Monday, June 30, 2014


From Michelle Haswell:

Three years ago the TV show “Say Yes to the Dress” was a much watched program in our home as our daughter Nicole was preparing for her wedding. Finding the right dress, as most of us know, is quite an important matter for the bride-to-be!

I have realized as believers that we too have a “right dress” to wear. This outfit is fitting and completely equipped with all we need to navigate every season, every challenge, and everything we might walk through in life. As parents, we know there are many expected and unexpected moments that we are called to handle on a daily basis.

Our Heavenly Father has made abundant provision for us in giving us a perfect outfit for this occasion called parenting. This outfit can never be stripped away and will always fit perfectly. This is what we are invited to say yes to:

1. We Wear No Condemnation

Romans 8:1 tells us clearly that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
The good news is we can shake off, "I'm a terrible parent " once and for all. It just doesn't fit. Condemnation is like a shoe that gives us blisters. We are chosen and approved by Jesus to wear a beautiful robe of righteousness. 

Let's say yes to that dress!

2. We Wear Joy 

Isaiah 61:3 tells us that we have been given a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness.
Even more exciting is that this joy of The Lord is our very strength, and as parents we all know how much we need the Lord's strength each day as we raise the precious gifts He has given us. He has clothed us with joy! 

Let's make a deliberate decision to put on joy.

3. We Wear Heaven’s Power

Luke 24:49 speaks about being clothed with power from on high.
Because we wear the power of God we can say no to things that are not helpful in our homes and yes to things that are good. We can say no to negative attitudes and yes to gentleness and kindness. We are not powerless as parents, but rather we have the full backing of The Lord who has clothed us with His power and made heaven’s resources available to us. Healing, provision, wisdom, and understanding are just some of what is available to me because I wear heaven’s power. 

Let's declare as parents that we have the power of God as our support.

4. We Wear Peace

Fear and anxiety are not strangers to anyone who has entered the arena of parenting. Our love for our children runs so deep, and if they are not ok, neither are we! Being calm about other people’s situations seems so much easier!
The amazing news is that in 2 Thessalonians 3:16 we are told that we can live at peace at all times.
That has to be supernatural ... And it is! We wear the peace of God at all times! Even better, we can impart the Lord’s peace to our children. When they have a bad day at school, we can impart heaven’s peace to them because we have it to give.
I think people enjoyed being around Jesus because He is the Prince of Peace. Some people impart peace to others because they are confident in the Lord’s love for them. Peace fits us perfectly because we are His children and we are like him.

Most of you know the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. What is fascinating to me is Lazarus gets raised from the dead and walks out with burial cloths still around him.
He shouted with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, "Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go." (John 11:10, 43, 44 AMP)

Let's say yes to the dress of peace.

As parents, let's say yes to this dress of no condemnation, joy, peace and power and let's take off fear and anxiety, heaviness and accusations that weigh us down .

You are hand-chosen to be the best parent for your child and then beautifully clothed by God and well-equipped to meet every need because of what you wear.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 AMP)

You will hear more from Michelle at Hope at Home 2014, September 26-27. Register Today!

Friday, June 27, 2014


From Susan:

Isn't it funny how a piece of paper can be either realllly good or reallllly bad????  One little piece of paper may serve as a bill, demanding we pay lots of money. Another little piece of paper serves as a ticket to get you on a plane to a beautiful vacation, or in a door for something really wonderful, like a broadway play or a hilarious movie? 

One of the many astounding realizations about kids is how much they tend to LOVE special tickets! We had so much fun as a family over the summers, telling our kids, "Here's how you can get your tickets!"

Daily Tickets

Summers often bring the "idol hands are the devil's workshop" danger. To counter this, we typically would have daily expectations of routine and reward....get up, have breakfast, spend some time with God (drawing or singing or praying or dancing or reading the Bible, etc),  then earning our 'tickets' to get us into the swimming pool for the afternoon's fun in the sun with friends, or to some other special outing!  Typical ways to earn the points needed for a ticket (checked off a big white board) include: 

-writing a little,
-doing a little math,
-doing a little art or music - 
-being kind
-being helpful

Once all the list above was completed, you have your 'ticket' to get straight into the pool. Anyone in the family who missed earning one of the points above would have to sit out at the picnic table with mom at the pool for 5 minutes per missing item. If you smack your brother in the head 3 times, this means 3 times of missing the kindness ticket--so 3 times 5 is 15 minutes out at the pool; mommy would read with you or color, but who wants to color in the hot sun when everyone else is splashing?!  

