A Laptop for S

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Well, it has been quite a while since I’ve shared any updates on my blog.  So, I’d like to share some exciting news and ask for some help at the same time –

Laptop2I’m so proud of our Sasha for starting college this week. It’s a huge milestone and most students with his background couldn’t dream of making it this far on their own. I’ve been checking in with him to make sure he had everything he needed before he started on Sept 1. He said he was fine and ready. But today he shared with me that he ran into a problem. He very never comes to us with problems or requests, so I knew it must be significant. He didn’t realize that a lot of his coursework would need to be done online… and without a laptop or money for one, he would be stuck. He came to me pretty desperate because he has no one else to ask for help. When you’re completely on your own, the smallest problem can quickly cause a crisis. Without the help of a family, it could quickly lead to failing grades and dropping out of school or turning to theft or some other quick cash just to try to get by. I’m so proud of him for coming to me for help rather than those other options. Within an hour, God worked out a plan for us with a local ministry that is going to be able to help us find a used device for him.  I’d like to invite anyone and everyone who can help to donate, so that he can get the laptop as soon as possible.

Follow this link to our YouCaring crowdfunding site for info on how to give and more updates – https://www.youcaring.com/sasha-f-428822

24 Ways to “Give This Christmas Away”

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In the words of Jesus “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)  and nothing could be more true when it comes to giving at Christmas time.  The novelty of receiving gifts quickly wanes, while the blessing that comes from giving is much more fulfilling for our souls. 

I recently picked up a book called “101 simple and thoughtful ways to Give This Christmas Away” by Matthew West.  Here are some highlights from the book, if you want more, you will have to check it out!

1. Take a second look at that old shoe box (for Operation Christmas Child)
9. Be an angel of the night (shovel snow for someone else at night)
12. Set an extra plate at the dinner table
13. Help those who help others
18. Give the shirt off your back (or jacket)
24. It’s payback time (pay back an outstanding debt you have with someone)
32. Pass the buck (hide money in public places for strangers)
33. Volunteer at a homeless shelter after Christmas (not just around the holidays)
35. Collect a cart (return stray grocery carts or help someone with theirs)
43. Invite a friend to church
44. Leave a message (sing a Christmas song on someone’s voicemail)
50. Have an advent-ure (do things each day of advent)
51. Cross the big one off your list (remove the most expensive thing off of your own wish list)
52. Bake an extra dozen
60. Lose your cool (don’t worry about being cool)
64. Give what they want, not what you want for them
73. Give a goat
81. Give your teenagers the opportunity to shine
84. Surprise the angels (check out the Angel Tree program)
88. Read the name tag
89. Park in the back (leave good parking spaces for others)
100. Give them a glimpse of Jesus
101. Fill in the blank

And what is my “fill in the blank”? 

#102 Host an orphan

Giving your Christmas away is a big thing, you literally may have to give many things up in order to invite an orphan into your home.  You may have to give up some of your savings; your children may have to be willing to give up some of their gifts; you may have to give up some holiday traditions because they may overstimulate or trigger a fragile and traumatized child; you may have to give up a guest room; you may have to give up sleep; you may have to give up the comfort of your typical holiday routine. 

Christmas 2010

But, let me tell you, the blessing you receive in return is so much greater than what you may have to give up. If you have hosted before, share in the comments how you have been blessed by giving your Christmas (or summer) to an orphan.

It’s not too late to give your Christmas away!  New Horizons for Children is signing up host families for this December until Monday November 3rd at midnight (EST).   Visit the Facebook page to see photos and stories of real children who are waiting for someone to give the gifts of Christmas, family, love, and Jesus to them.

Then he said to them,
“Anyone who welcomes a little child
like this on my behalf welcomes me,
and anyone who welcomes me
also welcomes my Father who sent me.
Whoever is the least among you is the greatest.”

Luke 9:48 (NLT)

Red Thread Etsy Shop Now Open!

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My blog has been quiet for 349 days! I can’t believe I’ve let this much time go by since my last post.  I think I am finally ready to get back at it… with this special announcement!

Over the past 8 months I have been working on creating an Etsy shop and I am proud to announce that it is officially open! I have some pieces that are ready to ship and other designs that can be customized just for you. Bookmark it for later, favorite the shop or items for your Etsy profile, or make a purchase and get the honor of being my first official customer!

Etsy

I initially got the idea of doing some crafts to raise money for NHFC and other host families.  Once people saw the things I was making, they had some special requests and I began making custom orders.  And the more I searched, the more I realized that there are many forms of string art out there, but not many that are specifically designed with adoptive families in mind, so I decided to open up a shop!

And then I needed a name…  I remembered a quote that was on some of the literature at the adoption agency I used to work for and it just seemed to fit my heart perfectly… tying together the literal materials I used for crafting as well as the heart behind the craft.

