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Frozen Beneath the Ground

Recently we’ve been babysitting different children for different reasons, having an open door.  Even when I think it will be hard, it always ends up better, the children meant to be playing together with their invisible shops and doctors offices, worried ‘mommies,’ bringing Elijah, ‘so sick’ who plays the part well to whichever doctor’s on call (aka wearing the plastic stethoscope).  One little girl has been sharing one room with her parents and baby brother right now which has been very hard for them, and yesterday she told us while we were reading, “Right now, I don’t have a room, but tomorrow, I am moving into a castle…for 100 weeks!!”

Elijah nodded in agreement, “Me, too!  To Disneyland for one-some weeks!”

Bunch of liars.

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“Mama?”

“Yes?”

“What’s a numerical expression?”

“Well, do you know what numerical means?”

“Yeah, I think so…”

“Yeah?”

“I think it means….um, hmmm, I think magical?”

“Oh honey, how I wish.  But no, there is no magic in math.  Math is just about the opposite.  Which makes it kind of cool, you don’t need magic to solve it, but math is pretty much the proof of lack of magic.”

Ohhhh, ok, I see.  Hmmm, I think I was thinking of Harry Potter!”

 

IMG_1900Andrew and I are convinced reading aloud with a preteen is one of the best experiences you can share with them.  If you are looking to bond or connect with any preteen in your life, get shoulder to shoulder with them and a good book.  The innate qualities in this activity make it rich with connection,  it’s shoulder to shoulder, which has less social pressure for the preteen, it’s exciting, and brings up great side conversations while you get lost in a story.  I think it’s could be easy to be too tired at the end of a day, but each time we make the time, it’s ten fold more blessing.  There is nothing, nothing more important that connection.  These two can’t get enough of Mr. Potter right now.  Plus, she can find magic in math.

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“Treasure, you wan marry me?”

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“No.”

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We just rented Maria a flute from her school, and she has been picking it up rather quickly as we watch some YouTube modules.  We practice blowing bits of paper off our hands.  Finley ran and grabbed his flute, his little red, plastic recorder and they practiced together, both telling me, “I love my flute!”  So far, the tones are about the same handle-ablility in my ears, yet the metal one has moments of greater potential, it’s starting to sound pretty good.  We somehow lost the recorder…

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When children are part of your daily waking and resting, it’s hard to see their changes.  Maybe when big changes are happening, they are hard to miss, it’s the more subtle ones that take longer to see.  Seeds frozen beneath a hardened ground, always there, yet unreachable.   For those of us impatient people, we’d love to jackhammer our way in, reach the goal quickly, no time to wait.  “Grow, heal, ok?”  Fear and lack of self worth hardened around each, and every one.

Our culture and lives ‘demand’ instant, quick, immediate, but summer doesn’t come quickly, and God’s way is with a seasonal passing, rains coating the earth, storm clouds looming and dark, but with purpose.  Death bringing way to life, as trees fall, and seeds are released, a slow overturn, but in the right time.  For all of time.

A few meals, doctors visits can change the visible, but it’s over a long time for a frozen ground to melt deep within the surface, the first flickers of warmth unseen.  Our option is to keep going, it’s an act of obedience, it is the option.  Faith in the unseen.  It’s slow going, and even after what could seem enough time, please, enough time, to not see results can be discouraging, and I want to make that clear.  The frozen, crystal ground can’t melt overnight, and even in our failures, the seeds will stir, unseen.

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Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.
Charity yields high returns.

 Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

When the clouds are full of water, it rains.
When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.
Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.
Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

Just as you’ll never understand

    the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman,
So you’ll never understand
    the mystery at work in all that God does.

 Go to work in the morning
    and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.
You never know from moment to moment
    how your work will turn out in the end.  ecc 11.1-6

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“I don’t know these words!”

“But, you know these letters…”

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Wednesday we were watching two little ones while their mama took grandma to the doctor.  All the kids were strapped into the car while Maria was in her piano lesson, and Elijah turned to Gavin,

“Gavin, you have a mom?”

Gavin: “No.”  He shrugged.

“Me no have a mom.  She drove away without me, so me no have one.  She no live at your house.”

Elijah nodded emphatically, after just having seen Gavin’s mom an hour prior.

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For everything I don’t deserve, God, which is everything, thank you.  Thank you for telling us to love, it’s always the better option.  Thank you for healing in your own time, for bringing life and healing.   For seeds that grow, the rain, and struggle that causes it.  For it not being temporary, but real.

