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Hidden inside of Hosting

I can’t believe J leaves on Wednesday, I feel like we just picked her up.

She has been; a gift, in ways that we couldn’t have projected if we tried.  Well, to be honest, our goal was to bless her, “We got this…”

There were the initial hard parts of loving a hurt child, homely tasks of setting, and keeping boundaries, but looking back, I now see how much God has planned for everyone’s good in her being here.  Answers we needed in our lives, hidden in obedience to something that seemed would have no correlation.

We almost gave up before she got her, but God knew we needed her here.

Maria has grown the most since having J here, it’s hard for me to even explain, I feel surprised by it even now,  daily.

To say Maria struggles with self confidence in trying anything new, is an understatement.  If someone in her past told her she wasn’t good enough, she had believed it, and buried that message deep.  A mix of not being exposed to new experiences in the orphanage with the emotional trauma of orphanage life,  and we get a lot of, “I can’t….”s, with a fear so strong, she can’t operate.  Andrew and I fluctuate between comforting her, and telling her, “Do it,” so that she knows she can, all have mixed outcomes.

One struggle is body awareness and balance.  Elijah did as well, but through his weekly OT therapist, he has transformed.  We learned that sensory and balance effects every part of yourself, something robbed from unloved and untouched children in orphanages.

But, J is a little monkey.  She can climb anything, sometimes without the use of hands, hanging upside down and backwards while waving and saying “HI!!!!”

So when we got to a park, and J climbs to the top of a towering structure, Andrew and I were surprised to see Maria, just behind her, holding a bit tighter than J, but trying.

And accomplishing.  On her own motive.

Andrew and my mouths were open, silently thinking, “what the heck…” while we praised them.

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All on her own.  Not mom and dad encouraging, no furrowed brow of fear, escaping to a safe spot mentally.

Then, while on a spinning toy, J, who doesn’t need to hold on with hands when Andrew spins, Maria is flung off the first instant, landing in a heap of elbows and knees.  Normally, Maria would be done, crumpled, and sit by me the rest of the day.  No one, and nothing could get her to try again, she believes  in the deepest, darkest part of her heart, I can’t.

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Until J is still there, laughing wildly, hair flying in the air.  Close enough to Maria to not be frightfully intimidating, distant enough to actually want to keep up with.  The first amount of healthy competition we have ever seen in her.

Maria dusted off her jeans, and slowly, climbed back  on the spinning toy, Andrew’s eye brows high in shock, but trying not to act like it, he spins the girls again.  This time, Maria readjusts her weight, and can stay on a bit longer.  We cheer.  

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She tries again.  And again, and allows herself to learn, to not be beaten.  To not be crushed.  To think she can, so much, even for a moment…then another.

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Learning, that she can.

Gaining skills and balance in the process.


I think for most of her life she has worked hard to not get in trouble, to  be sure she isn’t the one dealing with harsh, cruel orphanage consequences, while she silently dealt with the intense fear in her heart.  She loves people, but sometimes can’t recognize when people are being unfair, and would never say anything about it.  Ever.

Meanwhile, J is a spit fire, and has been a good example to my kids on how to talk through things, an opportunity for all to learn healthy resolutions. “Mom!  J took my truck!”  “Ok,” I smile at Finley, with J right there, as she waits to see if she will be in trouble, “Why don’t you tell her how you feel, look her in the eye.”

“J, that makes me feel… sad,” Finley tells her confidently.

“I sorry!” she says, and they hug, glancing at me, beaming, happy it worked out.

It’s harder for Maria.  She wants her white flag out, doesn’t want the toy back to avoid confrontation.

“Mom, J took my book, and I said (totally under her breath, ‘sort of in her direction’ ; ) that is was mine,” Maria came to me, the crumpled, look on her face, surrendered.

“Maria, you are the big girl, it’s no big deal, she will listen to you, go laugh and say, “‘J, you’re just kidding, that’s mine, can I have it please.”  Which she was,  just being funny, kids stuff, Maria couldn’t deal.

I could see it taking Maria everything she had in her, all the courage she could stitch together to face someone who had her down, but she walked up, almost half smiling to J, who is so likable in her spit fire ways, “J, that’s my book….I know…you just kidding…” And J gives it back, giggling, Maria straight faced, scared and serious, at this point, but…she did it.


J has provided constant opportunities for healthy growth for Maria, allowing her to stretch and grow, test her abilities.

Maria has talked about boogie boarding each time we got to the beach, but when it comes time, she can’t hang, too many conflicting fears culminating in a cold, scary mess, crushing her hope.

Well…until J hit the water.

J was all, “WAHOO!” jumping jacks in the water, jumping on and off the board, diving under the water.



