Thursday, September 27, 2012


Dear readers, we hope that you will join us at HOPE AT HOME 2012 in just a few weeks, October 5-6 in Atlanta. There is quite a lot of buzz going on as we prepare for your arrival! If you haven't registered yet, you can do so by clicking HERE.

From Susan:
Just the other day I got to see all over again that God is bigger than our worst things.  Three years ago this week our family became homeless when Atlanta's "500 year flood" swelled the 2 foot river in our back yard to 20 feet, leaving half of our 3 story home submerged.  Though I am the eternal optimist, in this case half full is pretty bad!  Even then, though, as our family story attracted various TV crews and newspaper reporters, what those folks typically went away with was those same 3 words of truth, overshadowing the facts:  God Is Bigger.  He is bigger when 8 of our 10 kids become twice-homeless.  He is bigger when we felt our family no longer existed as a unit, as we were parcelled out into 4 different homes for some days.  
Then....visible proofs of our invisible God started their steady and relentless march.  A family we had never met opens up their massive 4 bedroom basement apartment for us to live in.   Every day for a number of weeks, someone uninvited comes knocking:  "here are some clothes for your sons," or "here is some food"  or "here are some games."  The gifts of God through the hands of people became so constant that we began to write them on our calendar as a visible reminder of God's care.  We ourselves were surprised as we realized we were writing something down daily.  We saw, literally, "give us this day our daily bread."  
And God did. And it was good.

Remodeling and Restoration

We have now been back in our beautifully restored home for several months.  Our adoptions are the only reason we had flood insurance, which we purchased 5 days before the flood.  I know it sounds exagerated but its true!  We had 5 kids in college at that time and couldn't afford it, so we had to take out a home equity loan to help pay for education. We had fumed when the bank demanded we purchase flood insurance, as our primary loan had never required it.  The bank staff were immovable in their insistence, and thus, God provided in spite of our opposition.

Fruitfulness or Forgetfulness

So as I sit here as I do most mornings, enjoying the beauty of seeing the light of day replace the darkness of night, I read in Genesis 41 of Joseph's two sons, Ephraim (whose name means "fruitful in the land of my affliction") and Manassas (meaning "forget the pain of the past").  The meaning of their names provides a menu that I can choose from every day:  is my first choice to trust God to make me "fruitful in the land of my affliction,"....even in those worst things, like the lost son and the lost home?  
Or is it only to seek to "forget the pain of the past"?  For me, dear reader, I must choose the former. And today I pray that you will experience the bright light of day replacing any vestiges of night's darkness.  We are, as Luke says, "children of the resurrection." 

Monday, September 24, 2012


Marriage Monday!

It's that time again friends-- time to remember that the best thing you can do for your children is to have the best marriage possible. Love this post from Kate Aldrich, who along with her husband Brad have a wonderful marriage blog, One Flesh Marriage.

Kate and Brad will be at our Hope at Home 2012 conference for adoptive and foster parents, October 5-6 in Atlanta, GA. 
Only two weeks away -- you can still register. We are so looking forward to seeing you!

Kate says . . . 

When we were dating and first married my hubby and I found there were many things we differed on. Many of these things were a reflection of how we were raised. One of our differences was our feelings on leftovers. Yes, leftovers. I would try to serve the leftovers again later in the week and my dear hubby was not so keen on them. 
I have to admit; many times leftovers are not as appealing as making a new, fresh meal. How do leftovers apply to marriage? Well for many years our marriage was stuck in our own selfishness, and we ended up giving each other nothing but leftovers. We fell into a routine of giving of ourselves to everything we “needed” to do first, and then being frustrated when there was little left over for our marriage. 
When I think on this or feel myself being pulled in all directions, wanting to leave only leftovers, this scripture comes to mind. 
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops” 
Proverbs 3:9 NIV

