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Friday, October 31, 2014

Increase our Faith: God has a plan for you

It has recently been made clear to me all over again that God is at work among His people. As Mr. Beaver might say, "Aslan is on the move." You can feel it in the warming wind. See it in the greening wood.

Imagine it being always winter and never Christmas.

Well, that is not too hard to imagine for some folks. For example- orphans in Ukrainian orphanages. They can imagine always winter never Christmas. Or, North American Christians...our hearts are heavy and stiff with the cold of spiritual stagnation...always winter never Christmas.

Even Christmas isn't really Christmas in our souls. Every year we long for more...we try to create magical holiday things to fill our longing. But all we really end up doing is spending a lot of money and energy without the true joy of Christmas dawning in our souls. We end up with lots of clean up and garbage and maybe some extra fat from all the treats and goodies. But in the end it was winter and never Christmas.

But like I said, I have seen that Jesus is on the move. That means that we can expect to have Christmas this winter! We can expect to hear the sleigh bells of Father Christmas in our hearts. We can anticipate the joy of the Gift we will receive. I can assure you it will be just what you've always wanted, always needed. It will be just what you need to get you through this adventure of your life.

But, like the children in Narnia, we have to trust the message that Christ is really on the move. We have to obey Him and take some risks in order to find Him. We have to follow a talking beaver we just met (hearing the Holy Spirit and following His direction can be a lot like following a talking beaver- you keep wondering if this is really real and if it is wise to take advice from such a person). We must resolve to not be distracted by luxuries and lulled to indifference and ultimately disobedience.

Our family heard from the Holy Spirit in October 2011.  I clearly heard that Christ was coming this Christmas if we would open our hearts and home to an orphan from Latvia. We were about as confident as the Pevensie's, we truly felt like children in a strange land following a talking beaver. But the reward was amazing. Christ came at Christmas! Christmas morning dawned in our hearts that winter. Now we know what it's like and we can't get enough of following the Holy Spirit any direction He takes us, because whenever we do, we see Christ. The real Christ, bringing spring to a winter landscape. Thawing our hearts of stone and giving us hearts of flesh.

And then, over the last few years, I have watched the Holy Spirit speak clearly to people who have not heard so clearly up to this point. People who are called by His name who were nonetheless stuck in winter with no Christmas. And it all comes from hosting orphans. I have seen God do BIG THINGS with folks as soon as they start to follow the iffy directions of the Holy Spirit. Did I really hear that? Was it really from God? Is this really the best way to spend my hard earned money? Is this really good stewardship? Is this going to harm my family? Those doubts and more plague every one of us who have followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. But the reward is Christmas in your soul. That lasts all year, even longer!

That's why I want to write this post. I want to somehow let you know that YOUR SOUL stands to gain or lose a lot, based on your willingness to listen for and follow the call of Christ in your life. And I just have so many AMAZING God moments and Jesus magic to share that all revolve around hosting orphans. Obviously, there are lots of ways to hear and follow God's Big Plan for your life, but hosting is way that I have seen with my own eyes the way God works in the hearts of those who say yes.

I've got names and numbers of lots of folks who have said yes to hosting and now know Jesus as well as if they had met Him in the woods and walked miles by His side.

I will tell you those stories, or let them tell you through guest posts so that you can get the idea.
If your heart longs for Christmas, truly joy-filled and lasting, listen closely to their stories and listen carefully for the Holy Spirit to guide you into a magical land....where Christmas comes and warms the heart like springtime.


Jennie Allen sums it up in three lines:

"The only exercise that works 100 percent of the time to draw one close to the real God is risk...
...To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.” -Jennie Allen, Anything

That's what hosting an orphan does- it willingly places your life in God's hand.

It's like when I was trying to describe to some folks about getting more Holy Spirit in your life. Well, this is a loose analogy, so don't analyze it too closely, but your life is like a car. And you have a choice. You can let it sit in the driveway, or you can start driving down the road. The Holy Spirit is the gas. If you just have your car sit in the driveway, God will give you enough gas for that. And you'll look at the gas gauge and say, "well, I can't go anywhere anyway, I hardly have enough gas to make it out of the driveway." But, if you are willing to maybe drive around the block, you find that there is always enough gas to get you where you are supposed to go.

Hosting an orphan is a drive around the block. It shows you how God supplies all your needs. It shows you how real the Holy Spirit is, how real God is. Like what Jennie Allen said in three lines.


#'s 10 and 12 from left are kiddos who changed my life...and whose lives have been changed. Talk about setting the lonely in families...Yeah. Hard to be lonely with Joe's family. :)
Forever family is a gift only God can give.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting? Who?

Today's post is from Kara over at Just Simply Live. This story is far from over and has changed even from when this written. I will request that Juliane and Kara keep writing to keep us updated on their journey with hearing God and hosting. Let's just say, the road is rocky and therefore I'm pretty excited to see what God is up to.

I am not a patient person...


Psalms 37:7 says, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Jesus)".

Apparently God wanted to teach me a little lesson in patience and grow my faith muscles.  All while being still.  WOW....

I have this thing called, "bleeding heart syndrome".   I'm sure others suffer from this as well but basically I HATE any injustice.  My soul bleeds for children particularly that don't feel or know what love is due to life circumstances.  My heart cries out for orphans.  My mind is blown away by the children who are sold into slavery right in front of our faces.  Even as I write this, I feel that little blazing fire within me getting fueled to run out and stop it.  To bring EACH AND EVERY orphan into my home.  To love EACH AND EVERY child who is hurting.  To END child slavery as a whole. 

That being said, I married a practical man. A man who first of all loves Jesus but knows that it is just not practical to have 1,000,000 children living in our home.  Lets say he "balances" me.  He doesn't like any of the above situations either but knows that God has given me a mission right now to love and disciple the four children he gave to me.

