Thursday, November 28, 2013


From Susan: 

We do not see who we are raising. Those little feet pitter pattering around the house.  The giggling jokes.  The challenging moods.  The surprising fits. We cannot wee and we do not know! But God knows and we give Him THANKS for Who He is Raising in our Homes--including US!

I am becoming increasingly thankful as I am seeing increasingly the treasures our children are becoming as they enter young adulthood. For years I devoured every Amy Carmichael book I could get my hands on. I was delighted when Elizabeth Elliott wrote her biography, A Chance to Die.  Yet I had one nagging question, "How did all those children Amy loved during her years in India as a missionary turn out?" I felt the same way when I would read all those George Mueller biographies. I wondered, "What happened in the lives of the kids he loved so well on those dreary London streets?'' It is a question that we see answered in David Wilkinson's The Cross and the Switchblade, as we know the answer to what happened in the life of Nikki Cruz, one of the notorious New York City gang leaders who was transformed by the love of God. We also know some of the answer to our similar question on a much more superficial level, when we read Cheaper by the Dozen, that non-fiction account (YES, it IS non-fiction!) of a family with 12 kids. The epilogue to one of the editions of the book actually explains how each of the 12 turned out!

So today I want to give you a thanksgiving-glimpse into how one of our kids, our oldest daughter Cristi, "turned out." Just yesterday I received an email from a dear believer who I met in Thailand a month ago, asking me, "Didn't you worry that your biologic kids would not have enough of your love when you adopted all those other kids?"  It is an honest and good question.  What we see is that God is an expert in multiplication--in multiplying love. In His mathematical models it becomes clear that love does not have to be divided nor subtracted. What we see is that, yes, each of our children had to learn to share and extend love as God brought more kids into our home and hearts. But I think one of the wonderful blessings for me, now, is to see how the call of God upon our family into this adoption life ultimately was a transformational gift for each of us.

We learned sacrifice. 
We learned simplicity. 
We learned meaning. 
We learned to love. 
We received reward. 
We learned and relearned and are still learning forgiveness and acceptance.  
We learned thanks-giving. 

In fact, so much so that every night after supper we always shared one thing we were thankful for about the day. And we still do!

So...back to my story. Last night our daughter Cristi posted this little animation she did about her work on her facebook page. Who would have known that little girl we were raising would grow up to have a job as a young adult that allows her to help thousands of children receive loving families in their own countries? Watch this. Then ask the Lord to give you great joy and thanksgiving in anticipating who you may be raising. 

And realize, your best help in this wonderful and challenging parenting road right now, as you cannot see the final destination for you or for them, is to live in intimacy with your own heavenly Father. As Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1,8
Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for you, a fragrant offering [like perfume!].....LET THERE BE THANKSGIVING! ARE light in the Lord. 
Thank you Lord that today, now, we are light in You, in our homes, before our husbands and children. We thank you for the privilege of raising these treasures. We just want to be children who walk, copying You.Thank you that in Your Word we come to see and know you as you are. Make us like You.  Thank you that You fill us with Your love. Thank-Full. We are thankful. Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013


It's Marriage Monday again here at Hope at Home. We get to hear from Scott Means today, and that is always a treat! You can read more from Scott at his popular marriage blog, Journey To Surrender.

Intimacy is Choosing Relationship Over Rules

It’s a timely question for the upcoming Advent season. Do you know why God sent Jesus to the earth? Go ahead, think of your answer. 

If you said, “To provide the way to forgive us for our sins,” you’d be partly right. But only partly. 

What was the real reason for Jesus? Intimacy.

I see that questioning look on your face, so let me explain. 

The truth is that God, whose very nature is Love, sent Jesus to claim for Himself an eternal bride. He was and is after intimacy with us, both now and for always. Sure, the sin had to be dealt with because it was in the way of intimacy. But intimacy with you and me was the goal.
auremar /

It’s Not About The Rules

There are those who might also have answered my question about why Jesus came to earth this way, “To get us to live right according to God’s laws.”

Surely not, you say? Well, a 2009 Barna study found that 81% of believers think that Christianity is mostly about following the rules. I bet that breaks God’s heart, because what He really wants is our hearts, not our conformance to a set of rules (many of which we have created for ourselves).