In our lives we are asked to honor God by giving him the first fruits of our lives. Yes this includes our money and material wealth, but it also means our first fruits of who he made us to be-- our time, our talents and our callings. Then, if we are married we are called to prioritize our spouse next. Bringing the next fruits to them-not the leftovers. 
This is modeled for us in the relationship Christ (the groom) has with the church, us (his bridegroom). Christ’s first priority—after obeying and glorifying the Father—was the church. In Jesus’ example we can see that giving our spouse our leftovers is not going to result in the one flesh connection we truly desire to have. If we want that bond, that true feeling of being completely known and accepted, then we cannot settle for giving leftovers. 
You might say, “Ugh, but life is so hard, I have meetings to attend, dinner to make, emails to respond to, babies attached to my hips, extended family responsibilities, toilets to clean, children to rock to sleep, Iphone games to play, facebook to check....” 
The list goes on and on! 
All of these things have their time and place; some have more importance than others. Yet not one of them should go before your spouse on a regular basis. There are times that our children have to come first for a short time, or a work project takes priority. When those times happen it should all be with the goal to get back to God first, Spouse second, children third and everything else fourth

Practical ways to keep priorities in order:

Evaluate what you are doing with free time 

You know that time during the day when both you and your spouse are free to do what you want? In that time, are you doing separate things? I tend to get flack for this, but that time should be spent together. If you prioritize that time together, you will find that you are refreshing your marriage. 
Does that mean you have to EVERYTHING together? No, but it means you make every effort to spend some alone time each day, as well as be in each other’s presence for the rest of that time. After our kids are in bed for the night, we go to our room and that is our time. We enjoy quiet-intimate time together as well as do our daily devotions, read our books, watch an occasional movie and other things we enjoy as a couple.  

Share where you struggle and ask your spouse to help

I’ll admit it is hard to be open and vulnerable, to admit where I struggle. Yet, I love that I have a safe place to share that, with my hubby. He knows me, understands me better than anyone else on earth and loves me regardless of my weaknesses. He also wants to lead me to be the best servant of Christ I can be. I love that about him. 
I share when I am struggling and he helps me to put it all in perspective as well as come up with some ways to help the situation. If we are able to share the ways we feel pulled away from making our marriage a priority, most spouses will be touched and willing to pray and help. Being vulnerable and having that trust, keeps your one flesh journey moving forward. 

Pray and seek God’s word

God never fails to amaze me with his steadfast faithfulness. Seeking Him through prayer and His Word is essential to keeping from serving leftovers to your spouse. We have all heard it said, “Never underestimate the power of prayer”, yet how often we do seek other ways to work on our struggles first? Give God the first of your struggles, then your spouse next. These biblical principles are there for a reason, give them a try!
Do you feel like you struggle with giving your spouse your “leftovers”? If so, share how you have overcome this trap in marriage. 

See you at Hope at Home 2012!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This post from Colleen Coombs is the fourth in a new series for us, HOPE AT HOME KIDS. So, when you see H@HKIDS! in the title, you know we are giving you something geared specifically to use with your children. For many, these posts will be good read-alouds during family devotions, and for some they will be great to email or print out for your older children to read on their own.We are excited about this opportunity to share with your children!

One of our most popular breakouts last year was one Jenni Means did on helping our children hear God for themselves. We've asked her to do another breakout this year along the same lines. It is called Helping Your Child Hear and Experience God. Watch this video to hear what one adoptive mom has to say about it:

We'd love for you to join us October 5-6 for HOPE AT HOME 2012. You will be refreshed and encouraged in your parenting, and you will experience afresh the love of your Father God for you, His very own precious child. To find out more and to register, click HERE.

From Colleen: 
Job 33:15
“He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds.”

As we are learning, God has many languages He can use to speak to us. One is not better than the other because God created them all, just like He created us. He wants to talk to all of His children.


The most common language found in the Bible is pictures. Pictures can simply be like a photograph in your mind, or a dream or vision. God used pictures more than any other language in the Bible to speak to His children. We see this in both the Old and New Testament, from Abraham in Genesis to John in the book of Revelation.

