Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Missionaries Live the Most Exciting Lives!

I work for the International Missionary Society and have missionaries come through our doors all year round. The stories they tell are simply amazing! So much so, that the story-teller in me just had to pen them down.

As each missionary comes through, I sit him/her down at a table, grab my laptop, notebook (the old-fashioned kind), and pen and listen!

After a few months of this, I now have enough stories to compile into a book.

Here is a little teaser...

You Don't Know My Tomorrow

The small house was abuzz with activity as preparations for the medical missionary conference were made. Tables and chairs were arranged. Pamphlets and magazines were placed on display. Charts and diagrams were hung on the walls. When everything was in readiness, the group of workers prayed for God’s blessing on the event.

On the second day of the seminar, Miguel, his wife, and mother-in-law strode up the front walk towards the house. As they stepped onto the front porch, Miguel, a young Bible worker, suddenly began to feel very strange. Even though the weather was cold, he felt as if his body was on fire. His face flushed red and sweat glistened on his brow. As he continued walking, it became more and more difficult for him to breathe. Clutching his chest, he struggled to inhale. The lack of oxygen made him feel light-headed and the world seemed to spin around him. 

Ana, Miguel’s wife, immediately noticed that something was not right. He had been completely normal just a few moments before and now, he looked as if he might collapse at any moment. Grabbing his arm, she said, “Go back to the car and turn on the air conditioner.” Perhaps if he could cool down a little he would feel better. Miguel agreed.

But, as Miguel returned to the car, he noticed something even more puzzling. The further he walked away from the house, the better he felt. By the time he reached his car, he felt like himself again. Standing next to the car with key in hand, Miguel gazed back at the house and mentally retraced his steps. He had been completely healthy all day. As they had walked up to the house he felt ill, but when he returned to the car, all the symptoms vanished. Was there something in the house making him sick? 

Curious, Miguel turned back again towards the house. Sure enough, as soon as he reached the front porch he was once again sweating and struggling for breath. What was in that house causing him to react this way? He decided to wait out the rest of the seminar in the car. 

After some time Ana and her mother were ready to leave. As Miguel watched from the car, Ana stepped out onto the porch. But, before she could come to the car a tall, gypsy-looking woman with long black hair struck up a conversation with her. “You seem to know a lot about natural medicine,” she said. “Yes,” Ana said. “It’s important for us to take good care of our bodies.” The woman nodded. “Then you might be interested in these,” she held out a small bag containing a collection of multi-colored seeds. Ana had never seen seeds quite like these before. She took the bag from the woman’s outstretched hand to examine them more closely. “For what are these used?” Ana asked. The woman’s eyes darkened as her gaze locked in on Ana. “To destroy marriages,” the woman hissed.
Ana let out a scream and dropped the bag to the ground as if it had bitten her. Fear crept into her heart as her eyes met the piercing gaze of the gypsy woman. “But it’s not you I want,” the woman continued, “I want him!” She flung out her arm in the direction of Miguel and summoned him towards her.

Once again, Miguel returned to the house, but this time no physical ailments tormented him as he stepped onto the porch. His breathing was normal. His temperature was normal. He felt completely healthy.

Standing between his wife and mother-in-law, Miguel felt the gypsy woman’s eyes bore into his. Immediately, she began speaking in an distressed tone. “You were born in November 1974,” she began. “When you were age fifteen, you…” Miguel froze. He had never met this woman before and yet she knew details about him that were personal and private. Secrets known only to God and himself, she now dragged out and paraded them for all to hear. One negative memory tumbled after another as the woman continued her tirade. “Isn’t this all true?” she accused. Miguel could only nod in quiet confusion. “My spirits are telling me,” she concluded triumphantly, “That tomorrow at this time, you will die in a car crash.” Ana gasped. 

Silently, Miguel began to pray. “Father,” he began, “This woman just told me all about my past. And now she’s also telling me my future. I don’t want to be confused. Please give me Your discernment to know what is true.” In a flash, a passage from the Spirit of Prophecy came to his mind. “By revealing hidden things of the past, Satan inspires confidence in his power to foretell things to come.” PP, 687.
Miguel was also reminded of the story of Daniel before King Nebuchadnezzar. None of the other wise men could tell the king anything. But when Daniel approached the throne he declared, “The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; but there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” Daniel 2:27–28.

Instantly, Miguel had his answer. The truth God had revealed to him replaced his confusion with courage. Looking boldly into the gypsy woman’s face he said, “Everything you have told me is true. You may know everything about my past, but my future does not belong to you. Only the God of heaven knows my future. Tomorrow I will not die, but live!”

“I don’t believe in your God!” the woman snapped angrily. 