Our striving to “shine up” for God, our struggle to do all the right “God stuff” is actually an inhibitor to the one thing God wants from us more than anything else: intimacy with Him. When we view our acceptability to Him as being based on our performance or our adherence to the rules, we can’t approach our Father due to our feelings of shame and inadequacy.

The truth is that Jesus has given us His righteousness, and nothing we can do can make God love us more, or love us less.  We have every right, and God has every desire for us to draw near to him in intimate fellowship. 

God always chooses relationship over rules.

Rules, Intimacy and Marriage

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t this supposed to be a marriage post?” 

Well, it is. It very much is. You see, everything I just described about intimacy with God applies to intimacy in marriage. That shouldn’t surprise you, because God designed marriage to be a direct reflection of his love and desire for us, His bride. 

What blocks intimacy more than anything else? Rules. Marriage rules. 

Now the rules of marriage aren’t the same as the rules we attribute to God, but the effect is the same. When we focus more on our spouse’s performance, behaviors and adherence to our expectations, it puts a ceiling on the level of intimacy we can enjoy.

Here are a few examples of the marriage rules, the kinds of things that cause us to judge our spouses:
  • A wife expects her husband to help out more around the house
  • A couple tries to divide everything 50-50, and both of them are thinking it's 70-30 in their spouse's favor
  • A husband expects his wife to want sex as much as he does.
  • A wife is critical of her husband's lack of handyman skills, and compares him unfavorably to her father.
  • A husband doesn't think his wife keeps things tidy enough for his liking
  • A wife thinks her husband should learn to be more romantic
  • A husband gets offended every time his wife criticizes his driving
God has hard-wired the human soul with a desire for intimacy. Yet, we are so quick to think and act in ways that inhibit a true intimate connection. We are so drawn to the rules.

Grace – An Invitation to Intimacy

Grace is the antidote to our rules oriented thinking. It’s true with God. It’s true in your marriage. Grace is actually an invitation to intimacy. 

So when you choose to focus on the good things in your spouse, when you let go of your rules and expectations and measures of performance, you are inviting your husband or wife to come closer, to draw near. And isn’t that what we all want? 

Instead of focusing on rules, choose to serve each other without the expectation of getting something in return. Love unconditionally. Seek intimacy over perfection. Trust in your spouse's heart. These are the ways God pursues intimacy with us. It works in marriage too.

So are there some rules you need to let go of in your marriage, some expectations, some measuring sticks, or some performance assessments? Are there some areas where you need to let grace win out, to let grace serve as an invitation to intimacy?

Thursday, November 21, 2013


From Beth

I am a huge fan of the "do over." As a matter of fact I think a key to parenting, especially parenting children who have experienced trauma, is to weave the second (and third and fourth....) chance into the way we train and disciple our children. Stephen and I have learned over the years how important it is for our children to always, always, always know that we see a way forward and that we are committed to discover that path with them. How many times have we said to our children, "Let's try this again," or "Our goal is to get you back to being able to enjoy that freedom." 

Here are 10 Things I Love About The Do-Over:
  1. It communicates HOPE. It says, "There is nothing you can do that will ever make me give up on you. I have a faith in what God is doing in you and in me that propels us forward, into your destiny."
  2. It says, "You can do this. You have what it takes. I can see it, even if you can't."
  3. It is a display of unconditional love--"No matter what you say or do, I am here for you. My love is not affected by your behavior (although my feelings often are!), for it is my choice to love you in good times and bad."
  4. It speaks of enduring love. It says, "I love you and am committed to walk alongside you no matter how long it takes to see you live in the abundant life that is your inheritance."
  5. It sends me on a treasure hunt, seeking the precious treasure of my child's true identity as a beloved son or daughter. It reminds me again to call forth the treasure and to speak life into my child. "You are my son/daughter and I love you. I know who you are; I see the gifts of God in your life (sometimes seeing "in the Spirit" is the only way to do this, for what we see in the flesh may not be helpful!)" 
  6. It demands that we always Parent Forward into our child's true Identity and Destiny, rather parenting into the past of their trauma or the present manifestation of it. 
  7. It speaks of partnership. "We are in this together. I am not going to distance myself from you because of what you have done; I will not punish you by withholding my love. Rather, I will draw in close with a plan for you to move forward. You and I will do this together. You are not alone in your pain/fear/anger."
  8. It is a beautiful expression of Grace--undeserved favor. It says, "Because you are my son/daughter, you are favored. You and I don't get what we deserve. How good is that?!" It is extravagant and sometimes even offensive (to our own sense of justice and to others who do not understand.)
  9. It is an opportunity to share with our child our own testimonies of how God has never given up on us, of how He has always given us a way forward when we have slammed shut doors to our future. 
  10. It is, pure and simple, Good News! It is the Gospel lived out in the nitty gritty reality of our mommy/daddy lives. It is all about Jesus, real and effective and just plain GOOD!