Then came along a friend with a passion for orphans in other countries.  New Horizons for Children is an organization that places children from overseas orphanages into homes during the Christmas and summer seasons.  During these times, the orphanages "shut down" and the kids are left to celebrate (or not) Christmas on their own.  Like...NO ONE is loving them?   NO ONE buys them presents?  NO ONE cooks a yummy meal for them?  UMMMMMMM NO!

So this lovely friend decided she should host.  Then another lovely friend decided to host.  Then another.  So of course I should host.  Right?  Aren't we called to take care of orphans?  Isn't this a huge example of injustice?  But Zach...ummmmm not sure how he would like that idea.  Well, I guess I should pray.

Then one day I was completely blindsided.  I sat down on my computer to check facebook and what would you know.  There she was.  MY GIRL!  Let me say I was not thinking of hosting at all this holiday season and I knew that Zach wouldn't be on bored with it but I felt and overwhelming pull towards this girl.  I immediately sat down with God and prayed!

 An excerpt from my journal that day:
There are so many kids wihtout moms and dads.  My heart grieves for them.  What do I do with this grief?  I want to host and orphan ("o") this Christmas but I'm not sure it's your will.  You command us to care for the orphans and widows.  Please, PLEASE change Zach's heart.  Help him let this child into our home.  Please Lord.  "O" needs you!

She consumed me for the next 24 hours.  My heart bled like it never had bled for a girl I had never met.  I could see her sitting in my living room.  I could smell her sweet head.  I could imagine snuggling with her, reading a book.  I WAS SURE she was suppose to be here.  God laid this girl on my heart.  He told me to pray for her.  Why shouldn't she be here?

Zach and I talked about it and prayed more than ever about "O".  My heart didn't waver at all.  Zach's didn't either.  He wasn't hearing what I was hearing.  He was hearing, "no, she isn't for us.".  WHAT?????  I begged and pleaded with God.  My core group of friends were all praying that Zach's heart would be changed.  I called NHFC and found out more information about "O".  There was no way she wasn't meant to be here!

The next few days my journal opened with this:
I'm so confused Lord.  Which way are you leading me?  

I am worn and confused Lord.  I was so sure I heard your voice and went out on a limb only to get burned.  My heart breaks.  

I cried out to God.  He answered me with these verses.  "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him".  1 Corinthians 2:9.  "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14.

As I sat in my living room pondering these verses, I felt I NEEDED to talk with my friend Juliane about the whole thing.  Why wasn't Zach hearing what I was hearing?  Why was God saying, "Be Still" when this was obviously not a time to wait?  I called her, heartsick over "O".  As I retold the whole story she told me to go outside, take a deep breath and know that I obeyed God.  He was going to do all the work, I just need to "chill out" and relax.  What happened next was what one of my friends would call a #MJM (Magical Jesus Moment)...

I said "O's" name...

Immediately a light bulb went on in Juliane's head.  "She is for me". 


Juliane went on to describe a vivid dream she had 2 years ago about a girl named, "O" who lived in an Eastern European country.  She asked me to send her the picture.  I did and the rest is history.  

God WAS talking to me.  I WAS listening. The little girl who my heart grieved for WAS going to come here.  I WAS going to see her sitting on my couch.  I WAS going to smell her sweet head.  Not sure about the snuggling part but its possible.  My husband WAS hearing God saying she wasn't for us.  I WASN'T going crazy.  

Juliane immediately talked with her husband and they went forward.  "O" will be here this Christmas.  

My lesson from this was that I am not in control.  God may put things on my heart but it's not up to me to decided what to do with them and when they should happen.  As Juliane said, "Take a deep breath and know you obeyed God"!   I look forward to hearing God more as I learn to fine tune my hearing.  


I'm excited to see what God has in store for us ;)

PS. You can read all about the Worthington's journal to get "O" home here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting Zi

Thank you to the Burkhardt family for sharing their story! Just in case any of you are wondering about the connection here, my family had the joy of hosting Zi this summer. God is good, and sets the lonely in families, sometimes not the host family!
In the beginning of Luke 5, Jesus uses some fishermen in an unexpected way. He preaches from a fisherman’s boat, then tells him to launch out into the deep to catch some fish. The fisherman was no rookie; he was seasoned and knew fish. Furthermore, he had just been fishing all night and knew there were no fish in there. He began to argue with Jesus, but then made the profound statement, Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will. Jesus blessed his obedience and filled his nets to bursting. I have heard Jesus through this telling me that same thing: Launch out into the deep. I have questioned His request. In fact, others have too.

“You’re adopting.” They say. “Doesn’t that cost a lot of money?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

Says another, “We don’t think we should give to just one child as a ministry.” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“What about the language barrier?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“Aren’t you a little afraid to bring someone that old into your home?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

“What if he brings a disease into your home?” Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

Many of these have been questions we have had to answer. We have to be honest and admit we have had our share of fears throughout this journey. But faith and obedience go hand in hand. God said to launch out into the deep.

We ask, “How deep, Lord? Aren’t we already giving and doing enough?”

He answers, “It’s not about you; it’s about showing you what I can do.” We obey, fearful but excited, scared of the unknown. He opens the windows of heaven and showers down everything we need.

Last winter, I met Jocelyn at a friend’s house. My husband and I had been discussing hosting. Through conversation, I found out Jocelyn had hosted and adopted, so I began asking questions. Winter and spring came and went, and the topic of adoption was still on our hearts. We didn’t know where to begin, so I decided to get ahold of Jocelyn and ask which home study agency they used. Through our messages, she discovered our desire to adopt and mentioned Zi.
Our idea of adoption was a young 2- to 3-year-old boy from the Philippines with minor special needs. I even stated to a friend, “We don’t mind a special needs child, but not one with something like cerebral palsy.”

