Hosting Reflection #16–The Power of a Dream Surrendered to the Lord

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If you have gotten to read this blog for any amount First trip to Russiaof time or know me at all, you know about my passion for orphans in Eastern Europe.  It’s a huge part of who I am.  This all began with a little missions trip to St. Petersburg, Russia the summer before my senior year of high school. 

From then I have had dreams.  Dreams of returning.  Dreams of learning more about the lives of orphans in Eastern Europe. Dreams of doing more for these children.  From that time, for the past 7 years, those dreams have grown, changed, and developed into things I never even imagined.

At first, for several years, I was very protective of my dreams.  I was hesitant to share them with others out of fear that they would not understand, patronize me, or challenge me.  I wanted to keep them to myself.  Keep them safe and not let anything or anyone interfere. 

I tried sticking to my own plans for a while… with varied success.  There were parts of my plan that I tried so hard to make happen and they never worked out.  At times, I listened to others’ well-intentioned advice to save my dreams for later in my life when I had a stable adult life and could afford missions trips and other international ministry endeavors.  It was discouraging and disappointing.  I questioned whether I should spend my time, interest, and prayers on something that was not meant to be.  What if I’m not supposed to minister to orphans until I was 40?  What if God doesn’t want me to do this at all?

But I couldn’t wait.  I knew God was calling me now.  Something in my heart told me that there were things I should be doing now, but nothing worked out in my own plans.  I had to give my plans to the Lord.

There came a point in the last few years, when I had to give my plans to God.  And this was not an easy thing to do.  I held on to my own hopes and dreams with such a tight grasp, it was hard to let them go.  But once I learned to hold them loosely, God began to grow them into something beautiful!

In the last year and a half, my dreams for orphan ministry have taken off in a way that I never could have imagined.  God has taken me places and given me experiences I never dreamed of.  In such a short amount of time, He has completely transformed my dreams into something bigger & much more powerful.  Surrendering my plans to God took me on a life-changing short term missions trip to Estonia, introduced me to the world of orphan hosting ministry, brought an amazing young Ukrainian into my life, allowed me the opportunity to help other families minister to orphans through hosting, opened my parents’ hearts to adoption, and taken me on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Ukraine.

I am eternally grateful for the way God has worked in my life.  Surrender was difficult, but I had to trust in him. I love to journal.  It has been incredible to read back through my prayer journals to see how far God has brought me.  I have decided to share some of them below so that you can see it was really a process for me.  God was faithful through it all.  I give Him all the glory for what he has done with my meager plans and made them into something eternal.

What plans do you have that you are afraid to share? What plans do you have that you are afraid to entrust to the Lord?  Give them to him.  You can trust him.  He will not let your dreams die.  He has given them to you with a purpose and will use them in a mighty way… if you are willing to surrender them to Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

 

Such powerful challenging lyrics!

“Empty My Hands’”
by Tenth Avenue North

…My hands like locks on cages
Of these dreams I can’t set free
But if I let these dreams die
If I lay down all my wounded pride
If I let these dreams die
Will I find that letting go lets me come alive
So empty my hands
Fill up my heart
Capture my mind with you…

 

15 August 2010 – [After returning from my missions trip to Estonia] …I know that it is not over, I feel like something is just beginning.  It was not meant to end August 4th when we left the orphanage.  You have opened my eyes to a need & put a very big burden on my heart… and now You’re asking me what I’m going to do about it.  I’m going to keep doing the same: pursuing, showing interest, valuing the kids because You love them & want to know them.

17 August 2010 – The first day I ever heard about the possibility of hosting an orphan.

29 August 2010 – [Written on a day when I was wrestling with this burden for orphans] …my interest in Estonia & all things Russian just keeps growing everyday. … I love it, I need it in my life… it’s a part of who I am.  And I keep thinking back to times in Estonia when I was playing with the kids or usually just sitting soaking it all in… thinking about how much I love it all.  Just being there, just watching them, just listening to them brought me so much joy.  This is the best thing in the world to me.  I think back to our time at the camp and how I had this overarching feeling that there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.  And I know it’s You.  I don’t know when or how, but I know You will take me back. I just know in my heart that’s where I’m meant to be.  How could I ever walk away from something that just seems to make my heart whole?  God, I’m trusting You with my life.  I know You are leading me to Russian people. You have already made that clear to me… now I give the rest of the details back to you. [Little did I know, exactly 367 days later, I would be getting on a plane for Ukraine.]

