Monday, July 30, 2012


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

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

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

Sunday Chaos

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

We Are Not Alone

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

It’s Time To Fight Back

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

A Special Job for The Men

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012


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

Hope at Home 2012 from Hope at Home on Vimeo.

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

The Boat was Rocking

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

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

She simply asked one question. 

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

Loss is Loss

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

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

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

A Question of My Own

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

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

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

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

A Glorious Moment

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

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

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

Limitless Supply of Wisdom for Every Hard Question

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

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

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012


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

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


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

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

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

The One

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 16, 2012


This post from Colleen Coombs is the second in a new series for us, HOPE AT HOME KIDS (H@HK). When you see H@HK in the title, you know we are giving you something geared specifically to use with your children. For many, these posts will be good read-alouds for during family devotions, and for some they will be great to email or print out for your older children to read on their own. We'd love your input-- what are some topics you'd like to share with your children? We are excited about this opportunity to share with your children!
Click HERE to read Colleen's first post. You won't want to miss it!

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

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

   1. Hieroglyphics

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

2. Sign Language

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

3. Braille

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

4. Body language

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

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

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012


This post from Colleen is the first in a new series for us, HOPE AT HOME KIDS (H@HKids). In the future, when you see H@HKids in the title, you'll know we are giving you something geared specifically to use with your children. For many, these posts will be good read-alouds for during family devotions, and for some they will be great to email or print out for your older children to read on their own. We'd love your input-- what are some topics you'd like to share with your children? We are excited about this opportunity to share with your children!

We are excited to introduce you to our friend, Colleen Coombs! She is the Director of No More Crumbs Ministry and served as the Children's Ministry Director at Southlands Church Int'l for three years and for 10 years as the Orange County, CA, Coordinator for Moms in Touch, Int'l, a prayer ministry focused on children and their schools. She has served as a Practicum Mentor at Hope International University in Fullerton, California, and continues to mentor others as they grow in their ministry calling. Colleen has been an editor for Global Xpress Kids Club Magazine, in partnership with U.S. Center for World Mission and writes curriculum used by many churches worldwide. Over the last four years she has had the privilege of conducting leadership training for children, youth and adults in California, Georgia, North Carolina, Holland, Ukraine, UK, Malaysia and the Philippines. She has been married to Steve for 35 years. They have four grown children and two grandchildren.

You are Created to Know Him

From the moment God knit us together in our mother’s womb, the Bible says that “He has set eternity in our hearts.” (Eccl 3:11) We were created to know Him intimately, personally, closely and confidently. 

But how do we do this? Well of course the first step is committing our lives to God and confessing Jesus as Lord, but what comes next? How can we really get to know God if we don’t recognize His voice? We certainly can’t say we ‘know’ someone if we don’t ever talk to them or take time to listen to them talk to us, right? 

Take for instance your mother - she can be in the other room and when she speaks, you ‘know’ it’s her speaking. Why is this? Well that’s easy - you know it’s her because you talk to her every day, she talks to you and you take time to listen. When you listen to someone, you begin to recognize who it is that is speaking to you. So we can see it’s important to take time to listen.

The Bible says that we need to “Be still and know that He is God.” (Ps. 46:10). The more we do this, the easier it becomes to recognize His voice. Does this mean we have to sit still? Not necessarily - many people discern God’s voice when they are actively moving, walking or even worshipping Him. It’s about ‘stilling’ our hearts and minds so we can focus on God and not all the other things that fill our minds.

God Wants to Talk to You

But how do we REALLY know that God truly wants to talk to us? How do we know He speaks to ALL of His children and not just some. Let’s look at some scriptures.
In Psalm 23 it says “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” So we know that if we have committed our lives to Him, then He is our shepherd.  But what does that mean to us? Oh so much…

Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 23, because the Shepherd tells a lot about what He does for sheep – you become his sheep when you commit your life to God!

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
 Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
 You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

In Ezekiel 34:11-15, He tells us we are His and that He looks after us and tends us. It goes on to say in verse 31 that He is our God!
 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep.  I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.  I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live.  Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills.  I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord.