In the Old Testament book of Joel (2:28), God says that before the Lord comes back that He will pour out His Spirit on all people and they will have dreams and visions. That’s pretty exciting because He says ALL people, not just some, but ALL people!
When we have a picture from God, we may not always understand it at first. God can sometimes use symbols that mean things. A symbol is an image that represents something. It can be a visible picture of something invisible. For instance, a lion is a symbol for courage and a dove is a symbol for peace.
The great thing about God is that He can give us the meaning of our pictures, dreams, and visions. He tells us in James 1:5 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not scold you for asking.”  
In Jeremiah 1:11-15 we see an example of a picture, or vision, God gave to Jeremiah and then explained to him. It is so important that we ask God what His pictures mean, because He is the one who gave these to us and knows their meaning.

The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?"
       "I see the branch of an almond tree," I replied.
The LORD said to me, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled."
The word of the LORD came to me again: "What do you see?"
       "I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north," I answered.
The LORD said to me, "From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms," declares the LORD.


Visions are images or pictures we see in our mind or with our eyes while we are awake. They can be still pictures, like a photograph, or it may be like watching a movie.  God spoke to Aaron and Miriam about how He uses visions to speak to some of his people. (Numbers 12:5-6)
The Lord gave the prophet Ezekiel visions of His glory that we can read about in the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament. Here are just a couple examples from the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 1:1
I was 30 years old. I was with my people who had been taken away from their country. We were by the Kebar River in the land of Babylonia. On the fifth day of the fourth month, the heavens were opened. I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 40:2
In visions God gave me, he brought me to the land of Israel. He set me on a very high mountain. Some buildings were on the south side of it. They looked like a city.

Let’s take a look at some people who had visions from God in the New Testament! Did you know that the book of Revelation is all about a vision that God gave to John? It is the last book of the bible and it is filled with symbols and pictures that people are still trying to correctly interpret today. It is one of the greatest recorded visions in the Bible!

In the book of Acts, Ananias’ vision gave him directions on where to find Saul and what to say to him when he did find him. Ananias was scared of Saul, but God told him to go anyway and he did. (Acts 9:10-18)

Peter also had a vision that God used to show him His heart for all people to come to salvation, not just the Jews. He revealed to Peter later what this vision meant. You can read this wonderful account in Acts 10:19-16 & 10:34-36.

God uses visions in the same way He does dreams. He can sometimes give us direction on where and what he wants us to do. He gave Paul many visions that gave him direction - so he knew what to do and where to go! Here are two of the visions God gave Paul.

Acts 16:9-10 
During the night Paul had a vision. He saw a man from Macedonia standing and begging him. "Come over to Macedonia!" the man said. "Help us!" After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia. We decided that God had called us to preach the good news there. 

Acts 18:9-11 
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Keep on speaking. Don't be silent. I am with you. No one will attack you and harm you. I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed there for a year and a half. He taught them God's word. 

Paul did not go around bragging about what God showed him. In fact he actually told people about an amazing vision he had, but didn’t let them know that it was him that actually experienced this vision. God doesn’t want us to brag about our experiences, He wants us to be humble and give Him glory for what He shows us, just like Paul did. (II Cor.12:1-4)


Dreams are a way God can speak to you while you are sleeping. Not all dreams are from God, some can just be from our own thoughts. Nightmares are definitely NOT from God!  We can be sure of this because He says in II Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So we know our loving Father would never give us scary dreams that make us fearful. 

God spoke to Jacob in a dream about a ladder coming form heaven. Many of you might recall this story as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. 

Genesis 28:10-12
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Joseph with his coat of many colors had two dreams about his brothers bowing down to him. These dreams made his brothers very mad. In fact they were so mad that they threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery. What is so amazing is that after many years of suffering, these dreams came true. It says in Psalm 105:19 that God tested Joseph’s character before fulfilling these dreams. 
Genesis 37:5-9
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
In the Book of Daniel we can see that King Nebuchadnezzar had several dreams that God let Daniel interpret for him. Here is one of the dreams he shared with Daniel. You can read about one of these in Daniel 4:7-17.

