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his face.

A beautiful surprise was waiting in my email this morning… photos of Duo! We are so excited to meet him in just a few short weeks! Found out he was born just two weeks before Noah was so they are very close in age. His report says that he loves to sing and blow kisses. We cannot wait to meet our “china brother.”

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We still have quite a bit to raise in a short amount of time. With unexpected added expenses for airfare from ATL to PDX we have a $650 balance from New Horizons for Children. We also have to complete parent training courses that will cost $200. Then all of the expenses of activities and clothing while Duo is here. We humbly ask that you would pray about helping us meet these expenses. We are holding a garage sale this weekend and the children are holding a lemonade/cookie stand this week to try and raise money but we need help. Thank you for loving us well and encouraging us with your support. This is such an amazing opportunity for our children… bringing the world and the mission to their home.

Click here to donate: Weaving the Gospel in the Life of a Chinese Orphan

*** financial update on June 22, 2014 ***
We had a two day long garage sale that raised $700 to go towards our fees! Praise God!!! The kids worked so hard selling water and sodas and my sweet husband tirelessly sorted, set up, and tore down for three full days. We were able to share Duo’s story with many people and the Gospel went forth!

We are now only $400 away from our goal!!! That’s it… $400!!! Would you please help us get there!

Oh and I finally received his flight dates – he arrives July 2nd and leaves August 5th. Sooooo soon! He will be here in NINE days!!!

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mother’s day

Flowers + balloons + cards on display in every grocery store around this time. I tell my hubby don’t waste his money on helium and paper and petals that will soon wilt on to the floor… give me chocolate. Dark chocolate. Oh and a steaming hot cup of coffee, venti. That’s all this momma could ever want.

But then again those gigantic lovefest for your mama displays turns my heart to the beautiful gifts I’ve already been given. You see all I’ve ever wanted was children of my own. And I wanted a quiver full. After the birth of our first child we lost two children through miscarriage. My heart has never ached like that. Losing a child suddenly changed your perspective on everything. For a while everything was dull, colorless, bleak. I feared the future. Would I ever have another child? I curled up in the darkness of my grief because I was didn’t want to hurt again… so I choose to not feel anything. But then slowly the colors in the rainbow become more vibrant. The cheerios on my kitchen floor from my toddler became cherished reminders (with each crunch under my feet) that God had already given me so much. God taught me to just rest in Him. To take joy in the here and now. We then found out we were expecting another child. The pregnancy was riddled with complications and bed rest. Again, God taught me to just rest in Him. To take joy and fight for that joy when fears encompassed me. A healthy boy arrived. Then just a few short months later, another pregnancy with even more fears. Told that “the baby is not growing and it is not a viable pregnancy” and we prepared our hearts that God may take this child. “He gives and He takes away. But my heart will choose to say ‘blessed be the name.'” But God gave. And He gave her to us on Mother’s Day. She arrived early in the morning that Sunday in May of 2009. Maybe so I could spend the rest of my Mother’s Day just resting and not laboring… thanks honey. Then two more girls were added to the family in the next couple of years.

A quiver full. YES.

Motherhood has changed me. For the good. It has brought forth my sin and selfishness and pride. God has shown me that He is not done with me and He is going to refine me every single day. Every single day. You see, before I was married I had it all together. Or so I thought. But then I got married and was confronted by this awful, sinful heart that did not like having to give up her independence and pride. Oh but then I had children and my whole world came crashing down. I had no idea that I didn’t have patience! I mean seriously. News to me. All of a sudden my independent, strong willed personality was being challenged tiny little independent, strong willed personalities. I needed Jesus. Desperately. I became dependent on Jesus. Crazy how that happens. I saw the depth of sin in my own life and realized I could not muster up enough ‘good’ in me to do this thing called ‘motherhood.’ Thankfully Jesus met me right there in that pit and pulled me out. He shown me His sweet mercies through my children. Taught me how to repent when I mess up… asking for forgiveness of a three year old is hard stuff sometimes. But the “of course, mama” and sticky fingered hugs are hands down my favorite times. I’ve experienced a peace that surpasses all understanding now that I am a mother. I know these babes are just mine to care for. They are God’s prized possession. I cannot protect, guide, or nurture enough. He will do it. And I need to let Him do it. These little birdies will fly away one day and I pray that they will always soar on wings like eagles.

And then my thoughts turn towards my own mother. The cycle of life really gets me sometimes. When I became a mother a whole new admiration for my mother was birthed. My mother’s love is one for the record books. She gave everything of herself to save me. She sacrificed it all. Knowing that I needed more than she could give she let me go… and gave me a chance. I have never respected a woman more in my life. As a mother now I see the cost she paid of dying to herself. I can hardly bear the thought of it. But I am eternally grateful for the gift she gave me. She fought for me. She prayed for me. She cried for me. She didn’t give up. She knew that Jesus is in control. And that is how she could let go.

