OH HAPPY DAY shirts

oh happy day shirts collage 670 wide

Our most perfect design yet.

Inspired by the Chinese boys hosted in the Philadelphia area who sang this song over and over everyday after hearing it on their first Sunday in America.

They sang the words. Now, we’re wearing them.
Remembering the boys and all the boys and girls they represent as we do.

 All proceeds from sales of this shirt will go towards funding our orphan care initiatives.
our orphanage trips. supplies and gifts. new programs.

Details:

Shirts come in adult and youth sizes. The adult shirts are our favorite shirt ever— a super, super soft tri-blend. The youth sizes are a cotton/poly blend that is really comfy for even the most sensitive kiddos. Adult sizes come in heather grey, denim blue, or teal. Youth sizes come in heather grey, denim blue, or bright pink.

How to get some for yourself:

  • Complete the short form HERE with your name, mailing address, how many shirts you want in what sizes/colors, and all that good stuff.
  • Pay for them ($20 per shirt plus shipping) via sending money to mraudenbush@sparrow-fund.org through your PayPal account (FYI – it’s the account for The Sparrow Fund, not a personal account…promise) or by donating via clicking the donate button on this website.
  • Share, tweet, and text using hashtag #ohhappyday to help us spread the word about these super cute first day of school or birthday or adoption day or casual Friday shirts (this one is optional, of course, but most appreciated).

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Together Called 2017 {prepare}

We know you have been too busy in the back-to-school aisles to be thinking towards spring plans for just the two of you grownups. That’s okay, because we’ve been doing it for you. Together Called 2017 isn’t until the weekend of March 31st-April 2nd, but plans are already underway to make the 5th annual marriage retreat being held this year at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Lehigh Valley an unforgettable one.

We can’t wait to tell you who is going to be serving you at this year…

{speakers}

Hagerty-348Nate and Sara Hagerty are parents to five (almost six!), whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Uganda and Ethiopia to bring home four. Former Young Life staff, they were the inaugural speakers for Together Called in 2013 and have walked through older child adoption, interrupting the “birth order” and a decade-plus of infertility. Sara is the author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet (Zondervan, 2014) and has her second book coming out in August of 2017 via Zondervan. Nate runs a marketing agency for financial professionals. Most of all, they are followers of the man, Jesus, and have loved Him through pain, perplexity and joy — and want to find him in every unseen moment and help you do the same.

Hagerty Family

{worship}

Philip&JessicaMorlan_kissPhilip & Jessica are worship leaders and teachers for a nonprofit ministry called Seeds Family Worship. They partner with churches around the country to lead multigenerational worship events that equip families to live out the Deuteronomy 6 message. They joined Seeds in 2009 because of their great passion for God’s Word and His design for the family. They help families learn God’s Word through Seeds signature word-for-word scripture songs and love to encourage families to live out their faith at home as they lead and teach from their own experiences. (Look on most of our team’s most played playlists and you’ll find their tunes.) They’ll be joining us from Franklin, Tennessee where they make music and do life together with their five children, two of whom the Lord brought to their family through adoption (Madelynn-18, Sam-16, Hannah Joy-16, Gabe-15, and Isaiah-12).

Morlan_Maddy's Grad Family Pic

::WE WANT YOU THERE::

Registration for Together Called 2017 will be Sunday, October 9th at 8pm EST. Check our Upcoming Events page closer to that date for more details about the weekend schedule, breakout session speakers, whose sponsoring the whole deal so you are cared for well, and how to register.

Go ahead right now and put a reminder in your calendar to register that evening (or grab one of those post-it pads that you just put in your child’s new backpack and put reminders all over your desk). In past years, the retreat fills fast (as in, that night). We don’t want you to miss it!

TC2017 Bear Creek announcement

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Where We’ve Been {For the Boys}

If you’ve wondered where we’ve been, we’ve been doing summer with our families as you, no doubt, are. We hope that amidst the busyness of summer fun you’ve been able to soak in many moments of meaningful time with your families and with your Father.

But in addition to the normal events of summer, some pretty incredible things have been happening. (Isn’t that how He likes to work? Showing up in big ways while normal life is happening?) Three young friends from a Chinese orphanage are being hosted in the Philly area in hopes that, among other things, they would be able to find their families. However, these three have something in common that makes this task of finding families more difficult…they are boys…older boys. It’s because of this and because of them that The Sparrow Fund has started a special fund. Please take a moment to read more from Kelly, and prayerfully consider how you might be a part of this exciting new adventure!

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Jasper. Brett. Joel (4)

Three 8-year-old boys in South China were doing life together. They giggled together. They sang and danced together. They played ball together. They went to school together everyday for their first year of primary school and helped each other along as they practiced writing their characters. They were typical little boys in every way.

Except they lived here.