 

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So where are you stuck?  Where are your efforts resting in that you so long to bloom?

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A Look into Orphan Hosting: A Sibling Set of 5

So what happens when you have 4 children of your own, including 3 little boys and you feel led to host a sibling group of….5 kids!?  Only the oldest three boys were old enough to be hosted, so this family had a house full of 6 boys.

I have two and it’s crazy sometimes…  I digress.

So, enjoy this hosting story of a family who couldn’t turn this sibling group away, in the hosting picture, the oldest boy had his arms wrapped all the way around his siblings, he had been their care-taker for much too long.

Enjoy :)

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1. What made you want to host an orphan and how did your family feel?

 

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for those who don’t have a home. Growing up my parents were an excellent example of unconditional love. As a child, we always had someone living with us, usually one of my older brother’s friends who had been kicked out of their house for whatever reason. My mom’s heart had no boundaries and she would take in whoever needed a loving home. My husband and I would often talk about our desire to adopt. I have always had the ability to love a child as though they are my own. Over the past few years we began opening our own home to others. It began when a dear friend of mine needed respite care for a boy from Burkina Faso they were hosting on a medical mission. After this, we took in my daughter’s friend who had been kicked out of his parent’s and grandparent’s house, and was six months shy of graduating from high school. He stayed until he successfully graduated high school and got a job. From there we took in my 20 year old niece who stayed with us a year and gained her driver’s license for the first time, got her first job and first apartment.

I remember the day I saw a post about the P143 hosting program, and the more I read, the more I felt led that this was what we were supposed to do. I sat with my oldest boy, looking though the photo listings of children. We came upon a group of five siblings. The oldest was in the back with his arms stretched around the large group. The listing said that the director called it a milestone that the oldest agreed to talk to the interview team about hosting, and that he was a good boy, in need of healing, who had been in the caretaker position for too long. That was evident to me from this photo. That young boy had the weight of the world on his shoulders trying to keep his siblings together and safe. That struck a chord deep in my heart, and I kept thinking to myself, “here’s this boy, finally brave enough to try hosting, and he’s unlikely to get chosen because he’s in a group of five.” I also noticed a sweet, playful, slightly mischievous looking littlest boy in the picture who reminded me of my own “joyful” child. I prayed, and I was convicted that these children were the ones.

My children were immediately on board, but I knew it was going to be a stretch for my husband. I was honestly surprised that my husband, after thoughtful consideration and prayer, agreed. In a way I thought there was no way he would agree to this. So to me, the fact that he did, was a sign from God that this was the right thing to do.

As for the rest of our extended family and friends, it was a slower process. We fielded a lot of questions about why we would spend so much money on children we didn’t know, wouldn’t it be mean to bring these children into our homes and then send them back to an orphanage, how would we communicate with them since they didn’t speak English, what about the safety of our own children, etc. We always brought these concerns to God and He continued to calm our hearts and our fears, and comforted us that we were on the right path.

2. What were your feelings and preparations before you Hosted?

Before we hosted I had a lot of excitement and anticipation of their arrival. I couldn’t wait! Yet at the same time, I had moments of “WHAT AM I DOING?!” Those were usually the times when my own three boys were driving me bonkers and

I would let fear take over and convince me that I couldn’t possibly handle three more boys. (however, through this process, I have learned that fear is a liar!) There were a lot of preparations. We had to set up our guest room with three twin beds and come up with clothing for three more boys, of which I wasn’t sure exactly what size they would be. Friends were awesome and the hand-me-downs poured in. The only things we really ended up buying were beds, socks, underwear, and shoes!  I also began studying the culture and learning some of the language of the country.

3. Share with us some of your hosting experiences, what was it like day-to-day.

What stands out to you as really special was when I remembered the  advice to live your life normally (as possible) during your hosting period. The point was to immerse these children into a loving, home environment, not fill their every waking moment with extravagant vacations and trips to the toy store.  But to allow them to join our family as it is, in all its imperfections, and all its day-to-day delights.

It. Was. Awesome!

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Our day-to-day experiences were pretty normal, just amplified times three boys. What does that mean? Well, it was louder, and dirtier, and, um, stinkier. But we also had more smiles, more shouts of glee, and more joy. Ohhh and bandaids, we went through a lot of band-aids. The bedtime routines stand out to me as the most special. The boys clearly loved this special time of gathering together as a family at the end of the night, praying together, bedtime hugs and snuggles, and being tucked in at night. They quickly began to pray with us, and the prayers they would pray touched my heart deeply.

