Thursday, January 26, 2012


Anticipating the Teen Years

I often find myself telling people, "Anything multiplied 7 times equals-- a lot!" For instance, taking all of our children to a movie is a major financial commitment! Quite a few years ago, when our 7 children were entering their teen years at what felt like a crazy rapid pace from a mother's perspective, I began reading books and listening to experts on raising teens. I was anticipating that the teen years, when multiplied by 7, were quite likely to be an experience of a lifetime-- one which I wanted to be as prepared for as possible. One of the more disturbing things I read in my research was the statistics on the lives of churched kids. I was informed that there is very little difference statistically between kids who grow up in church and those who don't as far as drinking, drug use, and sexual activity-- all activities that I was counting on us avoiding in the Templeton house! With this unfortunate information filling my thoughts, I began to talk to the Lord. 

Fears and Facts
I remember one morning telling the Lord, "What are the chances that out of 7 children, they will all walk closely with you? That none of them will get into some of these ungodly activities? Lord, I just do not want to accept that any of my children will become one of these statistics. I am going to have to find faith in you for this God-- it will be a sign and a wonder." As I was talking with Him about my concerns, and grappling with my fears in the face of the facts at hand, I heard two words in my spirit, "Not One" These words dropped with a weight into my heart and my spirit, filling my mind. It was as clear to me as if I had heard it with my ears. And as soon as I "heard" these words I knew a few other things as well. I knew God wanted me to pray into this-- it was more a call to prayer than it was a "done deal." It was a solid promise from Almighty God and He wanted me to partner with Him in it. It's funny how two words can carry so much information and weight, but God is pretty amazing that way. 

So, I had a weapon in my hand (1 Timothy 1:18). "Not One" of my children were going to become a statistic! This call to prayer gave me faith to believe that our family could beat the trend, faith to fight the fears of a mother. As excited as I was by this word from God, I didn't have time to tell Stephen about it that night. It sometimes takes us days before we can really sit down to a proper conversation (another reality of having 7 children, except this time division, not multiplication was at work)! I did call Susan Hillis and share this with her since the two of us have prayed for each others' children for years and I thought that the Lord would not mind at all if I included her 11 children in this "Not One" prayer. I figured that if He could do this saving and keeping work for 7, he could surely do it for 11 more! That next night something extraordinary happened. 

"Not One, Not One, Not One"

I went to our church to attend a meeting. It was the only meeting in a series on the presence of God that I was able to attend and I figured that going to one was better than none. As I sat in this meeting, the man who was speaking went over to the piano and began to play. Then he began to pray over people, singing and speaking what he felt the Lord was saying. He asked me to stand. At this point I was not at all prepared for what came next. I knew that the Lord was about to bless me and I was excited to be prayed for by this man of God, so up I stood. And then something so precious and powerful happened. Something I will never forget. This man began to sing, "Not One, Not One Not One of your children will fall away from me. They will ALL KNOW MY HEART." Yes. Three times he repeated the very phrase God had spoken to me the day before as I was walking and praying. Three times He had this prophetic man sing those words that I had only spoken to one other person. And then He added that all of my children would know His heart. There is nothing Stephen and I desire more than this for our children. Nothing. We have come to know the heart of God is so kind, so good, so full of love. That they would each know His heart is the bottom line, isn't it? He didn't promise that none of them would struggle, that they would all behave perfectly or that they would never make a bad choice. But He did tell me, in no uncertain terms, that they would not fall away from Him and that they would know His heart. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have reminded the Lord of this promise, how many times I have prayed it, or how many times Stephen and I have reminded each other of it. I cannot tell you because there have been seasons when it has been literally my constant daily payer. I believe it. And when the facts don't seem to match up to the promise, I am bold to remind God that He promised it and confirmed it supernaturally.

For You Too

I share this with you today because I believe that this "Not One" call to prayer and promise is for you too. I believe that you have permission in the Lord to receive "Not One" for your children. Let us stand in faithful intercession for our children, believing God to do what only He can do. That not one, not one, not one of our children will fall away from Him; that they would ALL know His heart. Amen 

Friday, January 20, 2012


Here is another re-post from earlier in our Hope at Home blog history.

