Monday, July 30, 2012

SUNDAY MORNING SUIT OF ARMOR


Marriage Monday
Wonderful to hear from Brad Aldrich again for our Marriage Monday post. We realize at Hope at Home that your relationship with your spouse is the primary relationship in your home. We don't want to focus on our children alone. As we bless our marriages, we bless our children!

You will be able to meet Brad and his wife Kate at HOPE AT HOME 2012
Early Bird Registration Rates are good until August 15, so take a moment to register by clicking HERE

Ahh, Sunday mornings. The glorious day the family cheerily walks arm in arm into church ready to worship God with beaming smiles!
 As my alarm clock screams and I try desperately to shake the sleep out of my eyes and the kids out of bed the illusion of that happy church day dream quickly disappears. 

Sunday Chaos

A while back Kate and I noticed a pattern. We noticed that the most likely time for us to get into an argument was in the 10 minutes before we got the family into the car to head to church. After a few of these arguments happened we started to talk about it. 
The truth was there was only one difference about this day from any other. Sure we were trying to get everyone out the door on a time schedule, but that happens frequently. The one difference was the destination.
All of the sudden these disagreements took on a different flavor, we recognized that this was not simply a case of being over tired, losing shoes, or my missing my morning cup of coffee. This was an attack. 

We Are Not Alone

As we started talking to other couples we discovered that we were not the only ones that had pretty horrible experiences on Sunday morning. I actually suspect that 8:30 am Sunday is the most argued over time of the week!
John 10:10 says it well, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NLT)  What do you think the “thief” would like to steal most? 
  • Our time worshiping Christ. 
  • Our children learning about Christ. 
  • Our family walking arm and arm together to go to church. (ok that might be a little too “Leave It To Beaver”, but you get the idea)

It’s Time To Fight Back

Recognizing that we are under attack on Sunday morning’s has helped me take a different attitude for the moment my alarm goes off. No longer do I hear its dulcet tones easing me out of sleep, on Sunday mornings I hear a battle cry! 
Ephesians 6: 10-18 echoes in my ears as I get ready for the day. 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV) 
I’m not remembering to wear a belt I’m strapping on my Belt of Truth! Forget shoes, it’s time to put on the gospel of peace!  
Trust me on Sunday’s those shoes of peace come in mighty handy! I still feel the potential to jump into conflicts. I still feel irritated when the kids can’t seem to locate their left shoe or drip toothpaste down their clean shirt when we should have left five minutes ago. Remembering Peace, Truth, Righteousness, Faith, Salvation and of course the Sword of the Sprit helps me to keep my cool. 

A Special Job for The Men

Men, I believe it is our chance to lead the way Sunday mornings! We should be the first out of bed, the first to help the others find that lost shoe, and the first to get the hair bows in straight. We should also be extra sure that we have our feet fitted with the Gospel of peace! And if necessary remember that peace when it’s time to put that foot in your mouth! If you lead with your attitude, your enthusiasm and your time, then your family will follow!  
They may not be linking arms singing their way in the church doors, but having them all there with smiles ready to worship God is worth it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"MOMMY, DIDN'T YOU LIKE IT THE WAY IT WAS?"


Time to register for Hope at Home 2012!
Come receive encouragement, help, believing prayer and support from other adoptive parents and those God has called to pour out His love and provision on adoptive and foster families. We are ready to partner with you in seeing God's purposes known in our homes.


Hope at Home 2012 from Hope at Home on Vimeo.


H@HKids is coming up on August 4, 6:30-9:00 pm for ages 4-12. To find out more and to register click HERE.

The Boat was Rocking

I found her sitting on the stairs all by herself. Head bowed and those little 8 year old knees drawn up to her chest. We were in those early stages of non-stop intensity (and, therefore, physical and emotional exhaustion) having just brought our first two adopted children home from Russia.

Life before adoption was more predictable,
not unlike this this tea party! 
Julia, who you can see in the tea party photo above with the yellow scarf, was trying to grab hold of something that would steady the rocking of the boat of her life a little. She was trying to make sense of it all I think. As soon as I saw her sitting alone on the stairs my mother's heart was moved. I knew I was up against another need, a deep and important need, in our family. Could I handle this? Could I calm the storm enough for my sweet daughter? 

She simply asked one question. 

"Mommy, didn't you like it the way it was?"

Loss is Loss

That one question, spoken in her sweet little girl's voice, was one of the most moving times in my life as a mother. It was a question weighted with the pain and fear of change, the cost and sacrifice of giving, and the sadness of loss. Because as wonderful as adoption is, and it is truly truly wonderful, there is much pain and loss that accompanies it. For our adopted children, there was the loss of their culture, their birth family, the loss of literally all that was familiar to them-- every smell, every taste, every sight, every touch, every sound. 