He Knows You; You Listen to and Know Him

In John 10:14-15, it says that He knows His sheep and that His sheep know him because he laid down his life for us.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

In John 10:27 He says that His sheep listen to His voice and follow Him. 
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” 

So it seems pretty clear through the scriptures that if we are His sheep, then He will speak to us and we WILL know His voice and follow Him. 
So this is the second step – believing what the Bible says is true. He speaks to ALL of His sheep, not just a few, not just the grown up ones and not even just the ‘leadersheep’.  He talks to ALL His sheep and that includes you!
Step three is identifying how God speaks to us. It’s important for us to look at the Bible to identify all the different ways God has spoken to His people since creation.
In my next posts I will share with you some of the different ways God speaks to us. 

Don't forget to Register for H@HKids!
To find out more details about this exciting opportunity for your children take a look at our H@HKids blog post.

Monday, July 9, 2012


If you've been following us on Facebook (if you aren't then don't be left out! Click HERE and Like us for ongoing updates and encouragement) then you may have read that we are planning something really exciting and, as far as we know, quite unique for your children. 


Hope at Home Kids (H@HKids) is an idea God gave us some months ago as we were meeting to talk and pray about how we can best bring the strengths and gifts God has given us to this community of adoptive and foster parents, people who we truly love in the Lord. We began to imagine what a gift it would be to parents to have someone minister the Love of God and Identity in Christ to their children. Being adopted or fostered, or being a biological child whose world has radically expanded and changed through adoption or fostering, is a unique reality-- and we are so excited to have the opportunity to walk alongside, to rejoice with and to love on these children, our children.

Parenting is a Team Sport!

We love to say at our church (Northlands Church in Atlanta, GA), that parenting is a team sport. I don't know about you, but the Hillis' and the Templetons have leaned heavily on others to walk with us through the joys and struggles of hearing the call to adopt, waiting for our children to come home, making those huge and significant adjustments for our families as a whole and for each individual in the family once they come home, facing some of the deep issues that so often come with children from a hard past...... You could add to this list I bet!
 Hope at Home would love nothing better than to be part of your team as you go through the wonderful process of transforming an orphan into a Son or Daughter.

"Date With God" for Your Children!!

Those of you moms who have been to Created for Care know what this amazing time is that we call a "Date With God" is. What you may not know is that Jenni Means regularly sets up this time of encounter with the children in our children's church. I've asked Jenni to share more with you: 
"Your children will have the opportunity to have a special "Date Night" with their Heavenly Father.  Similar to the idea of dates with Mom or Dad, the purpose of the Date with God is to give children of all ages a chance to focus on their Heavenly Father and experience His love for them.  The children will encounter God as they move through various stations set up around the room.  Painting, sculpting, spending quiet time, looking in the Bible, drawing in a group collage are just some of the stations where they will can express their conversations with the Lord.  Everywhere we have held these interactive times, children experienced a fresh revelation of God's love for them personally."
Doesn't that sound like something you would want for your children?

Hearing Older Adopted Kids' Testimonies

A significant part of our H@HKids team are some pretty neat folks-- older adopted kids and their siblings. These are young adults (mostly college age) who know what it's like to be adopted or to receive a new sibling into their family and into their world. All have a testimony to share of God's work in their lives and all are really really excited to be able to spend time with your children. Your children will hear some of these testimonies and will get to spend some time having fun and connecting with them. We also have a pastor and father who was adopted who is going to be telling part of his story, an adoptive grandmother, and adoptive parents on the team. And our worship team for H@HKids is led by a bio daughter from an adoptive family-- my daughter, Emma.
How cool is that?!

Check out the Adopted Children and Biological Children Perspective sections on our blog to read about some of the awesome young people who will be serving your children.

So, if you can make to Atlanta on August 4th, plan to have a Date with your Spouse while your children have a Date with God! Check In begins at 6:00 pm and the program runs from 6:30-9:30 pm. Cost is $5/child with a $20/family maximum (pay when you check in). 

It is going to be a Fun Night!

We have limited space. To register your child(ren) go to
Registration is required.