Thursday, June 27, 2013


From Beth:
Some of my favorite photos in my facebook feed are the WELCOME HOME adoption pictures. And the videos-- oh my goodness! Those are so moving and truly beautiful. 

They speak to me of Love, Family, Safety, Adoption, Community, Support, Help, Abundant Life, Joy, and Hope. 

I remember coming home both times from Russia with our children and the experience of being embraced by love. There was such Celebration and Joy, full of kingdom purpose and life. And it was always with such a sense of privilege that we would load up our family to trek down to the the Atlanta airport to greet the new sons and daughters God was bringing home over the years. 

I love the phrase in Romans 6 declaring that you and I are "called of Jesus Christ and invited as you are to belong to Him." This idea of invitation to belong is what Susan and I are hearing as we prepare for Hope at Home 2013. We hear God's voice in our spirits saying to us, WELCOME HOME! Just as we welcomed our children into the loving embrace of our homes and hearts, so our Father God is doing with each one of us mothers and fathers. At any moment in my day, if I attune my spirit, I can hear my Father saying, 
Welcome home Beth. Come on into my embrace. Come away from the striving and 'survival mode' of parenting on your own and come into my heart of love for you. Come into the safety, warmth, provision and rest that is my Heart, that is HOME. 
It's this constant invitation to belong to Him, not because we are away from Him necessarily, although sometimes we may wander and forget Him, but rather it is a heart cry of accepting, hope-filled love, a love that we echo when we adopt our children. For really, our adoptions and fostering are simply an outworking of this call to come home, aren't they? Come home to the embrace of love and acceptance and safety. As believers we are embraced by the strength that comes from provision and sustenance that is home, encircled by the very rest and peace that each one of us desires to provide for our families. 

We parents are children of our Father, and He is calling out to you and me, 
Welcome Home into my embrace today my son, my daughter. 
It's as if there is a constant airport welcome home party waiting for us every day. A constant celebration of hope for us parents, just as there was at our children's home-comings.

Our Hope at Home Team is busy in preparation for our September 27-28 conference here in Atlanta. And we hear our Father God calling out to us all, Welcome Home! Come on and join us as we enjoy rest, provision, comfort, support, community, joy and hope at HOPE AT HOME 2013. 

Registration is open and we are waiting with open arms! We have some amazing speakers lined up!

For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you; That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:12)

Join our Facebook community! We'd love to keep connected with you.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Register Now for Hope at Home 2013!
Thanks to Kate from One Flesh Marriage, we parents have another opportunity to remember our spouse and and the covenant relationship that is the foundation and container for our adoptions. This is worth our time dear parents, as we attend to the needs of our children so diligently!

We have all been to weddings where 1 Corinthians 13 is read; there is a good chance this scripture was at your own ceremony! I know that Brad and I used it and had stars in our eyes as we thought about how amazing our love was going to be in our marriage. After all the Bible talks all about it. Yes, we also knew that there would be hard times, and yet we thought that this amazing love would sustain and would only grow. We thought that we would have no choice but to love in this manner. That’s what love was after all.

Not long into the first year of our marriage, it became clear that we had bought into a lie that is not God’s plan for marriage. A lie that gave us a very unrealistic, romanticized worldly version of love. Love that gave totally unrealistic expectations about romance, sex, communication, finances or forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things have a place in God’s design for marriage. Yet to have an expectation of love getting us through everything simply because it is love, is naive. So what can we learn from 1 Corinthians 13?
We have the amazing privilege to be a part of the marriage ministry at our church, and to be using a revolutionary curriculum. As we were going through our section this past week with our group, I felt God prompting me to share a section with you. 
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 teaches that love: (from the ReEngage Curriculum, created by Watermark Community Church, Dallas TX)
Is patient and kind. It doesn’t look for instant gratification or immediate change. Rather than wounding or reminding of failures, it encourages. It is always thoughtful in actions, attitudes and speech.
Doesn’t envy or boast. It celebrates when another is celebrated. It doesn’t have to one-up the other to somehow be better. In fact, love actually admits failures and shortcomings rather than making excuses or pretending they don’t exist. 
Isn’t rude or insisting on its own way. Rather than demanding or manipulating to get what it wants, real love actually finds joy in serving the other and putting their needs first. It even studies the other’s needs and wants so it can meet them.
It’s not irritable or resentful. It can handle interruptions, shortcomings, and disappointments without becoming angry and agitated. It gladly overlooks small offences and graciously forgives larger ones without bringing them up later. 
Bears and endures all things. It sees the other’s hardships as its own and takes them on in selfless ways. It stays completely and actively committed regardless of how it feels or what it is received in return. (emphasis added)
Believes and hopes all things. It acts in a trustworthy manner with no secrets, which leaves no room for suspicion. It believes the best about the other, and does everything it can to make the relationship work.
Each time I read this it is like I my eyes are being opened fully to the reality that this won’t happen until I see Jesus. Yet, each time God challenges and shows me a different way I can love my hubby better. 

