Friday, November 25, 2016

A Long Overdue Thank You ... to You!


“I don’t even like Jesus!” Yana (not her real name) said defiantly as we stood facing each other outside the church doors. Her green eyes bore into mine and her arms folded angrily across her chest. I understood her frustration and her hurt. Torn from her family at the age of six, she had spent the last five years of her life in an orphanage without the love of a mother and a father. She felt helpless and angry. Why should she believe in God when it seemed no one cared for her?

“I know why you don’t like Jesus,” I said quietly. Her face registered an expression of surprise as I explained. “You don’t like Jesus because you don’t know Him, but…” I continued, “Once you get to know Jesus, you will love Him.”

We first met Yana nearly four years ago when our family hosted her and her three siblings. Since returning to their country, we have maintained a friendship with them through social media and the numerous care packages shipped across the Atlantic. It has been our constant prayer that we can share Jesus with Yana and her siblings.

This summer, we found ourselves in the worst financial situation our family has ever faced. Yet, it was while we were at our financial lowest that the prayer we had been praying for the last three-and-a-half years was answered. The doors that had blocked us from hosting Yana for so many years flung open. We didn’t understand why God would choose to bring Yana here at the very moment when we could least afford to host her.

We took our financial concerns to God and He began to provide. Donations trickled in, but they were not enough. Discouraged, we began to question God’s leading. This was especially true the night we arrived at the payment deadline with $2000 still lacking. Doubts and uncertainties pummeled us. Were we really following His will? Had we rushed on ahead without Him?

The next morning I called the Hosting Agency to explain our situation. The woman who answered my call promised to speak with the agency’s president and get back to me. Several anxious hours ticked by as I taught my class and prayed and tried not to worry. I submitted myself to God’s will for this situation, for us, and for Yana. And I waited.

Finally, the phone rang and I jumped to answer it. The woman on the other end asked, “Margie, have you noticed that over $500 has been donated just this morning?” My heart skipped a beat. I had not noticed. “Let’s wait to see what God does in the next 24-hours,” she said. I hung up the phone in awe. Could it be that God might still be working out a miracle, even after the payment deadline had passed?

Throughout the remaining hours of that day and on through the night a flood of donations in various amounts - $10, $35, $40, $100 – poured in. Adoptive families from across the country, most of whom we’d never even met, heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that an orphan needed to be hosted. The following day, the hosting agency’s treasurer sent me a text that read, “I am pleased to tell you that your account is fully funded.” Overwhelmed, I collapsed into the nearest chair and cried.

We had tried so hard to raise the money by ourselves. We had scrimped and denied ourselves everything not necessary for survival ... and then some. We had sold donated items at the local Flea Market. We held a giveaway. And we had failed. But God hadn’t.

God showed us that caring for the orphan is not just our private project, it is His divine will. He commands that His people care for the fatherless. For some families that means adoption. For others it is fostering or hosting. Others can help sponsor an entire orphanage. And still others are blessed with the ability to donate time or money to help those doing the hands-on work. Most importantly, everyone can pray! God identifies Himself so closely with orphans that He calls Himself their Father. Psalm 68:5. A good father cares for his children. And God places as many of His children as He can into willing families. “God setteth the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6.

Yana arrived at the end of July and stayed through to the end of August. At only eleven years of age, it was difficult for her to be separated from her older sister, who is like a mother to her, and stay with our family that is unable speak her native language. But Yana understood hugs and sought the comfort of our arms daily. As she warmed up, we discovered she had a good understanding of the English language. We also found out she wanted nothing to do with God. In her broken English she told us, “God is nothing for me.”

Yana accompanied us to church and sat respectfully through our times of family worship. However, she refused to kneel when we prayed and we did not force her. But, every time an opportunity arose to share God’s love, we grabbed it. Whenever she cried, we hugged her and told her how much God loved her. We explained the beautiful power in prayer and promised that God would hear her whenever she called to Him. Her only response was to either stare at us as though she understood nothing or to laugh in a hard and cynical manner. “God, please make Yourself real to Yana,” we prayed again and again.

Because we have had many children from different backgrounds come through our home, each day provides its own unique challenges. On one of the days during Yana’s visit, an older child in our home became quite angry over a rule we had and stormed away. She was gone for several hours and refused to respond to our phone calls or text messages. Concerned, Shawn and I prayed silently for her return.

