Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Block Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 31


Meet the Block Family!: Todd & Amy Block, Travis (22), Keegan (20), Addisyn (17), Kallan (16), Mya (10), Aleigha (9), Kaden (6), Carson (5) and Havyn (3)



Last month my husband and I went on a little two day get-a-way.  While gone we got to hear from the Block family as they represented their ministry with Village of Hope in Guatemala, which is a partnership with Lifesong for Orphans and Project Hopeful.  The room was full of diverse families.  We'd never been to the church before and we only knew a handful of people there - but I remember leaning over to my husband during worship and saying "this feels like home".  As a momma of a diverse family, I ache for diversity.  I long to gather with people who "get" the orphan crisis and worship together.  The evening was a tremendous blessing.  God met us there and challenged us deeply.  We're still processing what God has for us, The Roberts Family.  Perhaps through this series you've found yourself processing what He has for YOU and YOUR family.  There are many ways to care for the least of these.  So today, on World Aids Day, I am thrilled to share with you one amazing opportunity!  

Amy, what first tugged on your heart for orphans? 
Sitting in church one Sunday morning it was missions Sunday and they were highlighting different missions and they showed a little orphan girl and the Lord broke our heart that day through her story. We knew we had to do something to help.

When did your family know that God was going to use you in a new way, besides adoption?
After our adoption of Havyn from Ethiopia we asked God what was next and began to pray. The Lord told us that he didn't want us to bring any more children home- but to GO- to them. That eventually took us to serve long-term in Guatemala.

Take a look at what is happening in Guatemala!



What is one challenge you've faced as you serve orphans abroad?
Challenge is getting the word out about our work here so that others can help with what the Lord is doing here at Village of Hope. The needs are overwhelming and we cannot do it on our own. We need the body of Christ to come together and just do what they can to help these children have a future. 

What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is that knowing that when we give to these children we are actually giving to Christ himself. Matthew 25:40

How can people help right NOW?
People can help right now by joining in our buy a brick campaign and helping us build homes at Village of Hope- and give hope to orphans living with HIV/AIDS in Guatemala.

It's that simple!  Maybe you can't adopt right now.  Maybe God isn't calling you give away all your family belongings and move to another country.  He is calling some to do that!  But there is MORE needed.  Those who have already said YES and GONE - they need you.  They need you to simply GIVE.  And so on our last day in the series of "31 Families of HOPE", I'm inviting you to do just that!

At this very moment there is a matching funds opportunity going on.  So every dollar you give will be doubled {til they meet their current goal of $4,000}.
Every single dollar brings HOPE!  If 31 people gave $31 - that would be $961 {with the matching funds project right now it would actually turn into $1922!  Isn't that amazing?  

Maybe you have $13, maybe 31, perhaps $331.  The size is not as important as the willingness to GIVE what you do have.  


Today I want to give something special as well.  So many have loved our "31 Nuggets Necklace".  I'll be giving one of these away on Monday!  You have the whole weekend to help spread HOPE!  Here's how you can get a chance to win.

1) Share this post on Facebook using the button.

2) GIVE! Any size gift!  Use this link!

3) Share this post on Twitter using the button below.

YOU MUST THEN COMMENT HERE at this post saying how you shared HOPE! When you do that your name will be entered to win.  We'll be drawing the winner on Monday! - so you have all weekend to spread HOPE!  The winner is..... Living Out His Love!  Send me your mailing address to nuggetsofhope@yahoo.com!  Thanks everyone for participating.

Thank you, Block Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts.  Your willingness to lay aside everything and GO encourages me greatly.  May MANY rise up and join you in bringing HOPE to the children of Guatemala who are suffering with HIV/Aids.  Please visit the Block family blog to keep updated on what is happening where they serve.

This concludes the "31 Families of HOPE" series.  In case you missed some here they are for easy reference:



Friday, November 30, 2012

The Lord Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 30





Meet the Lord Family!: Rob & Jenni Lord, Emerson, Hattie, Elzie and Judah

I got to meet up and spend time with Jenni recently in Atlanta as the ABBA Fund staff spent time together seeking God about future ministry.  I left wishing we'd had more time together.