22 September 2010 – The day that I discovered New Horizons for Children.

23 September 2010Please God, I don’t know what else to say.  I want this to happen so badly.  It’s all in Your control.  I’m trusting You.  It will happen just as You plan it. Perfectly.  

9/24/1024 September 2010Tweeted the picture to the right in the morning with the caption “Russian chai, Russian cookies, & a Christmas mug…praying this is a sign of things to come”, and received an unexpected check for 90% of our hosting fee that afternoon!

1 October 2010 – [After watching “The Italian”] …it left me wanting more. I want to know more, I want to experience more. I want to feel more.  I just really want to be there in the midst of it all, more than anything else.  Oh Lord, I know this is just the beginning.

10 October 2010Renew in me not just a desire to chase after my dreams, but to chase after You.  I do not want my passions to overtake Your rule in my life.  You have given them to me and I must steward them for Your glory.  There is nothing I want more in this life than to reach Russian orphans.  Nothing energizes me quite like my dreams for that undying burden.  But I must be able to hold onto those dreams loosely.  I surrender them to You, so that I can fully seek after You with everything I have.

23 October 2010 – [The day we put Sasha “on hold’’] I did not need a second thought at all.  I knew exactly who I wanted.  Sasha from Ukraine.  He won a place in my heart the first time I read his bio and I have been praying that the right family finds him.  I didn’t expect that family to be us, I am so glad that it is!!! …Thank You Jesus!  I know Your plans are good and this is exactly what You’ve had planned for us all along! 

27 October 2010 – [The first time my mom mentioned adoption] It’s really cool!  I didn’t even realize that adopting Sasha would be an option, but I really see that it is now! Wouldn’t that be incredible?! …maybe this could be the reason the Estonian kids aren’t coming?  Oh wow… it’s all in Your hands.

26 December 2010 – [Started dreaming again about returning to Eastern Europe] I need to go.  Oh Lord, no matter what, it’s all for You.  I am asking. And trusting You to give in Your time.  Please open your doors.  I need opened doors to know where to go.  I am asking Lord, for the opportunity to pursue the passion and burden You have specifically given to me. Please prepare me to receive.

6 January 2011It’s not about what I want or have planned… I may want things done my own way, but Your ways are so much greater! God, I am trusting You with Sasha’s life & I am trusting You to use me in the very best way – especially in my heart for these kids. 

16 January 2011I know without a doubt in my mind that I am ament to be with these kids.  I just have no idea how or when… but I can’t live without them.

25 January 2011 – [The first day I considered volunteering with NHFC.] Please God, I have so many things that I want to do.  Please guide me in Your way, let this all be for Your glory.

3 February2011 – [Thinking about my age and all I’m trying to do] I’m so young and I really still have my whole life ahead of me.  But I don’t wanna just wait around hoping things will happen.  If I’m starting now, imagine how much further you will take me when I get older.  I feel like if I don’t start now, this passion will waste away… which would be such a tragedy.  Please guide me in Your way, in Your timing.  Please let me hear Your voice and be comforted by Your ultimate plans for my life.  I trust You and believe You will not let this heart of mine die… I surrender it to You.

27 February 2011 – [Upon returning from the !dea Camp] …it reminded me that I am not crazy and we are not alone. I am not the only one who has made my life about caring for orphans.  At times it was overwhelming to think of all the need and all there is to be done.  While my eyes were opened to the vastness of the issues across the globe, You really used all of it to simplify & clarify my own calling.  Without a doubt, I am here for Eastern European, Russian speaking orphans. …My heart is for the ones in the orphanage and what that means for their entire nation.  It’s a symptom of a much bigger issue.  Therein lies my heart…the beauty within the pain of the whole society.  It should not be this way.  The enemy has such a tight grip on these people… the darkness is only getting darker.  Which means the hope for these kids is nearly none.  Oh Lord, my heart aches for these people, for these kids. The need is the call – please use me.

