Sunday, March 31, 2013

He Kept His Promise

He said He would die.

He said He would rise again.

He did.

He kept His promise.

He always keeps His promises.

Today we celebrated the risen Lord...
and had the privilege of sharing a speck of the hope for Ruby
because of God's promises in all three of our church's services...






{Spent the rest of the day with our precious friends, Stuart and Jennifer}

We pray your day was blessed and that 
your joy is found in Him, 
and Him alone.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

That Man O' Mine



His selfless love for others makes him an 
example of God's pure love...

Gentle.

Tender-hearted.
Cries easily {especially when children suffering are mentioned}

Kind.
Wise.

Brave.

Strong.

Orphan advocate.


Grace-filled.

Generous.

Known by more than a dozen as "dad"

and hundreds as Big Jaja.....

and by me for the last 37+ years  as "Whitey"...

Today we celebrate the most godly man I know whom
 I have had the privilege of spending most of my life with.

Join me in wishing that man o' mine a very Happy Birthday.

I love you Whitey.

May you feel honored, celebrated and loved today and every day.



Friday, March 29, 2013

Gettin' All Gussied Up...

As Easter Sunday approaches, much preparation and thought will have
 gone into what everyone will wear.

Somehow, somewhere, someone started the 'tradition' of dressing up extra
special for Easter.   Stores clothes racks which once were laden with fancy dresses
and darling little boy suits will now be nearly emptied as moms and dads looked
for the perfect outfit for their little ones.



Easter bonnets, white sandals and stylish gloves adorn some.  
Ties, bow ties and page boy hats for some little fellows.
An array of shiny shoes, straw purses and lots of bows!

Yet, the Lord stopped me today and whispered,
"So much thought at Easter on the outward appearance,
but what's going on in your heart today?"

Whoooa Lord.

Whoooa.

True enough.

I have been struggling in frustration with someone.
Preoccupied with their not-nice-behavior.

I'm not mad.

Really, I'm not.

But definitely frustrated in my heart.

Thinking all day long, "How could they do that?
For goodness sake, aren't they old enough to know better? Ugh."

And so it was that He whispered, "Let go.  Love them.  No matter what.
If they choose to continue being silly, it's not your worry.  Just love them.
Because you, Linny, can dress up all you want, but it's the inside I'm looking at."

Then He reminded me of this verse:  

"Your beauty should not come from 
outward adornment, such as elaborate 
hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry 
or fine clothes. Rather, it should be 
that of your inner self, the unfading 
beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, 
which is of great worth in God’s sight."  
I Peter 3:3-4

No doubt, I can get all gussied up, but He looks right past 
the gussiness and sees my heart.   

So I have been staring at this today, more than ever and praying....



***Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord, 
and let every word and thought only bring honor and glory to you. 
Because it's only, ever, really about you.***


Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Invitation to Meet Susanna's Family...

No doubt, judging from your response, everyone is just as overjoyed as we are
that Susanna's family found her.
We serve such a powerful and mighty God.

On a super exciting note, Susanna's mom, Kristin,
has a blog and she has invited everyone to join in their journey
to both Susanna and "Will".

Her post is already up sharing the start of the journey and
Kristin shared something so profound in it regarding their decision
making process
about whether to go forward with pursing Susanna:

On Sunday I told Keith, "I have reasons not to move forward,
but not one of them can be supported by scripture 
and they all have to do with me." 
He said, "Same here. We move forward." 

Can you imagine what would happen if we made 
every single decision asking this question:  
"Can my decision to _______ be supported by scripture?"  

Kristin's words struck me in such a powerful way,
what would happen if we really lived with that question
in the forefront of our minds every single day.

If we really lived our lives with the support of 
scripture always in our forefront, 
think of how our world would be different.

Hunger would be no more.  Not because of some 
government program, but because every decision we made, 
we asked, "Can my decision be supported by scripture?"

And homelessness would not be a word.

And marriages would remain intact.