What is my child's identity in Christ?
An Adoptive Father's Perspective-- Stephen Templeton

Who is your child in Christ?

What is your child’s identity in Christ?

Who has God called your child to be?

What is the call of God on your child’s life?

When God looks at your sons and daughters, who does he see?

What potential is there in them?

What has the Lord revealed to you about their hearts, their gifts, their destiny in Christ?
Wow! These are pretty big and heady questions that can be quite intimidating for us dads (and moms). Can I really know the answers to some of these foundational questions about my child? Would God really reveal to me who my child is, how He sees my child, what His plan, destiny and desire is for my child?
The answer, of course, is a resounding YES!
Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
The Lord has placed the mantle of “father” and “mother” on each of us parents. When He called us to have children, through adoption or birth, he placed that awesome authority on our lives to guide, inspire, love and instruct our children. One of the foundational aspects of this calling is seeking Him for our child’s identity in Christ and then using this understanding and revelation from the Father to guide our parenting of each individual child.
Ephesians 1:18-19
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
In view of this mantle of authority God has placed on us for our children, it is clear that He is so eager to have our eyes opened and enlightened, to know our children and the hope to which He has called each one. This identity and inheritance is something that the Lord wants to share with us so that we can help our children grasp, understand and renew their minds according to their identity in Him.
How do we know our child’s identity in Christ?-- First and foremost- go to Him, seek Him, spend time in prayer actively asking the Lord to show you how He sees your child. He will be faithful to share His heart for your child with you. If you have Christian friends, a youth pastor, Sunday School teacher, or a pastor that you trust, ask them what they see in your child. Share with them that you are asking the Lord to reveal to you a greater understanding of your child’s identity in Christ. And then ask for their input. Write all these things down, especially any specific words of knowledge, or reliable prophetic words received from trustworthy people. Keep a record of these- they are invaluable and can act as spiritual weapons for you and your child as they grow. But remember, God Himself has given you the spiritual authority to parent your child, so test any input you receive from others according to the scriptures and what the Lord is saying to you.
Go to Him- I can’t wait to hear what He will tell you about each of your children!
Next time we’ll talk about how this knowledge of your child’s identity in Christ helps guide your parenting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hearing from Julia

Here's Julia's wonderful story of adoption, posted earlier in 2011. She is now a freshman in college. Such a blessing to read!

I remember how it felt to be the youngest....                                                                              
I was 8 years old when my family decided to adopt. I was 8 and my world was about to change. I don’t really remember the moment my parents sat my 2 sisters and me down to tell us that we were going to adopt; I don’t remember what I first thought of the idea, and I don’t remember the process of adoption. What I do remember is my life before hand and my life afterward. I remember how it felt to be the youngest, the baby. I wasn’t spoiled but it was nice to be the baby of the family. I got attention and love. It was just my 2 sisters and my mom and dad-- that was my family. Then all of a sudden my family, my world as I knew it, was significantly altered. 

I remember embracing and accepting my new family
Julia with her 2nd grade teacher
I don't think I fully understood what we were doing until my parents showed me a picture of my future brother and sister. I brought it to school and showed my 2nd grade teacher and class. I was so proud. We ended up not adopting them because their grandmother took them, but that was the first moment I remember embracing and accepting my new family. I remember when my mom went to Russia to visit orphanages. She called us and said that she had found two kids, a brother and a sister, that she thought were the ones. From that moment on all the talk was about Kristina and Pasha. 
A life-changing event
After months of paperwork and waiting, which I do not remember at all (I do remember moving from our old house to a bigger house in preparation for our bigger family), we finally prepared a trip for our whole family to take so that we could adopt our future family. I remember the trip so well it was a life-changing event. I was half excited and half nervous. I remember the plane ride there, everything being so foreign and weird to me. I remember when we got there it was like a whole other world. I could barely keep my eyes open because I was so tired, yet I couldn’t close them for fear that I would miss all the different sights and atmosphere.