So, the next time your child speaks disrespectfully to you or disobeys or lashes out in anger, look for ways to parent him/her forward. Sometimes it is as easy as saying, "Sweetie, that was not ok. Let's try that again." 

And sometimes it is not that easy, that is for sure! As a matter of fact I have a few children for whom that sweet scenario is quite rare. Sometimes you will have to offer that do over again and again and again, holding your ground. We have some children who would go for days before they would yield to the offer of hope and forward movement. 

Take the cell phone for example, or substitute some other situation common to your child. We had very clear limits set for cell phone use when our children were younger. We also had more than one (as in lots and lots!) of occasions to "try again." As tempting as it is to threaten the end of all cell phone use forever, that is not really helpful! 
We would say something like, "It looks like I'll have to hold on to your phone now. You know, I want you to be able to have that cell phone, (or play with that toy, or have a friend over) as much as you do. You and I want the same thing! I want to help you get back to enjoying that freedom. What is a good path back from where we are? Let's see what we can do to get you what you want."
Be sure to set a finite time when your child can "try again." As I said, sometimes it can be right away, but with our children who tend to emotional escalation, it is more common for the do-over to take some time. It is always helpful to keep it as short a time as possible. We want to communicate our hope and confidence in their ability to make good choices through letting them know we are prepared to give them another chance from the beginning.  

Monday, November 18, 2013


From Susan:

It was one of those sleepless nights....every hour or so I opened my eyes to peek at the clock.1:37...then 2:22...then 3:35. Between peeks, I saw in my mind's eye, very clearly, a book that was being written. The hardback simple grey cover had the title clearly shown: 


Underneath the grey hard cover lay a stack of rumpled pages loosely gathered, about an inch and a half thick. These pages held the story that was in process, not yet complete. But it was a work the Author intended to complete. I understood the story to be my story and your story and their story. It is the story being written about God's love for each of His children.  

That was about two weeks ago, and I cannot escape the lure of meditating on these three words, of searching the Scriptures for this principle. It goes beyond the "nothing is impossible" idea; it includes "nothing is difficult for God."  Impossible things ARE difficult. But for our Lord, nothing is difficult. The truth is there interwoven in countless places, from creation when each day God simply says, "let there be" and the object of God's affection suddenly enters time and space of creation. He speaks, and the world is transformed.  Or in Jeremiah 37:27, 
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?
Or take Jesus in the gospel account of the centurion who understood Jesus could simply "say the word" and his servant, standing before death's door, would be immediatly and fully healed (Matt 7:8). Or more generally, in the gospels we see Jesus' power over death, disease, demons and nature. We read in the epistles that He does "immeasurably more" than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). As one of my friends says, "it is natural for God to be supernatural."  He is the only One for whom, NOTHING IS DIFFICULT!


Today in the early morning I read one of the verses I have come to love, Psalm 119:24 
Your testimonies are my delight; they have become my counselors!  
I invite you to reflect on your own testimonies of times when the Lord has intervened supernaturally in the life of your family. I have lived long enough to have a pretty amazing list.   And my friend Beth has her own list that is equally convincing.  One of my personal favorites is the time I was sitting in a hospital room with our twenty year old daughter Anya, who was in a very dangerous relationship that she needed to walk away from. She urgently needed counseling help that we were not equipped to give. I could not even think of anything to pray other than this one word, "Help!" 