Can you imagine if we asked each time we opened our mouths 
to speak, "Are my words supported by scripture?" 

And gossip would not wreak havoc.

And counseling office would be empty.  

And friends would not part ways. 

"Are my life choices supported by scripture?"  

And every orphanage around the world would be empty.  

If only.

If only.

Such powerful words for my heart to ponder. 

********************

You are invited to joyfully and prayerfully
 follow Susanna and Will's journey home.  

And from the bottom of my hearts dear friends, 
thank you for sharing a part already through prayer
in bringing Susanna {and "Will" home}....
let's pray and help bring them all the way home... 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Need Some Joyous News Today?


"God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free 

and gives them joy."
Psalm 68:6  nlt

Remember a week or so ago I did a blog post 
advocating for a family for little Susanna?  

Many of you advocated with me....you posted the link on your Facebook, many prayed...

Do you remember?  

There was something about Susanna's face.  

I could not rest thinking about her.  
The picture of her reaching out of her crib, 
her hydrocephalus and the knowledge that 
she had never been out of her room before.

Her face just wouldn't leave me.  

But there was something else that I didn't put in the post.
I have to edit and figure out what to place in it and I had left
quite a bit of information about her out.  

I knew that if a family was really interested they would 
be able to read about Susanna and her current life.

This the part I didn't include, but just kept tormenting me:    

The girl not only interacts with the other child in her room 
but she has formed a significant relationship of friendship with him. 
Their beds are one next to the other and they exchange toys 
and “talk” to each other. The caregivers explained whenever 
the girl starts vocalizing, the boy joins her. 
They have seen her reach out through the bars of his bed 
and try to “fix” his clothes the way the caregivers do. 
Whenever the boy is taken out of the room for some reason, 
she is looking for him and gets anxious. 
Perhaps there is no need to say what a good sign 
her acceptance and communication with him is 
with regards to her future interactions with other children.

Does that pull at your heart and tear you apart like it does me?

Seriously, that part of Susanna's story kept tormenting me.
I could see her anxiousness in my mind's eye.  
I could see her eyes looking and wondering where her little friend had gone.
Waiting nervously for him to return.
Unsettled.
Uncomfortable.
When would he be back?
I could feel it.  
We began to pray for a family for Susanna.
Asking God to do the miraculous. 

I wrote to the woman who asked me to advocate for Susanna.
"Had a family come forward yet?"  It was truly hard to think of much else.


And the response came.

Ready for this:  

Not only did a family come forward...

but

they are asking for the little boy in the crib

next to her...

Seriously friends!!  

Is God utterly amazing?

He has so many surprises for us....

Rejoice with us!

God truly places the lonely in families...and sets them free...

Susanna's family found her!!  
They found her!!  
And her family found her friend!!  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Can't Leave Home? No Problem

Can't leave home to serve on foreign soil?

No problem!!

This isn't the summer for you to take a mission trip?

No problem!!

Can't afford a family vacation this summer?

No problem!!!

Perhaps you've been wracking your brain, wondering 
 what the highlight of your summer will be.  

No problem!!!

Or maybe you're one of those people who daydream:

Wondering what the real purpose of your family is? 
Ever daydream what it would like to have a large family?  {even for just a few weeks} 
Ever ponder what it would be like to adopt an older child?

What if you could answer all of the above in the blink of an eye?


By spending part of your summer serving 
"on foreign soil"
without ever leaving American soil...



Can you think of a better investment on American soil than this?

Opening your home to an orphan
 for 4-5 weeks
and loving each unconditionally
and offering them 

hope....

And that my friends,
is called a 
win/win
for eternity!

As I've communicated back and forth in 
preparation to do this post,
I learned something that make me completely squeal...
this hosting program has 
recently begun a Ch*na hosting program as well. 

New Horizons for Children 
would love you to take a peek 
at just a few of the faces who desperately long
for you to open your heart and home for 
only 4 - 5 weeks this summer


For those wondering what it would be like to have a big family....
How about a set of siblings?
Can you imagine spending 4 - 5 weeks reminding them that they
are precious in His sight?