Jocelyn asked if we’d like to meet Zi; she told us he was eight years old, from China, and had mild cerebral palsy. My immediate thought was, OK, Lord, this was not what we had in mind. Being able to meet Zi was of the Lord, especially for our ten-year-old son, who was very apprehensive. After that day, my husband said, “Let’s take the next step.”

We contacted CCAI and started launching into the deep. We found out another family had pulled his file; I was fearful. We waited all day to hear from the agency to see if they were interested in Zi; meanwhile, I prayed. I poured my fears to him, and when I was done, I submitted and said, Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will. I have never looked back. Just as the fisherman said those words in Luke 5:5 he let down his nets and, “they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net break.” The Lord has provided every payment, has allowed every document to be on time, provided us with the right home study agency, and the material things that we needed for when Zi gets here all for free. We have been shown over and over what HE can do when you have faith and obey. Has it been a sacrifice? Yes! Have we experienced resistance from unexpected places? Yes! Have we and our children had to give concessions so that we could move forward with the adoption? Yes! But eclipsing all the doubts, fears, obstacles and resistance is the attitude that the Lord impressed on us: Nevertheless, at Thy Word, I will.

I, Jocelyn, like to add a fundraising link for each of these families who are still in fundraising stages...these families have not requested that I do this, I go find the information on my own and add it in here...I do it in case any of you readers are so moved by these stories that you want to participate. 
You know- Give This Christmas Away! :)

Fund the Burkhardt Family adoption of Hudson


To read more Increase Our Faith stories, please go here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting Boys

From our special guests, the Dawson Family!
Living Like I Believe

Do you ever feel tired of living this safe, saved, American dream life? Where you have your people, and your home, and your routines, and God is there. It all fits in a neat little box that you can somewhat control and predict. For the most part, it is fulfilling, and happy. It’s hard work, but it’s good. But there’s just something missing. Something that is inside you that longs for more. Not in an “I’m not content with my life” sort of way, but in a “God…I know there’s more” sort of way.
That was me. I love my life. I love my Jesus. I love my husband. I adore my children. I like my house. I love my life. It’s hard work, but it’s good. But you know what? I realized that I have been living very safe. I am not downplaying the importance of being a wife, a mother, a home manager, and EVERYTHING that goes along with those jobs. They are important. As moms, we are called to make disciples at home. We are called to respect and serve and love our husbands. We are called to discipline our children. We are called to be busy at home, holding down the fort, so to speak, so that our home is a haven for our man and our kids. We have a BIG job. But you know what? We also have a BIG God. And He doesn’t want us to live safe lives in our white fences. He wants us to live like we believe in Him. Like we believe He can provide. Believe He can carry us. Believe that he will give us wisdom, if we would only ask, and BELIEVE.
That’s when I called about hosting a little girl through New Horizons. That’s when I explained to the sweet woman on the phone that we were adoption minded. And that’s when she told me about these two.
These two sweet boys. She said “I think they would be the perfect fit for your family. But if you were adoption minded, you’d be adopting four. They have a little brother and a little sister as well.” And so she told me their story, and I cried. I hadn’t even seen their faces yet, and I felt God. I felt Him changing my mind. You see…we only wanted to host one little girl. Not two. Not boys. Adoption minded… yes. Adoption minded…meaning we would love to adopt ONE child. Not FOUR!!! But I told her I would talk to my husband, and that I would call her back soon to let her know. I hung up the phone and looked them up, and I just cried a little bit more.
Needless to say, Russ said yes. We pray for them all the time. We literally love them already. We talk about everything from the challenges, to the good stuff, like how we sure hope they like Lincoln logs. And Ava, our sweet Ava, she talks about them like she’s known them her whole life. The other day she yelled at the cat for sleeping on “K”’s bed.
Not everyone gets it. Heck, I’m just starting to wrap my brain around everything. But I know I want to live like I believe in my very BIG God. Believe that he can provide. Believe that he can give us strength to do this. Believe that he will protect our family. Believe that he will help us help these kids.
People say things like … its just such a hard time of year, with Christmas coming, to ask people to give. And to that I say I want my kids to learn that people matter more than presents. They will learn, first and foremost, by what they see. But aren’t you worried you wont be able to give your kids the Christmas you want because you’re spending all of this money? After I just shake my head in disbelief that someone actually would say that out loud, I respond the same response. People matter for eternity. Kids matter for eternity. THESE LITTLE BOYS MATTER FOR ETERNITY. Toys don’t. Plus, I asked Ava if she would rather have a toy or a couple big brothers to play with for Christmas, and she said big brothers.
Christmas is truly a magical time of year, full of Jesus, family, traditions, lights, music, cookies, food, and footie pajamas. I love Christmas. I cannot wait to share Christmas with these boys. Because we believe they matter. Their souls matter. And we believe that God… He’s got us in His hand. I bet He’s happy that we’re doing this.

If you'd like to help the Dawson family host these boys this Christmas, please click here!

If you are inspired by these stories of hosting so far, and you want a chance to stretch your faith, I have an idea! I had this idea in the middle of the night, so if it seems weird, that's why. I would like to suggest a "sponsor a day" donation. The total hosting fees to New Horizons are going to be $5,800.00 (that doesn't include a lot costs, like airfare and stuff, but it's a starting point). If we divided that by 30 days, it comes out to $193.33! Considering we Americans are planning on spending an average of $800.00 per family on unneeded gifts that are junk by July, I'd like to ask that you consider sponsoring a day for 'D' and 'K' to have a family this Christmas! Let it be your first gift of Christmas!
XO Joce

Monday, October 13, 2014

Increase Our Faith: Hosting Reno

Guest Post from Danielle, over at Rich in Love:

Honestly, when I think about the past 3 months, maybe even longer than that my head spins. We have been busy. Four children is nothing to shake a stick at, especially four vibrant, intense and passionate children. For the gift that is each of them, we are so very grateful. However, sometimes I really have to make the choice to practice feeling that way. Like, when someone is in a hurry and spills a whole bowl of soup on the dining room floor that I have finally finishing mopping, literally ten minutes prior, after three weeks of accepting that Sandy the dog’s “spot cleaning” will have to do. I am so grateful for our time together. Yes, perhaps the loudest family in Cazenovia. But usually that loud is from laughter, from intense children with so much to share that they can’t contain it. It is so full of life around here; this home is just bursting at the seams.