Adoption and foster care are two ways to say YES to the fatherless.  Today I wanted you to get the opportunity to meet a family who has said YES in yet another way!  Jenni, Rob and their 4 bio kiddos are making a huge impact for eternity because they love and care for orphans and adoptive families.





Jenni, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

I remember learning about orphans in Africa as a young child. Then, my mom welcomed a foster child in our home when I was 19. He was 19 mos old & is now my brother, Justin. His adoption process took more than 3.5 years & left an indelible mark.  As I really began to understand that God paid the highest price for me & I was adopted as His child forever, my heart was truly stirred for the fatherless. Earthly adoption is just a picture of what He’s done for me. 


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

I had been a runner for many years and upon running my first half marathon, I realized I really wanted it to count for something I believed in.  I then began an adoption/orphan care organization to financially help the fatherless & adoptive families.  Chosen Marathon was founded in 2008 & is a Half & Full Marathon to benefit those involved.  Families can form a team, recruit walkers/runners to their team, and receive all registration funds back for their adoption.  We also help orphanages around the world with basic needs to care for children.


Is Chosen Marathon for Adoption just a local event or can people be involved from other parts of the country as well?

It has been just local to New Braunfels, TX for three years, though we have drawn runners from 25 states each year!  We are presently evaluating expansion opportunities around the country, so that we can help more families & children.  I believe that God wants to use Chosen & sports to tell His story of redemption. Rather than a vain pursuit, we can run for someone else’s victory!


What is one thing you want families who are pursuing adoption to know?

I want to tell you that what God orders, He pays for. Most families I see on this journey start in faith with very little in the bank to adopt.  Do not let finances hinder you from doing what God has called you to!  There are other ministries like us to help, and He WILL provide!


What is one verse that is especially encouraging to you as you serve?

“He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing.”  This helps me stay dependent on Him, rather than relying on my own strength & resources.  He can do far more through me, than I could ever do on my own!


Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

I can’t pick one!  Seeing these babies we’ve prayed & run for come home is an unspeakable gift. Many of the families who have participated the last 2 years had their adopted children with them at the finish line this year; it was overwhelming.  To be a bystander and watch the children’s countenance change over time because of LOVE is such a joy.  It is an honor & privilege to serve families making the ultimate sacrifice to bring children into their homes.

Enjoy this video from their most recent event!





Thank you, Lord Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their ministry website to learn more about this great work God is doing to help serve adoptive families and orphans around the world!  You can also find them on FB: Chosen Marathon and Twitter: chosenmarathon.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Renno Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 29


Meet the Renno Family!: Ryan and Melissa Renno and their new precious Gideon who JUST got in their arms THIS week forever!




Melissa, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

Ryan told his parents as a child that he didn’t want to have biological children, that he wanted to adopt. This was after he watched a documentary on CL/CP with his dad…how crazy is that, right? Then after a 3 year journey with infertility, we knew God was asking us to lay down our plans and trade them in for His and, as always, His plans were far better. 


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

We are about to complete a special needs adoption and through this journey have really met a ton of other adoptive parents. I am in partnership with Kelly Raudenbush, in starting the Baltimore Area Moms Through Adoption Facebook group in conjunction with her Philly Moms Group. I have spoken at MOPS events about adoption as well. UPDATED - they just got united with their son!



What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

The biggest challenge for me, BY FAR, has been learning what true surrender looks like. I am a definite control-freak so it’s been VERY difficult to let go of trying to control everything and just embrace it all, good and bad, to see that God is in control….NOT ME!!! It’s incredibly hard to have to depend on other people to take care of something that is SO PRECIOUS to us.


If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?
I would tell them that we have learned over and over again on this journey that God’s got this. It is true that He will finish the work He has started. If you truly feel that God is calling you to adopt, SAY YES!! He will give you His strength to see it come to fruition. We had LOTS of delays and hiccups (that’s a nice way to put it) throughout our journey, but every time we thought whatever was going on was the worst possible thing that could ever happen, looking back it ALWAYS made sense, even the really really hard stuff! I do not believe that “Everything happens for a reason”, but I do believe that God can take anything and make it beautiful and that’s what He has done for us time and time again. 


What verse was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?

I don’t think I can pick just one so I will share two:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
*To me, this verse really speaks to how amazing it’s going to feel to FINALLY have our son in our arms. We have been longing for almost 3 ½ years for a child and we believe this journey has made our coming reality even sweeter. 