How about spending a few weeks loving on this beautiful girl 
and telling her how beautiful she is to Almighty God?

{N is to be considered as HOST ONLY & SPECIAL NEEDS - 
She was one of our favorite children. N was wonderful to talk with 
and we really enjoyed speaking with her. She would love to visit America
 and see the ocean, a swimming pool, and a theme park.
 Her Director said when she asks her to do something, 
N always does it right then and goes above and beyond to make sure it is done right. 
She loves working in the garden and really loves spending time with adults. 
She is such a special little girl who deserves to be blessed this summer. 
You'll soon realize that N will be the one blessing you! 
N currently has a $120 hosting scholarship!}

Or this handsome young man....
that God has an amazing plan for his life?

{Do you know what it's like to be chosen last or worse yet not chosen at all?
 This boy pictured below named N does, he's been interviewed for hosting several times before 
and was never chosen. Something a child should never have to feel! 
He has a hearing problem and should wear a hearing aid in one ear, 
but he prefers NOT to use it. Perhaps some time in a loving environment 
would give him the confidence boost he needs to make the decision 
to wear it on regular basis. N is very small for his age, 
and so he is often picked on.
 His social worker has nothing but good things to say about him. 
He wants to learn how to paint, and train to be a mechanic. 
Can you make room in your heart and home for N this summer?
 He currently has a $700 hosting scholarship.}




Or how about this young man below...
it's his last chance to be hosted
he desperately needs to know that 
God can move on his behalf....
{K is considered HOST ONLY as he is too old to be adopted. 
He will graduate this fall and be out on his own in the world. 
K very recently gave his life to Jesus. He desperately wants a chance
 to come to America, because he says he wants to learn English better 
(which he knows will help give him an advantage when looking for work). 
He also says he wants to learn more about God and to grow in his new faith. 
There is nobody near him to teach him about God, but he knows there
 are Christian families in America who can help him. He also says 
he wants to learn more life skills to equip him (cooking, decision making, 
money management, etc...). He is hoping someone in America will 
mentor and disciple him this summer and offer him hope for his impending future. 
We feel that he needs a family who can be committed to mentoring 
and teaching him with the knowledge that the clock is ticking for him and
 time is almost up. He currently has a $300 hosting scholarship!}



Notice the joy of being hosted...


This precious girl only has this last chance to be hosted...
and this is also her last chance for adoption...
{I shudder to think what could become of her after
she ages out if someone doesn't open their heart and home to her.}

The young man pictured below....
{R is a smart, talented, cooperative, easy going boy who will 
soon age out of the system. He comes from a supportive foster family
 and is emotionally appropriate for his age. He is a talented artist!
 R helped his winter family willingly with household and outside chores.
 He understands prices and budgeting. He is always shy at first meeting 
new people but warms up after a while. He has a wonderful smile and laugh! 
He loved riding bikes and horses, and an American roller coaster. 
His English is very good. He is very bright and is a wonderful
 boy that would fit well into a family with kids of any age, 
has grown children, or as an only child! 
This will be Rs last chance to find a forever family!}


Three siblings...
they would bring such joy to your home...
A mission field right in your own home...
serving and loving these three
{S, S & L need a family with experience and structure! 
S was calm in our interview, and told us she likes to draw, paint, dance 
and play with dolls. She would grant more holidays from school 
if she were the orphanage director. S likes dolphins and raspberries. 
You can see in her picture that one eye turns inward, she could benefit
 from an eye exam stateside. She and baby brother L will really need structure and supervision. 
L is a precocious, active, fun, physical animated story teller!}


I love this girl's smile...
look at her 'after hosting' picture...


Do you see the potential to be a missionary 
right in your own home?




Sharing what you have...
including your backyard and trees

with those who have nothing....