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In this room with about 30 others, they sleep at night, with legs curled up so they still fit in these little metal beds.

In mid June, all three they came to the Philadelphia area as part of Madison Adoption Associates’ hosting program. The boys were told it was for a cultural and educational experience, and they were told to be good. The families, including our own, committed to hosting them also committed to loving them well and advocating for them so that when they said goodbye in mid July, they’d know they were coming back.

One of the boys already has a family who has said yes to making him their son. But, two remain, including the little man who calls me Ayi.

for the boys collage

Check this out…

The Sparrow Fund has started a special fund called FOR THE BOYS to cover their approximately $5,000 USD orphanage donation. And, the team has secured a donor willing to match your donation up to $500. So, your $50 contribution for the boys will be matched with an additional $50, thus making a total of $100 available, $50 towards each boy’s required orphanage donation. 

Head over HERE to contribute and to follow along!

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The Importance of a Family Code Word

code-word

Last month, our family went on a small trip, which included a very emotional, adoption-related event for one of our kids. In processing the event with him beforehand, I could tell it would be difficult, although meaningful, for him. The possibility of him becoming flooded with emotion was huge.

I told him the day before that we could have a secret code word that would let me know he was feeling overwhelmed and needed a change of scenery. He loved the idea and chose the word himself (I’ll use “butterfinger” as the example for this post). We went over it again the following morning, and he seemed to feel a sense of relief to be able to say one word to me or Matt, without his siblings or anyone else knowing, and we would help him get out of the situation immediately. We even practiced it, so he would see how easy it would be to say, “I wish I had a Butterfinger,” and we responded accordingly.

He didn’t use his code word that day. And I think knowing he could was part of the reason he didn’t need to.

He felt safe.

Since then we’ve had similar talks with our older child as well but for different reasons. At someone else’s house and feel uncomfortable for any reason? Call us and use the code word. We’ll come get you and talk about it later. Embarrassed to call us to get you out of an unhealthy situation because your buddies are there? Use the code word. We’ll figure it out.

We want our kids to feel safe- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For us, part of that means the ability to communicate with us in a way that is private and reassuring to them.

There are many uses for a family code word:

1. To communicate emotional flooding in a public setting and privately express the need to get a breather. This is especially helpful with kids who struggle with anxiety- generalized or specific to certain triggers- or with kids who are in the midst of a very emotional time (e.g. at a funeral).

2. To let a parent know you need to get out of an unsafe situation. For us, this includes a general feeling of discomfort, even if they can’t explain why. We want them to learn to trust their “gut” and to know we trust them to make good decisions.

3. To let a parent know when you need help, even if you’ve created the problem yourself. As our kids get into adolescence, their freedom will increase. And so will the temptations around them. They will mess up. But if we can help them feel safe in coming to us, even in their sin (especially in their sin), we have a much better chance of decreasing their shame and helping them run to Jesus in the midst of it.

I bet there are many more ways we’ll use our code word(s) as our kids get older. Has your family ever used secret words? What worked for you?

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Matt and Becca write about marriage, parenting, and life through the lens of a married couple, parenting team, and pastor and professional counselor. They share hope and restoration by giving a glimpse into their lives- the failures, the successes, and the brokenness and beauty of everyday. You can read more of their writing at WhitsonLife.

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Four Way to Care for the Fatherless When You’re Not Called to Adopt

You may have no intention of adopting, but know (and love) friends and family members who have. I commend you for taking the time to learn about how you can best support these families in your life!

Four-Ways-to-Care-for-the-Fatherless-When-Youre-Not-Called-to-Adopt-700x1050Not everyone is called to adopt, but Scripture is clear that all are called to care for the fatherless and act on their behalf. I love Isaiah 1:17, which says “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Every Christian is called to do good before God, and that includes seeking out justice for those who are being oppressed.

This is one of the main reasons I’ve chosen to write a book about foster adoption (enter your email in the sidebar for updates about a late Spring release!). Adoptive families need their churches, and fellow believers, to come along side them with right thinking and a Christ-like perspective as they follow the path God has called them to. Pastors, elders, and ministry leaders ought to be equipped with a basic knowledge of the different types of adoption, helpful adoption lingo, and an arsenal of how to best support the growing families in their congregation.

I must say though, our church is amazing, and they are very adoption-friendly. We have received nothing but support from them, delicious casseroles when both boys arrived to our family, clothes, books, toys, and gift cards. You name it we probably received it! It’s not about the tangible though (although those things were life-savers). More importantly, it’s the attitude of the people in our congregation that have blessed us the most.