“Before they call I will answer: While they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
*I guess this is self-explanatory, but God truly does know what we need before we even ask. It’s so humbling to know He loves us that much!


Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

God honored the prayers of my best friend and I in an INCREDIBLE way!….this is such a cool story. I’ll link the blog post I wrote about it.

http://youwereborninourhearts.blogspot.com/2012/07/his-last-birthday-without-us.html


If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

One of the most incredible parts of this journey is witnessing how strong the community of adoptive parents and families has been. I have never experienced so much love and support from people I barely know. I have made so many instant friends that I couldn’t have made it through all of this without. Some of them have traveled far distances to come to my long-awaited baby shower, or met me on a work trip to meet and hang out for a few days. It’s just awesome! I have made forever friends all because God placed us on these similar paths. These are some of the only people in this world that truly get what we have and will experience. Soooo grateful! Makes me cry just typing these words!

Thank you, Renno Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their family blog to learn more about their journey and to see a ton of amazing pictures of their precious family who is all now TOGETHER! Also, Melissa's FB group for adoptive moms is: http://www.facebook.com/groups/baltimoremomsthroughadoption/?fref=ts




You can link up to this series by using the code below.

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You can also find info about a new devotional for adoptive/fostering mommas at 31nuggetsofhope.com.



Be sure not to miss the rest of the "31 Families of HOPE" series:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Zeren Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 28


Meet the Zeren Family!: William & Michelle Zeren, Anthony, Benjamin and Henry. The Zeren family is in the middle of their adoption journey to bring home a sweetie from India.




Michelle, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

I have felt called to adopt every since I was a little girl. Learning about abortion, and orphans-especially all those commercials about sending pennies a day to feed a child-all of it hit me so hard as a teenager and I wanted so much to be a parent to one of those kids. My husband has not always been as aware of orphan care ministries, but after going to the first meeting with me and talking about adoption before we were even married, his heart opened and we now have a small bit of money saved and are starting adoption paperwork for a sweet little girl we had the joy of learning about. 



Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

We are currently adopting a special needs little girl from India. We have been very involved with orphan care ministry through our church, and through a special needs orphan care group we learned about Sarah’s Covenant Homes in India (www.schindia.com) and met our sweet little girl and just fell in love, so we are now in the middle of adopting her to our family. We love college football, Lego building and with the fall season, one of our favorite activities has been to jump in leaves! Will works in construction and Michelle stays at home and works as a freelance Search Engine Optimization web writer. 


What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

We haven’t been able to bring our little princess home yet, so our big challenge now is coming up with the money to pay all the bills for different aspects of the adoption. It does break my heart that adoption has to be so expensive, because I know that for years that held us back from starting the process-and if we had not had God bring this sweet little girl into our lives, we probably would still be waiting for the time when we “had enough saved” to start-now though, we have just jumped in and are hoping and praying that we can win some grant assistance. We have also had yard sales and Michelle has started babysitting another child to earn money for the adoption. We are also selling t-shirts through the Show Hope grant organization at : http://www.adoptionbug.com/oneorphanatatime/.


If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?

Don’t wait, if you are being called, there are so many ways to fundraise and earn the extra money-don’t let the cost hold you back. We don’t know how we are going to afford it, but we know that we are being called to bring this little girl to our home. We have studied and prepared for the worst case scenarios with her condition and needs caused by neglect and lack of a family-be prepared and learn everything about your child’s condition, don’t let those things scare you either. Go to adoption support group meetings, read every book possible, and when you discouraged, focus on your child and the end result, the massive amounts of work involved are completely worth it. 


What verse was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?

John 14:18 “ I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” and Psalms 68: 5-6 “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows-this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.”  I love these, and somehow, whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by the paperwork we have yet to do, or the bills we need to pay for her adoption, I find these verses (or even hear them in homilies at church) and they get us refocused. 



Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

We have actually met another family that is adopting a special needs little girl from the same orphanage our little princess is at-and we have been blessed to become close friends and supporters through all the work our families are doing to get our girls to us. (and in a fun turn of events, our little girls are close friends) We have also greatly been blessed with gratefulness for our lives and in our children’s lives. Having our children already have a heart for orphans and the needy is a blessing in and of itself, when this whole world tells us we need and deserve the newest iphone gadget. The journey to bring our princess home to us has put everything in our lives into the correct perspective. 