And loss is loss, isn't it? Even when the loss is the door through which a wonderful gain and blessing from God is secured.

At the orphanage with our new family of
five children.
For Julia, the youngest of our three birth daughters, there was also loss. The loss of the comfort and familiarity of her home, her family relationships, of her schedule........ Comfort and familiarity was regained as we all got our adoption sea legs, but that time of transition was a huge adjustment for us all. (To read what Julia has to say being an adoptive sibling, click HERE.) Julia was grieving her loss, and needing to know that we saw her in the midst of it. 

A Question of My Own

I remember silently asking God for help. You know those moments as a parent when you know you have been given a weighty opportunity-- those uncomfortable moments when you wonder if you have what it takes. So, I did exactly the same thing Julia did, I asked my Daddy God a question of my own.

"Father, You are the Wonderful Counselor. How do I answer this question?"


 When I try to describe how it felt for me--being the mother of three biological daughters whose worlds had been rocked, and the new mother of a 5 year old boy and a 10 year old girl whose worlds had been utterly and completely and permanently altered-- I use the analogy of a swimmer treading water, just barely keeping up high enough to take a breath. That's how it felt in those early months. Do any of you relate? It wasn't as negative as it sounds; actually it wasn't negative at all. But boy was it hard!

And I felt the lapping of the water rippling under my nose! 

A Glorious Moment

Oh how thankful I am to know that God speaks to me and to be in relationship with Him! Dear mothers and fathers, your Heavenly Father is speaking to you. He has so much to say to you about your children! 
For me, this was one of those glorious moments when I suddenly knew what to say. Holy Spirit showed me the path forward, what my sweet girl needed to hear from me. It went something like this:

Julia (left) playing with her new sister.
Julia, when Daddy and I got married we were so happy together. We loved being married! After a time we began to think how wonderful it would be to have a baby. Not because we were unhappy or because we didn't like the way it was. Not at all! It was because we were so happy and content together that we wanted to share that with a child. After Emma was born, we were so happy. We loved her and did not ever think, "Emma is not enough for us. She does not satisfy, so we need to have another baby..." No. We liked the way it was, so much that we wanted to have another baby. After Rachel was born, the same thing happened. We wanted to have you, not because we were dissatisfied, but because we had a Julia place in our hearts. And you were born. 
When we brought Kristina and Pasha home we did not do so because we didn't like it the way it was. NO! We so loved being the mommy and daddy to Emma, Rachel and Julia! So much that we were able to hear God when He said that there were more children for us.

As I spoke these words it was like I could see the boat begin to steady; I could see the peace settle on Julia. Even now I consider this time as quite special in my years as a mother. 

Limitless Supply of Wisdom for Every Hard Question

Since then we have had many such questions from our children. Some have been harder to answer than others. Many of the questions, especially the ones from our adopted children, have been filled with pain and all have expressed great need. 

How wonderful that each one of us has full access to the limitless supply of wisdom and insight that is ours through inheritance, ours not because we are especially clever parents, or always full of compassion and understanding. But ours because Jesus opened the way for us and made us heirs, simply by believing, to His eternal kingdom, a rich and glorious inheritance! 
By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones) 
(Ephesians 1:18)

What is a hard question your children have asked you? We love it when you leave a comment! And maybe the question you share will help prepare another mother or father to meet the needs in their home. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

HOPE AT HOME 2012 SPEAKERS-- CHECK IT OUT!


This may not be the most riveting post you have ever read, but we do think you will appreciate knowing more about our speakers for HOPE AT HOME 2012 CONFERENCE. We think that when you read about this group of people God is putting together you are going to want to attend! 

Registration is open now-- Enjoy the Early Bird Rate until August 15th. Click HERE to register.

If you'd like to look at the breakout topics then click HERE. You'll notice that many of our sessions are lead by couples. Hope at Home 2012 is a wonderful opportunity for you and your spouse to receive the love of God for yourselves as parents and as a couple.

Take a minute to watch our video. We'd like to ask you to share this with your friends-- on Facebook, twitter, email, blog.... Thank you!!


Hope at Home 2012 from Hope at Home on Vimeo.

(We still have a few spots open for H@HKids! August 4. We would LOVE to meet your children and pour out the love of their Heavenly Father on them. For details and to register click HERE.)