About two years ago, my husband and I learned about orphan hosting from a friend’s Facebook wall. We both thought it was a cool idea, but just automatically wrote it off as one that we would consider more seriously when we were older, when our kids were older (they were 6, 4 and almost 2) and when we had a bigger house to host in. By that time we would surely have more financial means too. This is the time in our lives when we began to see firsthand how often God's plans for you are not even remotely close to what yours are.

After dismissing this hosting idea as a current plan, I had a dream about a young boy and it was a simple dream. (I have since learned that God uses a “still small voice” in my dreams, to speak very clearly to me to this day.) He was with our family, it was Christmas and he was sharing a bedroom with our then oldest son. I woke up and thought, “of course, he would sleep in there. Look at that, there IS enough room in this house.” In fact, reflecting on it now, with four kids living in our home comfortably, I can’t believe it was so hard to imagine at first. My husband and I talked again about this whole hosting idea and I shared that I felt this incredible weight, and that we needed to say yes to this. Our relationship is strong; we are committed to these types of things in each other. He saw that it was important to me so we began looking more seriously at the photo listing with the hosting agency. We noticed that many of them had scholarships, something that made the cost of this calling seem much more affordable. We also had an idea that we were looking for a teenage boy and then we found our boy, our now oldest son.

What was most noticeable was that he had a scholarship for over $1700, more than half of his hosting fees. Again, that “still small voice” made it very clear where the deposit to start the process was and there was a sudden awareness that we could fundraise. We could ask for others to step out in faith with us, to show their love in prayer and if they were moved to, to make a donation. We met our son on December 17th, 2012 and our lives will truly never ever be the same. Ever.

Over the almost two year adoption process we came to know Jesus. We began to learn that there is so much more to this life than just knowing who Jesus is and how much He loves us. Our hearts were stretched and opened to something amazing. Not only to loving an orphan child and seeing that he was our own and our family was his own, but that nothing is too hard for God. He is all powerful and He does have a plan and He does work for the good of all. We learned what it meant to “wait on God” and to “find rest in Him.” We saw Him fill us with ideas and words to ask humbly for donations, and within almost an 18 month period raise over forty thousand dollars for our son’s adoption. We saw our story of an “impossible adoption because of an age-gap law” move through our family and friends and their families and friends and pretty quickly it was moving across the country and the world. God was using our little family’s mission to ripple across His creation to change the hearts of many! What a gift to us. I still can’t grasp what it all means, that this is our family’s story. I am humbled.

However, as I write this, I keep thinking of what it is that I am most grateful for throughout it all. I am brought to my knees with such gratitude for the way God has shown me how to depend on Him. How only He can love wholly, only He can give me rest in times of great uncertainty or exhausting trial. How He never ever leaves us and although sometimes we don’t hear His voice He is always there, His plan is still in motion and it is a good plan. How I cannot be a parent of these children He chose for me (and me for them) without His constant guidance and wisdom. I cannot do this life alone. I need Him.

As a very special and very wise friend has said to me, many times, “Thank God for God.”

We are SO thankful.

We are a family that has been blessed by the gift of adoption.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Increase our Faith: Hosting O


Dear Friends and family, I wish that I could sit down with each one of you over a cup of tea and tell you this amazing story. But we are separated by distance and time! So thank you for reading this, and sharing in our life. Last week one of my best friend’s, Kara called me heartsick for a little girl she had seen on the New Horizons for Children Facebook page. For those of you who are unfamiliar with New Horizons, they are a Christian organization who facilitates hosting orphans from Eastern Europe and China during the Christmas and summer holidays. Over these holidays the orphanages close down and the children are sent to foster homes and other camps within Europe and the United States. The children who are hosted in the US are introduced to life outside of the orphanage and families who could potentially adopt them or support them in someway in their future. So this one little girl had captured my friend Kara’s heart and she was calling because despite the immense love and pull from God towards this child, her husband and her had decided it was not the right thing for them to host her this Christmas. As we talked about the beauty there is just in hearing God’s voice and feeling that Spirit led love that can come from no other, I asked her what the little girl’s name was so I could join her in praying for a host family for her. When she told me that her name was O immediately my heart skipped a beat. Two years ago I had woken from a very vivid dream about a girl named O, who was about 8 or 9 years old from the Ukraine that would be a part of our family. I felt so strongly that this was God speaking to me that I searched every adoption page for a girl that matched that description. I found no child that even came close, so I let it go and gave it back to God. I shared the dream with Kara while we were on the phone and asked her to send me a picture of O. When we were done talking I looked at the picture in disbelief—she looks like one of my kids! Shocked and excited I relayed this whole story to Ethan who was intrigued and told me to find out more information. Over the next several days we filled out pre-applications and waited to hear if she was still available to be hosted and if we would be a good fit for her. We finally heard back last night that they have put her on hold for us and once our application, background checks, home inspections are all completed she will be able to come and stay with us for Christmas! The kids are very excited to share our lives with her and have been praying every day for her. As I put Ada to bed the other night the Holy Spirit was clearly speaking through her as she prayed, “Dear God I pray that you will tell O your story, I pray that you will tell her that you created the world and made her, and that you love her. And I pray that you will send her here so that we can love her. Please protect her tonight and all day tomorrow.” Of course we were both wiping away the tears to hear our child praying for someone she hasn’t even met yet with such love and empathy. This is so much an expression of what we want our lives to be about. We are fully aware that we could open our hearts and home, be vulnerable in loving her and that she may be too hurt to accept it. But we are praying Ada’s prayer over O, and we would be so grateful if you could join is in praying that as well. The cost of bringing her here is a little over $3,000. That cost covers her plane ticket and a chaperone’s plane ticket as well as processing fees and fees for things like our background checks and home inspection. We know that God has brought this girl into our life and will provide all that we need financially and emotionally. If you feel like you have a little extra to donate to help bring O here for hopefully what will be a very love-filled Christmas, we would be so thankful for even the smallest donation. Thank you so much for being in our lives and walking with us through this journey of listening to God!
  In Love, Juliane, Ethan, Eliot, Ada and Finn