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Things like, “thank you God for mom and dad who loves ALL boys”. I asked one of the boys during the second hosting trip what their favorite part of coming to the US was, and I was pleasantly surprised with his answer. It wasn’t what one might expect from a child (playing with new toys, getting Christmas presents, etc.) It was this, “Prayers. We don’t pray at orphanage. Here we pray with food and bedtime. I like. And hugs and kisses goodnight. No hugs and kisses goodnight at orphanage.  Never. Here-always.”

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Breaks. My. Heart. That’s what these children wanted and needed and appreciated.

God and Love.

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4. What were some of the highlights of hosting? Why? What were some of the hard parts?

Beyond what I described above, another highlight for me was when the oldest, 12 years old, began calling me mom. The younger two started that right away (even though we didn’t introduce ourselves with that) they seemed to follow suit with our own children, but it took the older one a bit to let his guard down.

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The language barrier was difficult, especially at first. We craved to have long, deep conversations with them; that was just impossible to do in the beginning. However, I must point out how truly fast children pick up another language.

Between trips their English skills exploded. By trip two, we didn’t need google translate and we felt that we were able to carry on conversations using simple English. The hardest part of the language barrier remained that we had three siblings who all spoke this other language better than us, so when they would argue it was too much, too fast, for us to be able to understand what was being said.

Then, of course, the very hardest part is saying good-bye to these children that we had fallen in love with, worrying about them while they are away, and trying to parent them from a distance.

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5. How has hosting changed your life? Or the life of your hosted child?

Hosting has absolutely changed my life. I quickly found that WE were the ones changing for the better, that WE were being blessed beyond measure from knowing and loving these boys. We became LESS SELFISH. We became MORE PATIENT. We became MORE LOVING. We were more conscious that the words coming out of our mouths reflected light.

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Was it easy? NO.  Was it loud? YES. Was it worth it?

ABSOLUTELY!

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For all the work that it takes to raise six boys every day, we also enjoyed some of the most PEACEFUL, JOYOUS, and LOVING moments of our lives!

We have decided to adopt the three boys…and their two sisters who were too young to be hosted, keep them all together and bring them into a loving home filled with love for them, kisses, prayers and the ability to be kids.  The two sisters who we have yet to meet (and have been separated from their brothers since they were moved to foster care shortly before the boys came to the US the first time), we hope to reunite them all together again in a forever family of love.

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I can’t wait for that day!

And I honestly believe that even if we weren’t adoption minded, that we would have changed the lives of those three boys for better by showing them the love of Jesus and by immersing them in a loving household and giving them hope.

 

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Please visit the Slade family on their blog here: http://crazyloveparents.com/2015/01/17/how-do-you-do-it/

They are actively trying to raise the $50k needed to finish the adoption of all 5 siblings, you can donate here: http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-unite-our-family-forever-/287667  As with all things of people trying to bring their children home and working like crazy to get it done, there is no such thing as a ‘small’ donation.

Thank you!

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Here is a sweet orphan hosting story, with fun ending.  A family full of boys hosting a 15 year old girl?  Let the pictures speak for themselves on this one :)  Enjoy!

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What made you want to host an orphan and  how did your family feel?

 I have actually never heard of hosting until I read my friends blog. I am not much of a blog reader but something about the title of her blog drew me in. After I read her blog I then called my mom and asked , “Hey by any chance did you read Alicia’s blog”? She replied “That is so funny you would ask because when I was reading her blog I thought of you but I wasn’t going to bring it up, I was going to wait if you brought it up to me”.

I started to feel the Lord’s leading about hosting. Now how was I going to convince my husband?  I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  After mentioning it to my husband he was hesitant at first.  I explained to him that we could bring a child, who has little to no family, from a poor environment and share the love of Christ with them ( I mean isn’t that what Christmas is about ? Christ)  He was, and I quote “All in”!  Wow!

I began looking at the photo listing of waiting orphans, trying to choose a child which I found to be harder than I thought. Until we found our sweet M! You see we have three boys ages 12,10,and 8 so my only preference was a girl.I mean who wouldn’t want to have a partner to shop with and to go get mani pedis with?  She was 15 and had a sweet description.