Now let’s look at some of the people God gave dreams to in the New Testament! Isn’t it exciting that God gave dreams to people throughout the whole Bible?  The first person we see who had a dream from God in the NT was none other than Joseph, Mary’s husband! In this dream God told him to take Mary as his wife in spite of the fact she was pregnant. 

Matthew 1:18-21
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary and Joseph had promised to get married. But before they started to live together, it became clear that she was going to have a baby. She became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to put her to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly. 
But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit. She is going to have a son. You must give him the name Jesus. That is because he will save his people from their sins." 
God gave Joseph two more dreams - these gave him warnings and told him what he needed to do to protect Jesus. Can you imagine what might have happened if God had not given Joseph these dreams? Things might have turned out a lot differently. You can read about these two dreams in Matthew 2:13-15 & Matthew 2:19-22.

After Jesus was born, the Wisemen came to visit him. When they left they had a dream from God that warned them to not go back to see King Herod! It’s a good thing they listened because we all know the terrible plan King Herod had in mind for the Messiah! (Matthew 2:11-12)

Isn’t it so exciting that God can speak to us whether we are awake or asleep! It’s important that we write down our dreams and ask God if they are from him and if so, what they mean. The same is true of pictures and visions! 

God is so good and loves to still speak in these ways today. Why not take some time right now to ask God to give you a picture of how much He loves you? Draw this on a piece of paper and place it in a journal to encourage yourself when you are sad. God loves you and wants to talk to you everyday!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


As we are busy preparing for Hope at Home 2012, we thought we'd share some of the older posts from "back in the day" when we first started this blog. Since many of you weren't with us back in the spring of 2011, this post might be new to you. 
And please know that we are having such a great time anticipating your arrival October 5th here in Atlanta. And those of you who haven't registered yet but are planning to come, we are thrilled for you to join us! You can register here.

Parenting Children You Don’t Know

I vividly remember being overwhelmed at the strange reality of parenting children I didn’t know. I had not really anticipated how bizarre it would feel to have a mother’s love, and I mean real love, for a child living in our home who was a virtual stranger. How strange if felt to parent a stranger!

Faulty Foundations

One of the issues Stephen and I faced early on in the adoptions of our older children was the reality that foundations had already been laid in their lives. And these were foundations laid haphazardly, not by loving parents intentionally building life-long values, rather they were structures formed by a child’s need for survival, by coping skills developed for self-protection, by ways of thinking formed in the chaos of lack. And then there were the giant holes where no foundation had been laid at all. Holes where unconditional love should have been, where tender memories that are the currency of deep relationships should have been, where a strong and stable identity should have been.

Fixing the Issues

The way this issue of faulty foundations looked “where the rubber meets the road,” (that is, the way it looked in our home) was at first confusing and disturbing for me. I’m the kind of parent who likes to deal with issues right away, and deal with them until they are fixed. That approach has some serious weaknesses I came to find out! When you are loving and parenting a child whose behavior and way of seeing life has been formed by lack, or by orphanage codes of conduct, you are up against far more problems that need fixing than is possible to change in the first months or even years of life together. And remember, we are talking about behaviors that often stem from deep foundational realities.   

Be in This for the Long Haul 
One of the things the Lord told me early on after our first adoption was this, “You need to be in this for the long haul.”  This is exactly what I heard Him say. I have come to appreciate this simple word from God over the years because it has freed us to be patient, to believe God for the deep deep foundational work that He is doing in our children's lives, knowing that He is aware of the years passing. Stephen and I came to realize that if we were to address every bad behavior each time it occurred, then our relationship with our children would be almost solely marked by the negative: pointing out what is wrong and requiring change, with very little room for fun and love and approval. 