To donate, go to Click on donate to a specific child. You can pay through PayPal and make sure to enter Oksanas # in the notes ( EO354).

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Give it away

I read a post by Ann Voskamp today. She wrote with the tone that we, as the North American church, already know we are rich, we already know we should not be letting people starve for lack of food, we already know that we should welcome the orphan and care for the widow.
I have to agree. We know. But what do we do about it?

She also made a comparison of manna in the food was gathered and distributed in community. She talked about how some people cannot gather their own manna and are literally starving, and how some people have gathered more than they need and now have a maggot problem. Maggots of apathy, spiritual depression, unfulfillment, greed, distraction, obesity, etc.

The simple, obvious solution to both problems is for those who have more than they need to share it.

And the good point has been made that we already know this. But almost every one reading this has already started justifying why not; rationalizing your 'frugality', budgeting, couponing, saving, hoarding.

And some of us are feeling it. Wondering how our greed and self-focus have crept back up. We meant to live on less so we could give more. We meant to give sacrificially, but ended up giving from our excess. Our heart's cry is that we would live simply so that others can simply live. But the comforts make us sleepy and we forget to live on less and give more.

The only one who can change our hearts is Christ, so I'll leave it up to Him.

Let's begin right now to listen for God' voice to guide us in giving our first fruits, off the top, in large chunks; and living on the left-overs. He has a plan for our budget, for our Thanksgiving menu, for our Christmas gift giving and receiving. He has a plan for our home, our car, our clothes. Will we hear Him? Will we obey Him? I pray that we do. You pray, too.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Zi Qing

This guy. My heart! Such a remarkable boy.

Today, I think I will start by just writing down some of the words that have come to mind about Zi Qing. (zuh- jih).




good sport

hard worker










All of these traits have been observed in the time since I met him at the airport on Tuesday.
We had a big debacle where he thought I was abducting him (funny-ish in retrospect, I guess).  He was steadfast in his refusal to budge until he found his American aunty (he was finally convinced this was me.)

We thought his name was pronounced ZEE and he has gently ignored us until we were able to communicate our interest in his ACTUAL name, where he was a good sport repeating himself until we got somewhere near an accurate pronunciation.

He smiles and laughs constantly. His joy is absolutely contagious.

He has determinedly and observantly worked his way in to our daily chores, doing dishes, feeding animals, collecting eggs, making his bed, etc. WITHOUT BEING ASKED. We have started teaching him how to do all jobs, because he hounds us until we let him do it.

He copies Joe at every chance, and refuses help on anything he thinks he can do on his own. he works patiently and calmly until he succeeds.

I think what impresses me most is his quiet, sweet way of communicating needs and wants. He asks for our attention with smiles and taps and leads us to whatever it is that he needs. He doesn't just take, he asks with confidence.

One of the coolest thing so far is when Arwyn asked for a piece of pizza last night. Zi Qing opened the box, ripped off a crust and handed it to her. For those of you who don't know, Arwyn has a dairy allergy and cannot have the cheese part of the pizza. Zi already figured that out and gave her the part she is allowed to have.

And one funny story: A young lady who speaks Mandarin tried to speak with him yesterday. He good-humoredly spoke slowly and clearly (and maybe a little disdainfully), "I don't speak Mandarin, I speak Louyang dialect."

This guy. A gem of human being. A gift of God.

Pray for him and his forever family. They don't want to miss this.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Little Z! Summertime!

We are raising money to help cover the cost of hosting our little Z-man for 5 weeks this summer. Tiny donations welcome. Speak life to Z!

James 1:27 "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

Way back in October I got a phone call from the sweetest lady saying that she saw I was looking at pictures of Latvians to host but that deadline was past and would I maybe consider hosting from China?
I stuttered around a bit, because I had never considered hosting from China. She was such a soul-sister-kindred-spirit to me though, and I told her the truth and she was all like, "Well, what age and gender were you thinking of hosting? "
"A little boy," I said. What? Umm, I don't need anymore little boys. Why would I say that?!?
And she was like, "Well, there's this cute little guy, Z. He likes to play and run and doesn't play with girls."
I found his picture and my heart started to warm up to this crazy idea of China hosting.
And then she told me has mild CP. Cerebral palsy? Wow. God. I don't know.
And then my kids saw his picture and started talking about Chinese buffet and how they always wanted a boy to play with and and and! BAM! Yes. Yes we'll host little Z. God just filled all our hearts with love for this little guy.
So we started getting ready to host him over Christmas. And then there was a delay. And then we planned to host him January. The delay delayed. And then, "Sorry, hosting has been put on hold indefinitely while China figures things out."
I knew God had a good plan for Z anyway, and I kept praying. And then, last week? I got an email saying that China is open for hosting and do we still want to host lil' Z?
YAY! God is good, His timing is perfect, and He provides all our needs.
We would love for you to pray for our family as we prepare to have this little guy in our hearts and home this summer. If you would like to join our family on this mission-minded mission by helping us out financially, please contact us directly.
Help us share the love with Z this summer!