Here are four ways to care for the fatherless when you’re not personally called to adopt:

1) Respect boundaries that have been set

A few months after our oldest son arrived, we noticed some quirky behaviors that alerted us to some possible attachment issues. We kindly asked our small group, and others in our church who regularly interacted with him, to respect a few boundaries we needed to put into place for his good. He needed to learn who mom and dad were, and who was going to meet his needs. It’s not going to be the sweet old lady we see every Sunday who wants to give him candy, or our amazing small group who showers him with lots of love and attention. It’s Adam and myself, and he needed a renewed focus on that goal.

Everyone responded to us in a way that showed they love our little boy immensely, and respected our role as his new parents. Our son learned that high fives on Sunday mornings are more appropriate than hugs and kisses, and “I love you” is reserved only for family (for now). He has grown so much since we set these boundaries, and thanks to our amazing church, they played a massive role in that healing! We are so grateful.

2) Have a teachable heart in regard to birth parents, loss, and race issues

I’ve had countless conversations on Sunday mornings with teachable and open-hearted people in our congregation. I could not be more thankful for where God has placed us. There is a respect for our boys birth parents, an understanding of the loss our sons have experienced, and a growing openness for the fact that, as black boys, they will likely be racialized as they grow older (this one is the most difficult one we’ve encountered, being in a predominantly white community, as it takes time for lifelong false beliefs about different ethnicities to be broken down). There is not much more I could ask for in regard to support for our boys! Our church has done this well.

3) Remember that your words matter

Educating yourself on adoption lingo will bless adoptive couples immensely. Remembering that any child in their family is “their own”, whether through birth or adoption, is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Acknowledging the loss their child has been through (loss of birth parents, siblings, friends, a prior foster home, and everything familiar to them) is a very important part of caring for adoptees. It’s easy for us to want to celebrate (the orphan has a home!), but that’s not the case for the child who has lost everything. There needs to be an understanding and respect of that.

We had one awkward encounter a few days after our oldest son joined our family. A kind older woman asked him if he liked his “new mommy and daddy.” He looked at her like she had three heads. His little two and a half year old brain was probably thinking “I have a mommy and daddy, and they aren’t it!” We did quickly become “mommy and daddy” to him within a week or two, which we learned is typical for kids in foster care. Up until that point we were Miss April and Mister Adam to him. He had just been removed from his birth mom a few days prior, and was probably so confused and scared about what the future would hold for him. That question was well-intentioned, but highly inappropriate.

These are the sort of encounters that become opportunities for us as adoptive couples to show tons of grace, and kindly educate. I gently corrected her comment and let her know that he has a mommy and daddy who love him very much, and that we are thrilled to have him be a part of our family right now. I don’t think she understood, and that’s ok, but I believe in situations like this grace will always trump the snarky remarks we may be tempted to make.

It’s important for supporters to keep in mind that their questions and remarks, likely born out of curiosity, could put the adoptive family in an awkward position. If their children are older, and can understand, comments that are not well thought out could be hurtful to them and disrespectful to their fragile past. It’s never ok to make judgments about a child’s birth parents, racial slurs, or comment about how you “can’t believe no one wanted them”.

4) Be committed, with hope, for the long haul

The church ought to be a place where adoptive families can enter in with all of their messiness, and receive love and support as they seek to lead these precious kiddos to hope and healing, and ultimately, to our Savior. You may not be called to adopt, but you are called to care for the fatherless. Learning how to do that in a way that blesses the adoptive families in your life will be a precious gift to them.

This will look differently for each family, so don’t be afraid to ask them what they need, and how you can best support and love them through the years. Some families may be more or less open with you about their children and their needs. Some may not know what they need because they’re still in the fog, trying to get a grasp on what would be best for their kiddos. The love and faithfulness of a church who is in it for the long haul, just as the adoptive parents are, is a beautiful way to show the gospel to families who have grown through adoption.

Love on the family if their placement fails. Pray for their kids when an important court date is near, or they have a visit with their birth parents. Bring them meals when a new child enters their family. Show them immense amounts of grace when their son or daughter acts out during worship. Don’t assume their child is “troubled” or “damaged” or destined to work at the grocery store for their entire lives because X diagnosis runs in their birth family.

If you believe the gospel, then you know that no one is too far gone! Not a single one. Even the most broken, messy, un-attached child, with the most disturbing past is not too far gone for our great Redeemer. It’s not too hard for him to save them, and heal them, and it shouldn’t be too hard for you to believe he can save them and bring them complete healing either.

Let us not forget that he saved you and me in our sin. We need Jesus just as much as our children from foster care do. Believe in the power of the gospel to heal, and save, having great hope for their future, praying for their spiritual adoption into the family of God. This is the best way you can care for the fatherless without actually adopting.

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RedemptiveHomemaking.com_April is a follower of King Jesus, wife, mother, writer, and adoption advocate. She lives in New England where her husband serves as a worship-pastor. Her introverted nature loves to read, sip coffee, and cook nourishing food for those she loves.  Read more on her blog Redemptive Homemaking.

 

 

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