A Picture From God

One day I felt the Lord speak to me about my frustration in having to let some bad behaviors go for the time being. I would love to share with you what He said to me. It gave us such freedom and also released a deeper compassion for our children, even in their worst behaviors. Often God speaks in pictures, and this is how He spoke to me. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       He showed me in my mind’s eye a building, but the part I was seeing was the foundations under the building. I saw that there were these taller columns that were clearly full of holes, ragged in places, crooked and weak. And as I examined these I thought, “this isn’t good at all. There is no way these columns will be able to sustain this building for any significant period of time.” Then I realized that amidst the faulty foundations, even right up next to them, were these shorter columns that were in the process of being built. They were clearly well-made, strong, able to take the weight of a large building without strain, however they were not tall enough yet to reach the actual structure. 

What is God up to?

I felt the Holy Spirit show me that this was a picture of what He was up to in our children's lives. The buildings sitting on the weak columns were the lives of our precious adopted children. They could not live good lives on these faulty foundations, but I saw God's tender mercy and His beautiful love for them in the actual presence of these crooked columns. I realized that if we were to destroy these columns before the new ones were were building got tall enough to reach their lives, until they became something that our children could put the weight of their lives on, then we would, in effect, destroy the child while in the process of destroying the foundations. I became assured in my spirit that these bad foundations would come down in time, but also realized that we mustn't go in with a parenting wrecking ball.

Yet, He Loves Us So

I cannot express how freeing this was for us, for me in particular. We needed to allow some things to pass without “fixing” them. This was not poor parenting, but rather very intentional on our part. As I contemplated the picture God showed me, it became clear to me how God has treated me. How, looking back on my life, God never required me to change all that needed changing at once. How there are things I did and thought in the past that I never even knew at the time needed changing, yet He loved me so.

Over the years we have seen the solid, whole foundations replace the weak ones. We have watched as our children have tried out the new foundations, testing them to see if they actually work. Then, on occasion we have watched them try to go back to the familiar old foundations. As those began to crumble under them, causing them all sorts of trouble, they would choose to trust these newer columns, placing the whole of their weight on them and enjoying the security and safety they provide.

May we all "be in this for the long haul," always building strong foundations as we love and parent these precious ones.

Monday, September 10, 2012


We are getting oh so close to October 5th-- Hope at Home 2012! So, we can't start any blog post without extending again the invitation to you to join us. Last week the Hope at Home Team met to plan and pray-- for you! It's going to be a great time, friends! To find out more details and to register, click HERE.

From Susan Hillis:
Every person I see walking off that ride is alive,"  I thought, as I stood terrified, disguising dread with a faint smile as the kids and I waited in line at the Goliath roller coaster at Six Flags.  Like David's Goliath, this giant made normal folks like me want to RUN away! Instead, I determined to be the moral support that my newly adopted 10 year old daughter needed to help her step up to this thrilling(?) ride.  "If they can do it, I can.  They are walking off alive, and I will, too."   What I didn't anticipate was feeling violent vibrations as I was thrust straight downward from a height of 200 feet (20 stories!) at 70 miles an hour, in parts of my insides I never even knew I had!

If He Can Do It, I Can

A similar conclusion had forever changed the course of my life at age 22.  While many have seen the story of Jim Elliot in the film, End of the Spear, it is the book that I dare you to read.  His prayer journals as recorded in Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, revealed an INSPIRING depth of intimacy and transparency and confidence and trust and enduring affection that are available between God and man.  "I want THAT for my life," I decided when I was 22.  "If he can have that level of nearness with the Lord, I can, too." 
To use a child's word, I wanted to be a copycat. It's what Scripture advises, when we read in Hebrews 13:7,  "considering the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith." 

If I Can Do It, You Can

As a visionary with countless plans, I can also entertain many fears.  Now fear is NOT what I invite you to copy! But you probably already have entertained fear on occasion, even if against your own will.  Instead of fear, I want  my life and yours to be ones of trusting our loving Father to work all things for good.  To see the invisible.  To live with unshakable confidence in an unshakable God. Sure that goodness and mercy will follow us as predictably as our shadows.