Donations can be given directly to our family to cover the costs of hosting.

Praying folks: 1. Pray for God to continue His good work in arranging all the details of Zi's arrival and time with our family. 2. Pray for God to work in the hearts of a family to adopt Zi. He needs a forever family!
Feeling called to host? go to
You'll never regret it.

Monday, April 07, 2014

D- a real boy

D, $1250.00 Scholarship

Hi guys! We have a situation, here- thanks in advance for your prayers!

Prayer request, action item....usually one and the same, right? So, I don't want to make the story drag, but there are some details you need to know as you pray and seek God's will. Last fall, we signed up to host Z from China. He is a little guy, around 7, with mild CP. China got a new minister of orphanages, or something like that, and he put a hiatus on hosting. I never felt released from my obligation to Z. I love that little man and did not move on. I have continued to pray for him, and my heart squeezes every time I see his picture. Since then, the summer hosting opened up and we chose D, a 13 year old boy from Latvia. He likes to fish and play basketball. He speaks English pretty well and is a really nice kid. His mom died 2 years ago and he is now in foster care. We didn't want to let another hosting opportunity go by without ministering to a child, so we signed up! We were moving through our paperwork and making payments to host this awesome kid. And then I got an email that Z is now available to host for the summer! So now we are invested in both these boys, and we had a decision to make. For various reasons, including recently finding out that my almost 13 year old daughter is ummm, how shall I say, boy crazy, I think our dream resolution for this situation is for our family to host Z and another local family to host D. If that local family was willing, Joe would happily pour into D's life with lots of fishing trips and basketball trips to the park, and I certainly would like to have him come and hang around here and eat cookies. He and Anastasija can have happy Latvian conversations, under my direct supervision, LOL. And Z can live with us and play with our boys and annoy our girls and get my hugs... and cookies. And we could take him to Chinese buffet a lot. Even if he doesn't really recognize the food...I bet we'd still enjoy ourselves. We know He has a great plan for hosting for both Z and D. And He has a great plan for our family and Z, and your family...and D? He has plans to prosper, and to give a future and a hope to both D and Z. Pray, and listen. :)

I would like to ask that your family consider hosting D. If you are wrestling with all kinds of doubts and fears, that's really normal. I actually blogged about that just a little while ago:

D is 13, likes basketball and fishing, and is from Latvia. He lives in foster care, and his biological mom died a couple of years ago. He is a very nice boy, I talked on the phone to the lady who interviewed him and she said he's by far her favorite child available for hosting this summer.
Joe and I really really like him, but as I said, Anastasija gave us some red flags about having a 13 year old boy in our house this year.

And, you know about Zi. So why would God give us a love for D and not have a plan for us to host him? I think it's because He wants a local family to host him so Ana can speak some Latvian and Joe can take the dude fishing and to the park to ball.

We would be willing to help you in every way, including having him visit as often as you need supervision for him due to work schedules and stuff.

Please seek God's face on this. It is so life changing for the child, and for the host family. What an awesome opportunity for your family...your kiddos... to do international ministry this summer. It opens their eyes to God's work for the lonely and forgotten, for those who don't know God, and it matures their faith in a way that only hands-on service and relationship can do. It opens their heart for making personal sacrifices for the good of others.

So there it is. I have now made my plea, and I am turning it over to God.
HAHA! Cuz God'll getcha. :) Whoops, did I write that out loud?

Pay close attention to how God speaks to you through His word, how He speaks to you through your brothers and sisters in Christ, how He speaks to you through the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, and through an inner assurance of peace.

Want to find out more on how to find and follow God's will?

Want to see D's full color pics and read his bio? Click on 'Host' and select 'photolisting registration'.

May the Lord grant you a heart of flesh, His Heart, for the least of these.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Good news!

Good news here!

God provides, that's a fact, and here's an example:


Last year, we decided to host Z from China for Christmastime. Then, China closed hosting indefinitely. So, we decided to host Davids from Latvia this summer. We started the application process and paid a lot of the fees, and then we learned that China had opened hosting for this summer and Z was still available! AHH!

So we prayed and God led us to host Zi, and that He has a good (currently unknown to us) plan for Davids' host family this summer.

One of our faith-stretchers in this situation is that we already paid $1250.00 in fees for Davids, and that money stays with the child as a scholarship.

But, good news, someone has offered to do a matching grant to make up that money. So, all donations this week, up to $625.00 will be matched!

Please consider donating this week to help us catch up on our fees for Zi.

And, please pray that the family God has in mind for Davids will open the ears of their heart and take the leap of faith to commit to hosting this awesome guy this summer.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Anne with an E and ice cream

I guess if I look back at my life, God was shaping me for orphan advocacy from way back. And let me tell you, Anne with an E is my girl. And Lucy Maude is my hero. And somewhere over the years I've become more like Marilla (about whom Joe always remarks, "man is she your mom") than I ever intended, but I digress. (I'm still a lot like, Anne, too. Don't worry, my scope for imagination keeps me close to Anne.)

You see that pic? It was shared on facebook by the (sorry I'm a nerd) Anne of Green Gables fan thingy. Not by New Horizons or P143. And yet, what could more accurately portray the truth about caring for an orphan? I know they are fictional characters, but come along for the ride, won't you?