A shocking place

The outside of the orphanage
 The whole trip consisted of staying at different houses and apartments, and some sight seeing, but the most impactful was the visit to see my new brother and sister. I remember driving up in front of the orphanage, and seeing that it was dirty and falling apart. I remember being a little scared to enter into such a different and shocking place. The director came out and welcomed us and brought us inside. All the kids were running around and looking at us. I could see that they weren’t very well dressed and that they looked different from me, yet they also looked similar to me, after all they were kids just like me.  

In the orphanage

Julia embraces her new brother, Pasha. Stickers
were the language of the moment!
We played with the kids for a while, taking Polaroid pictures of them, which they absolutely loved, and gave them gifts that we had brought. Then the director brought us into a room where we were to wait to meet Kristina and Pasha. They served us tea and cookies and brought in our new family. I remember putting Pasha on my lap and playing with him. I remember we had a lot of stickers that we put all over our faces and played with some toys and looked at some books with pictures that told a story. We were a family; we were playing together and communicating in the broken language that we had fashioned together and we were smiling and laughing and getting to know each other.   

Little did we know....

Andrei and Sergei reunited in the
When we were in that room, the director also brought in two brothers who had just been reunited in the orphanage. They were so happy to see each other and were hugging and holding each other. She introduced them as Andrei and Sergei. Little did we know at that time that they too would join our family just 18 months later! After our visit to the orphanage we had to go to court to legally adopt. I was too young to actually attend so my sisters and I waited in the car while my mom and dad and Kristina and Pasha went in. I remember sitting there playing on a game boy and talking to my sisters and grandparents, totally oblivious of the significant event going on inside that court building. After we went to court and had legally adopted, we flew to Moscow. I remember that first night we went to the pool in the hotel and had a wonderful time; everything was so new and exciting at that point. Finally it was time to go home. After the long flights and layovers and countless hours of being awake we finally reached home. We showed Kristina and Pasha their rooms, all made up with toys and signs and pictures from people that already loved them, even though they had never met.   

Things were pretty good, however...

The new siblings in the hotel pool in
Moscow after the first adoption
The first couple weeks after we adopted were full of emotions for me. Kristina and I had already become best friends, playing with dolls and speaking in a combination of broken Russian and broken English. We really hit it off and I finally had someone who enjoyed dolls as much as I did. We all took family outings and did things together. I learned to communicate in some form of Russian, and they were steadily learning more and more English. Things were pretty good, however not all the time. I remember some times crying and thinking that my life wouldn’t be the same. I remember thinking that my parents wouldn’t love me as much now that they were giving all of their attention to my new siblings. There were times when I was completely happy with my situation, having more people to play with and new family, but there were also times that I was sad and felt like I wasn’t important. Those first couple of months were full of wonderful and tough times and emotions, but eventually all of those emotions steadied into happiness and acceptance.
I can't imagine my family any different way

Julia and Kristina became best buddies
Now, looking back, I can’t really remember what it was like without my adopted siblings. I don’t think I would want to go back to that time because I can’t imagine my family any different way. To me, my sister and brothers from Russia are my siblings, sure they were adopted and weren’t always a part of our family, but now they are. I sometimes forget that they were adopted and that my life used to be so different. I think that I was at a perfect age to accept and move into my new family. Today I see my siblings as truly part of the family and I can’t imagine my life without them. We truly are one big family, no division and no differences, just one family.     
Arriving home in Atlanta--exhausted but happy!

I grew to know God as a wonderful, loving Father
My family life was not the only thing changed by the adoption, but my spiritual life and relationship with Christ evolved too. I was only eight when we first adopted, so at that point I had already accepted the Lord as my Savior and had given him my life. But I didn’t have a relationship with him, or at least not like I do now. While the adoption didn’t magically change my relationship with God or make God closer, it did give me a better understanding of him and his love for us. I grew to know God as a wonderful loving father who not only gives us his love but he adopts us into his family and gives us his inheritance, just as my family adopted our earthly family members. The adoption definitely helped me nurture and develop a lasting relationship with God that would continue to grow in understanding and love as I got older. My growth and closeness to my heavenly father has definitely been affected by our adoption and the impact it had on my family and those around us.
First day of school with the Headmaster

Friday, January 13, 2012


With the New Year we thought we would put up a few of our posts from earlier in our Hope at Home Blog history, since many of you weren't around back then. If you are like me, rereading this one of our son Sergei telling about what it has been like for him to be adopted is worth the time. Sergei, an impressive and much-loved 17 year old, is a sophomore in high school.