T4A...Testimonies for Afflictions

What the Lord has so lovingly shown me again and again and again over many years and in spite a many fears is that in our steadfastly loving and faithful Lord, testimonies always exceed afflictions!  I dare you to pull out as ESV and count them in that longest psalm perched smack in the middle of our Bibles. In Psalm 119 there are 22 testimonies-- guess how many afflictions there are?!  Go see!
In fact, afflictions are the soil from which Gods testimonies flourish.
I just love you, dear reader, as one who cares for children in need. As I am preparing to speak at the conference, Together for Adoption (T4A) in Atlanta this week, the Lord keeps impressing on me that, like the great exchange, He offers us all a new T4A -- Testimony for (in the place of) Affliction. 
Its like the story of Oksana Masters, the adopted Ukrainian double amputee featured last week in "One Orphan, One Marine," in Sports Illustrated.  She won the Paralympic Bronze in mixed doubles rowing, inspiring the world.  Her affliction was that exposure to radiation in utero left her without tibias below her knees.  She refused to let the phantom pain of early abuse and early loss of limbs...real pain of a real past in the real present, define her.  She inspired a sonnet (by D. Shook) for the HUFFINGTON Post just before the event, with these lines,
You refuse to live an amputated life.
Your hope remains unradiated
as you row off toward Olympic gold,
past Ukraine, past America, the world...
aflame with hope -- a nation's, yours, mine.
So what if the worst that can happen does?  What if we or our children or those we love suffer, just as Oksana did, and still feel some of that phantom pain? Several of my worst-that-can-happen fears have in fact come to pass in our family-- death, jail, loneliness, and more.  Yes, they are heartbreaking.  But we have been loved by a Savior whose specialty is resurrection.  One who refused to stop with a crucified life.  And the truth is, that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, works in me and in you and in our marriages and in our children (Eph 1).  Wait for it, dear one.  See the invisible.  And experience the love of the Good Shepherd for you as you wait.
What I am sure of, the testimony of my life, is this: 
God is bigger. 
Momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory.
He loves our children more than we do.
Nothing can separate you or me from His love.
So Lord, we pray together these words Jim Elliot and his buddies sang one last time before entering heavens glory:
We rest on thee, our shield and our defender
We go not forth alone against the foe,
Strong in thy strength and in the keeping tender
We rest on thee and in thy name we go.
Strong in thy strength and in the keeping tender
We rest on thee and in thy name we go.
Yes, Lord, we rest today on You.  We go forth today with You.  We trust today Your strength and tenderness for us to keep us in H.O.P.E. -- Hanging On Passionately Expectant.  Because the tesimony of Your care today and every day transforms every affliction.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

We are having a wonderful time preparing for Hope at Home 2012, October 5-6 in Atlanta! What a joy it is to walk together with the Lord in His wonderful purposes and plans for our children and our families. Register HERE

Thursday, September 6, 2012


If you are planning to come to Hope at Home 2012 but haven't gotten around to registering (you know who you are!), how about doing it now?! To find out the details and to register, click HERE.
We are praying for you even now, and are full of anticipation to meet you, to enjoy getting to know you, and to trust God together for His Good Purposes to manifest in each of our homes.

First I'll tell you the post I was going to write. I was going to write a post describing the three or four things I would do differently if I were adopting again. I thought it was a good idea, and I may still do it at some point. But, my idea has morphed out of my control, so I've decided to go with the flow! 

The Hijacking of a Post

So, it started when I was thinking about what I would say in this post of mine about what I would do differently. Then Stephen and I went to see the movie, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," and that is where my idea was side-tracked. (I won't retell the movie, and hopefully I won't ruin it for you if you haven't seen it yet.) In the movie the young couple is explaining in an adoption interview that they realize they had made some mistakes with their son. They said they definitely would not do those same mistakes again. I thought that was neat-- it was what I was thinking about writing! So I was really paying attention to see what they were going to say. It was a sweet and funny moment in the movie. They said, no they would not make the same ones again-- they had learned their lesson-- they would make different mistakes instead! I loved the humility and the self-knowledge of the couple as they intuitively knew that no matter how hard they tried, mistakes would be made along the way.

Parenting Jesus Out of a Job?