5 March 2011 – [A monumental day where my heart for Russia reached over to make a difference in school counseling] This is about how You are using my ultimate passion – Russia – in my everyday calling into school counseling. I never imagined that the two could be used hand-in-hand.  There is divine purposes all over this situation.  And not only is it that You are using my love for Russia to help these kids, but also to minister to those adults around me.  Wow.  Even they can see what You’re up to.
I am still pretty amazed by the significance of this day. I feel like my 2 worlds have cosmically collided.  Not only to my personal joy, but also for other people to see and celebrate with me.  You are so faithful to use the passion You have given me, in ways I could never expect.  I will not take this for granted.  Please continue to use me, and all the things You have given me… love, passion, intelligence, compassion, Russian language, creativity – everything. It’s all for You… and how wonderful it is.

23 May 2011 – [After I got to help teach 2 NHFC host family trainings] It’s just incredible to believe that we sat in that exact same room exactly 6 months prior – on November 21.  Look how much You have done in 6 months… how much my life has changed since then!  And even thinking 1 year ago I had no idea about New Horizons or Estonia!

11 July 2011 – [After hearing a significant sermon at church] I took special time to say once again that I will go to Eastern Europe… I will.  It is my dream that You have given me.  I want nothing more than that.  I’m always drawn to Russia… I do not know where. I do not know when. But I know You will get me there. I trust in You.  
[Then after spending some good time helping new NHFC host families] I LOVE caring for our families.  This is like one of the greatest opportunities You have given me… What an honor to serve! Thank you!

14 July 2011 – I volunteered for an open position on the NHFC interview trip to Ukraine.

17 July 2011 – I have plans to go to Ukraine!

21 July 2011 – [Thinking about Sasha’s summer with another host family] I think back to the day I saw his picture, his eyes, his smile, his story… stole my heart.  From that moment, I knew he was the one, it was You.  You didn’t just bring him to us, You made him for us.

29 July 2011 – My parents says they are going to go forward in adopting Sasha!
I am completely depending on You for everything in this journey.  I can’t do any of this on my own. You are more than able!

5 September 2011 – [The day I visited Sasha’s orphanage and asked him if he’d like to be adopted by our family]
Thank You so much for this incredible gift.  I never could have imagined that You would bring me to this place 1 year ago.  Being the one to ask my brother-to-be if he would like to be adopted by our family.  Oh Lord, this is too much. Thank You.

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Less Than 1 Week Away!–My Thoughts in the Days Before Hosting

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I can’t believe it, but the 202 kids who are coming to America for the New Horizons summer host program will be here in less than 1 week! Ukraine kids will be here in 3 days and Latvia in 5 days!  I’m thinking this would be a good time for me to share a few of my thoughts I had in the week before our hosting. 

I’m a big journaler, so you will get to see a lot of my honest thoughts from these days.  I’ve also included links from my “virtual” journals, Twitter & Facebook, to show my real-time thoughts… my emotions were all over the place!