So how can we take this list, make it a positive and not become overwhelmed?
Identify where you struggle. Which of these do you struggle with the most? Why do you think that is? How can you seek Jesus on changing that? If it is your biggest area of struggle, you may think it is too hard, but God has a plan for that and will bless you. Also it is good to remember that small steps are ok. You don’t need to radically change overnight, but you can make smaller efforts and see how God grows them and blesses both of you!
Identify where you thrive . Which of these is your loving strong suit? How can you continue to thrive in that area of loving your spouse? Making a mental note of these things is more helpful then you can imagine! Being “aware” of your strengths and weakness is  important to moving forward in your own walk with Jesus as well as your marriage. And even more powerful, being aware of who Jesus is in you, in your spouse, and in your marriage will set you free to walk in the place of blessing you so desire.
Put your spouse before yourself. We all say we want to do it, but in practice it is very hard to maintain.  I believe selfishness is one of the plagues killing marriages today. Thinking about my hubby before myself regardless of what I am getting in return is not the way I lived those beginning years of our marriage. Now I aspire to live and love this way and it is revolutionary! Not too surprising since it is the way Jesus loves us. Look to Him and you will see that in Him you be able to put your spouse before yourself. 
Remember you are LOVED. Remember that in all things you are loved most dearly by Jesus. Perhaps you are like me and failed to do any of the above in part of your marriage. Perhaps you have done well, but feel so unloved by your spouse. Remember that God loves you so much no matter what and He desires to bless you in your marriage. Keep seeking to love your spouse the way he asks, because that is all you can do. I believe that God blesses our faithfulness and obedience. It may not always be in the way we expect, but there are great blessings, none the less!
Reading the list above, what are your first thoughts? Do you struggle in one specific area? How have you brought about change in your own life? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


You may remember Tana Carder from her previous post, Discipline and Punishment. If you didn't read that, you really should-- it is excellent! She is happily married to Bryan Carder, and is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom to Sean, age eight, and head of Little Lambs Ministry at Northlands Church. The sixth of sixteen children, ages fifteen to forty, thirteen of whom are adopted, Tana is very familiar with adoption, needless to say! We so appreciate her gift of wisdom as a mother.

And before you get started reading, just want to let you know that registration for Hope at Home 2013 is open. We hear Father God speaking the words "WELCOME HOME" to each of us fathers and mothers. We would LOVE to welcome you September 27-28 in Atlanta!

A Song for Everything

Here’s something about me that drives my 8-year-old crazy: many, many things bring a song to my mind and then my lips, and I’ll sing a line or two. “Do you know a song for EVERYTHING?!” he will shout in despair. “Lots of things,” I’ll answer, and it’s true. I can’t remember why I walked into the room I’m in, but I can still accurately sing the Christmas musical that we sang in church choir when I was in kindergarten.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the fruit of the Spirit in regards to parenting. It makes me think of this song from The Donut Man:
Do you know the fruit of the Spirit? If you do then ‘orange’ you glad? Yes you ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy, ‘cause these fruits will never go bad! Oh, God is a good farmer, and He wants his fruits to grow. When you look inside your heart, will you be able to show that...Love takes care of others.Joy means that God makes me glad.Peace be still and quiet.Patience waits, and is not sad.Kindness and Goodness are nice to others.Faithfulness has faith and hope.Gentleness knows how to listen.Self-control knows how to say no.These are the fruit of the Spirit. Now tell me, ‘orange’ you glad? You ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy, ‘cause these fruits will never go bad. No! These fruits will never go bad.