Bringing 

h*o*p*e*



and reminding each their value to Almighty God...


and of all the promises of God


Every one needs to learn or be reminded that
 God created them for a 
very significant purpose
{Brothers below: S and younger brother Z were hosted during winter program. 
S is a delightful, smart young man---responsible, kind and caring of his younger brother,
 easy-going, great sense of humor even in his broken English. 
There is NOTHING negative that I could say about S. 
Z is a bright, cheery boy with a good sense of humor. 
He is sensitive to others and likes to share. 
He likes sports of all kinds and is athletic. 
He enjoys writing and appears very well educated. 
He is very affectionate and loves to be hugged.}



Even though they have faced tremendous pain
and tremendous rejection...
God still has a plan
even in the pain
and rejection...

and that they can have a life of hope 
because of the Hope-giver
the God of Universe



And here are some faces from the recent 
Ch*na hosting program...



some photos during the hosting program...


This picture below just makes me cry...
Do you see his arm linked in that man's arm?
Oh how the heart longs to belong....




So how about it?

Could you be a missionary in 
your own home
this summer?

$2950. 
In fact, make hosting an orphan a church project and allow your
 church to help love an orphan{s} this summer
Here's where to find the details:



Curious about the treasures holding signs of the promises of God?  
It's part of their program and it's called Holding on to God's Promises: 
Each hosting period families are asked to help their host
 child participate in a "Cardboard Promises" project and 
chose one of God’s promises with their host children as a way 
of speaking these promises over their lives. 
We are believing no matter where they go, they will keep 
holding on to God's promises!
 Please join with us in praying these promises over the children!


Lastly, if you are not able to host, could you at least advocate for these treasures?
Tell your family and friends about this unique opportunity to be a missionary 
without every American soil....

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Box in the Corner

It sits in the corner of the freshly painted niche which Dw just finished in our new home,
surrounded by pictures from almost 35 years of marriage
and 12 {plus} children later
and now some treasured grandchildren join the wall as well.

Cream in color, wooden, rather large, kind of rustic, a framed wire door 
and a little matching paddle that holds it closed.

It's placement is strategic in our home.

Actually every home we've lived in, we think long and hard as to the placement.

We are confident that it must have "center stage", if you will. 

Why such ado about a big wooden box?



Well it's actually not just any box, but rather our Memorial Box and truly, more than the box - 

It's the treasures inside the box that are of significant sentimental "value"!

We call it our Memorial Box as we've filled it with precious {to us} trinkets that represent an altering event in our family's life which afforded Almighty God the opportunity to show His miraculous healing, provision, protection or intervention.  There are some amazing miracle stories to be told as we sift our way through each item {still rebuilding after we lost the house in the fire}!

Many may have never heard of the idea of chronicling events in the form of trinkets stored in a special place.  We got the idea, years ago, after reading how God told the Isrealites to build an alter of stones to Him as a Memorial of what He had just done for them.  Then He actually told them to tell the story to their children over and over and then their children's children and so on.  We are never to forget what He, alone, has done!

We all know how it is - we can be so doggone forgetful.  Barely a few days have passed and monumental events of God's faithfulness fade into soon forgotten distant memories.

No doubt, we all have been guilty of front row seats to watching God intervene is both monstrous events and also teeny-tiny events and then poof{!} the memory disappears and becomes like vapor.
Unless...

We purposefully record them in a practical and tangible way.

For years at our Place Called Simplicity on most Mondays I would share yet another story from our family's personal Memorial Box.  By exposing our personal lives to all of you {even you lurkers - ha!} our only prayer was that you would be reminded of the faithfulness of God in your own personal lives, that you would be encouraged to record your own stories and in the process build all of our faith!

The rest season from Memorial Box Monday has been long enough and Lord has been prompting me to get back at it.  So my plan is to take the first Monday of each month and make it Memorial Box Monday.  I would love to see others link their stories as well.  I have been encouraged by so many I have read!

Several stories stand out at a quick glance in my mind:  Renee's story from the Philippines, Lyn's story of the stormy night in northern Colorado when her car broke down and Rachel's story {although she left it as a comment}from their first to Ch*na where a stranger on the flight ministered to them in a powerful way.  There are many others, but for me, these three each built my faith in significant ways.

