pray along with us!


Boy, Born April 7, 2006
From an adopting parent who visited his new orphanage in March 2011: "One of the days we went to visit our daughter, her groupa was getting ready to go outside. Ellis came up to me for help getting his coat on as the caretakers were helping other kids. He chatted with me and was very inquisitive. He did NOT hug or hang on me but behaved completely appropriately with me as I tied his hood and helped with his coat. He loved talking to me (even though I couldn't understand a lot of it) and his speech sounds very clear. I saw him several other times and he is a little ham! He made a lego house for me and tried to get my attention through a glass door by dancing for me. One of the days we were there, he was in trouble and was sitting in timeout. Although he was crying, he sat nicely and waited to be let out of timeout. After his timeout, he went to play. He seems to be a very sweet, smart little boy and I know he is ready for his family to come and take him home!"
He was observed wearing glasses sometimes and doesn't seem to mind wearing them.
The orphanage he is in seems to be a good one for children aged 3-7. The groupas are not separated by age. The kids do a variety of work. They color pictures and do sewing projects to work on fine motor skills. The children play outside a lot. The children appear to be well-fed and anyone who needs medication receives it. They also have a sensory therapy room, a physical therapy room, a music room and an art room. There are about 5 groupas in the orphanage, with about 9-10 children in each group. 
For more info and parent support on adopting and raising a child with HIV, please visit

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pray for Sarah

Did you know that children who are HIV+ are able to live long lives with the help of medication?  

There are many children who are HIV+ due to mother-to-child transmission during birth.  These children often await a forever family.  Many never receive families because people are unaware of the facts.  To learn more about the medical aspects of living with a child with HIV, go to THIS BLOG post.

To learn more about adopting and parenting a child with HIV, visit Project Hopeful's site.

And for all the prayer warriors out there, please pray for Sarah.  She is one of many children with HIV who are awaiting adoption.  Look at that face!  :)  Pray that her forever family will step up to adopt her and give her access to the medicine she needs to live.


Date of Birth: October 2005
Lively child, cheerful character, always in good spirits. Accurate, loves beautiful clothes and playing dress-up. She takes pride in her appearance. She likes to help her nannies set the table for dinner. She takes this job very seriously and she wears an apron and a cap and puts everything in it's correct place – fork on the left, knife on the right. She loves to draw and is very artistic. Her drawings often depict a house, a mom and a dad. She hopes that her dream will come true.
The only health information that we have about Sarah at this time is that she has a "serious incurable disease". She is listed on the HIV page and also on the Other Angels page in case it is Hepatitis C or something else. Please be open to health conditions if committing to adopt Sarah as we may not be able to get medical records before committment in this region. 
Sarah may be at risk of being transferred.
$0.00 is available towards the cost of my adoption!