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.”
Ancient Chinese Proverb

God knows the people we are meant to meet, the ones who are meant to be in our lives.  I have found this to be true, and yet so unbelievable, how God has changed me and the course of my life by the connections He made on missions trips, orphan hosting, and the lives I have seen saved through adoption. 

And it’s for those people that I have made my shop.  This shop is for anyone whose heartstrings connects them to another part of the world. Maybe you have been blessed with a child from another nation, or are longing to be with one in another land, it would be my pleasure to create a custom piece to honor your heart connection that cannot be broken.

Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—
incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul,
I’ll do exactly what I set out to do,’
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it.
I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.
Isaiah 46:9-11 (MSG)

Christmas Is…

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…coming! 

I feel like I have never been so prepared or looking forward to Christmas as I am this year.  When we hosted Sasha I was so looking forward to Christmas, but definitely not feeling prepared at all! 

Early in October, I was ready to listen to the carols, watch my favorite holiday movies, and start decorating.  I doubt it was the commercialism that got me in the mood, I think it as more that I have been thinking about the Christmas hosting program since August ended. 

To me, Christmas is about family and celebrating Christ’s birth with the ones you love.  It’s about love, family, and Jesus. 

And that is exactly what our orphans need… love, family, and Jesus.  So many people are already in the holiday spirit… the giving, the love, the generosity, the thoughtfulness.  I just can’t think of a better time to invite an orphan into your home.  To include them in the memory-making and the celebrating.  The children we serve have never had holidays like we celebrate them here. 

I just imagine my memories of sitting around the fireplace, opening presents, sharing laughs, waiting for Santa, reading the Christmas story with my family.  Do you think any of that can be replicated in an orphanage of 200 children?  Where there is 1 caregiver for every 10 children and no individual attention?  Where everything is sterile and not warm at all?  Where all are treated equally and therefore all get the same generic gifts?  That’s a Christmas far from the one I would desire as a child.

There are only 4 days left for 32 more host families to be found for orphans this Christmas.  Please, if you can give some love, family time, and Jesus to a child in need this holiday, please don’t hesitate!  Contact me or visit the NHFC website today!

http://www.newhorizonsforchildren.org/orphan-hosting/view-available-kids-here/

Orphan Sunday… in Ukraine!

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Tomorrow, November 3rd, is Orphan Sunday.  One day a year when Christians across the globe, bring awareness, advocacy, and care to the orphans of the world. 

I’m so excited about all that’s going on here in the states with Orphan Sunday.  New Horizons for Children will be shared with over 20 different congregations in 17 different states as a unique way to care for the orphan.  International orphan hosting is a combination of the ideas behind orphan sponsorship, missions trips, foreign exchange, and foster care.   It has all the benefits of those programs, plus the strong possibility of adoption after hosting… which is very rare for the children of this age. 

I love the USA and all, but I’m almost more excited about what’s happening in Ukraine.  Earlier this year I wrote a post about how much Ukraine has been doing for their own orphans.  The Orphan Sunday initiative isn’t all about the Americans saving the orphans, it’s about the global Church defending the cause of the orphan as God commands us to.    The movement has gotten so big in Ukraine that the group behind Orphan Sunday, Christian Alliance for Orphans, created a video that shares a glimpse of all that’s happening in Ukraine for the cause of the orphan. 

Last year, thousands of churches across Ukraine celebrated Orphan Sunday, including many of the majority Orthodox and Catholic churches joining with Protestants to spotlight God’s special love for orphans. This video gives Christians worldwide a glimpse into Orphan Sunday in the Ukrainian church, and how hearts are moving in that nation. We also enjoy greetings from other nations that have embraced Orphan Sunday. Join us now, as we travel to the capital city of Kiev, and the fertile, rolling hills of Slavyansk, Ukraine…

Watching this 30-minute video was so powerful and inspiring.  It’s amazing to see how God is working across denominations.  Take a look and enjoy interviews of orphans, adoptive families, a minister sharing the starfish story (an NHFC favorite), and a beautiful representations of a church that inspired 100 families to adopt.

Link to video here – You Will Be Found: Glimpses of Orphan Sunday in Ukraine

Christmas Orphan Hosting–And a Blast from the Past

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One little storyline from a tv show I watched during my junior high years planted seeds of the orphan hosting concept in my heart 15 years ago.  Can you just imagine how much this old Boy Meets World episode means to me now when I look back at it?  It’s amazing how the littlest things from your past add up to big things in your future.

 

 

–Eric, nobody expects you to take care of all the needy children.
–Then why were they sent to me?

 

Do you think I can have parents for Christmas?

