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)

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4 Years of September 5th

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September 5th is a momentous day in our journey with Sasha. This year marks our 4th September with Sasha in our lives.  I can’t help but reflect back on them today, especially in light of the phone call I had with him on this September 5th!

September 2010

It was the middle of September when Sasha’s boarding school was first visited by New Horizons for Children.  

His original biography read- Original photos from Sept 2010 interview

Sasha, 14 year old boy who has lived 8 years in an orphanage for ‘delayed children’ (yet shows absolutely no signs of delays.) VERY engaged with our team, interested & made great effort to learn English.  Caring, considerate of others, especially children who were severely delayed.  Likes swimming, making wood furniture.  Does best in Language Arts and wants to be a builder.  Friendly, nice to everyone in Original photos from Sept 2010 interviewour “English class” we held while kids waited [to be interviewed]. His one wish would be for others to be healthy.  He helps ‘calm the crazy kids’ per his social worker, has patience.  Gave each team member a great hug, said he’d love to travel to America & find a special family. Not common to find a teen boy so trusting and interactive with our team! He helped one of our team members learn Ukrainian, sat right beside her almost the entire time.

So, during that month, Sasha’s world virtually changed.  A team came to him, reached out to the children where he was, and gave him a second chance at life… before we even knew him! 

October 25, 2010 we officially chose Sasha to be our host child, and the rest is history!

Click here to read the first blog about our hosting experience

September 5th 2011

This date in 2011 is one of the biggest days in our journey with Sasha so far. 

August 31 – September 15 I got to travel with the NHFC team to do interviews at 12 different orphanages all over Ukraine.  My how things had changed in 1 year, from just learning about hosting to being a part of the international interview team! 

I went to Ukraine not knowing if I would be able to see Sasha, but hoping that I really really would!  My parents had just decided that they wanted to adopt Sasha, as long as he would agree to it.  If I was part of the team that visited his boarding school, our facilitator said I could be the one to ask him if he would like to be adopted. Wow.

Just a few days into the trip, I found out that our team was actually going to his boarding school.  It was such an awesome opportunity to make a surprise visit and get to see him at his ‘home’.  He had no idea I was coming and no idea what we were there to discuss!  He was so happy to see me and said a huge “Yes!” when we talked about adoption.  It was hard to leave after seeing him for just a few hours, but it was great knowing that this was the first day for him to be part of our forever family!

Click here to read the full blog post about this day

September 5th 2012

A lot happened over the next 12 months.  I had weekly phone calls with Sasha and loved hearing how much he loved our family and wanted to be home.  God provided all the money for the adoption and my parents traveled in June to bring him home.  By that time, Sasha’s mind had been changed and he no longer wanted to be adopted.

September came and we had not directly contacted Sasha.  September was the first time I tried to reach out to him again to remind him of our love, regardless of his decision to choose other things over our family. 

This time, I sent a package and card to Sasha with the interview team that was to visit his boarding school again… and they happened to visit on September 5th again!

5 Sept 2012One of my dearest friends was on the interview trip this time and was able to personally deliver our gifts to Sasha.  She said Sasha was right there when the team arrived at their school. She gave him his bag and while the other kids were ripping through their candy, Sasha sat and looked at the photos we sent to him. One of him with both my parents, one with him and my mom, and one of him with my dad… all when they were there to adopt him. She said he just sat and looked through those photos kind of somber with his head down.

We still do not know exactly how Sasha felt at that time, but this was still a momentous day.  It was the first day since he had coldly rejected the family, that he actually heard from us that we still love him. 

Click here to read my blog post about this time

September 5th 2013

Wish I had a photo from this day to add to the timeline!

I got to talk with Sasha for the first time today since he’s been in trade school!  He answered right away and almost immediately asked me when I would be in Ukraine.  It breaks my heart that I just saw him in July and he’s ready for me to come back.   He was in his dorm room that he shares with 2 other guys …a big change from sharing a room with 10 for most of his life. He has 8 classes a day with the weekends off. He says he’s eating well and gotten his stipend for the month. In the course of our conversation I was both blessed and confused to learn 2 new things about him – he has been working this summer and he is learning how to drive.  I really wish my Russian was better so I could fully understand what he was trying to tell me!