As I sat there, my cell phone rang--it was an acquaintance of mine who apologized, "Oh, Susan, I meant to call Sara, but I must have accidentally called you instead." It only took a few moments for us to realize that her wrong number had been God's right one. She is a social worker and her husband, a youth pastor who was working with Bethany Christian Services! She and her husband drove to the hospital right then and there, and our sweet daughter who was in deep need of intensive counseling moved in with them the next day! After several months of in-home encouragement and counseling, the entire course of her dear life was redirected out of danger. Today she is married to a dear husband who adores her and who faithfully cares for and provides for her!!!

This sweet daughter Anya is here in this picture, taken today after she and her husband joined us for church and then lunch! This precious treasure was telling me, just this morning, "Mommy, I have been remembering that triangle you always told us about--that God is at the top, my husband at one point, and me at the other. And how you used to tell us that the closer each of us got to the Lord, the closer each of us would get to each other! Mommy, that is really true!"  What was both difficult and impossible for me was neither difficult nor impossible for God. 

In closing, let me just say that our family of 12 has faced many joys and many difficulties! But not one of them, no, not one, is difficult for God to redeem and transform. My prayer is that in reading this, you will be encouraged to renew your hope in the One who always is able to redeem you and your children's deepest hurts and struggles. And to crown them and us, in His time, with joy and lovingkindness.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


For many of us loving children who have experienced trauma, the approach of the holiday season seems more like a looming threat than a joyous prospect. We wonder if we will experience the meltdowns, opposition, and anxiety that so often accompanies the changes in schedule, people, place and food of the holidays. 
One of the benefits of having parented our adopted children for so long (they came home at ages 5 and 10, and 7 and10. They are now 18, 19, 21 and 23), is that we have had lots of time to learn, and the years have given us some helpful perspectives. So, here are a few thoughts to help us prepare for the season ahead. I'd love for you to add some of your own in the comments so that we can learn from each other and be encouraged along the way. With 34 people coming for Thanksgiving dinner this year, you can be sure I will be planning ahead and would love to read your ideas and thoughts!
Traditions and Unity
I am a big fan of traditions I have to say. In their place and for the right purpose traditions are a gift in any family. You may find like we have that the creation of traditions serve as an effective tool in building family unity and creating an anchor for your adopted children. Certainly it has been true for us that adoption does not lend itself to unity; family unity is something we parents must intentionally pursue. The very nature of adoption is to introduce someone from the outside into the life and heart of your family. I love the definition of unity though--check this out! Unity is "oneness, especially of what is varied and diverse in its element or part." An adoptive family is nothing if not diverse! We have found that creating family traditions has significantly helped us to be ONE family in the midst of much diversity. There is something about family traditions that fosters a sense of unity, connection, fun, and belonging. Embracing traditions in the next two months can create some much needed pockets of peace for your child.

Creating Traditions

Unlike routines, which are merely every day activities that require no special behavior and usually do not produce good feelings, traditions are "practices that create positive feelings and are repeated at regular intervals."  We think of traditions as being handed down from one generation to another, but you can create your own traditions to meet the needs of your adoptive family. For many of us these wonderful activities will be new, but traditions have to start somewhere! The first few Christmases after our adoptions we attended a Russian Christmas celebration, filled with Russian music, dance and food. It was an effort on our part to make our children feel valued and to give them something familiar and comforting. It ended up not becoming a tradition for us because it didn't seem to mean much to our children, but I do encourage you to think outside your family traditions to find activities that will be congruent with your family. I'll share one other Christmas idea with you. Because we have seven children and we were
trying to avoid having 42 presents under the tree (representing only the ones each child would buy for his/her 6 siblings!) it has become a tradition with us that each child give all the money he or she would have spent on gifts for their siblings to buy a gift(s) for someone in need. Over the years we have given anonymously to families struggling at our church, to homeless children at a ministry in our city, and to unwed mothers. I know that sounds very impressive so I feel I must tell you that we still have plenty of presents under our tree, and most of them are store bought! And not only that, but not everyone participates with great selfless enthusiasm--true confessions of a Christian mom! But we have found that this tradition of giving to someone in need is a wonderful way for our family to live out who we are as worshipers of Jesus. 