 

Why would you send me that little boy?
Why doesn’t that nice little boy have parents?
Why doesn’t that nice little boy have parents? 
Why did you send me that little kid?

 

I will take care of this.
I can be responsible for the happiness of one little boy.

 

You see, Tommy here doesn’t have a family,
so I thought it would be nice if he could spend Christmas with us.

 

Eric said we can hang out on weekends.
–Yeah it will be like he’s got a big brother… I figured it was something I could do.
 

 

It’s not too late for you to make the difference in the life of a needy child this Christmas!  New Horizons for Children is still looking for Christmas host families.  Deadlines to host Eastern European children begin just 1 week from now!  You can sign up here to take a peek at some of the awesome “Tommys”  out there who just want a family for Christmas.

 

NHFC - Christmas is Coming

Hosting Reflection #31–You must lose your life to find it

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‘Honey, you’re changing that boy’s life.’ ‘No.  He’s changing mine.’ ”  This line from “The Blind Side” stands out to those with a heart for kids in need as well as those who have never given these kinds of kids kids a second thought. 

It’s pretty common for those from the outside looking in, see people like me as someone who is in this to make a positive impact on a child’s life… a do-gooder on a mission to change the world one child at a time.  And perhaps it does begin this way, but it doesn’t end there. 

So many times I meet families who give of themselves to host an orphan for the good of the child.  And within a matter of a few short weeks, somehow the tables are turned.  By the end of the short hosting program, families often say “I never expected to be so blessed by hosting.  I feel like what I have given to this child is only a fraction of what they have given to me.” 

I was no exception to this trend.  When I first heard of hosting, I wanted to give up whatever I could if it meant it could change the life of an orphan.  And I can say, without a doubt, that Sasha’s life has changed since 2010.  What I did not expect, and have found to be exceptionally true, is that I feel like he did even more to change my life.

– – –

As I am approaching our 3 year anniversary of hosting Sasha, I’ve been reflecting on our whole journey.  As I look back over the things that I wrote during that time, my prayers, challenges, fears, and miracles, I have come to be reminded of some big sacrifices I made just to have him here for Christmas. 

The first challenge I faced was finding a way to have an entire month off of work.  I was working part-time in an office where I had virtually no benefits or paid vacation.  I knew it would be a risk to take that much time off.  I pretty much told them, either I get the time off or I will quit.  What, quit?? Did I just say that??  I had no idea what kind of job I would find if I did quit, but faith reassured me that God was all over this and not about to let me down.  Within a week, my boss said they would find a temp to cover while I was gone and I would get my job back whenever I returned.  Amazing!

Next, I was in my 3rd semester of graduate school.  I was scheduled to take an exam the same day that I was supposed to pick Sasha up at the airport in Chicago.  With 8 hours between the university and airport, I knew it would not be possible.  I told the professor what I was doing and asked if there was any way I could take the final earlier.  Her first response is that dates and times of final exams are non-negotiable and there are no exceptions.  Hearing that, I resolved to pray and if she did not reconsider, I would just have to withdraw from the class and start all over again in another term.  Within a week, the professor sent me an email saying that I could take the final exam early and if any other students complained, they could take it early as well if they are also hosting an orphan for Christmas. ; )

Finally came the finances.  While I had gotten an unexpected check that covered nearly the whole cost of hosting, there were still many other expenses that went along with it.  There were costs of flying my dad to St. Louis to attend host parent training, getting an unexpected hotel room on my way to pick Sasha up at the airport, lost income from not working for 4 weeks, as well as all the other items and outings that I got for Sasha while he was here.  I honestly don’t know how I got through, but God provided. 

– – –

Now, I don’t share all this to gloat about all the things I have done, but to share how much had to be given up in order to bring Sasha here.  For a 33 day stay, I put my financial stability, job, and education on the line.  I risked some very important parts of my life in order to make a difference in Sasha’s. 

And his life was changed.  He experienced a loving family for the first time.  He experienced safety.  He heard the truth of God’s Word.  He was accepted unconditionally.  He was forgiven.  He was given the opportunity to have a family forever.  He has been changed knowing that he has a family who will always love him. 

And yet, in all of this, I feel like he has changed my life even more.  He has changed my life by showing me what it means to move beyond a painful past, to trust, to be vulnerable, to be open to love, to be hopeful.  He has changed my life by letting me live out this love that I had only heard about. 

Before Sasha, I thought I had life.  It wasn’t until I actually put all the important things in my life on the line for him, that I really found out what life is all about. 

And, my dear friend, what about you?  Have you really discovered what life is all about?  If you continue holding tightly to the trivial things you have, it’s going to be hard to see what life really is.  Take a good look and see what it is you can start putting on the line.  It’s when you do that, that you will actually find what your life is for.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,
but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:25 (NIV)

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