There was so much more I wish we could have discussed. At the very least, on this significant day, I was able to check in on him as he is starting this new chapter of his life.  He knows that despite the ups and downs of the past, we are all on his side, lifting him up, and doing our best to keep him included in our family, no matter the distance. 

Both Hands of Global Orphan Care–Ukraine

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Sometimes it seems like everywhere I go, everyone I meet, everything I read or see just seems to connect with Ukraine somehow.  It could be perceptual vigilance… I say it’s more God’s doing. 

I keep hearing so much about all Ukraine is doing for their orphans.  And the more I read, the more I come to believe that what God is doing in that country, with the Ukrainian believers there, is really something special.  Out of all the news I hear about global orphan care, Ukraine really seems to be one of the main countries in the world leading the way… they are showing believers around the world how to really care for the fatherless!

A recent article from the Christian Alliance for Orphans titled “Passion for Orphans Continues to Grow in the Ukrainian Church” cites how great this move has been in their country.  Even CBN news did a recent report on all that is happening there – see video. It’s so touching to see how the Holy Spirit is working in so many hearts to change the lives of orphans for His glory.

I’m so touched, blessed, and honored that God has led me to care so deeply for the orphans in this country where He has long been at work. He has gone before us and that means the best is yet to come!

Map of Orphanhood in Ukraine

In some sense, it may seem like this movement in Ukraine is a threat to orphan hosting and families in America.  But the way I see it, we are really working hand-in-hand.  We share the same mission – to reach orphans and share God’s love with them. 

According to the recent statistics, there are 96,000 orphans in Ukraine and 27,000 of those are available for adoption!   In 2011 (most recent data), less than 700 Ukrainian orphans were adopted into the US… and overall there’s been less than 9,000 adopted since 1999. (source: US Department of State) This is all wonderful, but we still have such a long way to go! This is a big job that can’t be done by just one agency or group of people. 

Prayerfully, if we can all work on behalf of the orphans, God will transform a country and his children will be able to experience his love!

«Відкривай уста твої… для захисту всіх сиріт» Пр. 31:8
"Open your mouth … for the protection of all orphans"
Pr. 31:8

Russian Adoptions–“The Law of Infamy” Video

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You have heard by now that Russia has banned Americans from adopting anymore children from their orphanages. Not everyone in Russia sees this as a unified good decision. This short video made by a Russian person, shows that the few in their Duma have lost sight of the problem and how it’s now a political pawn game with the children being the pawns. Please pray for these children as Our Lord has NOT forgotten them.

Shared by Le Ann Dakake, director of Orphan Hosting at NHFC

It is encouraging to know there are still people in Russia who disagree with this decision.  Please pray for these children and the government over them!  They truly need God in a very big way!

Guest Post–Mom’s 2012 Resolution

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Written by my mom about all she has learned from her New Year’s Resolution in the last year.

I know it is not New Year’s yet, but I would like to post my New Year’s resolution from last year because it has to do with Mary and Joseph. My New Year’s resolutions have always involved knowing the Lord more in some respect, and he has always kept his/my resolution.

This year, for my New Year’s resolution, I prayed that the Lord would help me meet someone’s need. With Sasha’s adoption in process, I thought this was going to be the need that was met, that Sasha be adopted. God’s plans are greater than ours. The Lord was leading us to adopt Sasha, and through out the process, I would pray "How will this be?" This was the same question Zechariah and Mary asked the angel when told of their upcoming babies, John and Jesus, in Luke 1:34. The birth of Jesus would not happen the ordinary way, Jesus was to be a "holy offspring, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Just as Sasha was not going to be an ordinary adoption.

As this was all being revealed to me, I was listening to a Christian speaker on orphan care, and that orphan care did not necessarily mean adoption, but to meet the need of anyone involved with an orphan, be it adoption, or fixing a meal for an adopting family. This opened my eyes to what had occurred with us.

We went overseas to adopt Sasha, but God had a different plan for his family life, like he did for baby Jesus and Mary. God does not do things in expected ways. Like Jesus being born to a virgin, while betrothed to her groom. This was not the expected plan for having a family, but God’s ways supersede man’s best and worst intentions. Sasha said "nyet” (no) to our adoption, however, since then he has tried to contact us, has given us his phone number, and we will try calling him again tomorrow. He is back in our life again.