Because everyone loves jumping right in the water or into playing with buddies when they get to the pool, rather than hanging out with mommy at the picnic table, the 'ticket' idea above worked great. In the beginning, I actually got one of those cheap party rolls of tickets and gave them out. But after a while, the 'tickets' were pretend and everyone could tell by whether their name had checks for every item, whether they had earned their ticket or not for the day. It made it fun to 'save' the 'money' needed during the day for the 'pool-ticket' or 'out to lunch' ticket or 'go pick blueberries' ticket or whatever the outing was. Daily outings of some type were a normal part of life, as everyone needs something to look forward to every day!

Big Ticket Items

Occasionally there would be big ticket items.....especially if someone needed some special attention or help or inspiration. Like, "here is your fabulous piano practicing chart!  Once you earn 30 checks, for 30 days of practicing, this is your ticket to me taking you and 3 friends to the top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza for lunch." Or "this is the ticket to going to Six Flags with a buddy." 

Our Inspiration

Many of you know that our entire adoption story was borne out of our first-born son Jonny's premature (in my mommy's eyes) death....which led to life for many. Redemption accomplished and applied, I would say. Jesus' early death and resurrection led to life for the world. Jonny's early death and resurrection....ours and his....led to life for a few. And I would say, shockingly, by grace, I would not now change a thing. It is well with his soul and ours.

Well, after he died and one of his beloved teacher's, Lisa Hoover, cleaned out his fourth-grade desk, she found his two "bibles": 1). the NIV and 2). Tom Sawyer. Now, I don't mean to be sacrilegious on you, but Jonny did love these books pretty equally, and copied lots from each! And so I copied him! 

Well, if you wanna see the value of tickets, just go to Chapter 4 of Tom Sawyer  
And now at this moment, when hope was dead, Tom Sawyer came forward with nine yellow tickets, nine red tickets, and ten blue ones, and demanded a Bible. This was a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky... 
Always looking for a way to tie the visible to the invisible, we can also always talk about Jesus being like our ticket to heaven--He is the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Him. And everyone who comes to Him, comes to the Father. So....even when we miss the chance to get our daily little or our longer term big ticket items, there is the ticket to heaven, won by faith. It is a ticket no one can tear up or take away.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again, to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance that is unperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved [WE HAVE A TICKET!] in heaven for you! (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Thank you, Lord, that you are our ticket to all that is good. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Just a quick post today to remind you that today is the day to register for Hope at Home 2014 if you would like to have your name go in the drawing for this beautiful necklace from Pure Gratitude. 

Actually I have to recommend this jewelry to you regardless. Some of my favorite jewelry comes from Michelle, founder of Pure Gratitude.

But, if you are planning to register anyway, as we SO hope you will, you might as well have a chance for this necklace, right?!

As much as Susan and I, and our Hope at Home Team, love this blog, our Facebook Page, Twitter (@hope_at_home_), and Pinterest, what we would love far more is to spend a few days with you in person. 

There is just nothing to replace spending time together.

So, if our posts are an encouragement to you as you parent your children, then consider coming to Hope at Home 2014.

Love to you all, and each of your treasures!

Beth, Susan, and The Hope at Home Team

Sunday, June 22, 2014


From Beth:

It has a name, this weapon that is "formed against me." (Isaiah 54:17) 
I recognize it now as if it had a "My Name Is: _______" sticker on it.

The enemy's weapon of choice opposing the promises of God for my family and occasionally sidetracking me has the name: Discouragement.

What a rotten but well-chosen weapon for those of us who have committed to hope in God for the miraculous. From the beginning of our adoption journey when we take that first step to pray, or talk to our spouse, or pull up photos of waiting children, all the way to the stage I am in now as we begin to launch our children into adulthood--we never stop hoping for the fullness of the promise. 

--because it didn't take long for us all to realize that getting our child home was not the fulfillment of the promise of adoption; it was just the beginning of the beautiful transformation into a True Son or Daughter. 

When discouragement comes prodding me, threatening to wound me with the pressure of its attack, then I need to decide what my weapon of choice will be. When I hear those words of the enemy that say, "Just back off and give up. The promise is not going to be fulfilled. Your successes are smaller than your victories. You are not qualified for this. You don't have what it takes....."-- that is when I pick up those very promises of God, His words of life over me, and fight back. 

Paul wrote to Timothy about this very thing. Let his words encourage you in whatever circumstance you are facing that would bring discouragement.