Maria has never been able to put her head under the ocean water, well, prior to this weekend.

Maria watched me work with J, pointing her in the right direction, and….

She was off!  Gliding over the serene, ocean surface, salt air in her face, cheer in her lungs.  Fist pump.IMG_2289 IMG_2297 IMG_2304

J got up and cheered, “SOOO COOL!!! AGAIN!”

I glanced at Maria, and she was still present.  Gripping the board in her hands, coming to me as I waved.

“Oh my gosh…it’s happening….” I thought, acting non chalant as she geared up for a wave…

The tears started flowing before the wave came, but in an instant, she was swept up, gliding over the ocean’s surface, shock on her face.  Mid-ride, she shot a look back at me, huge, silent grin on her happy, face.



And so when we see her, all on her own,  trying, really trying, all to keep up with J, the goodness of God sears into my heart, stings my eyes.  His words true, each time.  Each and every time.

It makes me remember, this whole healing broken hearts thing, is God’s business, and he has all his own ways.  We could work and work in our own ‘strength,’ or listen to God’s message.

Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!  Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?  // Galations 3/2-6

God is so sassy, and good, so good.  Because what we are seeing is a miracle; a little girl getting love and medical/dental care, and Maria becoming a new person, and we had nothing to do with it, which is humbling and freeing.  “Reaching out to an orphan” is what we did, and this orphan has a name, a face, a real person who needed love and care, not a cause.  Her presence gave us perspective, deepened our love for the Lord, as seeds of change and growth were planted in our family.

Other things, all because of hosting J:

-We had always talked about starting Maria in gymnastics, “Maybe in the summer,” since this year’s focus was school and family time.  But I got inspired to talk to Elijah’s OT about J and Maria, and she said, “Start her now!”  She starts Saturday.  I can’t even wait to see what she will learn their.  There is a sibling discount, the boys will take a toddler class, together–stop it!  Thanks J for your awesome inspiration.

-Since getting a couple hours of front row seating to intense dental work, we have all started flossing.  Even me.  #MiraclesDoHappen.  I also scheduled spring cleanings for Andrew and Maria, we’re not messing around with this stuff!!  Thank you, J!  Andrew has been giving the girls nightly flossing lessons.

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-We now love Lumpia and karaoke, and coconut white rice as a staple.

-She brought a perspective into our lives as adoptive parents to show us just how far our kids have come, just how far.  She bonded Maria and I closer, we were a team, the ones who could speak the same language to help her.  It made me see Maria in a new way, my ally, instead of someone in need.

-She was the most fun playmate ever.  Russia orphans are known not to go through a stage of imaginative play, but J loved playing all day, setting up complex scenes for toys and dolls, allowing Maria to join.  She rode bikes with the boys for hours.  Seriously, hosting–it’s fun.


-So nuff said, God had all these great plans to work in everyone’s heart and life, hidden in a simple act, Say yes to Him, or not.  Man, my goodness, if we would have said no, we would never have known the deep good we would have missed out on.

So, for you, know God loves you, and loves your people, and knows how to heal them, if you let Him.  Let Him.  Say yes to God, He’s so got you.

As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?”

They said, “Why, yes, Master!”

He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.”     //Matt 9:27-28





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  • Kerry January 13, 2014, 10:19 am

    So wonderful…for everyone. These kids from different backgrounds, and they all seem to fit somehow. Wish you could keep J always. She is quite the little spitfire. Her energy and aliveness is contagious.

  • Michelle Ott January 16, 2014, 9:06 pm

    I wish I could have a devotional book of your writings and insight!

    • tinyteam January 22, 2014, 9:46 pm

      that is too kind, I would definitely recommend others

  • Ali Kojak January 20, 2014, 8:56 pm

    This was so beautiful…I’m a hot mess of tears over here. But it’s not beautiful because you’re a fantastic writer who uses words like a paintbrush, creating art through a story (though you are!) It’s beautiful, because, man, HE is beautiful, right? His story is just so incredible and I think we look initially and say, look how He changed Js story or Maria’s though this experience…but really it’s all HIS story, and He choose to weave these two strands together because He knew it would be glorious. And He is such a show-off. So grateful that you shared … It was a blessing to feel more in love with Jesus because of how He loves His people. Thanks!

    • tinyteam January 22, 2014, 9:48 pm

      thank you. It is sometimes a lot for my head to process, even while experiencing it. At the end of the day, I feel as though I can’t quite grasp it, the goodness of God, except in fleeting segments.

  • Lauren Flynn December 27, 2014, 5:41 pm

    Are all your kids spanish speakers? That is so cool! I took spanish for a long time but never got fluent, and I want my kids to learn it someday but I’m not that good at it myself.

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