  • 12 Days to Go – Things coming together
    So many things had to come together for our hosting to come together.  I was supposed to take a final the day after the kids arrived, so I had to desperately appeal to my professor to let me take the exam early, or else I said I would drop the class.  She was strict with her policy and said she would not make any exceptions… until we prayed!
    It’s incredible the way You have made things fall together for us to have Sasha!  I know you are in the middle of it all.
    TwitterFacebook
  • 9 Days to Go – Doubting & desperation
    The days leading up to hosting I was desperately broke.  The amount of money in my bank account was in the double digits.  It was a very scary time and I had some serious doubts.
    Please honor my faithfulness.  Please bring me through.  There is no way I could do this on my own… I know that’s when Your strength shines the greatest.
    Twitter
  • 5 Days to Go – Finalizing plans
    We didn’t get our finalized flight info until the week before the kids flew in.  It felt so late, but everything worked out just fine.
    Twitter
  • 4 Days to Go – Serious setbacks
    There were some very serious hurdles New Horizons faced up until the day before arrivals.  There were striking airlines and government issues not allowing the children to travel.  All we could do was pray!
    You said ask and You will receive whatever you need.  I ask that You make a way for all the kids to come this weekend.  You are able!
  • 3 Days to Go – Thankful
    I spent lots of time just thinking back to how much God had provided and made everything come together. 
    Thank You God. I don’t know what else to say except thank you!
  • 1 Day to Go – A big frustrating mess
    There’s not a much better way to describe it.  I had planned to make the 8 hr drive to Chicago the night before arrival.  But that plan was ruined by a horrible snow storm.  I made it about half way there, gave up, had to check into a hotel with money I did not have, and my dad’s flight to Chicago was canceled. I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated.
    TwitterTwitterFacebookFacebook
  • 0 Days to Go – Pure excitement!
    What an exciting day!  Things shaped up very quickly, the weather cleared, dad’s flight got rescheduled.  Before heading to the airport I got to have lunch with a couple other first-time host families at one of their homes, it was great just to get to know everyone.  Then we headed to the airport and finally got to meet our wonderful boy!
    FacebookTwitterFacebookFacebookTwitter

A perfect picture of the anticipation you feel... all the months of waiting & they're right there!

Hosting definitely puts you through the entire spectrum of emotions, but it is entirely worth it! 

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Luke 9:48

Before we ever knew you–Prayer Journal

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Here is a glimpse at some of my prayers for our host boy from the weeks before we met him.

3 Nov 2010 – I know You have chosen him for us.  Prepare him for all You are going to do.  Begin Your work in his heart and our whole family’s hearts even now.  Let this not be something forced, but a blessing You have appointed to us.  What an honorable calling!

9 Nov 2010 – What a blessing and honor we have to reach into this orphan boy’s life in an earth shattering way. He’s so much more than a number, statistic, or even a soul to be won.  You have hand chosen him for us.  The realities of his life are more real than we will ever know.  His future is even more grim than we will ever know.  He has a near certain fate to end up in poverty, jail, addicted, homeless, or dead. And 100% alone. This is the life we’re bringing into our own family, what an incredible opportunity, what a blessing! …Please give us the humility to care for Sasha, to feel what he feels, to be willing to go where he is, to speak truth and life and love to him, and to fight for victory in his life.  May we not be limited by our own expectations, excuses, or agendas.  Please give us Your eyes and Your heart."

13 Nov 2010 – He’s not just a number, he’s Your son with a story to be cared for and loved. I love to think about his life… I wonder what he’s doing now… I wonder what he’s thinking… how he’s feeling… I pray that you would give Sasha a peaceful rest. Give him joyful dreams.  It’s likely that he has no idea what’s about to happen exactly 1 month from now. Tug at his heart, let him know there is hope. He is not forgotten and he is not alone.  Please continue to shelter him and protect him until You bring him to us.  Prepare the way in the name of Jesus.

17 Nov 2010 – I am fully believing that You have given us a very special boy. It’s still hard to wrap my head around the fact that he will be getting our letter in 2 weeks and traveling in 3! And he’s out there… somewhere… right now.

4 Dec 2010 This is a huge undertaking. An incredible responsibility. Most of all, it’s about doing your work. By welcoming Sasha in, I am welcoming You.  By caring for Sasha, I am caring for You.  By loving Sasha, I am loving You. By making sacrifices for Sasha, I am making sacrifices for You. Please help me to remember, this is all for You. That is why I’m doing it. That is why I can trust that You see the beginning and the end and You will never forsake Your children.

10 Dec 2010 I want to love You by loving Sasha. Continue to teach me how to love. Whatever Sasha’s doing right now, wherever he is, I pray that You would remove all his fears. May he feel the peace of Your presence. May he know in his heart that there are great things that You have in store for him. Please let him be comfortable with us and feel at home… know that he is a part of our family.  Break down any walls that he may have built up to receive our love AND Yours.  Please just let him not be afraid to be himself and see that he will be loved no matter what.  May he see that he is so valued, his life has meaning, he is important to us and important to the world.  Please help him to realize the plans and purposes for his life.  May his healing be complete. May we see a holy resiliency in him. All because of Your great love for him! 

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