So Timothy, my son, I am entrusting you with this responsibility, in keeping with the very first prophecies that were spoken over your life, and are now in the process of fulfillment in this great work of ministry. Continue to use your prophecies as weapons as you wage spiritual warfare by faith and with a clean conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18 The Passion Translation)

Prophecies are not only words telling the future, they are also words of truth, words the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about who God says you are and about what He is calling you to. Maybe you have experienced this when someone has prayed for you and they share something they feel God is saying, or maybe as you have read scripture you just know deep in your spirit that God is speaking to you about your life. You know, it's the "the words just jumped off the page" thing. 

God uses these words to comfort, encourage and build us up. (1 Corinthians 14:3) And my friends, they are weapons in our hands, perfectly formed to parry every blow of discouragement. 

Paul exhorts Timothy to use the prophetic words he has received as weapons in the battles he faces. Like Timothy, you and I have on-going responsibilities related to our calling-- for many of us that is adoption, foster care, and/or orphan care. And I have found that reminding myself once again what God has spoken to me is like a weapon in my hand as I confront discouragement and "wage the good warfare" (Amplified)  that is a part of living in the kingdom. 

I encourage you dear friends to remember again those prophetic words that released vision and purpose in your life. These are the words of life that will get you through those seasons when the enemy speaks his ugly words of accusation, defeat, and self-doubt. 

"Wage the good warfare" comes from the Greek verb "strateuo", and from this same root we get our word "strategy". So, our strategy is to recognize the voice of the enemy, which is always accompanied by a harshness and a sense of  driven fear, and to turn our spirit back to the prophetic words that always release peace and a tender sense of hope. 

This is the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).

When we do this we are not in denial of the realities we face. There are real circumstances that are truly discouraging in my life and in yours. But, our strategy is one that denies our circumstances the right to define or control us; we choose to wage this warfare by agreeing with God and His words of life. 

My friends, don't let any attack of discouragement change your mind about what God has said about you, about your calling, about your family. He is backing you up dear one. He will not retreat, for He has already proven to you that you of the greatest value to Him. And He has given us the winning strategy! Isn't it just like our God to use words of life and purpose and destiny and calling as the deadliest of weapons!

Looking for some encouragement? Would you like to have someone pray with you and hear the prophetic weapon-words God is saying to you? Join us at Hope at Home 2014, September 26-27, in Atlanta, GA. This will be a wonderful time of strengthening and help for adoptive, foster and waiting parents. We'd love for you to be there! 

Monday, June 16, 2014


From Susan:

We hear it everywhere...."Make the invisible visible." 

Like in this moving UNICEF clip with Liam Neeson...

JUSTICE: Make the invisible visible

And we all in our deepest of hearts agree--that such violence against children cannot be hidden; it must be made visible. 
It must be exposed, and perpetrators must come to justice. We are grateful for organizations like the International Justice Mission which do just this. Make the invisible visible - by bringing JUSTICE. 

Yet, when I saw this clip, I thought about much more than justice. I thought about the faces of many of the children we know and love, who have experienced precisely these types of heartbreaking injustices; and we want so much more for them than to make the invisible visible by reigning in justice. 

LOVE: Make the invisible visible

Rather than stopping with #ENDviolence, we aspire to #REPLACEviolence! 

It is the kind of thing our friend Jedd Medefind, from Christian Alliance for Orphans, speaks about with elegant simplicity when he describes what God the Father did when He adopted us into His own family. God was making His invisible love visible through His Son, who is described as the "visible image of the invisible God." (Colossians 1:15)

OUR PART: Make the invisible visible

All this means what we see as mundane is actually monumental.
We, too, like our Lord, get to particpate with eloquent simplicity in making the invisible love of God visible to our children, and many others.
So, we are writing the next chapters of the #REPLACEviolence story.  

As summer with all its delights and demands approaches, I want to remind YOU what you are really doing.
You get to make the invisible visible through 
meals cooked 
trash emptied 
play supervised 
sunblock applied 
adventures dared 
conflicts resolved 
swim practice attended 
stories read 
apologies proffered 

So, Lord, this summer, we ask for eyes that see, feet that walk, hands that act, and hearts that delight in these daily invitations to make eternal contributions to REPLACING VIOLENCE WITH LOVE!  We want to copy You.

It is our call.

It is our privelege,
It is our passion.

Amen and amen.