If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

Not everyone is meant to adopt ... there are many ways to care for the Fatherless.  Sponsoring children and adoption are two other very important ways to be involved.  

Thank you, Zeren Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their family blog for more information about their adoption journey.



You can link up to this series by using the code below.

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You can also find info about a new devotional for adoptive/fostering mommas at 31nuggetsofhope.com.



Be sure not to miss the rest of the "31 Families of HOPE" series:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Gumm Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 27


Meet the Gumm Family!: Mark & Julie Gumm, Luke, Noah, Beza and Natalie






Julie, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

I worked for an adoption attorney in high school - my first exposure to the needs of children in the U.S. foster care system. Continued “tugs” when we’d read news stories, meet people, etc. Our financial freedom journey led us to be more generous givers which opened our eyes to all the needs of the world around us. Read James 1:27 and realized we didn’t know a single orphan. Final kick in the pants was seeing our best friends adopt. 


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.
We did our adoption debt-free. I wrote about our experience in “Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption” in hopes of encouraging other families that adoption is possible without huge loans. {You have a chance to win a copy below!} We both worked for World Orphans for a time. Mark is currently searching for the right position where he can use his calling to care for orphans and his passion for discipleship and compassion.


What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

FOOD. One child was a VERY picky eater and it took six months or more before meal time wouldn’t put me on the verge of tears. Today, almost 4 years later, still deal with some trust and control issues. Overall though we have been very fortunate and had a fairly easy transition.


If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?

Give it to God. ALL of it. The process, the children, your family. Stop trying to control it and give it to him.


What verse was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?

Isaiah 40:28-31
New International Version (NIV)
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.


Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

We discovered a passion for orphan care that has radically transformed our futures and our careers.


If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

If you think adoption is financially out of reach, it isn’t. God is a miracle-worker and our great provider. I can give you numerous examples of families who have raised $30,000 to cover the cost of their adoption. If you have questions about how you can do it, check out my blog or email me. I would love to chat.


Thank you, Gumm Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out Julie's website to learn more about their family. You can also find info for her book there!  It's a great resource for families considering adoption!




You have a chance to win a copy today!  Comment below one way that adoption has touched your life.  We'll draw a winner tomorrow morning!


You can link up to this series by using the code below.

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You can also find info about a new devotional for adoptive/fostering mommas at 31nuggetsofhope.com.



Be sure not to miss the rest of the "31 Families of HOPE" series:

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wadenpfuhl Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 26


Meet the Wadenpfuhl Family!: John & Brandy Wadenpfuhl, Dominic, Gabriel and Analeigh





Brandy, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

Adoption has always been a passion of ours – it was actually a stipulation for us getting married.  I can’t speak for my husband, but for me I just always had the desire to adopt one day.  We tried to conceive for a few years after we were married, ever learning of various roadblocks.  Long before we exhausted all avenues to conceive a biological child, we turned our focus back to adoption – not to rescue a child, but because we were selfish and wanted to be parents.  Our desire to adopt had led us to a group at our church focusing on those interested in adoption/orphan care.  It was through that group that we first learned of God’s heart for the Fatherless and began to understand the extent of the passion He had given us.


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

Our boys are only 7.5 months apart and we got all our children when they were first born (4 days, 1.5 hours, and 1.5 hours).  Prior to having a family, we spent almost 5 years researching adoption and foster care and networking with others.  This knowledge has helped me work with others by simply answering questions about adoption methods/requirements to walking someone through the process from potential match to placement.



What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

Waiting was always very difficult for us. Not just the seemingly forever wait for “the call” with our first child, but more so once we were matched.  Our first child was already born and he was placed with us the same day as we were matched.  Our second child was a 2 month wait between match and placement.  During that time the bio mom had lost touch with the agency so we were not sure at all if it was still going to happen or not.  The day we got the call saying she was in labor was such a relief because we at least knew the wait was over – regardless of the outcome.  Since our daughter was a bio sibling of our younger boy, we were considered matched when she was very early in her pregnancy.  This time things went much smoother than before (thankfully), but just like our second son, her placement was under “legal risk”.  This meant that the rights had not been terminated and she could still change her mind at any time (even after we left the hospital).  I can’t say we were “scared” but it was a challenging time as we waited to see if she would choose to go through with her decision.  We knew we could not do anything that would affect the outcome so we relied 100% on God and trusted Him that whatever the outcome was, it was His will and the best for everyone.