The Gift of Heritage

Along with creating new traditions, I encourage you to embrace ones that you grew up with and value. It is a wonderful gift to your children, especially your adopted children, to be warmly gathered into the heritage of your family, the traditions you grew up with. It creates in them a sense of belonging and history. It is a sad reality for our precious adopted children, to one extent or another, to have missing or fragmented histories. When we maintain traditions it fills in the sometimes gaping emotional holes that their missing stories have left. Take the time to tell your stories of growing up, of the things you used to do each year, and then do it again with your children! Both Stephen and I grew up in a liturgical church and we continue to enjoy observing Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas) with our children. It has been an effective way for us to celebrate Jesus in December. Our best family devotionals have been during these nightly readings, lighting the candles in our advent wreath, and sharing the amazing story of redemption.   

We have been surprised over the years at how protective our children are over our traditions. Sometimes we go to make a change, not actually realizing that something like the exact side dishes we have at Thanksgiving has become a tradition, and find out we are practically flirting with the unpardonable sin to add or subtract from the menu! Just two years ago I tried to place the Christmas tree in a different corner of the room and I wish you could have heard the uproar. Fascinatingly, it is our adopted children who often feel the most passionate about our traditions. They have an amazing memory about whose turn it is to put the star on top of our tree each year! I have come to realize that by giving them the gift of traditions we are creating a sense of security and belonging that goes beyond the counting of its value.

But don't expect your child to say, "Mom, Dad, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate our traditions. These are very important to me and they are meeting a deep need I have to feel connected." And don't be surprised if he/she complains or acts out in some way when it is time to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner with the name tags you use every year. Our traditions did not mean that our children did not have a tough time with all the busyness--some of them did. Even to this day I see the strain on a couple of our children when the house if full of people and noise, and the daily routine is nowhere to be seen. So, most likely you still will have to love your child through meltdowns or some other difficult response. But keep the long haul view my friends. It has been a great joy of mine to watch as our children have identified themselves with our family traditions over the years, and have found a strong sense of place and  belonging and connection. Now that right there is the spirit of adoption at work! 

I love what Bill Johnson says--having a history gives a person the momentum for success. Let's include our adopted children into our family histories and into our spiritual histories, and watch how God uses it to launch them into their destiny in Him!

What are some ways your family has made the most of the holiday season? 

Monday, November 11, 2013


Here is our third part to Greg Haswell's series on Filling Your Bucket, encouraging us parents to be sure we are "strengthening ourselves in the Lord" as we continually give of our resources to our children. It is not helpful to them or us when we run dry! So, give yourself, your children, and the Lord the gift of filling your tank with the Living Word--take some time today to journal, enjoying the privilege of listening to Father's voice.
Greg led us in this discipline at Hope at Home 2013 and it was clear that God was speaking to us all. Here is one testimony to encourage you as you fill your bucket through journaling: 
After journaling my  wife and I went to dinner and compared what we had written. Both of us had received a word speaking of our intrinsic value and beauty in the eyes of God. Both of us receiving this and the way that we received intermeshed was very affirming. 


The second practice to to refill our ebbing reserves with courage, comfort and refreshing charge is journaling. Many different forms of journaling exist and certainly there are many that have merit. What follows is what I practice. The first practical step is to find a place where you can relax and get quiet. Then take a piece of paper and a pen, or open a fresh page on your computer and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Begin to write and record the continuous string of thoughts that emerge into your mind. Do not let your mind start attacking or qualifying the flow of thoughts. Concentrate on recording them at this stage. The time for measuring them for accuracy will come later. Keep going until you sense the flow of words or thoughts has stopped. Most often these thoughts will come to you in the first person as though Jesus was talking to you. This means that He will speak about you and Himself, often referring to Himself as I.

Still Small Inner Voice

Let me lay a quick Biblical foundation for this practice. The scriptures declare that anyone who unites themselves with the Lord have become one with Him in Spirit (1 Cor 6:17). It is both our spirit and God’s Spirit respectively, who know each of our deep thoughts (1 Cor 2:11). When we are united in spirit with Him, God’s thoughts flow seamlessly into our spirits and then into our minds. In this way His thoughts sound very much like our thoughts. I think most people miss what God speaks to them because they are waiting for a voice that appears dramatic, awesome and heavenly. In reality, God’s voice is often a whisper and a still small inner voice. New Testament believers ought to look forward to fellowship with the Holy Spirit ( 2 Cor 13:14, Phil 2:1) and as was promised them the voice leading them continually in the way marked out for them (Isa 30:21, John 16:13).