Parenting Fruitfully

I love that song (it helps me remember the fruit), and I love the idea of parenting fruitfully.  I used to think that the fruit of the Spirit just sort of happened when you decided to follow Jesus, and to an extent it does. Galatians says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives...” 
I think we can also choose to be fruitful. One of God’s earliest commands was, “Be fruitful and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28). We’re already multiplying. We touch our childrens’ lives, and they will touch other lives and their childrens’ lives and so on. Even if you haven’t physically added to the kingdom of heaven by bearing children, I assure you, you are multiplying. I say that because I don’t think you have to conceive and give birth to be fruitful. I think the opportunities for fruitfulness are endless in our adoptive and foster families (I like to think the Donut Man would agree, since he’s an adoptive dad).

What does that mean practically? Of course we Love our kids. They bring us endless Joy. Peace may be a little short in supply, now, but we sure are learning to be Patient! I could go on, but that’s not exactly what I mean. I mean, are we seeing and identifying the fruit of the Spirit when it manifests in our children? Are we seeing, identifying, and remedying it when we don’t see fruit in ourselves?

A Taste of Fruit

Recently I got to taste some fruit from my mom and one of my many adopted sisters. They drove to Atlanta from Tennessee to help me organize the chaos that I call a kitchen--because love takes care of others. And I see now that fruit begets fruit. Because of their gift of time and labor, cooking is more of a joy, and there is more peace in my home. I see the Holy Spirit is at work here, and it is Good.          

I Have a Choice; Fruit Begets Fruit

An opportunity to be deliberately fruitful occurs when my son gets angry. I have a choice. I can get angry in response (he can be frustrating), or I can choose fruit, knowing that the Holy Spirit loves it when I ask for help and fruit, and knowing that fruit begets fruit. If I go with anger, things quickly spiral downward. He ends up in his room or in tears (or both). I end up shouting or punishing (which I hate). Our relationship misses out on being enriched, and it must be repaired (God’s grace is always sufficient when that happens). If I choose fruit, I probably need to start with Faithfulness, believing that Jesus can get us through anything. Then I need some Self-control and a calm tone of voice. I might also speak self-control to him, “I know you’re angry right now, but I need for you to use your self-control and talk to me calmly so we can work this out.” With a helping of Gentleness, I can usually identify the cause of his anger quickly. If he’s not ready to share that with me, patience is the next fruit on my plate, because I can wait for him with a good attitude. When we identify the issue, kindness and goodness are almost always the next fruits I have to serve. Often in our case, that just means a comforting hug, but it can mean an apology from me, forgiveness exchanged, etc. Once the conflict is resolved, all of that fruit leads to more fruit- peace, joy, and the growth of our love.

The same choice is available to me when there’s disobedience, impatience, selfishness, or any of the other issues that spring up like weeds in parenting. I can make (and then enforce) more rules and consequences, which might get the behavior I desire, or I can choose the fruit of the Spirit, which will turn my heart and my child’s heart to the nourishment of the Son. In my experience, choosing fruit always yields good results (more fruit for the whole family to enjoy).

Moms and dads, be encouraged. It’s never too late to choose the Holy Spirit’s fruit. God is a good farmer, and He WANTS his fruit to grow. Doesn’t that make you ‘peel’ ‘berry’ happy?

Come on over to Facebook and join our community of adoptive, foster and waiting parents there. And don't forget to REGISTER NOW for Hope at Home 2013!

Sunday, June 16, 2013


from Beth:

We have a very special guest who has committed to join us for this year's Hope at Home gathering. We've been in communication with him all year, and even enjoyed some face-to-face meetings with him and our team. We are so excited! You are not going to want to miss this! His heart for adoptive, foster and waiting mothers and fathers is the driving force behind all that we do at Hope at Home. We've heard what he has to say about us parents and our families--his words never fail to direct, strengthen, encourage and help parents in their adoption and fostering stories. He's asked us if it is alright if He brings his son along, as well as his friend, who is well-known all over the world for his work amongst believers. That was an easy decision for our team-- YES! 
These guys are a amazing together. It has been inspiring for our Hope at Home team to watch how they work together as a unit. There is such a refreshing and powerful oneness in all that they do. 

So let me tell you a bit about our main speaker's friend first. As the planners of the event, we love that he comes ahead of time to prepare the way and then stays afterwards to finish the work he started. He's been known to actually come into your home and work alongside you as you parent your children. His help and wisdom is priceless. There have been times where he has contacted us about a matter regarding our adoptions or parenting, and he has always been spot-on! If you haven't already met him at other events, you are going to love him! 

