Sunday, September 14, 2014


From Susan: 

Just 2 more weeks to Hope at Home 2014!! If you have already registered, we are praying for you and your family by name. It is hard to express our sense of confidence in the Lord for this event. We are EXCITED!! 
And if you have not registered, our arms and hearts are open wide to welcome you dear friends. Please consider joining us for this gathering of Real Families, sharing Real Help and Real Hope.

"It's Friday, but Sunday's comin!" 

We all have those little quotes that stick like glue in our memories. This quote by Tony Campolo was actually His trademark. No matter what we or those we love may suffer on any given day, the truth is, in Jesus, we know the that even when it feels like crucifixion-Friday, resurrection-Sunday is coming! And if you are living on the resurrection-Sunday part of this week, there is someone within your reach who needs you to pull them along towards you, as there are certainly friends and family close by who are today in the crucifixion-Friday side of life.  

I invite all of you to peek into what I keep seeing that the future holds for those called to help pray and love children into living like the treasures God created them to be! I separate our family adoption story into the beginning, the middle, and the ending.

The Beginning 

Life is busy, physically and emotionally tiring, full of school, homework, meals, music/art/sports lessons and events, funny stories like the day Vasya put his tooth that just fell out into the crack of the baseboard for the mice, only to burst into tears when all his brothers and sisters hollered, 'stop! stop!  In America we give our old teeth to the fairy so we get money, instead of giving it to the mice who are living hidden behind the walls!!' And Vasya bursts into tears as the rest of the kids are shaking back their giggles. So I save the day assuring him that I know the tooth fairy and will tell her to come anyway!  
While the practical challenges are exaggerated, the silly stories to offset them bring somewhat of a balance. 

We pray their faith will become their own, and not just their parents'. 

We tend to our children's hearts and souls, trusting that they and we are being raised together to the kind of newness of life that Jesus' resurrection ushers in by His Holy Spirit who comes to live in our hearts. 
We pray the Lord will meet them where they are and they will feel His supernatural help that transforms problems with school and friends and neighbors and  family and feelings, by the love of the Holy Spirit, poured out into their tender hearts, often through our tender affection.

The Middle

As kids from hard places walk through the teen 13 to 19 and young adult years, they, like Peter, often try on their orphan identities again. You see, that Erikson Developmental Stage of identity versus role confusion (ages 13-19) must be worked through. Only if they are believing they are who Jesus says they are--sons and daughters of the King of kings and sons and daughters of their loving parents, or as Luke calls us, children of the resurrection, will they be able to walk in emotional and spiritual health. 

It is typically a process, and they often flip in and out of the opposing poles. While we would love to force them into the right pole--the sonship/daughtership pole--the only help that is ultimately effective is the force to love approach. That is, I force myself to focus on love more than change. And the Fount of Love Himself gives me His love, Jesus' love, the love that we tell them about when they are little. This is the love that will never change even if they are "bad.''  

So when they make bad choices that have bad consequences, we keep reminding them, "I know who you are, even though you are not living like who you are. You are kind, loving, generous...."--whatever those unique giftings are we see in them. We keep speaking truth even when they are themselves believing lies and living lies, telling themselves things like "I am worthless; my life will be bad; no girl will ever want to marry me; I will not be able to get a good job; I am a failure....."  

In these years, particularly, we are they who must keep seeing the Invisible Hand of our Loving Lord, placing angel armies around them and around us.  We trust that their story will end like Peter's, who, in spite of denying who he is and who Jesus is, He ends up being the one who feeds the sheep, tends the sheep, and feeds the lambs--over and over and over again. Just read Acts for all that Peter changes to accomplish, after He is fully filled with the Holy Spirit and comes to see Himself as Jesus saw him all along.

The End

All the kids will grow up and leave home and we will all become empty nesters. I didn't really think this would ever happen to me! What is that like? Well, for me, it is WONDERFUL! I get to keep the relationships with our children who value keeping the relationship (most of them do!) and keep loving them.  

At this stage, they must move through intimacy versus isolaton (20-30ish). When their hearts are broken by a boyfriend or girlfriend, this fear of aloneness and abandonment is more destructive in its "crucifixion-Friday" threat--and we keep reminding them that they have a SURE HOPE of intimacy with Jesus and with us and with other believers that no one and nothing could ever threaten! When we see them isolating themselves we text and call and email and instagram messages to them that are reminders of the hope we ourselves determine will be our own trademark. 

And we keep loving with a view to "Sunday's comin'!" 
And we keep loving all the others the Lord is sending our way -- the "whoevers" of Mark 3-- "whoever does the will of my Father, He is my brother and sister and mother"--and I would add "and son and daughter."


Lord Jesus, today we pray for all those in every country who are loving children who need families and who need You;  we pray that we would be living the 'Sunday's comin!' life of hope in Your being an anchor for our souls.  And that as we do, our children and many others would simply copy us as we copy You.  I just love how, virtually every time You, Jesus, speak in the gospels of your coming crucifixion, You yourself always add:  "and the third day I will rise.'  We praise You for John 6, that You, when you remind us four times that You are the bread of life, You also remind us over and over that when we COME TO YOU, that YOU raise us up to newness of life.  Evermore strengthen us to walk in this resurrection-raised-Sunday's comin! life.  For your glory.  For the hope of our hearts, our homes, our world.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


It is hard to describe how exciting and humbling it is for us to prepare and share these breakout sessions for Hope at Home 2014 September 26-27. We are full of anticipation and hope for our time together with you all. There is still time for you to register-- come on and join us for this weekend of refreshing, equipping and HOPE for adoptive, foster and waiting parents. 

Breakout Session I:

1. Fathering: Bringing Peace, Order and Life Into Our Homes 

In this breakout for dads, we'll discuss the awesome role we have as fathers to bring peace, stability, order and life to our homes. We'll address practical issues, sharing systems that have been helpful in bringing freedom to our wives and children. We'll talk about the power to define that we have as fathers, and how we can instill in our children their true identity by hearing from the Lord for each child and speaking words of life over them.  Stephen Templeton and Greg Haswell

2. Letting God, Letting Go

The process of bringing our children to a point of spiritual, emotional, and economic maturity and independence is difficult in the best of situations. It is often even more difficult with adopted children. Rather than letting go and letting God, we will look at the hope brought by letting God and then letting go. Susan and Brian Hillis

3. Called and Qualified

What a gift from God it is to be called mother/mom/mama. Answering this call brings much joy, satisfaction, challenge, and at times deep heartache. Many mothers find themselves facing an identity crisis. As lives are poured out for the sake of our children, questions such as Who am I? Am I qualified for this? How do others do it? arise in our hearts. 
In this breakout for mothers, we will take a look at some of the answers to these questions from heaven's perspective. Michelle Haswell

Breakout Session II:

1. Keeping the Connection: Parenting in Grace

How do we create, maintain, and deepen our parent/child love connection, and at the same time provide the much-needed structure of discipline? We'll talk about some practical parenting tools and concepts that free us to be grace-filled and forward-looking parents. Beth Templeton

2. Banishing Fear--Beginning the Journey of Fearless Parenting in God's Love

This session will look at the nature of fear and anxiety and the biblical possibility of gaining freedom in Christ from fear and anxiety.  We will discuss some practical ways to identify fear and anxiety as well as turning effects of fear and anxiety into acts of worship. We will also offer a time of Questions and Answers. Dr. Terry Mitchell

3. Nurturing Your Child's Spirit 

This breakout will offer practical ideas and teaching on helping your child enjoy their relationship with our Heavenly Father. As children encounter the love of God, they are released from the orphan spirit and discover their true identity as sons and daughters. Jenni Means