That evening as Yana and I cut potatoes together in the kitchen, our wayward child returned. I subconsciously breathed a sigh of relief and offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving. But, Yana, who had observed everything, was curious. “Did you pray for her?” she asked quietly. “Yes, I did.” I answered. Yana nodded.

That night during our family devotion time, Shawn and I held back tears as we noticed Yana kneeling to pray with us for the first time. The following morning she gave us a list of prayer requests. Now that she had seen God answer prayer with her own eyes, the burdens of her young heart overflowed.

Yana has returned to her home country. We currently have no plans to adopt her, but are so thankful for the opportunity we had in bringing her into our home to share the love of God with her in a very real way. We will remain in contact with her and her siblings for as long as God allows.

Thank you for being a part of our journey, for praying for us and for the children we bring into our home. So many of you went out of your way to make Yana feel welcome here and we are grateful for that. You have shown the love of Christ in a tangible way to a child starving for genuine affection. For those who donated funds or food or clothing, we can’t even begin to express to you the depths of our gratitude. Through you, we have been blessed to witness the body of Christ in action and through your kindness have glimpsed a piece of Heaven on earth. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is my absolute FAVORITE holiday of the year. I love the fall colors, the nip in the air, the warmth of family and friends gathered together. Due to circumstances beyond our control, this year's celebration won't be the same as what we're used to. But we won't complain. We are soooo grateful for God's blessings to us.

Last year, I put together a Thanksgiving slide show to send our loved ones. I am not able to make one this year, but I did want to share the one from last year with you. Mostly because, the prayer request at the end of the slide show was so beautifully answered. Our Ukrainian daughter arrived just a few weeks after Thanksgiving. I cannot even begin to tell you the hurdles we had to scale in order for her to arrive. We needed so many miracles and God showed up for her every. single. time. When God moves, He moves. I was in awe. Still am.

Now she's been here for nearly an entire year and the miracles just keep continuing...

Enjoy our short video clip. Background music is from my husband's album "Hope Still Lives" available to bless your Thanksgiving from Amazon.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Amazing Amazon Gift Cards


Wait! Wait! I know what you are going to ask and the answer is yes.

Yes, I am now an Amazon affiliate.

Yaaay!

After more than 10 years of blogging, I have finally entered the world of affiliate marketing. Why did it take me so long? Initially, I started blogging to find fellow adoptive families with whom I could share our adoptive journey. Trust me! EVERY adoptive family needs a support group standing behind them and I have been blessed to find some wonderful friends this way.

But then ...

We helped two teens get on their feet.

We hosted a total of five kids from Eastern Europe over the past four years.

We sponsored a 19-year-old from Ukraine who was fresh out of her orphanage and is now completing her first year of college here in America.

One of our adopted kids needs more intense guidance and no longer lives with us so we are supporting her from afar.

Soooo,

the need for extra income really pushed its way to the forefront and I began researching affiliate links. In the process I have discovered some pretty cool stuff, which I hope to share with all of you as well.

In the meantime, we are working on putting together a little E-store on this site. If you'll take a look at the right column, you'll see some great books to read for yourself or to give away as gifts. I also really like the gift card link to the right. I absolutely LOVE gift cards because I am so terrible about picking out gifts for others. With gift cards I know they are getting exactly what they want.

At any rate, thanks for being a part of our lives and our journey over the years. We sincerely hope you'll now have fun shopping with us too.

Leadership Skills ... Do You Have Them?

Thought this was funny and wanted to pass it along. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Intensive Hosting

Hello Friends,

I made a promise to bring our hosting journey to this blog. I invited so many of you to join us on this journey. (And it HAS been quite the journey!)

And then I bailed.

I went completely silent.

I shut down.

I'm sorry!

Trust me. It was not an intentional plan.

I have simply been overwhelmed!!!

Hosting is intense on so many levels!

And now we have only one week left. I will return to blogging then and fill you in on the amazing events happening here.

God is good!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fundraising for Perpetuity


This is the deal...

We seem to continually find ourselves in fundraising mode. Either we are raising money to bring orphans here or we are beginning an adoption process or we are helping someone else fundraise to meet their hosting/adoption goals. And as much as I have kicked and screamed and fought it, I have finally come to accept it as a regular and blessed part of our lives.

Soooo...

I started thumbing through some of my kids' artwork and photographs that I have saved throughout the years. My girls and I imagined them as tee shirts, mugs, key chains, and more. The more we talked, the more my kids got excited about it all -- especially the part about getting to keep a portion of the profits. How cool is that?! They are paid designers before they can even get a driver's license!