Susan Hillis: When Love Changes the Brain
 Brian and Susan Hillis
Susan has been a believer for 38 years, married to a godly servant for 35, a mother for 26, a US government federal official for 20, and a university professor for 10 years. She is the mother of 11 children, 8 of whom were adopted from Russia after the tragic death of her first-born son on the day before his tenth birthday. It is her deep joy and privilege to have received untold personal blessings from the living God. She has worked and ministered in countries in South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. She participates widely as an invited speaker at scientific and Christian conferences. She has published more than 80 articles in scientific medical journals and is considered one of the leading infectious diseases experts on the HIV risk among vulnerable youth around the world. Dr. Hillis is a recent recipient of the Outstanding Service Medal as a Captain in the U.S. Public Health Service.
During her married life she has worn many hats, including stay-at-home mom, graduate student, missionary, government official, nurse, scientist, and university professor. She has experienced infertility, caring for a son with a fatal heart condition, loss of her son through a fatal biking accident, and 8 international adoptions of older children from Russian orphanages. She, her husband, and their 10 children recently lost their home in the 2009 Atlanta floods, which were declared a presidential disaster.
Her experience suggests that God’s goodness is bigger than all the storms of life.
Brian Hillis: Lessons for Fathers from Exodus 
Brian is a father of 11 kids, 8 adopted from Russia at older ages.  By training he is both an educator and a CPA.  During the first 15 years of marriage, he worked outside the home as a missionary in Latin America, an educator, and a CPA.  During the next 20 years, his work was primarily in the home, serving God by loving his wife and all those children.

Beth Templeton: Hope at Home with Teens 
and Real Moms Connecting with a Real and Present God
Stephen and Beth Templeton
Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 26 years. They have seven children, aging from 17 to 23. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister from Russia, ages 5 and 10. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Currently, three of their children are in college and four are in high school.
Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry to mothers; and both have a passion for communicating the joy, peace, and victory available to us as parents.
Stephen Templeton: Hope at Home with Teens
 and Fathering with Authority and Grace 
Stephen is the father of seven children, ages 17 to 23. Eleven years ago, after having had three biological children, the Lord called him and his wife Beth to adopt four children from Russia. He is an elder and worship leader at Northlands church. He is also a physician and practices dermatopathology in Atlanta.
Dionne van Zyl: Fathering with Authority and Grace
Dionne and Bridget van Zyl
Dionne is an ordained minister, elder at Northlands church and father of four children (ages 13 to 23), all of whom are serving the Lord. He has a deep interest and expertise in business and financial markets and is president of a private equity fund, Doron Capital.



Greg Haswell: Discovering the Unique Treasure in Your Child and  Speaking LIFE into our Children
Greg and Michelle Haswell
Greg has been in ministry alongside his wife Michelle for 25 years. Twelve years ago God called them from South Africa to start a church in Atlanta. He is a Bible teacher and church planter who builds into churches and church leaderships around the world. Greg and Michelle currently live in Atlanta, GA where Greg is the pastor of Northlands Church.

Michelle Haswell: Discovering the Unique Treasure in Your Child 
and Real Moms Connecting with a Real and Present God
Michelle has been married to Greg for 25 years. They have one married daughter, Nicole. Michelle has spent a number of years in education as an elementary school teacher and as head of faculty. She enjoys ministry to women, prophetic ministry, and seeing lives restored to wholeness. Michelle travels with her husband Greg, ministering with him in churches around the world. 

Renee L. Johnson: Thriving as a Single Mother 
and Connecting with Your Child; Helping Your Child Connect with You 
Renee Johnson
Renee and her three Russian daughters have been blessed to become a family through adoption. First in 1999, again in 2001, and for a final time in 2003, the Lord added a daughter to her family. Today two of the girls are seniors in high school and one is a sophomore in college. The parenting journey has caused her to grow, stretch and reach into the many arenas that come with the challenges set before her. In addition to being a mom, Renee holds degrees in Physical Therapy and Public Health.  She balances her home life with her responsibilities as a Senior Scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Michele Borsic: Real Moms Connecting with a Real and Present God