I doubt Marilla and Matthew considered themselves a good choice to care for a child. Brother and sister, old, busy, introverts, etc. They didn't even willingly choose to have Anne. They were looking for a big boy who they could feed and care for and teach him to help on the farm. But they got Anne. Anne who had never had ice cream. Those of you who know me well are probably laughing a little; my love of ice cream is epic. But that's not the part that hit me hardest. It's that Marilla never would have dreamed that Anne hadn't had ice cream before. And the Sunday School picnic they are about to attend? No one there would realize that someone in their midst was having ice cream for the first time. Marilla and all those good people of Avonlea never realizing that what they had was AMAZING. SPECIAL. BLESSED. And EXCLUSIVE. To them it was normal life, and pretty bland at that, but to Anne it was a dream come true.

I could go on and on here. Seriously, Anne, ice cream, and hosting. Anne's not adopted at this point in the story. She was just 'on trial' at Green Gables. Marilla began to see how real Anne was, and full of hope, and full of life. She came to see that Anne was not just another sad case of lost humanity with no chance for a full life of opportunity. Anne was a real, unique, funny, silly, creative, imaginative, distractible child in need of raising. And she began to see that she, Marilla, was the difference. She stood in the gap of Anne remaining "a perfect heathen" or becoming Anne the friend, Anne the devoted daughter, Anne the wife of a good doctor, Anne the mother of 6 children, Anne the light of all who knew her.

I like this story for orphan care because Marilla and Matthew didn't get a vision from God that they should go 'rescue the poor orphans.' They didn't want Anne. She just showed up by 'mistake.' They weren't qualified for the job. Old maid, old bachelor. No experience. No desire. And yet when God sent them a child, and they saw the need, and they saw the person, and they said 'yes.'

Every single orphan has the need of love and family. Every single orphan is a person.

Marilla saw it. And she said yes. Will you see it? And will you give that kid some ice cream?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An accidental Matthew Bible study on Hospitality and Orphan Hosting

Today I saw a picture post on facebook by P143 that stirred my heart.
There's no place like home... but for over 100 unchosen orphans on our photolisting, there is no such place. You can change that! HOST an orphan in your home this summer. ADVOCATE by sharing our post. SUPPORT with a donation for a child of your choosing. To see all the orphans available for summer hosting, complete our pre-registration form for the link!


(An accidental Matthew Bible study on Hospitality and Orphan Hosting)

A few years ago I read a great book; Open Heart, Open Home by Karen Mains.

I blogged about it back then, I'm pretty sure...let me check....nope. Can't find it. Well, it's been too long for me to be able to recap it accurately, so I'll just say, it changed me. For the good. It opened my eyes to the fact that my home is not mine. It's God's. I'm the steward and there will be a day when I stand before the Owner and give account for how I invested what has been entrusted to me. I began to think of the great blessing it is to have a home. For all it's imperfections, it is absolutely a blessing beyond compare. And yet, sadly, the norm is to hoard it. Keep it clean, keep it warm, decorate it, bake cookies, serve supper, ALL FOR ME AND MINE.

To the faraway hungry-for-love orphan, elderly person, poor person, "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

The excuses are innumerable:
"My table is too small" (Mine is, too. We have seven people and 4 chairs and1  bench, which we fill with just us.)
 "My house is not necessarily clean." (Yeah, me too.)
 "My family doesn't always shine with love." (You mean like how Cade just tried to smother Jessup with couch pillows?)
"People might not like my food." (Honestly, serve pizza if you're really actually a bad cook. Or Oreos.)
"We don't have enough bedrooms." (We have three bedrooms; parents', boys', and girls'. And when we have a whole other family stay with us? We cut down to a kids' and a kids'/parents' and the other family can have a room to themselves. "It's just like Little House on the Prairie, isn't this fun?")

I give these examples with their short responses simply to illustrate that those thoughts are just excuses that can be solved...or ignored completely (and they go away). My solutions might not work for you, but that's not the point. I just wanted to share them to show that a willing heart finds a way.

And let's be straight- I am not in need of any more kids in my house. I don't need extras at meals. We are quite full. I'm often heard to say, "It's always a party with the Rebisz's." But I know that my home is my greatest blessing. It is invaluable to me, and an unattainable, heart-wrenching dream for the lonely.

Home and family- I have it, they need it, so I offer it. And Christ blesses it.

Matthew 25
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Orphan Hosting

So back to the beginning. There are over 100 kiddos from P143 who have not been hosted yet.
And it makes my heart feel, what, sad? Disappointed? Frustrated? Discouraged? I don't know exactly, but heavy for sure. Heavy that there are ANY kids left at P143 or New Horizons. We should be leaping at the chance to engage our entire family in world missions so easily. There should seriously be a stampede to view the photolistings and the chance to choose a child to bring to our home. We should be honored and joyful and grateful that there such a simple and convenient way to share Christ with those who need Him most. Instead my brothers and sisters in Christ say, "No," over and over and over a hundred times and more.What does that say about our hearts? Stone or flesh?

Ezekiel 11
19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

What a rich promise! What a happy thought! Let's ask anew for this heart of flesh. He'll be our God, and we'll be His people and walk in His statues. What are those statutes?  You're not the first one to ask, actually.

Matthew 19

Jesus Counsels the Rich Young Ruler

16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father and your mother, and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Most of us have heard this story lots of times. What does it mean for us? On the most basic level it means that we must loosen our hold on our stuff and use our possessions as God would have us use them. I think it's easy to figure it out how to do that, but we don't always want it to be so clear, so we say it's hard. I mean, right in verse 21 Christ says use your stuff for poor people. So there's one way to use your stuff. And just before, He says “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  So there's kids,  another group we can be sure is important to God. And James reminds us that pure and undefiled religion is to care for orphans and widows. So there's orphans and widows. We can use our stuff for them, then, without having to worry about whether its God's will or not. We can just go ahead and use our stuff for them and follow Jesus.