And then there is my grandmother. The one who was my shelter and my rock. She felt the brunt of my angst and pain, yet never returned it. I believe Jesus hid  me away in the cleft of the rock for a time being. She was that hiding place. A place where I could show my brokenness and be restored, see darkness of the night fade in to the dawns early light. She is a gift straight from Heaven above. Thankful for the women in my life who have taught me laugh, live, and lay it all at the throne of Jesus.

While my heart is full of thanksgiving for my nest full, I am also so painfully aware that there are many who long for the day when they can say the same. Whether infertility, loss of a child, awaiting a child through adoption, or the loss of a mother… empty arms hurt. We are ever so privileged to have a Creator who opens His arms to us as we come to Him in our darkness and grief. Let us all be aware that there are those who are hurting too and let’s have our arms open.

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red threads: update

Six weeks ago we embarked on the journey to fundraise $3450 to cover the cost of giving ONE orphan the love and hope of Jesus. Y’all… you did it. You opened your hearts and have helped the “least of these.” Orphans are the most vulnerable, overlooked, unloved, in the world. But you took a stand on this child’s behalf. You said ‘enough.’ You personally sacrificed your finances and gave of your prayers. I know Jesus is proud. He said, “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40.

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While we have met our current goal of $3450, which the agency has used to purchase his airline tickets, medical insurance, and visa/documents to travel, we still need roughly $900 in order to cover the a connecting flight from NYC to PDX (arrival + departure), cost of parent training ($200 for the courses and certification), clothing + shoes, hygiene items, toys/gifts, items to send home to the orphanage, activities while here. We are praying that the Lord will give us a doctor and dentist that will donate their services to him while he is here – if you know of one in Portland, please let us know! Our church is hosting a garage sale this next month to help offset our expenses of food and activities while he is here. We will continue to take donations through the fundraising site: RED THREADS.

One of the most beautiful things I will be able to share with this child is telling him how a community of people who have never met him loved him enough to pay for his entire trip to America. That he is LOVED. Fiercely. By our family, people he has never met, and mostly by Jesus. That the reason we all can give freely and love with abandon is because we were FIRST given to and loved much. Jesus. Hallelujah.

I get chills thinking of how this child, an eight year old boy who has grown up in an orphanage his entire life, will hear the Gospel and see the Gospel lived out in the flesh. We are teaming up with a Chinese church here in Portland so that he will be able to hear the Good News in his own language and see the body of Christ without walls. Please be praying for his sweet soul. 30 days is not long. I want more. But that is what God is giving us to be with him. And if I know anything… God can do ALOT in 30 days.

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a birthday photoshoot

she turns FIVE years old in just a few days so we spent went on a fun “picture taking adventure,” so she calls it. each of my children get a birthday photoshoot so that it gives me a chance to capture their personality and we get to have a little one on one time (with five children they are each always vying for some alone time).

we walked around our farm land for about an hour and she picked out the spots she wanted to take her photos in. she has grown up so much in the last year. 99% of the time she is wearing her older brother’s clothes and stomping around in a pair of overalls and boots (sans the shirt), but every once in a while she lets me do her hair and she will choose a “girl” shirt. happy this was one of those ‘every once in a whiles.’ stunning and the most precious heart. so very thankful for her.

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red threads

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.” -Chinese proverb

A proverb says that invisible, red threads connect newborn babies to all the people who will be important in their lives. The threads shorten as these people, bound from birth, come together. While the Chinese proverb uses the red thread to describe destiny, I choose to believe it is the handiwork of God Himself.

After spending time in China during college, my heart left entralled and in love with the country. I so deeply wanted to move overseas and work on the mission field the rest of my life. During my preparation to do just that, God literally put a roadblock in front of me. He placed my future husband at the coffeeshop table directly next to mine. (Love you honey!) I wrestled with God for months as I sought His will for my future. In the end, I believe the Lord called me to marriage and family and ministry here in the United States. Still, the longing in my heart for China was there. Before we were married my husband and I both dreamed of adopting a child from China one day. But the years have gone by… it’s never been the right time. We’ve had five children and life is full and busy. Motherhood is the most incredible ministry I could imagine. With the birth of our last child we began praying for what God would have our family look like… has God given us all the children He desires, does He want us to begin adoption, what about foster care here in the US, how can we play a role in serving the orphans of the world? Our heart became increasingly burdened for foster and orphan care.

A sweet friend (she’s my cousin too) of mine hosted an orphan from the Ukraine over the winter break and I was intrigued… I had no idea that was even an option! As we searched, googled, and looked through different agencies all of the China programs were currently closed. My heart was pulled in a million different directions. We did not have peace moving forward to host and decided to wait until or if the China program would reopen.