And the son... oh my! Seriously, we've never met a kinder person. He is so generous. So gracious. If you needed a shirt, he'd give you the one on his back. He wouldn't hesitate to lay down his life for a friend. It's strange to say, but in our experience he seems to always have the right solution to our parenting concerns, and whenever he speaks it's like this unexplainable peace comes over those who listen. He's never arrogant about it, as some speakers might be, but he really does seem to have the answer to everything; it's like he IS the answer.

And then there's the dad, our main speaker... well, like I said, you seriously do not want to miss this. When he's come to other events we've been to he seems to be so happy; we've heard it said of him that he is always in a good mood. And it blesses us greatly that he seems to be genuinely excited to bring in other speakers to partner with him. He's already been communicating to our team about who amongst us he wants to speak alongside him. It's super-humbling for all of us, and a bit scary for some, but it's so hard to say "no" to him once you've gotten to know him. It's like he knows how it's all going to turn out and is ALWAYS assuring us that he'll be right there to cover any blunders on our part. 

If that is not enough, wait til you hear this--they've all three agreed to meet with each one of you personally. I know, crazy right?! How could that even be possible? If I hadn't seen it before at our previous Hope at Home events, I would be doubtful myself. But sure enough, somehow he pulls it off. Our suggestion to you is to plan on meeting with all three; you may have some questions or areas of interest you want to address with each one. Some of us have learned how wonderful it is just to hang out and enjoy the privilege of having one-on-one time with speakers of this caliber. 

Oh yes, one more thing... they are trained in healing of all sorts, both physical and emotional, so if you have a healing need be sure to look for them. They've been training some of our folks here at Northlands to be physician's assistants over the past few years, so we are pretty excited to be able to participate. It is so touching that all three seem to care so very deeply about each and every one of our children-- adopted, biological and foster. It's almost like they love them more than we, their parents, do. Really! I can't explain it, I'm just telling it like it is.

This is all to say--we are so filled with hope for Hope at Home 2013! And our hearts are full with anticipation to spend September 27-28 with you here in Atlanta, Georgia, along with our awesome God--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To take advantage of the early bird registration rate and to read more details REGISTER NOW. (It also helps us a lot in our planning:~)

To keep up with Hope at Home 2013 news and to enjoy ongoing encouragement and help, Find us on FACEBOOK. 

Monday, June 10, 2013


From Beth:

One of the struggles parents frequently share with us at Hope at Home is a nagging and sometimes overriding feeling of inadequacy to parent and love the children God has brought into our families. I doubt there is a one of us who will not experience these uncomfortable feelings at some point or another over the years of parenting. I find it so very comforting to look at some of the stories God was careful to include in His Word when I feel this way. They remind me that I am not alone when I face tough situations with little or nothing to bring to the answer. 
Over and over we see it played out in scripture-- that which appears weak, indeed that which is weak, is transformed into the very strength needed to take down the mightiest of problems.

How often have I, when faced with a big problem, gone straight to the big answer--at least, what looks on the surface like a big answer. And that right there is where many of us get stuck. We look around, and we look within, and we have no such big answer. Help! Clearly there are times when what I bring to the problem is no where near what is needed. This is a mighty problem! Where is my might answer?!

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27)

I love that God let's us know up front that He actually chooses, not by default but by His own volition, to use the weak things of this world to put those mighty problems to shame. Now that right there is some good news my friends-- at least, it is for me! This amazing adventure of adoption has been a blessing to Stephen and me in so many ways, one of which is the coming to the end of ourselves so that we can better enjoy the strength of the Lord in our lives. 

So, like David, we pick up the little parenting weapon at hand, and put our trust in the Lord and what He has said about us and about our children, and we take that giant of a problem down. (1 Samuel 17)

Like the little boy who shared his lunch on that hillside all those years ago, we offer our few loaves and fish, give thanks, and start meeting the need with what we have in our hands. (John 6)

Like Moses, we may hear God ask, "What is that in your hand?" And maybe we feel a bit confused because all we have is an ordinary, run-of-the-mill rod that is our parenting wisdom/skill/experience, and surely that is not what God is going to use to put the mighty problem before us to shame. What is needed is a mighty weapon that will part the waters between our child and healing, not an unimpressive stick used in the every-day shepherding of our flock. (Exodus 4)

So, dear parent, I sense God asking us today, "what is that in your hand?" For he knows who I am and all about the little bit that I bring to this parenting journey. He sees my few pebbles of patience, my little sling shot of adoption wisdom, my loaves of trauma training and education, my few fish of understanding, and my walking stick of attachment techniques. It seems that He has got our backs in this situation. He has chosen you and me, knowing we are weak, to do the very mighty things we are desiring to see in our homes, and more!