So now what? Well, I'm pretty sure you're thinking, "Oh, yes. That's all true, but it's just not the time for us right now." Well, I was 7 months pregnant when we hosted Anastasija. And my house was a mess. And we live on one income. And my kids were naughty. And I yell at them sometimes. My family is so far from perfect. The only thing we've got going for us is trying to follow Jesus and obey His commands. Seriously, we are nothing great over here.

 And no family is perfect and no time is perfect, and I'm going with a cliché here:
It's not about you.

Christ laid it out in no uncertain terms:
Matthew 10:

37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

A Cup of Cold Water

40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Ask yourself the hard question:
Do you love your home-life just the way it is more than you love your neighbor the orphan? (Or lonely neighbor, or foster kid down the street- there are lots of people to love, I just happen to be thinking about orphans.)

God is the Father to the fatherless. The Help of the Helpless. And we are His hands, His feet, His heart here on Earth. If we don't spread the love, the world stays loveless. If we don't spread the hope, the orphan stays hopeless. If we don't shine the light, we remain in darkness.

I don't know what else to say. How can I get you to break free of the doubts and fears that hold you back from offering what you have to those who need it? What lonely child would not want to be in your home this summer? Honestly, picture your normal life and compare it to the normal life a child in an orphanage and tell me that these children with hopes and dreams and real little bodies that ache for a hug and someone to tuck them in at night don't need your home this summer. This summer. Not some nebulous some-day-in-the-cloudy-future, but now.
A real child. The child who was interviewed and knows that her face and story are out there and wonders if anyone will choose her. Wondering if she's really as worthless as she thinks? 

Anyway, the answer to the above question is that I can't help you break free of the things that hinder you. Only God can do that. So I'll pray. I'll pray that my desperate plea from the depths of my heart will fall on ears that hear.

Believers Are Salt and Light

Matthew 5
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Shine your light. Let it shine. Set it on the table in your dining room and invite someone in out of the dark. You'll be glad you did, and so will they.


Friday, March 07, 2014

Future and hope

Prayer request, action item....usually one and the same, right?

So, I don't want to make the story drag, but there are some details you need to know as you pray.

Last fall, we signed up to host Z. from China. He is a little guy, around 7, with mild CP. China got a new minister of orphanages, or something like that, and he put a hiatus on hosting. I never felt released from my obligation to Z. I love that little man and did not move on. I have continued to pray for him, and my heart squeezes every time I see his picture.

Since then, the summer hosting opened up and we chose D, a 13 year old boy from Latvia. He likes to fish and play basketball. He speaks English pretty well and is a really nice kid. His mom died 2 years ago and he is now in foster care. We didn't want to let another hosting opportunity go by without ministering to a child, so we signed up! We are moving through our paperwork and making payments to host this awesome kid.



And then I get an email that Z is now available to host for the summer! So now I am invested in both these boys, and I have a decision to make. For various reasons, including recently finding out that my almost 13 year old daughter is cra-cra about boys, I think our dream for this situation would be for our family to host Z and another local family to host D. If that local family was willing, Joe would still happily pour into D's life with lots of fishing trips and basketball trips to the park.

And Z could live with us and play with our boys and get my hugs and cookies. And we could take him to Chinese buffet a lot. Even if he doesn't really recognize the food...I bet we'd still enjoy ourselves.

So, please pray for us as we seek God's face on this. We know He has a great plan for hosting for both Z and D. And He has a great plan for our family and whom we will host this summer. He has plans to prosper, and to give a future and a hope to D and Z. Pray, and listen. :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Check Yes or No

This boy has been offered before and watched his friends come to America, but never selected. He had great eye contact during our interview and seemed very friendly. Later taking pictures he was all smiles for pictures and loved taking more photos with his friends. He said he wants to come to America to see EVERYTHING. He has seen pictures from his friends and it is beautiful. He would love to be part of a large family with lots of kids …younger, older, doesn’t matter to him. He would like to work on his soccer and ping-pong skills. He is a very goal oriented young man.

Contact your local coordinator for more information.

Don't let him feel unwanted and worthless by not being chosen...again. Hosting is so simple and yet so profound in the life of the child. You have a home right? Open it up.
13 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.[a] 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
Being in foster care or an orphanage doesn't cause pain in his body, but think of the pain in his heart. Feel it as if you were there yourself. Love him as your brother. YOUR BROTHER. I don't know about you, but I would make the room and time needed to let my brother live with me for 5 weeks over the summer. I would never say, "I don't feel called to have my brother live with me this summer." I would just move forward, knowing that I don't need a special word from God to let me know that I am supposed to care for my brother and make room for him in my life.
I sometimes daydream about the possibilities. I think of stories of thousands of Jewish children being hosted by families in safe countries during the time of the Nazis. I think of all the children of refugees in war-torn places right now. I wonder if there is a way to get them into host families until it is safe to go home. But that would require the Church to take the above verse seriously, and I don't see that happen much around here. New Horizons and P143 offer just a few hundred children, it seems like that wouldn't be enough to go around for our whole nation of Jesus followers. But, sadly, that's not the case and this boy didn't get chosen last time. Why? Because someone felt a tug to treat him like their brother- but they said 'No.' And he dealt with the ramifications of their choice. He stayed behind while others spent their Christmas or summer with a family. They heard, "You are wanted. We love you. God loves you." What did he hear?
People. This quick share has turned into a blog post. Because I want this boy to feel God's love this summer. And I want you to feel the power of God at work in your life as you see miracle after miracle in removing every obstacle. God has a plan. He has a plan for these kids with no families. He has had a plan from the beginning of time for the good works He wants you to do.
If you are a follower of Christ, you've got your orders.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d]
This is one simple way to get started on your obedience. Will you trust? Will you obey?

About Me

About Me
I love Jesus, my hubby, my 6 kiddos, my farm, good books and good food.