Michele Borsic was raised in a family that chose to be a loving foster home to many children for 10 years. She gained 4  brothers through that time, 3 through domestic adoption and 1 through international adoption. Tom, her husband of 22 years, is also adopted. Their home is filled with 5 wonderful children, ages 4 to 20.  Michele manages her home full time while homeschooling and assisting Tom in ministry.  Her experiences in local church ministry include directing youth, marriage, children, and womens' ministry. Tom and Michele have planted and led two churches and Tom is currently on staff full time as a pastor at Northlands Church.  Michele has a passion to help, encourage, support, and build others up!
Jenni Means: Helping Your Child Hear and Experience God
(and both marriage breakouts)
Scott and Jenni Means
Jenni has been leading in children's ministry for over 25 years and is currently on staff at Northlands Church. With a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and many years of teaching in both public and private Christian schools, Jenni is highly qualified to speak to parents. She has come alongside many adopted children and their families as through her ministry. Jenni has partnered with No More Crumbs Ministries in training children, youth and adults in Georgia, Holland, Ukraine, UK and Malaysia. She has been married to Scott for 30 years; they have three daughters.
Scott Means: A Marriage Made in Heaven: Pursuing a Kingdom Culture at Home and Adoption Through the Eyes of Marriage  
Scott runs a popular marriage blog called Journey to Surrender. He is passionate about renewing and strengthening marriages in the church through the exploration of biblical marriage principles.  He sums up his blog with the phrase: "Marriage was God's idea, so let's do it His way!" Scott is also one of the worship leaders at Northlands Church in Atlanta. He and his wife, Jenni, have been married for 29 years and have three wonderful daughters. Their ministry to adoptive families has touched many lives for eternity. They are ones God has called to come alongside, and they have done that well, and have learned much about the needs that arise from loving adopted children.
Brad and Kate Aldrich:  Adoption Through the Eyes of Marriage 
and A Marriage Made in Heaven: Pursuing a Kingdom Culture at Home 
and The Joys of Godly Diversity - Reflections from a Transracial Family
Brad and Kate Aldrich
Brad and Kate write and speak on all things marriage. In 2009 they followed God’s prompting and founded One Flesh Marriage Ministries, a blog based on their marriage journey and God’s word in Ephesians 5. Brad is a Pennsylvania Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the director of the Family Resource and Counseling Centers. Kate is a homeschooling mom and a family photographer in her free time. God has given Brad and Kate three amazing blessings, two biological and one adopted who have enriched their life and marriage. They live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where the Amish buggies roam.  You can find their blog at http://www.onefleshmarriage.com/
Bill and Gisele Brown: God’s Special Heart for Special Needs  
Bill and Gisele Brown
Bill and Gisele have been married for 29 years.  They grew up living in many different states and countries finally meeting in NJ as adults.  For the last 21 years they have called Charlotte, NC their home. Bill has led an active role in prayer ministry and Gisele in music ministry in a local church for over 25 years. They are the proud parents of 3 children, their daughter Mirielle having joined their family through adoption.  Their two boys, 26 and 24 are serving the Lord with their wives, one in FL and the other NC.  Mirielle was adopted as an infant from Russia and is now almost 15.  Bill and Gisele worked for Bethany Christian Services as foster parents for infants, which led them on their journey to adopt from Russia. This in turn brought them into the world of special needs.  Doctors and therapists have become dear friends over the years! Through their journey with special needs they have learned that God is always faithful, He always provides and He is always good! 
Adam L. Braund: Education, Learning, and Your Child’s Identit
and Hope at Home with Teens 
Adam Braund
Adam is a licensed therapist and counselor/consultant committed to helping children, teens, couples, and individuals with their different counseling needs. Focusing on how to turn learning "deficits" into learning "discoveries" became an ongoing pursuit for Adam in his teen years that has continued into adulthood. It is partly because he understands the unique challenge of facing learning "differences" that he now offers a creative approach for helping others with struggles. Prior to joining the clinical team of Life Gate Center in Atlanta, he worked with Transitional Family Services as a counselor to children, teens, and parents in crisis for 2 years. At TFS he developed a sharp instinct for crisis management as he worked to intervene with families entrenched in issues such as addiction, abuse, physical and emotional sickness, and foster care as well as adoption issues.Hope at Home 2012 Video

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MADE WHOLE

One of the prayers we have prayed over and over for our adopted children is that they be made whole. I imagine many of you reading this blog have prayed the same for your children. Adoption is a beautiful and powerful thing, but we have come to realize over time that the love of a family is not always enough to bring wholeness. Coming to wholeness is a process and it is our joy to partner with God in such a glorious transaction! 
Remember the story of the 10 Lepers from Luke 17:12-19? It's the one where Jesus heals these ten men from their disease, but only one returns to Him to give thanks. Take a closer look with me--
I think there are some treasures for us parents here as we pursue wholeness for our children!

As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance, 
 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.
 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.
 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

Sozo

I'm sure we are all teaching our children to be thankful-- it is a high value for us. But there's more to thankfulness than I realized. I have heard that there are three different words used to describe the healing of these men in this scripture. When Jesus first heals these men He uses the word for healed that means "cleansed." Then when the one man realizes that the leprosy is gone, he uses the word that means "cured." (translated healed above) 


And then, when that man returns to Jesus to thank Him, Jesus uses this powerful word, a different word from the ones used before, when he tells this dear man to go on his way because he has been "healed"-- Sozo.