Also, would you share our blog with some friends in the adoption community this month? Thank you!

Sergei's Story

We were left to "fend for ourselves"
I don’t remember a lot from my life in Russia, mainly because I have blocked those memories out of my mind. My brother Andrei and I were left to “fend for ourselves” from a young age. Many times Andrei and I would steal our dinner from stores, or steal people’s money. Andrei was basically my parent, always cleaning me up if I got hurt.

Sergei (right) with Andrei
Eventually, the government came to our little apartment and talked to my parents. I don’t know what they said, but I got a good idea of what it was when they took Andrei and me away. Andrei was put in an orphanage and I was taken to an orphanage for younger children. I remember being happy in this place. I was given food, without having to go out and steal it. The workers were nice too.

As I look back I can see God's hand

I was later put in a foster family. These people were nice and caring for a while, and I thought that I could be happy here. As time went on, they became meaner, and stopped caring about me. That’s when my grandmother came and talked to me. She told me that I had two choices. I could either stay with the foster family, or go to the orphanage so that Andrei and I could be together. As I look back on this, I can see God’s hand in this. He knew what was best for me. Even though the orphanage was terrible, God was working everything together for my good.
The day the two brothers were reunited at the orphanage

I was happy to be with my brother
When I arrived at the orphanage, I was happy to be with my big brother. He always looked out for me. The workers at the orphanage were not nice at all. They didn’t care about anyone there. I often got in fights, or was left hungry from the small portions at meals. I was just happy to be with my brother.

I would lie awake the whole night
My grandmother was the main source of happiness in my life at this point. She rode the bus down to the orphanage, picked Andrei and me up, and took us to her apartment. She would bathe us and feed us. I was never hungry at her house. We would spend a day or two with her, then we had to go back to the orphanage. She would always give us bags of candy and food to take with us. Going to sleep at the orphanage was always hard. I had no idea what wouldhappen to me. The older kids were always playing horrible jokes on the younger kids. I was always afraid at night. I would lay awake the whole night. I hated it here. One day someone told me that I was going to get adopted. I didn’t really know what it meant, but I knew that it was a good thing.
A picture of the powerful love of
a grandmother

I didn't really know what it meant
One day someone told me that I was going to get adopted. I was 7 years old. I didn’t really know what it meant, but I knew that it was a good thing. As the adoption time came closer, I noticed that everyone was much nicer to me. I didn’t know why. Eventually after what seemed like years, the adoption day came. I spent the whole day waiting, sitting in the same chair for hours. Andrei had to go to court with my parents. I was left at the orphanage because I was too young.
In Moscow to get Sergei's American papers
Finally they came

Finally they came. I remember getting in the car with my new family and leaving the orphanage. I was so happy. I knew that I would never be treated the way that I was there. I was given toys and things what would never be taken away from me. I was so happy.
A beautiful Welcome Home party at the Atlanta Airport
Sergei--front and center!

I loved having parents who loved me
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what my home was going to be like. I didn’t know what it was going to be like living in a new country. I remember coming home and seeing the biggest house I had ever seen. I was so amazed by the amount of room. I had to adjust to this new place. I had all the food I could eat. I was never hungry again. I loved having parents who loved me, and took care of me.