I have no definite long term plans for these products. They're being sold on a first-come, first-buy basis. We first want to raise the money we need for our homestudy and upcoming adoption. Then, depending on how well everything goes, we'll use it to help other families adopt as well.

Check out a sample design HERE, make an order, and/or let us know what you think.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Waddya Think?


I designed this today after some financial frustrations kind of knocked the wind out of my sails.
Hate when that happens.

The caption reads: HELP! I'm a rich woman TRAPPED in a working woman's budget.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

It was the Christians...


This!

This needs to be framed and hung on the walls of every church building in America.

"When I grew up in the orphanage it was Christians who came and built nicer buildings. Christians who bought us beds, clothing, and provided money monthly for food. It was a Christian who wrote a letter in a shoebox, who first told me I was loved. It was the Christians who met all my physical and material needs in that orphanage.

"But it was also Christians who neglected my biggest need. Children in orphanages don't need more money, nicer buildings, or better clothes. I am not an orphan because I lost my home or provisions. I am an orphan because I lost my parents. I needed a mom and a dad. I needed a family. Christians treated all my temporary symptoms of need but never cured my long term disease of being an orphan. I am still an orphan."

-A quote from a 30-year-old orphan who aged out of an orphanage where he had lived his whole life; spoken at the CAFO Summit 2013

Sunday, May 29, 2016

And the Winner Is...?


My speech teacher once told my class, "Never begin with apologies. Never! Just act like the mistake was supposed to happen." In keeping with her advice (since I ALWAYS listened to the advice of my teachers, Ha!), I will not begin this blog with an apology for trying the patience of my readers and causing them to doubt my sincerity by taking so long to announce the winner of my contest. I will not offer excuses about how so much work has been thrown into my path that as I slogged though it I could only glance longingly at my blog and wish I was there instead. I will not give you a list of reasons why, although totally unknown to me, and I'm sure to you as well, I have not had the chance to get on here and publish the results of our recent fundraising sweepstakes. I will not!

I will simply tell you who won.

Easy enough. But since I have never drawn a winner and was not quite sure how to begin, I improvised.

I wrote each name on a notecard - one card for each five dollar donation. Those who donated $30 received six entries. Those who donated $50 received ten entries. And so on.

I folded each notecard into teeny, tiny wads, threw those wads into a jar, and shook it up really well. I pulled out five random crumpled cards and tossed the remaining cards into the trash bin. I put the five notecards into the now empty jar and shook it again. This time I randomly pulled out three and, again, threw away the remainder. The hand-plucked three went back into the jar to be shaken one last time.

But before I pulled out that winning name, I stopped for a moment and offered up a silent prayer and asked God to pick the winner. This fundraising walk-of-faith has been led by Him all along and I wanted it to be finished by Him as well.

When I breathed "Amen,"

I tipped the jar upside down one last time...

And caught the first crumpled paper wad to land in my hand.

I unfolded it...

And read ...

The name...


DANIELLE B.!!!


(Congratulations! Good thing I will be seeing you this weekend and can hand-deliver it to you!)

Thank you to everyone who prayed and participated and, with God, took us over and beyond the original financial goal we had set our sights on. This has been an amazing, faith-building experience. I am so thankful to have been able to walk this journey with friends.

P.S. I still plan to tell the "rest of the story" about this fundraiser ... just as soon as I get a chance. It is amazing and made my head spin. I promise, it will be well worth the wait!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Winner, Part 1!


Last Friday I announced a giveaway..., er sweepstakes..., er lottery... er...

Well, I don't really know what we had here. Actually, a dear friend, who is way more knowledgeable about blogging no-nos, pointed out that what I did here might actually have crossed some major blogging rules. (I'm still a newbie at blogging rules.) To avoid possible trouble from any "blogging police" that might be patrolling in the nearby vicinity, I took the post down. However, five amazing people did donate a total of $185 during that time period and I do want to honor the promise I made.

I apologize for taking so long in announcing anything and for making everybody wait while I frantically try to figure out how to right my wrongs and do things legally. I will hold the drawing on Sunday, May 22, 2016. The winner will be announced Sunday evening.

Hereafter, I will do my very best to research and stay on the right side of all blogging laws.

Thanks for your understanding and patience.

P.S. I have an incredible, miraculous story to tell about how our hosting fees were paid ... over and above the amount needed. But, I'll have to do that next week as well. This week has been a whirlwind for me. I'm still trying to get my bearings.