It got me thinking about parenting, and about how those of us who are passionately intentional in this role can so easily take on more than God has actually asked of us. Do you ever get the feeling when you read parenting books, or read blogs like this one, or talk with friends or go to adoption conferences.... that if you could "do it just right," then your child would "turn out just right?" It's almost like we get the feeling (not that we would ever actually think it!!) that if we could make all the right parenting decisions--
know when to be firm and when to be gentle, when to give a consequence and when to just give a hug, when to say yes and when to say no, what tone of voice to use, whether the behavior is adoption-related or personality-driven, or plain old selfishness..... and on and on and on!--
that if we could do it all just right then maaaaybeeeee we could actually parent Jesus right out of job. You know what I mean? That if we got it right as parents then our children would be so whole and well-behaved and wise etc., that really, they wouldn't need to know the rescue, redemption and salvation in Jesus that you and I have made our life's breath. 
Now that, my fellow parents, is not a role I want! 

My Co-laboring Role

I am all about good parenting. I love the God-given role of a parent. We have a place of authority and power in our child's life, not doubt. A place of significance. A co-laboring role with Father God Himself! Our desire at Hope at Home is "to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father's heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into Sons and Daughters." We are pretty into the idea that parents are God's agents of change in their families! 

But I am aware that without meaning to, many of us walk around with, or even communicate, a guilt, a sense of failure and feelings of powerlessness as parents. How can we ever measure up to all the amazing godly parenting advice and philosophies out there?! I'll tell you right now that Stephen and I cannot. Even on the issue of attachment alone I get overwhelmed with all I should have, could have, would have done if...... 
And really, even if I did do it all right (insert "sigh"!), my faith and hope is not and can never be in my good parenting. The only one worthy of the weight of my faith and the expectation of my hope is Jesus.

I think what I want to communicate here is that I believe there is a freedom for you and me, the freedom to make mistakes and to "do it wrong." When I think back on the call to adopt I realize God did not include in that call a command to produce a certain kind of child. He just said to love them as sons and daughters in our family. We believe firmly that God's plans for our children are good-- that freedom in Him is their inheritance. But Stephen and I have a co-laboring role in these plans. We are not our child's savior. Ours is not a sovereign role, it is a co-laboring role.

His Burden is Light

No matter how well I parent, my good parenting will never be the saving agent for my child. It won't be, simply because it was never designed to be. Only the blood of Jesus! God is not now, nor has He ever been, reliant on my perfect parenting to do what only He can do. 

Beloved parent, I want to leave you with this word, spoken by One whose voice is full of compassion, understanding and love for you,

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.
Matthew 11:30

Would you pray this prayer with me?

Oh Father God, even now I choose to take off the heavy yoke of being a perfect parent producing perfect children. Lord, I set my primary goal as a parent to be Your beloved Child, for I know that the closer I am to You, the better parent I will be for my child. Lord, I look to you for (your child's name) _______________'s salvation and healing and freedom. My faith and hope are in You alone. How faithful and good you are! Amen. 

P.S.  Did you know that we are on Facebook?! Come on by and Like us. It's a great way to get daily encouragement, helpful resources, and updates on Hope at Home events. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This post from Colleen Coombs is the third in a new series for us, HOPE AT HOME KIDS. So, when you see H@HKIDS! in the title, you know we are giving you something geared specifically to use with your children. For many, these posts will be good read-alouds during family devotions, and for some they will be great to email or print out for your older children to read on their own.We are excited about this opportunity to share with your children!

One of our most popular breakouts last year was one Jenni Means did on helping our children hear God for themselves. We've asked her to do another breakout this year along the same lines. It is called, Helping Your Child Hear and Experience God. Watch this video to hear what one adoptive mom has to say about it:

We'd love for you to join us October 5-6 for HOPE AT HOME 2012. You will be refreshed and encouraged in your parenting, and you will experience afresh the love of your Father God for you, His very own precious child. To find out more and to register, click HERE.

From Colleen: 
So we already know that God wants to talk to His children because he is the best Father of all and because we are his sheep. You can read about that here. We also learned that God has many languages He uses to speak to us and that many of these are non-verbal – they can not be heard. Click here to read about some of these. 
So, now let’s take a look at some more of His languages!