Sozo is an awesome word, filled with power! It means "to save, heal, preserve, make whole." It's the word used in the New Testament to describe salvation. 
You Are Made Whole
So, I have been thinking about this as it relates to our efforts as parents to help our children receive wholeness. This issue of being thankful seems to be a key for them, and for us. God has brought them into a family and given them the love of a mother and father along with all the benefits that come with such a position. Not unlike the lepers, our children have experienced something significant in God (the lepers were cured and cleansed; our children were brought out of their orphan state). But oh how I long for all of our children to hear the words of restoration from Jesus, "You are made whole."

The One

Notice Jesus' expectation is that all nine would have come back--  "Where are the other nine?" Jesus asks. I firmly believe that God's will for all of our children, yours too, is that they come to complete wholeness! There is no doubt in my mind about it, despite the efforts of the enemy to bring doubt through circumstances. I just love it that Jesus asks about the others. Why did they also not come back with a heart full of thanksgiving and also get "sozoed"?! Dear parents, no matter how deep your child's need is, be assured that God's will and plan is that each precious child be like this one healed leper, the one falling at the feet of Jesus, thanking Him over and over, the one who recognizes who to show himself to, the one who believes.

My prayers for my children have grown from trusting God for wholeness to asking Him to create a heart of thankfulness and recognition, and a trust and confidence that spring from belief in God, that each one would be the "one" who recognizes Who it was who brought them into our family-- and so, to be the one to receive SOZO.

The best way to end this post is to pray, don't you think?

Wonderful Jesus, thank you that your plan for each of us and for each of our children is nothing less than wholeness. Would you cause each of our children to recognize You in their story and to run to You full of thanks at what you have done. We desire that each one walk through life whole and free, the recipient of sozo!
Amen. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

H@HKIDS!: THE LANGUAGES OF GOD


This post from Colleen Coombs is the second in a new series for us, HOPE AT HOME KIDS (H@HK). When you see H@HK 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 for 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'd love your input-- what are some topics you'd like to share with your children? We are excited about this opportunity to share with your children!
Click HERE to read Colleen's first post. You won't want to miss it!

Job 33:14-16
He speaks in one way and then another.
      We might not even realize it.
 He might speak in a dream or in a vision at night.
      That's when people are sound asleep in their beds.
 He might speak in their ears.
      
Since the beginning of creation, when Adam and Eve were formed, God has been speaking to his children. He is the most loving Father we could ever imagine and he wants to talk to his children everyday. As we look at the Bible, it is clear that God uses different ways to speak to His children - we call these ‘languages.’ 
So what exactly is a language?
“A way of communicating or speaking ideas or feelings by the use of words, signs, sounds, gestures, or symbols that have meanings.”
We know that throughout the ages people have found countless ways to communicate with each other and that not all of these ‘languages’ are verbal - something that you hear with your ears. Sometimes a language can be seen, felt physically or experienced emotionally.

Let’s take a look at different languages people use that are nonverbal - not spoken aloud. You may already know some of these! 


   1. Hieroglyphics

This is a form of writing in which pictures or symbols are used to represent objects, thoughts, or sounds.



2. Sign Language

This language uses physical, facial, and other body movements as the means of communication, especially among deaf people or between people of different languages. 




3. Braille

This is a system of printing or writing for the blind in which the characters or alphabet are represented by touchable points or dots. 


4. Body language

This language is gestures, positions, and facial expressions by which a person shows various physical, mental, or emotional conditions and communicates nonverbally with others. (Like when someone is mad; they may cross their arms in front of them, or stomp their foot)


There is even a language called ‘the languages of flowers’! Every flower has a different meaning when you give it to someone. As well, the color of the flower can have added meaning.
So you see it is not at all unusual that God chose to use different ‘languages’ when talking to His children. He created each of us uniquely and He uses unique ways to help us hear from Him. 
Some of you learn better through verbal or oral direction – auditory learners. Others may learn better through seeing things – visual learners. Still others learn through physically feeling something – we call these tactile or kinesthetic learners. God has languages that fit each different learning style so He can communicate with us in a way we can understand Him best! What kind of learner do you think you are? How about your brother or sister? Can you guess which kind your mom and dad are? God is such a loving Father that He doesn’t want any of His children to miss out on knowing Him and discovering the amazing plans He has for them. He wants to talk to all his children everyday!

To Register for Hope at Home Kids, August 4, here in Atlanta, Click HERE. Want to know more? Check out H@HK