If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?

Do not be burdened by the feeling you need to justify your path and do not allow others to cast doubt on what God has placed on your heart.  We struggled with this for a long time – everyone wanted to know why we had chosen what we had chosen (international vs domestic, age, race, openness to special needs or not, open vs closed, etc) and I tried often to satisfy their questioning.  I finally learned that my answers would never suffice.  Ultimately, God was leading us down the path HE designed.  We didn’t understand it, no matter how much we tried to, and surely we did not choose it, but we knew it was our path - the path that He created for us, not anyone else.  This path would lead us to the children God had created for us to parent and to be in our family.


What is one verse that was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?

The verses we leaned on seemed to change depending on what the hardest thing was at that moment, but this verse really brought us peace.  This was our reminder that God always fulfills His promises, but not necessarily in our time or in the way we imagine.

And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. –Hebrews 6:15


Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

We have a family!!  We did not just grow by our three children, but we grew by 3 children, and lots and lots of their bio family.  (As I explained to my niece, how can we define family to my children as those who are blood related?  We define family by love – regardless of blood/biological relationship.) This journey has opened many doors to share adoption and God.  The response to the fact we have open adoptions is always shock.  I really enjoy sharing with others how an open adoption is an amazing blessing to us as parents and our children – it is truly an example of love multiplied.  The best part is adoption opens the door for us to share God – He created adoption when we were offered adoption into His family as full heirs as siblings to Jesus Christ.  Every time we share our adoption story, we get to share how God broke unbelievable barriers, how His timing was perfect in every way (and how the wait made us better parents), how God knew which children belong to which parents, and His love.


If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

Foster care and adoption are not the only ways to support adoption/orphan care.  If God has placed this on your heart – find some way to get involved to help the Fatherless (support an adopting/foster family, become a CASA, join an adoption/orphan care group, etc)!  If adoption/foster care is your path, it is one of the toughest things to do, but beyond far the most rewarding!  God has stretched us and grown us like we could have never imagined through this journey (and we are not done yet!).  So many times we found ourselves face down in tears with nothing left to give.  No answer to our direct questions “when will it be our turn”, “why them and not us”, “how will this ever work”, etc, just God’s peace overflowing from within that He was with us and Jesus was carrying us through the hardest times as we walked our path towards our family.

Thank you, Wadenpfuhl Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their family blog so you can see God continue to work in and through their family.



You can link up to this series by using the code below.

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You can also find info about a new devotional for adoptive/fostering mommas at 31nuggetsofhope.com.



Be sure not to miss the rest of the "31 Families of HOPE" series:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Smith Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 25


Meet the Smith Family!: Jeremiah & Ashley Smith and Marvel


Ashley, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

The Husband and I both are products of adoption (though through different circumstances) and it was always part of our “10 year plan” to someday build our family through adoption… It wasn’t until we did a short-term mission to Brazzaville, Congo in 2007 that we began to feel God directing us towards adoption as our first path to parenthood. And ultimately, it was during that trip that we first felt the call to Africa.


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

The Husband and I have been in ministry for over a decade in one capacity or another: First serving as worship leader (him) and children/youth director (me) in an inner-city missions church, then moving states to be on staff as (surprise surprise) worship leader (him) and children/youth director (me) at a small church. Most recently, we are excited to be part of the new Orphan Care ministry that is launching at our church and love serving in ministry still!


What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

For us, adoption has been an incredible leap of faith financially. We were blessed beyond measure in the ability to cover Marvel’s adoption fees and are working hard to trust God completely and not become entrapped by fear as we embark on our second adoption!


If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?

Find people who understand. There is no way I could have made it through the journey without a village made up of like-minded people. Blogs are an amazing resource and where we connected with the most people. Be cautious of both “too-good-to-be-true” forums and likewise “adoption-bashing” groups.  Finally, I would encourage families to open their minds and hearts to the idea of older-child adoption. I was SO afraid of adopting an older child when we felt God directing us that way, but now? I can’t imagine life without our amazing Marvel!!