“Why not?” Miguel asked. When the woman didn’t answer, Miguel pressed on. “What spirits do you have? Tell me. The Bible says that I should test the spirits to see whether or not they are of God.” (I John 4:1). The gypsy woman began to grow more and more agitated as Miguel spoke. “Yes!” The woman screeched. “I love to hear about Jesus! Tell me more about your Jesus! I love to hear about Calvary and how the nails pierced His hands and feet.” 

Her face morphed into a hideous expression as she spoke making her appear more demonic than human. Suddenly, her coal-black eyes faded into a ghostly white and her voice deepened to a ghoulish pitch. “I especially love to hear about how His body was wracked with pain and His blood spilled out…”

There was no doubt in Miguel’s mind now as to whom he was speaking. Like a soldier in battle, he wielded truth like a sword and dealt a deadly blow. “It is the blood of Jesus Christ that is my salvation,” he said firmly, “And yours.”

“Nooooo!” the gypsy woman shrieked.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Hero

The very word conjures up images of masked figures draped in capes, swooping down through the sky to rescue some hapless soul from imminent danger.
Spider Man.
Wonder Woman.
The list is as endless as the number of dollars paid to create the cinematic empires they inhabit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't even once wish I could swirl around, create a cloud of smoke, and emerge with superhuman strength. Boy, could I have knocked out a few problems in life that way!

Throughout the years my heroes have traded places and faces. In my younger years, my first heroes were the members of my own family -- my incredibly patient mom, my rock-steady dad, my indomitable older sister, my grandma ...
These were my role models.
The people I aspired to emulate in life.
The ones whose qualities I wanted to acquire.

My horizons broadened when I began school. New stories and new lessons introduced me to new heroes.
Florence Nightingale.
Abraham Lincoln.
Harriet Tubman.
George Washington Carver.
George Muller.
Gladys Aylward.
Mother Theresa.
And more...
I admired their courage in the face of adversity, their indomitable determination, their willingness to struggle onward and upward when all odds were stacked against them. I inhaled their stories and drew strength from their spirit. They gave me the courage to conquer my own obstacles and run my own race.

Now, as I stand midway between youth and old age, I have the privilege of finding heroes on either side. There are those who have walked before me and those who are now stepping up behind me.

Of late, there is one who has risen to surpass them all.

My son.

And I don't say this just to voice the strong maternal exuberance that swells up in my chest.
I say this because I have watched in wonder as he has grown from a wounded boy to an amazing, big-hearted man, who walks with integrity.
He buys pizza for the homeless and high-fives the outcasts, because he has walked in their shoes.
He is gentle with the sick and the elderly, because he knows how fragile life is.
He looks out for the foster kids and orphans, because he was once one himself.
He gives, and asks for nothing in return except your honest friendship, because he understands the value of a true friend.

This kid has grappled with the worst life can throw out there ... and still smiles at the end of each day.
No matter how hard life has been and no matter how many curve balls have knocked him flat, he never caves.
He never buckles.
He gets up,
dusts himself off,
turns on his mega-watt smile,
and tries again.
And again and again.

Now he faces down the one thing that has eluded him all these years.

When Quinn was about ten or eleven, my uncle took us up in his Grumman for an afternoon flight. As we soared through the clouds, Quinn could barely contain his excitement. He was hooked. I could see it in the way his eyes sparkled when we landed, the way he wiggled in his seat, and bounced out of the cockpit. For me it was a nice little spin in the sky. For him, it was a rendezvous with destiny. From then on his favorite boyhood haunt was atop a hill a half-mile from my parents home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had a clear view of the planes taking off and landing at the Oakland Airport not too far away.

"Someday," he promised himself, "I will fly too."

The road towards his goal has not been an easy one. He first had to rid himself of a few demons and scale some formidable road-blocks, but his dedication to that solitary goal has never wavered. To date he has worked for and invested nearly $20,000 towards its completion. He has $40,000 still to go.

Recently he called me to tell me he had started a GoFundMe page to help narrow the gap between where he stands today and the culmination of his flight training quest. He seemed a little shy about inviting others to help him. He's always been the giver, and understandably feels as though his shoes are on the wrong feet to be in the "asking" position. He wondered aloud if ... if ... anyone ... would donate.

I know I will!

Not just because he's my son (and that's what moms are supposed to do).
Not just because I know his story.
Not just because he has dreamed about this for so long.
But because he was worked harder to reach where he is than many people ever will.

I can't tell you how much I admire that.

My son is my hero and he is going to not only fly,

but soar!

If you would like to join us in helping him get his wings, please click on the GoFundMe link at the top right of this page.

Thank you!

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.


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.


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.


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 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