HOPE AT HOME 2014:  Make the invisible visible 

So, let us close with one more thing. As those who spent many years constantly, endlessly, and exhaustedly giving out unmerited favor and nurture to needy children, we remember wishing there was someone who felt like it was their job to pour out the heavenly Father's love, tangibly, on US! 

We often walked on the edge of burnout!  

So, the goal of our pastors, elders, adoptive parents and volunteers is simply to lavish the Father's love on dear parents like YOU, who are always giving out. We believe that God will so Refresh and Renew and Restore you at our annual Hope at Home conference in September, that you will return home transformed anew by the Lord's personal and specific love, precisely for you and for each member of your family. 

It is what happens every year!  

Registration is open, so feel free sign up any time!

We love you!

Susan, Brian, Beth, Stephen, and all those who will be serving you at Hope at Home 2014!!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Register for Hope at Home 2014. We are so wanting to see you in person!

From Susan:

One week ago I had the aaammmaazzzinng blessing of meeting Pomelo in Pretoria, South Africa. Pomelo's story goes like this: "I lived 3 years under a tree and kept praying, asking God to help me; finally, I threw away my Bible, because God didn't help me. Right after I threw it away, I met Gina. Then my life changed! Now I live in a beautiful place and I can see that I have a future! And she gave me another Bible, and this time, I am keeping it. Oh...and we need to finish talking by 5:15 so that I can get to church tonight!" 

Pomelo's story

Pomelo lived in a small village about 90 kilometers from Pretoria. When he turned 16 he realized that he would never have a future in his village, and that he wanted to continue studying. His only choice was to go to the city--to Pretoria.  So he bought a one-way ticket, taking his documents with him so that he could enroll in school, not really understanding how he could live. Knowing no one in Pretoria, and having no place to live, he chose to live on the street under a tree, behind the blue and white cardboard.

After 3 years of this life, Gina saw Pomelo one day sitting out with all his books, studying under a tree. "What are you doing here?" she asked. Once she heard his story, Gina explains, "Once I heard that this young boy wanted to study and had to sit outside under a tree with his textbooks in order to learn, I spoke with my friend Dominique (this is our dear friend, Michelle Haswell's sister!!!!) and others, and we decided to help rent him a room. But this room was something like a dungeon.

So we decided to move him to another home - now this is where he lives..."

This is what I saw and heard when Dominique introduced me to Gina and Pomelo only one week ago, over lunch at a beautiful little restaurant in the thriving city of Pretoria. Gina looks over at Pomelo and says with pride, "This is MY boy!"  (This is just another wonderful example of what Beth wrote about last week!) Pomelo beams with a smile spreading from ear to ear. 

"How do you feel when Gina calls you her boy?" I ask. 

Pomelo replies, "I feel HAPPY....and PROUD!  I never thought that I could live this kind of life. But it is because of God's love that I do." 

"Tell me about some of the boys, your friends, who are still living on the streets,"  I ask. 

"Their life is difficult. They are frustrated. They are confused.  They do not know they can be loved."

Seeing how much we can learn from Pomelo, I ask, "How can believers help these other kids who are still on the streets?"

"It is simple. Tell them what life is all about....  help them figure out what they want in life. Give them a job. Some food.  Something to make their life different....You know, I had been involved with sniffing glue and with smoking [weed]. Many of them still are. They have no hope. Then I thought of my life...where would I be in 5 years. I wanted to have a good life and saw I would never have a good life using drugs. One day when I came back from school I watched myself on the mirror in the garage where they let me take a shower, and I asked myself--am i going to drive a porsche with using drugs? Am i going to live in a mansion with drugs?  
I knew that I would not be able to have a good life if I continued in this way, so I left it. If I would keep on with these drugs, then would not be able to take care of my family. This means I had to had to change my direction."

"Pomelo," I wonder, "What advice do you have for other belilevers who want to help kids like you?"

Immediately, Pomelo answers, "I say, give the kids your heart. If you really want to help others then it is in your heart.  It takes love to change other people's life. Not only financial commitment, but love. It takes action. It takes love."  
Then he asks Gina, "What time is it? We must go soon so that we can get to church."

So, Lord, we pray that "those who have believed, [all over the world,]....may be careful to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need." (Titus 3:8,14).  Cause us to see what Pomelo sees, that it takes love.  
Your love.  
Your love made visible.  
In your people.  
In me.  
In them.  
All over the world.  
Amen and amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Before you read on, don't forget to check out Hope at Home 2014, September 26-27. Registration is open!