One morning I sat down to my computer to open not only one, but two, emails from host organizations that the Chinese program was opening that very day and we would be able to host this summer if we would like to. I think I startled everyone in the house when I jumped up, filled with excitement as I ran to tell my husband. With a resounding YES from God, we knew He was weaving that red thread back around. We immediately viewed the bios of the children available for hosting and decided that an incredible 8 year old boy, with some special needs, would fit in to our family just perfectly this summer! Here is our sweet boy, Duo, who they say loves to sing, is quite the comedian, enjoys simple math problems, and can identify several fruits. Goodness he is precious!!!

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So you know a bit about our historical love for China, have seen a photo of the cutest little guy ever, and now I’ll share the nitty gritty details of this whole hosting process.

Duo will be with a part of our family the entire month of July 2014, approximately 5 weeks.

We chose to go through New Horizons for Children, the largest faith-based hosting program, because of their heart to bring the Gospel to these vulnerable children through the relationships of Christian host families. New Horizons for Children is NOT an adoption organization, it simply exists to connect the most broken, lost, hopeless children to healthy, loving families that will share the love of Jesus with them. While this sweet boy is available for adoption (and most likely will never be adopted on the conventional route due to his age and special needs) we are not going in to this summer with the full intention of adoption. We pray that he will find his forever family, whether that be us or another family that falls in love with him while he visits America. Praying for the Lord to make His will regarding the future clear, we are  opening our hearts and home this summer simply to share the Gospel, give him the love of a family, and advocate for his needs. While adoption is never spoken about with the child (adoption is not the intention of the program), about 80% of the children who are hosted are eventually adopted by their host families or by a family the host has found or had contact with.

Children who age out of the orphanage are some of the most vulnerable in the world. At age 16, with little life skills, education, support, they often become a statistic. 60% of the girls are lured in to prostitution or sex trafficking rings, 70% of boys will be on the streets or in jail, and 15% will commit suicide within the first two years of being on their own. People… this is not okay. We as Christians must stand up and bridge this gap. We are commanded to care for the orphans and the widowed. While we all might not be called to adopt, be able to open our home to hosting, or go overseas to spread the Gospel worldwide… we all can participate in the protection of these children. We are asking the body of Christ to surround this child with an outpouring of love. Please pray for him now and through the summer hosting journey. Consider sharing the burden of the financial fees we are taking on as a family.

A breakdown of the expenses:

Deposit $250

Background checks $50

Parent Training Sessions $200

International plane tickets/visa/travel/medical insurance for Duo $3250
-home study for us is included in price
-he will receive full medical care (vision, dental, and physical exams)
-we will work with a medical specialist regarding his special needs (I’d love to share privately more about his needs if you are interested)

Beyond the above mandatory fees, there will be other costs. Most orphans arrive with little to no clothing or belongings. We will need to provide him with clothing and some belongings, as he is able to take one suitcase back to China with him. Also, there is the cost of food and activities while he is here. We have been told to expect a total of $4500 in expenses.

  • $1850 due by April 1st
  • $1400 due by June 1st
  • Remaining due July 1st

This is overwhelming for us as we already have five children to provide for. However, we fully trust God to provide and pray that He will use you to as a part of Duo’s journey. If you would join us in providing for this orphan, please feel free to donate directly to New Horizons for Children (tax-deductable) or through our personal fundraising site (sorry, this is not tax-deductable).


DONATE VIA ONLINE GIVING SITE

We will be fundraising for the next two months… raffles, garage sales, auctions. If you can help in any possible way regarding ideas or items to raffle, that would be wonderful.

Please pray for Duo and for our family. For Duo, as he is orphaned, without the love of a family. For his heart to be open to Jesus and our family. For his special needs and the provision of an excellent medical team. For our children, as they have been working to learn simple words in Chinese and have prayed for him daily. However, we know that there will be a transition and hurdles on both sides. Pray for our children as they prepare to minister and fall in love with their host brother.

We cannot begin to thank you for your love and support. What a gift to see the body of Christ rise up and defend the orphan together.

Psalm 68:5-6
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,  is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families..” 

James 1:27
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

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new and improved

Time to document our new {and improved} family of SEVEN.
Darling little Clementine joined our family over three months ago and has brought so much joy that we didn’t even know was missing.

Our amazing friends have a 1969 VW van (our dream car) and we persuaded them with chocolate chip cookies to let us take our family photos in front of it.
Bribing with cookies is how I show my love these days:)

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And our two little friends jumped in the photo for a friend picture… aren’t they precious?
Thankful for God ordained friends (with a cool VW van)!
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Sheryl Bullard - I went to school at Calallen with the Redding Kids…..I love ALL the pictures that Brenda shares of her Family. But, these are far the Most Adorable!! What a Family of Models!! These kiddos are very healthy and happy no doubt!! LOVE it!! Great Photography!!

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