The first language of God that we are going to learn about is THE BIBLE, which is God’s word to us. Whenever we are having difficulty hearing from God in other ways, we always have his word that we can read and store in our heart because His word is perfect!

Proverbs 30:5a
“Every word of God is flawless.”

Why do you think that the bible is such an important language for us to learn? Because it is used to encourage us, build us up and draw us closer to God. It tells us all about who God is, what He has done and what His plans are for us! 

2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
God created us so that he could have a relationship with us. That means that He wants us to be close to him. For us to be close to him, we have to understand who He is. We can know God’s deeds, character, and qualities (attributes) through the Bible. He says it is ‘the bread of life’ and it’s how He feeds us.

Matthew 4:4
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

The bible also gives us many examples that we may look to when we are going through a tough time, or when we need wisdom. It shows us what God has done in the past, what he is doing now, and what he will do in the future. These things will not pass away. 

Matthew 24:35
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

David encouraged himself over and over again in the book of Psalms by reminding himself of what God had already done. When God reminds us of what He has done through the bible, we are encouraged too! 

It is amazing how God speaks to us in so many different ways, but with some languages it may be harder to know exactly what God is saying. The one exception to this is the bible. We know that the bible is true and we must look to it for direction because it is always trustworthy.

The next language we will be learning about is HEARING God’s actual voice. His voice can be heard in two ways – outer audible and inner audible.

Outer audible means that we are able to hear it with our ears. It’s how we hear all sounds and other people’s voices. God can speak just like he is in the room! Inner audible means that we hear it in our minds. When God speaks to us with His inner audible voice, we don’t hear it the way we hear sound-- it’s like a thought or His voice in our head. 

God spoke audibly to Adam and Eve when they were in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:8-9
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”

God told Abraham that his wife Sara would have a baby when she was very old. He gave him a promise about his future generations (Gen. 17:1-22). He also spoke to Moses and told him that he would put His words in his mouth, when he called him to lead God’s people out of Israel (Exodus 4:1-15). God spoke to the Israelites through Moses when he led them to Mt. Sinai. He gave Moses the 10 Commandments and he wrote them in stone for all to see (Exodus 20:1-17).

Samuel, a prophet of God, for which the books of 1&2 Samuel are named after, first heard the voice of God when he was a child. He was growing up in the temple, and when he heard God’s voice, he thought that it was Eli, the priest, who was calling him. (1 Samuel 3:1-15)

Did you know that when this happened to Samuel he didn’t even know God yet? That shows us that some people can hear God before they know Him. God does this so they will know he is real and to show them how much he loves them. (1 Samuel 3:7)

In fact God spoke so clearly to Samuel that it was said that not a word he spoke was ever wrong! He was the only prophet that this was said about. Perhaps it is because he learned to recognize God’s voice as a child and never forgot it! (I Samuel 3:19-20)

God continued to speak too many of his prophets in this way, so that they could then tell the Israelites what God wanted them to do. 
Isaiah (Isa. 7-24), Jeremiah (Jer. 1-19), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1-8, 8:5-6), Books of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

In the New Testament gospels, God the Father spoke from heaven during the baptism of Jesus. All the people gathered there heard this!!! 
Matthew 17:5
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Also in the New Testament, a Jewish Pharisee name Saul (Paul) was persecuting the new Christian believers. He was on his way to Damascus to try to find Christians so he could throw them in prison. While on the road to Damascus, God spoke to him.

Acts 9:4
“He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul,       why do you persecute me?’”

Saul’s encounter with God changed him and he dedicated his life to preaching the gospel. God gave him a new name - Paul. God continued to speak to Paul as he spread the good news. (Acts 22:17-21)

These are just two languages God uses. We will take a look at some others soon. Have your bible nearby and ask Him to speak through his word to you. If you take some time today to listen for God you might be surprised what happens!

We'd love your input-- what are some topics you'd like to share with your children?