What verse was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?

Strangely enough, it was Ezekiel 34:12 that gave me strength and perseverance during the adoption process.

“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”

This scripture reminded me of the ways God has relentlessly pursued his children from less-than-ideal situations…much like the way we pursue our children in adoption. It was that revelation that gave me renewed fervor!


Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

You mean besides Marvel? Okay okay… I would say the greatest blessing that has happened in my life through this journey is a clearer understanding of God’s heart…not just for the orphan (although Yes! Including them) but also for the hurting, the broken, the poor, the widow. For you. And for me.

Tangibly, I was so completely overwhelmed and blessed by the support system that surrounded us, prayed with us, gave us their time, energy, (and yes) money as our village. It goes without saying that there were so many people celebrating Marvel’s homecoming with us!


If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

I think it’s important to realize that this isn’t going to be easy. God is in the midst and He’s going to do an awesome work in your life and in the life of your child(ren). But it isn’t going to come without a cost. Parenting a child from a hard-place looks different. It IS different.

You’ll think you couldn’t possibly need to know all the stuff you are required to read about. 

You will. 

You’ll never imagine that your child will fit one of those “case studies” Dr. Purvis describes.

He or She will.

You’ll think that nothing could be more difficult than the waiting.

It can.


But in the middle of all those hard things, you see the beauty of trust building in your child. You start to see healing in his eyes. You see a boy that was hiding behind walls he built to protect his little heart. You’ll realize he wants to fall asleep in your arms. 

And deep down in your heart you realize, that as hard as it is?  You’d do it all over again.  That after all that? It was really a story of the lengths God will go to bring redemption and family to the fatherless..To His child. You were merely the vessel He used.

Because you said Yes.

Thank you, Smith family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their family blog so you can see God continue to work in and through their family.  Their story isn't done!  I'm excited to share they are full-swing into their second adoption journey!  You can be part of their story!  Check it out.  


You can link up to this series by using the code below.

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You can also find info about a new devotional for adoptive/fostering mommas at 31nuggetsofhope.com.



Be sure not to miss the rest of the "31 Families of HOPE" series:

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Van-Strahlen Family ~ 31 Families of HOPE: Day 23



Meet the Van-Strahlen Family!: Chris & Jenny, and Savannah





Jenny, what first tugged on your heart about the Fatherless?

My husband and I both came from a childhood of loss. Having our own dealings with be raised by those who were not our biological parents we have a deep longing to provide a loving and supportive home to those who would otherwise be left behind. This is why we chose to adopt an older child and one with such needs that most families would not even consider looking at.


Tell us one unique thing about your family/ministry.

Savannah has severe emotional and psychological needs. She has been diagnosed with Diagnosed with Bipolar, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Conduct Disorder.



    I am involved with the Jr. High Group ministry at Warehouse 242 in Charlotte, NC.

    I am also the president of SPAFA (Sothern Piedmont Adoptive Families of America).







    What was one challenge either before, during or after your child(ren) came home?

      Our whole journey has been a challenge. But our largest challenge has been learning to live with a child who may never be capable of returning love. Learning that I cannot do this alone and that God is the only one who can heal her. That all of my love cannot do it.


      If you could tell a family that was considering adoption one bit of advice what would it be?






      Prepare! Prepare! Prepare! Do your research on dealing with trauma and loss. Adoption by nature is trauma. Everything about it… the loss of the ability to have biological children for the parents, the loss of everything for the child. You need to be a loss expert.



      What verse was especially encouraging to you during your adoption journey?







      Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


      Share one blessing that has happened because you said YES and followed God on this journey.

      My greatest joy has been watching our daughter become a kid. To see her hyper vigilance slowly disappear and watch her play with no worries touches my heart so deeply.


      If you could share one other thing that is meaningful to you on the topic of adoption/orphan care, what would it be?

      I have a special place in my heart for adopting the abused and the neglected. The children who others see as hopeless. The children who mask their fears and loss with anger. These are the most wounded of souls and the ones who need us the most. God has really put upon my heart the need to help these kids.


      Thank you, Van-Strahlen Family, for sharing HOPE with us here at Reaching Hearts!  Be sure to check out their family blog for more information about their adoption journey.