If God makes the considered decision to use what seems foolish and unimpressive to us to put the mighty to shame, then I want to learn to make the same decision myself the next time I am aware of my inadequacies as a parent. Let us trust God for giants to fall, massive needs to be met in abundance, and deliverance for the captives, because He has not despised the weak things of the world! He has chosen to use us, especially when we are foolish and weak, to parent each precious life, each son and each daughter. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


From Susan:

I love the well-known words of John Piper, "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him." I love the fact that he and his wife adopted! 
And I love what he says about healthy teeth and healthy souls. During one of his talks, John said that when your child is old enough to push Play on the CD player, your child is old enough to have time with God. (Maybe now he would replace the CD player with a cell phone or ipad!) He went on to say that we feel great comfort in, and even a moral obligation to expect our children to brush their teeth every morning and every night, starting at about age 2 (or even younger!) Well, having a healthy soul is much more important than having healthy teeth -- souls last forever, you know!! So we teach our children, starting at a young age, how to spend time with the Lord every day. This helps set them on a life-long path of taking good care of their souls. Moses was writing about this when he said, 
And these words that I comand you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. (Deut 6:6-7).

Making a Place for the Lord

Many of us endeavor to fullly incorporate the Lord's presence and influence and love in more of an "as you walk and sit and drive and walk and rise and live" kind of way -- and that is wonderful. There are others who may have some dedicated time as a family together with the Lord -- and this too is wonderful. There is full freedom in how we may walk out the principles of this passage, practically. 
In our family, we chose to have some time set aside for family devotions. Our habit on most evenings has been to gather everyone together for 10 to 20 minutes before bedtime. More important than this corporate time, though, has been our encouragement to every one in the family to have their own individual time with the Lord (drawing, praying, dancing, journaling, sculpting, walking in nature....) Even when everyone had sports and homework and social life and urgent demands, we encouraged each other to put first things first - keeping our souls nourished in the love of God. I would tell our kids, "Remember these numbers -- 12345! But instead 13245! This means Psalm 132:45, 
I determined not to allow sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids until I had made a place for the Lord! 
So what Mommy does is not turn off her light until I have had some time with the Lord. Let's all live this way! It is a wonderfully healthy way to live!  We feel the love and help of God!"

Since I am more inspired by principles than activities, and even find myself resistant towards lists of activities -- like the one below! -- let me say right out that the principles were to make the time together meaningful, engaging, authentic, and age-appropriate.   I was always looking for ideas. What we did when everyone was young was quite different than when we did when they were older.  Basically, we looked for what they enjoyed doing and often tried to make our family devo approach match that.  Here is a list of some ideas.