Sergei (front right) with all 21 cousins and 
their grandparents = FAMILY!
Going to school was a challenge. I didn’t know any English. I learned how to ask to go to the bathroom, and spent most of the day in first grade asking to go to the bathroom. By the time I was in second grade I could understand everything. Math is still hard though!
Sergei (left) doing a presentation at school
with his friend, Alosha
I didn't know who God was
Going to church was new too. I didn’t know what it was. I had never been to church. I remember people coming up to me and loving on me. I made friends with this guy named Alex Hillis. From then on, I would always want to go to church because Alex always played with me at church. I liked going to church to play. I didn’t know who God was.
Sergei's baptism--with his daddy and our
pastor, Greg Haswell
How can I not love this God?
I gave my life to the Lord, and was baptized. I didn’t really know what it meant to be a Christian. Through the years, I have developed my relationship with the Lord. My love for him has grown so much. It was all because of Him that I was adopted. He worked everything together for my good. How can I not love this God? Even now I learn new things about Him. Looking back, I see all the times God has changed things so that His plan could work. I wonder how different my life would be if I stayed with that foster family. I thank God for putting my grandmother in my life.

Spring Break in Orlando--Sergei in center back
Feel free to leave a comment for Sergei. He will be happy to respond to any questions.

Monday, January 9, 2012


From Susan Hillis:

Focus on the People We Are With

So, I started 2012 having one of our sons feeling upset with me because I am a hypocrite. Here's the story of what was going on in our home a week ago, on January 1: 

"Vasya," I said, "you are usually respectful, obedient, and kind, and honestly, do a better job than anyone else in the family at honoring daddy and me as your parents. But lately I have noticed that you seem to want to argue and talk back, and even ignore me sometimes when I ask you to do something. This is not God's plan for how sons relate to their mom and dad; do you realize you are doing this?"
"Yes, I do," he replies.
Susan and three of her boys
"Do you know why you have been treating me this way?" I ask.
"Yes, I know why."
"Do you think you can you tell me why?"
"Yes, I can tell you. Mom, you tell us all the time when we pull out our cell phones at the dinner table to 'focus on the people we are with and not with the people who we are not with.' But then here we are playing cards and you are so distracted by your computer and your texting and facebook, that you don't even know when it's your turn. You don't even know what suit led, and you don't even know what card to play. It is wrong that you are doing exactly what you tell us NOT to do! You get so upset with us when we are on our cell phones at meal time!"

I am pretty impressed that Vasya can actually identify what is behind this oppositional behavior, so highly out of character for him.
"Vasya, you are AMAZING! I was wrong to be so distracted when we were playing cards. You know meal time is a very important family time for me, but I just honestly didn't even stop to think that playing games is, for you, probably the most important kind of family time. Is it?"

"Yes, Mom," Vasya says, "I really enjoy our time playing games together. And with you and your problem being on the cell phone texting when we play games, it's not just today - you do it all the time when we play cards."

"Well, Vasya, I am going to try to change my ways," I promise, smiling. "And I am really sorry, and so proud of you for being able to talk about how much this has been bothering you. It is so common that big divisions form in our relationships with people we are really close to, because of something relatively small that upsets us, but then we don't talk about it. So often if we can just talk out our differences, we can work them out and get rid of the distance that tries to separate us. This is something you will need to keep doing your whole life. Hey, if I try to change and quit being a hypocrite, do you think you can go back to being your kind, respectful self with me?" (It is so important to model asking and receiving forgiveness to our children. Otherwise, how can we expect them to do the same?)

He smiles that big smile of his, "Yes, I think I can do that." 

And I did. And he has.

We often ask our kids what the one quality is that most determines a person's potential to be a strong leader. Brian and I both think that being 'teachable' is probably at the top of the list. I just love it when we get to model that quality, as in this story. And I love it when our children teach us!
"Pass on what you have heard from me to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others." (II Tim 2:2).  

Passion 2012
So let me explain to you what I was doing on January 1 when I was soooo distracted!  I was trying to print out our Passion 2012 tickets for some of our kids and their friends (a huge conference of 45,000 college students at the Georgia Dome!....);  then I was trying to find an extra ticket so I was texting a ton and on facebook to try to do that, cause it started January 2 and they are sold out! 

I will close with this "How Great is our God" video link of worship leaders from around the world singing this song in their own languages, ending with the Watoto Childrens choir from Uganda, representing the 50 million children in Africa who have been orphaned from disease or war. What a wonderful reminder of God's power to redeem suffering of those who have lost their families, by giving them a voice and a future and a hope! I wager to bet that my eyes were not the only ones that were wet as their radiant faces sang "How Great is our God."