Yesterday night I had talked to Emma.  She was getting up.  I was supposed to be heading to bed.  Instead I felt impressed by the Lord that I needed to stay up and pray through the night.  I had never done that before and since being sick for the previous few days I couldn't imagine I could last the night.  Yet I knew God wanted me to pray fervently for our Emma and a situation she was encountering.

While praying through the night {and by the way, my kitchen counter has never looked so clean and there is nothing like praying out loud while cleaning with a lot of elbow grease - ha!} the Lord brought to mind some of the items in our Memorial Box at different points in prayer.  It was as though He was taking me on a Memorial path as I prayed through Emma's situation.

My faith was built as I remembered.

My peace became steadfast.

My heart became confidant.

How about you?

Does your faith falter you at times?

Do you wonder if God can do "it"?

Or if God will do "it"?

The more times I remind myself of God's past faithfulness the less often I stumble in my faith.

There is no doubt, for me at least, that the times of faltering are less often as I intentionally remember more often.

So today, as I shared my wall and my personal Memorial box, my encouragement is to begin to think about His faithfulness through the stories where He has met you in a real and personal way.  Record them.  Or buy a Memorial Box and fill yours as well.  Then join me each first Monday of the month and let's remember His faithfulness together.  Because at least speaking for our family, we never, ever tire of hearing of our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God and all He has done without any effort.




Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mama's Sick

Mama doesn't get sick very often.

Almost never.

We're not allowed to, are we sweet friends?

Yet I feel so stinkin' gross.

But there was a bit of joy this morning.

It was Skyping with Emma for a few minutes.

When she learned I was really sick, she told me something {for my health} that I needed to do.

She actually got kinda' bossy, in an Emma-charming way.

Her adamant bossiness actually made me laugh.

She persisted, not amused by my giggle.

But then when I didn't act all that thrilled about what she was telling me to do
Emma got firm, "Seriously Mom! I'm not kidding. Like I'm not kidding at all.  Do I need to beat you?"

Which of course, coming from her lips made me laugh even more.

I responded, "If you were to beat me, would that involve you coming home to do it?"

Without skipping a beat, "No more emails, calls or Skyping - it would be an emotional beating."

Okay, Okay Emma.

I give.  You win.

I'm doing "it".

Just don't beat me!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Oh Susanna - Now Don't You Cry....

Remember that old song, "Oh Susanna...." {Actually I did a bit of research and it was first published in 1848.  Wow.  It is an old song.}

Every time I think and pray for this little Susanna, I think, "Ohhhh Susanna, now don't you cry..."
and the tune whisks through my mind....

See, over on the other side of the world, in Eastern Europe
there is a precious little treasure named Susanna....
well, before I tell you about her, I just want you to see her face...


Susanna is 6 years old....

And actually Sweet Susanna has never left her room.

Ever.


Do her eyes pierce your heart like they do mine?

Sweet friends, we must find a family for little Susanna....

She has Hydrocephalus {just like our Ruby} and she also has Spina Bifida {they often go hand in hand}.  Susanna is paralyzed from the waist down.   She has never had her Hydrocephalus surgically cared for, nor has she had surgery to repair her Spina Bifida....

Never leaving her room...never having surgery...

Can we even begin to imagine?





Susanna is reaching for your hand...

Imploring all of us...
Will we be her voice?



Will you advocate with us for a family for Susanna? 
One of us must know someone who is looking for Susanna. 
To lift her out of that crib and give her hope?
Would you pray with me that Susanna's forever family will find her today? 

Please spread the word...

Ohhhhh Susanna, don't you cry...
Almighty God has a family for you....
Your country is advocating for a family for you...
People around the world are advocating for a family for you.

May today be the day your family finds you. 

May it be so Lord.
Today. 

For more information about Susanna, please email:
nina.thompson@chiadopt.org