The Truth of Scripture and The Nature of God

Once you have finished, read and re-read what you have captured. Now you can measure it against the truth of scripture and the nature of God. If what you wrote goes against the clear meaning of scripture or the revealed character of God, throw it away. Where no contradiction occurs, spend time thinking about it. If it really connects with you, pray about it. Remember that the Holy Spirit’s primary ministry to people without faith is to convict them of their sin, His righteousness as a potential gift, and impending judgment on those who will not believe. The Holy Spirit's ministry in the life of those who believe is to remind you of your favored status. He provokes the “Abba” response in believers. He cries out “daddy” God in us. This means He is relentlessly convicting believers of their acceptance, inclusion and favored status in God’s family. 
You are no longer strangers and aliens but citizens of God’s country and members of His household. Your journaling from Him should reflect this. If it does, then celebrate it and take it to heart. 

It is a beautiful thing to hear the testimonies of people who have dared to listen to Jesus like this. Many people report amazing comfort, restoration of hope and pure excitement at what they heard Him say. This practice draws back the veil a little on the amazing nearness of God and His faithful fellowship. Try it for yourself as a secret between you and Him. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013


If you read our last post, you will know Greg Haswell is encouraging us parents to be sure we are "strengthening ourselves in the Lord" as we continually give of our resources to our children. It is not helpful to them or us when we run dry! So, give yourself, your children, and the Lord the gift of filling your tank with the Living Word--enjoy this guided meditation on the first verses of Psalm 40.

Meditation on Scripture 

This is the practice of taking a portion of scripture and spending time revolving it in your mind. As the scriptures are called the sword of the Spirit, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your meditation. 

Here is how to do it practically.
  • Find a quiet space and get comfortable. Bring something to write / type on.
  • Choose a passage of Scripture to meditate on.
  • Read and re-read the passage, revolve it in your mind (which is what meditation means in the original language) and ponder its meaning.
  • Ask questions of the text, like “What does that mean?” or “How can I do that?” etc 
  • Use your imagination to create a scene in your mind that it describes. Think about it and imagine what it must have felt like to be there and to experience those things. Imagine what tone was used behind the words and what emphasis each word enjoyed.
  • Write down things that intrigue you about the passage, or that spark an interest. 
  • Say it out loud as you think on it (which is the other meaning in the original language as it means to “mutter”). 
  • Pay attention to idioms used or similes. 
  • Search out, via a search engine, answers to specific places or phrases used by the author that you don’t know anything about.
  • Pray about what you have seen, what bothers you or what you don’t yet understand. You’ll be amazed at how creatively the Lord will respond to these prayers. He loves to share His heart with His people.
Many people are amazed at the high yield of spiritual and emotional recharging can occur just by meditating on scripture. I am attaching an example of both a portion of scripture and the kind of meditation I would do in response to it. I hope that this process will not only bless and refresh you but equip you to be able to use this practice to refresh yourself. Let's take some time to meditate on the first few verses of Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
  • Are you waiting for something? What?
  • Is patiently the adjective you’d use about your waiting
  • What things about God do I have to know to enable me to wait patiently?
  • Is it acceptable for me to have other emotions in my heart other than patience? What are these for me?  
  • Take some time right now to call out to the Lord - Lord here I am and I’m waiting on you, patiently

 he turned to me and heard my cry.
  • Can you picture God turning to you
  • What does His expression look like in your imagination - happy to see you, if you imagine Him impatient or angry its not scripturally accurate!
  • Can you see Him looking right at you and listening to your cry?
  • What do you want to tell Him?