Family Devotions Ideas

  • Drawing something in response to a one paragraph reading from a kid's devo book - and a question.  Questions may be like these:                                     What is something you are thankful for today?            What can you do to help someone this week?            What has God done for you that makes you feel loved?  What makes you feel like Jesus is your friend?          What problem has the Holy Spirit helped you with?        Who is the person that most reminds you of Jesus?   Then we would try to guess what each other's pictures were. I draw like a 6 year old, so this put me on a very level playing field! 
  • Going on a walk and picking some leaf or flower or rock or weed or something that reminds us of God's attention to planning details or creation or beauty or some such thing - and then talking about examples of how He plans the details of our lives.
  • Laying in the front yard on a quilt and looking up at the stars and thanking God for one of them, after reading the Psalm 147:4 about how He numbers the stars and calls them all by name.
  • Climbing up on the roof and sitting up there to pray goodnight together.
  •  Breaking up into 3 or 4 small groups for prayer and letting a different kid lead their group and pick their 2 other group members from among the siblings - then Brian and I would divide up to be in the group full of the silly ones who may not otherwise get around to praying. And we encouraged them to "pick one thing to thank God for" or "pick one thing to ask God for, for someone else" or "pick one thing you need God to help you with." Note the "one thing" -- we didn't want the time to go on and on and on for the ones with short attention spans.
  • Having kids play instruments they were learning - or us play a song on the guitar and singing it.
  • Family read alouds - we did tons of this when they were older - Cross and the Switchblade, The Heavenly Man,  Castaway Kid, just to name a few.  Our kids loved this!  We also read a lot of illustrated children's books by Max Lucado and other authors.
  • Listening to a worship song together and then praying.
  • The most common and most obvious -- reading a passage of Scripture and praying about it. We often chose the passage based on something the Lord was using in our own lives, or at times to address an area of family life that could benefit from revelation and transformation, like perhaps faith or hope or kindness or forgiveness or submission to authority.   
  • Asking who had something to share from their own times with the Lord that week - and leaving it open.
  • Making play dough sculptures of something God cared about....could be any of a number of ideas.
  • Painting with water colors or acrylics or drawing with pastels - or doing a nature study type of drawing....of anything we wanted to praise God for or pray about.
  • Getting a pan and filling it with water, sitting around it on the floor, and dropping a huge rock into it and watching the water spill everywhere -- and asking what lessons we can learn. The one I like is "the water is like God's life of love inside of us - and the Holy Spirit drops inside of us - like this huge rock (Jesus is like a rock you know - strong!) and God's love overflows and comes out to touch everyone around us!" I looked for the Lord to give me ideas like this -- engaging and fun!
And for the sake of honesty let me say, yes, there were times when we would be reading about kindness and kids would be hitting each other; we would be reading about forgiveness and there would be such a thick atmosphere of bitterness that you could almost see it. Or the trials of life would seem so big that we would feel overwhelmed, or that we would feel we were in a storm and overcome, shipwrecked. It was not that we had a pollyanna existence - in fact I think we had more problems than most people - but we have a God who always has shown Himself bigger than our problems.

A Final Story

What we really are longing to do is this: "strengthen our children's hand in God." (I Sam 23:16)
In other words, we want our children to know that we will always be there for them, ready to take their hand literally and figuratively, but even more importantly, THE God who created them and us and the world and the universe and time and space is right there, wanting to hold their hand. God's hand is stronger and wiser and even more loving than their mommy or daddy's hand. He will never let go of them.

It's like this picture. The big hand is God's and the litte one is mine - or theirs.

At the very youngest ages, they begin to experience this.  Like when Cristi was 4 and asked me to buy her a piano, when our income was so modest that I could not afford to use the dryer and could save 10 dollars a month by hanging clothes on the clothesline stead. "Honey, we don't have money for a piano, but God can give us a piano if he wants us to have one. Let's pray." So we do and the next week at church I ask Frank the piano tuner if he happens to know of anyone wanting to give away a piano and he says, "YES, I DO! I just tuned a piano for a 65 year old couple who don't play it anymore and they told me they are wanting to give their piano away. I am sure I could put it in my truck and bring it over this week if you want."  
And our little daughter experienced the LAVISH LOVE of God - the God who holds her hand and taught those little hands to play that piano in preparation for the bigger hands that would play the harp! It was consistent with her life verse from Isaiah  "thanksgiving and joy will be found in her, and the voice of a melody." 

Within the year we would be with our neighbor Denise at a hosital after our son Jonny quit breathing at home one day, due to his heart problems. The ambulance delayed so our neighbor rushed us in her car to the hospital, only minutes away. I am back in the ER with Jonny while Cristi, knowing God cares about pianos, knew all the more that God cared about her little brother -- so right there in that emergency room she says to our kind neighbor, "Denise," in her little girl voice, "Denise, let's pray." And that child's faith influenced that grown woman, renewing her own faith towards the God of heaven.

Participants in God's Great Story

And we all are participating in God's great story! Our children are participating in God's great story. And we have the privilege of strengthening their hands in God, and then they pass this on....strengthening others' hands in God. And this little girl is a young woman, a delightful mother (see the picture below for yourself!), who is believing God that there will be a World Without Orphans, a movement to which she has been called.  

And I never knew. I never knew the treasure that God was preparing, even then, as we sought to nourish her soul, the treasure that He was allowing our family to influence. For the World. For a World Without Orphans. For a World With Sons and Daughters.

Amen and Amen.

Would you take a moment to share something(s) you have done in family devotionals? Or ways you have been able to encourage your children to enjoy the Lord on their own? Thanks-- it's a help to us all!