From Beth: 

Blessing. It is the simplest of things to do, as are so many of the things I forget to be intentional about in the daily swirl of parenting! 

I love to tell my daughter, "You are just amazing! I love who you are and I love it that I get to be your mommy." 

It is a joy to say to my son, "What a strong young man you are! It is just plain fun to be with you." 

Who of us does not desire that kind of approval?! I still see, after these many years later since our children first came home, that the need for blessing in our adopted children is even more key to their wholeness and identity than with our biological children.

Father God spoke powerful words of blessing over His Son:
And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!  (Matthew 3:17 AMP)
There is a lot in this short scripture for us!

  • The voice that spoke the blessing was the Father. There is something powerful about a daddy's blessing. We mamas can and should bless too, for we have a voice of significant influence, but you fathers have a unique and powerful role in blessing your children.
  • "My Son"--find ways to speak belonging, relationship, and connection. Father didn't say, "this is the son." He said "this is My son." I just love that!  
  • "My Son"--never grow tired of speaking sonship to, with, about, and over your adopted child. A son or daughter is not an orphan. I see my children's perceived need of this truth to come and go over the 14 and 12 years they have been home, but I am absolutely convinced that they always are hungering for this declaration. Even now as young adults, maybe even more so actually because they are going through the sometimes complicated process of making sense of their identities, they sometimes struggle with what it means that they are no longer orphans.
  • God spoke this defining blessing out loud where others could hear. I love speaking words of affirmation and blessing to my children in the hearing of their siblings, peers, and other adults. Sure, they may act embarrassed at some stages, but I can see they really love it underneath! For all of us, it just plain feels good when someone speaks of their pleasure in us. We are empowering our children when we bless them in front of others.
  • "My Beloved"--we find ways to highlight that this is not just our son or daughter. Not only a child who was adopted, and so now has a familial connection to us. No! This is a much loved child. Oh how our children need to hear this. This reality may not be true for your children, but for ours, the fact is that they know from experience that not all sons and daughters are much loved.
  • "My Beloved"--again, notice that Father God highlights the personal connection with His son. Jesus is not merely a beloved son, he is my beloved son. 
  • "In Whom I Delight"--I love how God doesn't stop at familial relationship as He blesses Jesus. It's like He is saying, "There is even more than that! I like him--a lot. I enjoy him. He pleases me." Find ways to show your approval. Even, and especially, in those times when it is hardest to find something of which to approve!
And you know, God spoke these power words over His son before Jesus had done any miracles, or fulfilled His destiny, or made the choice to yield to the Father's will of death on the cross. We also can and should bless our children, not based on their performance, but on their identity--even and especially when their actions don't reflect the truth of who they are as a true son or daughter.

So my fellow parents, let's be intentional in speaking these kind of powerful words of approval and blessing and life into, about, over and with our children. I am seeing the fruit of it in our 4 adopted children who are now 19, 19, 21 and 23-- there is very little more satisfying than that for this mama! 

Monday, June 2, 2014


From Beth:

He couldn't have gotten away with this one with out being noticed. He was so caught in the act!

When you leave your fingerprints all over the scene, you have to expect someone is going to recognize you--and I did.

The whole thing smacked of his m.o.; that he had been there was clearly evident.
Oh yes, I was an eye witness. At first I don't think anyone else even saw what was happening. And to this day, very few people actually know what transpired before their very eyes. 

But these eyes couldn't hold back the tears. I saw Him so clearly. His fingerprints were everywhere. 

It wasn't just that our son was graduating from high school. 

It wasn't just that he is the last of our 7 children to move into the new adventure of adulthood.

It wasn't just that I watched a young man whose first 7 years of life were spent in the pain and lack of relinquishment and all the harsh realities that lead to it, and then survived Russian orphanage life to have his whole future changed by the radical abundant love of his Father God. 

Oh yes, that was amazing and deeply moving. I could have written this same post just on that alone. 

But what really got me was seeing another young person walk across that stage to receive her diploma too. Another treasure who lived in the same orphanage as our son. 

Who does such a thing? Who but our amazing God orchestrates such a beautiful story? How do two orphans with little hope and love in their lives end up walking boldly in such an impressive accomplishment and heading uprightly as a son and daughter into a future filled with promise and life and hope, both in this world and into eternity?

Yes, His fingerprints are all over this. Oh how I love Him for who He is and for what He does! 

And congratulations to Sergei and Veronika!

I just have to say it again, adoption is indeed a beautiful thing and I am deeply honored to be a part of such a story.