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
  • What would it be like if He lifted you out of the slimy pit you are in?
  • How will you respond to Him when He lifts you?
  • What is the mud and mire of your life?
  • Imagine the freedom in your life outside the pit.

    out of the mud and mire; 
  • Is patiently the adjective you’d use about your waiting
  • What things about God do I have to know to enable me to wait patiently?
  • Is it acceptable for me to have other emotions in my heart other than patience? What are these for me?  
  • Take some time right now to call out to the Lord - Lord here I am and I’m waiting on you, patiently

he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
  • What does a rock represent - where is a safe place for your feet?
  • Where is a place that you can stand firm?
  • What can you take a stand on?
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
  • He has new songs for you, not the old recycled testimonies from long ago when you were young, not the testimonies before you hit hard times or perhaps disappointed yourself - He has a new song for you right now - with all the latent implications that He has not forgotten you, that you are never far from His thoughts, His love is undiminished
  • What praises will you sing - what new hymns of thanks?

Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.
  • Many others will notice what God does for you - When your sustenance comes from Him - His acts on your behalf will be noticed and cause respect for Him
  • Through your example they will also trust in Him
  • What are you trusting for?

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
  • Those who trust the Lord are blessed
  • What does His blessing look like in your family?
  • What bright and blessed future for your family is the fruit of trusting Him

Monday, November 4, 2013


Grab a cup of coffee and your bible and take some time to be encouraged by Greg Haswell, senior pastor at Northlands Church in Atlanta. What he shares is key for us adoptive and foster parents. Greg will be following up this post with some practical resources to help us as we make sure our input exceeds our output! 

My wife and I have been in vocational ministry for thirty years. In that time we have seen that the highest demand a ministry life makes on us is the constant withdrawal from our spiritual and emotional reserves. The spiritual withdrawal is because people need Jesus and He uses willing children to minister to them. In this ministry role we are continuously called on to have some spiritual fare to share with others. It is rewarding and exciting and filled with adventure, much like your adoption or fostering adventures. However, it is the amount and the constancy of the emotional withdrawals that originally caught us by surprise. Although we may be personally and emotionally vibrant, helping others through their turbulent or bruised emotions and circumstances costs us emotional capitol. 

Foster parents and parents of adoptees have signed up for a vital ministry, both before God and to their children, and thereby have connected themselves to constant withdrawal from their walk with God and their emotional wholeness.

Each one of us has an emotional and spiritual reserve that is both refilled or drained by the lives we lead. Imagine a bucket that has two spouts. One is an input valve which allows for it to be refilled, and one is a drain. People who minister to others need to pay attention to how they refill their emotional and spiritual buckets. Ensuring that we refill what is being drained is vital. 

If our output exceeds our input, we will empty our reserves, rendering ourselves of little help to others and in worst cases harmful to them. 

So in the series that follows, I want to take a moment to talk about this vital ministry of attending to our own well-being. Having a daily drain but only a weekly infilling (like attending a church service or a visit with a friend) is not ultimately sustainable. 

The personal resolution to refill our spiritual and emotional energies is not a luxury but a life sustaining necessity.

It is great to have events that refill our emptying bucket, but two weeks of vacation, as vital as they are, seldom make up for fifty weeks of stress. The key is to learn how to build in a constant trickle of what refills your spiritual and emotional reserves. Let me say again, attending to this very real need you have can only benefit those you minister to. 

David, who later became Israel’s King, discovered this truth for himself. Having led his men away from their homes, he comes back to discover their wives and children taken as slaves, their homes destroyed and all of their possessions stolen. It is a very low point for him and he is distraught and in  danger from his grieving men. Lets pick up the story in 1 Samuel 30:1-6.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

David somehow finds strength in the Lord his God. That phrase is tantalizing in its brevity and in its transformational scope. I wish it told us how he did that, because from then onwards everything changes and he goes on to rescue and reclaim all that was lost. Additionally, in some of his Psalms David claims to have found a great rest in God (Psalm 23:2, 62:1,5, Psalm 116:7)
How can we find courage, hope, wisdom, direction, comfort, peace, sustenance and strength in God? Where do we go to recharge our ebbing reserves? I’m not sure how David did it, but I can offer a few key practices we have discovered work for us. They also seem to work as fuel for many fellow ministers like you whose calling connects them to meaningful ministry that draws heavily on their reserves.They are not quick fix solutions, but are trustworthy, effective and deep reaching sources of hope and healing.

Check back here on Thursday as Greg helps us fuel up with a meditation on Psalm 40.