 

What were your feelings and preparations before you Hosted?

 

To be honest with you as I started to read the parent training manual I was really scared and almost backed out. You see these kids come with a lot of hurt. You hope for the best, but they prepare you for the worst. I put my trust in the Lord and knew that if he called me to do this, he would get me through.

We explained to our boys what we were doing,  they were very excited to be getting a new sister even if it was only for four weeks. Once our family was all on board and eager to bring her here and show her love, we began preparing for her, it was so fun!  We got her some new clothes and shoes and other necessities, when the kids come over here they only come with the clothes on their back. We were lucky enough to have  many friends and family donate clothes, and we went and got her some cute girl stuff and created her own room together, it was so fun to do as a family.  As we waited for her arrival I would walk by her room and just envision her in there safe, warm, full and loved. She couldn’t get here fast enough!

 

Share with us some of your hosting experiences what was it like day-to-day. What stands out to you as really special.

 

 I first picked her up in Chicago, we live in So Cal but they need chaperones to help fly with some kids so I met her in Chicago then flew home with her to California.  She was so sweet but so shy and unsure, this was her first time being hosted.  She was nervous.  When we got her home, she instantly connected with my boys. She was so sweet with them and you could tell she genuinely loved them from the start. Everyday she opened up to us more and more.

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She went from smiling with her mouth closed to showing all her teeth by the time she left. She starting joking with us more and opening up to us everyday.

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Some days we would go go go, and other days she would just lay with us on the couch and hang out. Either way she knew she was loved and was safe. You could see it in her eyes. We had so many special days but ones that stand out most is the day she met with my friend Vera. You see Vera is also from Eastern Europe and speaks the same language as M, it was such a special connection, and I feel as though God once again proved to me that he know what he’s doing, I felt so happy that we stepped out and said yes to hosting, to M.

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By the end of their time together M had given her life to Christ. She now would go back to EE with hope and with a Heavenly Father who was better then any Earthly father could be. I am forever thankful to Vera for this meeting! So Vera if you are reading this Thank you I am blessed to call you a friend.

Another thing that stands out to me is when we were having her “see you later” party the night before her departure and everyone who had grown to love her (especially my niece Bryn who was also the same age) was upset and crying, it was M who consoled them. I mean, shouldn’t be the other way around? She’s the one going back to nobody and to poor living conditions, not us. But  she showed compassion and love for us.  She kept telling  us “No cry please no cry”.

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She is amazing simply amazing.

What were some of the highlights of hosting? Why? What were some of the hard parts?

Hosting was an amazing experience.  To bring a child over who has nothing and to show them they are worth so much more then they’re being told is priceless. To share the love of Christ with them is what we are called to do.

James 1:27 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.

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I feel honored that God chose us to bring M into our home and show her his love through us. What I found to be hard was just to see this little girl and know she had been abandoned at a young age and I couldn’t make up for everything she missed out on in life.

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To know she had no mom to go to for advice, someone to hold her hair as she was sick and tell her everything was gonna be ok. To know that she would not have a dad to walk her down the aisle or to be an example to what she should look for in her future husband.  All these things just flooded my mind.

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To know that in 4 weeks we would be sending her back just as she started opening up. How could we do that? All I knew is that in those 4 weeks I was gonna let her know her worth in this world. I was gonna let her know that even though she feels abandoned that she is loved by us but more importantly by Christ.  Psalm 27:10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

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How has hosting changed your life? Or the life of your hosted child?

Well when we first started this journey we were only going to host…

My husband and I talked about  adoption and it just wasn’t something God called us to do…

Well…

We all know God has a sense of humor. M stole our hearts and we felt a strong pull on our hearts that God was calling us to bring this little girl into our home. So here we are in the process of adopting our sweet M!

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We are so, so excited!  We can’t wait!  We are also nervous; a teenage girl in my house for me to raise who speaks very little English? Am I crazy? Maybe but I love her and she loves us. It’s a good thing that Love doesn’t need words, love means the same in all languages through our actions. God is good and we trust him wholeheartedly in our journey with M.

Now to get her home our prayer is this that every document gets filled out correctly and we are able to get through this fast and with no hiccups. We all miss her so much and just want our daughter home.

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You can donate to Campbell’s adoption here, every tiny donation adds up for families working their hardest to bring their kids out of orphanages.  Please donate and share:


http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/operation-bring-m-home-/292878

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