Our "son" in a situation that we had not planned, like Joseph and Mary, but nonetheless God’s purpose. We have a different "family" look; us here, and Sasha overseas. To me it is like the angel overshadowing Mary, and Jesus birth before Mary and Joseph’s marriage, a different "family" look. God asked us to trust Him despite our doubts. Our decision did not make sense to those around us. We trusted like Joseph did, we heard his voice and followed His will even when the way seemed difficult.

God has a special plan for Sasha’s life because, "For no word from God will ever fail" Luke 1:37. God blessed us through this process with companionship of awesome servants of God we met on our trip, just as God blessed Mary with Elizabeth’s companionship. Elizabeth was the first person in scripture to offer praise to Jesus, even while He was still in the womb.

And I will be the first to offer him praise for how he has answered my New Year’s prayer and resolution.

Praise be to God.

 

“The Odd Life of Timothy Green”

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Where do I even start with this movie…?

For me, it mirrored the entire experience of orphan hosting.  The husband and wife had done all they could to have their own children, and just when they were about to give up on their dream, they dreamt one more time about what their child would have been like. And on that same stormy night, a 10 year old boy mysteriously arrives in their home.

I could go on and on about all of the parallels that can be drawn. Their surprise at getting this already grown child, questions of how to care for him, ill fitting clothing, family and friend’s concern that he could be a problemed child, his naivety & innocence, their great joy in over-preparing for his every need,  his difficulty fitting in with other kids his age, his artistic talent, his honesty, the way he brought joy to the simple things of life, how he inspired his parents, how he touched the lives of everyone who met him, and the short amount of time his young life was able to make all that difference in the lives around him.

I can’t summarize it much better than this quote from the end of the movie:

There are people who want abandoned, neglected, and lonely children more than anything. They will try their hardest and will make some mistakes along the way. But when it is all done out of selfless, unconditional love, there are so many things that are possible.

There are nearly 200 NHFC Christmas host families who are those kinds of people. Right now, they are excitedly awaiting the arrival of their host kids, who will be here in 1 or 3 days. They will do anything for this children. They are prepared for some challenges, but they are even more prepared to love their host children in a way most have never been loved before. And when God is in the mix, nothing is impossible.

An Update from S!

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We got a special little Thanksgiving surprise this week. – messages and a photo of Sasha!

He contacted me and my parents on Facebook earlier this week and it was such a great surprise!  At first it was just a little hello, but then he asked how we are doing, said he and his classes are going well, he misses us, and he loves us all.  It was such a blessing for him to contact us online… for the very first time since my parents left Ukraine!

Then we have other friends who returned to his orphanage this week to adopt a brother and a sister.  I wrote Sasha a long letter and asked them to deliver it along with some little treats. 

The family just got to the orphanage for the first time yesterday and was able to send us a photo of Sasha and a short video of him.  He looks so great, still love his smile so much!  The video is super sweet, you can see it on my Facebook page.

They have not gotten to give him the letter yet, I can’t wait until they do. We hope to make a video for Sasha from our whole family while I’m home for Thanksgiving.

I’m so thankful for this unexpected gift!  We never knew if or when Sasha would show interest in talking with us again.  When he saw the family, he could have avoided them or refused to take photos or talk to them… which I know many kids have done… but he didn’t.  None of us know what is going on in his head or his heart, but I am soooo thankful that God has allowed us to remain in contact with him… and get to see that smile that melts my heart!

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philipians 1:3 (NIV)

The family saw him again today.  They said he hung out with them a lot of the time they were there! 

I saw Sasha again today! I stopped him and asked him to wait and he did. I had to take off my backpack to get his gift and he waited for me. Then I gave it to him and took a few photos. He said "thank you!" He said that he had talked to you on Facebook. Then, after we went inside, he spent a lot of time just hanging out with us. There was nothing to do but he just sat with us. Danny broke out the iPad and he watched as several kids played it and when Danny asked him, he said that he didn’t want to play. But after about an hour and a half – he finally played a little. He didn’t stay with us the entire time but I’d say at least 80% of the time and we were there for about 2.5 hours. He was very sweet and had a quiet demeanor about him….but you could see he felt pulled. He’d get up and leave a few times when the older boys would come in but he’d end up coming back!

They said he started reading his long letter when he opened the gift, but then took it with him and finished reading it somewhere else. So good to hear that he is hanging out with them!

 

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