3 Spots Open Now for Together Called 2017

We expected it to fill back in October when registration opened. And, it did. It’s not because of any awesome marketing strategy or cool graphics. We actually aren’t that great at those. It was because ya’ll know what you need. You don’t need another conference. You need connection; you need each other. You need rest so you can press on in what you have been together called to do.

That’s what Together Called is about. Yeah, there’s a schedule. Yeah, speakers do prepare something. Yeah, there are breakout sessions and a resource table. But, all that is planned is planned to promote connection—connection to a kindred community, connection between the two of you, and connection to the One who made you and takes great pleasure in you.

Life can change pretty fast for each one of us which means that some of those couples who said yes to this and registered back in October have had to say “not this time” after all, leaving us with THREE OPEN SPOTS for this year’s Together Called being held the last weekend in March at Bear Creek Mountain Resort.

Nate and Sara Hagerty, renown author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet and our very first Together Called speakers, are joining us again. We’ll also be blessed by singer/songwriters (and adoptive parents) Philip and Jessica Morlan from Seeds Family Worship; Jeff Nitz, Senior VP of Adoption and Family Services at Bethany Christian Services, and his wife Cheryl Nitz, Director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Pennsylvania; Carolyn Ruch of Rise and Shine Movement, Anna Balfour of Potential Difference, Amy Brady of PAUSE, and Stephanie Smit and Mark and Kelly Raudenbush of The Sparrow Fund.

HEAD OVER TO OUR TOGETHER CALLED PAGE
NOW to read more about the weekend
and
ADD YOUR NAME TO THE WAITING LIST TO GET ONE OF THESE THREE SPOTS LEFT.

Maybe you didn’t know about it back in October. Or, maybe you simply weren’t able to commit then. Now that we’re this close, we’d love for you to consider or reconsider. You’ll never regret an investment made in connection.

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What in the world is a football block pool?

We love clever new ways to raise funds needed to keep on serving adoptive families. The Sparrow Fund Big Game Football Pool is one of those new ways. But, as we have been promoting it, we’ve realized something kinda important–a lot of you don’t know what the heck this is.

Oops.

Here’s the key to this whole deal: You don’t have to have experience with this sort of thing and understand it works to be a part of this. All you have to have is a desire to help us reach the goal of scoring $2,000 for our grant fund to support adoptive families AND maybe a little bit of playfulness. That’s enough.

But, in case you want a little more before you jump in, here’s a Cliff Notes version of how it works. We have created a chart that has 10 squares across the x axis and 10 squares across the y axis. One axis is one for the Patriots [insert cheers and boos here] and one for the Falcons [insert cheers and boos here]. Each of the 100 squares on the chart are available for a $20 donation to The Sparrow Fund until tomorrow night at midnight. Every person who donates to this will get to add their name inside the squares of their choice on the blank 100-square chart.

Before the big game, we will randomly assign each column and each row a single digit from 0-9. Each square will have a single digit for the Patriots and a single digit for the Falcons that will correspond to the last number in the score for both teams. So, a game score of 20 to 35 would correspond to a block labeled 0 and 5. A game score of 40 to 55 would also correspond to the block labeled 0 and 5.

At the end of the first quarter, halftime, third quarter, and end of game, whoever holds the square with the digits matching the last digits of the score at that time wins. If the score is 17-10 at the half with the home team winning, the person with the squares of 7 and 0 would win that portion of the game.

Make sense? Great. Jump on in and play along. We need you.

Still a bit unclear? That’s okay. Jump on in, fill out this form, we’ll coach you along. We need you too, and promise it will still be fun.

Here’s the game plan one more time:

  • Head over HERE now and fill out this simple form with your name, email, and how many cell blocks you want to claim.
  • Make your donation online right here at www.sparrowfund.org for $20 per cell.
  • We’ll let you know what the next play is after that, but we promise it’s easy peezy.

A little sneak peek because sometimes visual images are all that are needed.

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Super Sparrow Big Game Football Pool

It’s that time of year. Chicken wings, chips, and guacamole abound. Super Bowl Sunday is not an official holiday, but maybe it should be given that it’s the second largest day of food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving. Oh, and there’s a big football game everyone watches as they eat, by the way.

We’re having a little fun with it ourselves this year with our own goal of scoring $2,000 that will go directly into our grant fund to support adoptive families. It’s called a block pool, and here’s how it works. We’ve created a 10×10 chart with a total of 100 blocks (simple math, keep tracking with us). With every donation of $20 before midnight Friday, February 3rd, you will get to put your name in one of those blocks. Before the big game, we will randomly assign each row a single digit and each column a single digit. So, for your cell, you will have two single digits, one for the Patriots [insert cheers and boos here] and one for the Falcons [insert cheers and boos here]. After each quarter of the game, if your two numbers match the last digit in each team’s score you win! And, when we say you win, we mean you win. We’ve got 4 donated gift baskets worth over $100 each of Lancaster Stroopie Co. magic (and by that we mean, the most amazingly addictive sweetness that we love so much we may declare them our personal mascot).

Here’s the game plan:

  • Head over HERE and fill out this simple form with your name, email, and how many cell blocks you want to claim.
  • Make your donation for $20 per cell
  • We’ll let you know what the next play is after that.

Go team!

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Wayland {China Trip – Advocating}

I’d like to introduce you to a precious 7 year old boy.  His name is Wayland, and he’s amazing.  He delights in simple pleasures and always has a smile on his face.  He is joyful, friendly, affectionate, thoughtful, social, tender, and incredibly patient.  And he’s waiting for his family to find him.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting sweet Wayland.  He had such a positive attitude and a palpable zeal for life.  He smiled and laughed and looked into my eyes warmly.  He sought me out and called me ayi without prompting.  He affectionately hugged me and sweetly laid his head on my shoulder.  He talked to me during our time together, despite my limited understanding of Mandarin.  That didn’t hold him back though.  He taught me new words while patiently repeating each syllable over until I got it right.  Such a smart boy and a terrific teacher!  When he wanted something, he used words to ask respectfully, but accepted no when I couldn’t say yes.  He asked me to pick him up so he could get a better look at new sights, and he was curious about everything that he saw.  Handsome Wayland was a complete gentleman during our time together.

His repaired congenital heart defect does not hold him back – he is energetic and runs everywhere!  He has way more energy than I do!  He can dress and feed himself, use the bathroom alone, and understand directions.  He also sometimes helps the nannies with chores.  He goes to school at the orphanage, and is taught by a wonderful teacher who really cares for the children.  He is working on typical age-appropriate skills, and can speak in complete sentences.  He can sing preschool songs and loves to join in with games.  He appears to be at age-level for most skills.  He seems well-attached to his nannies and loves being social with the other children in the orphanage.

Sweet Wayland needs a family!  I truly feel that whoever has the privilege of becoming his family will be incredibly blessed.  He is a precious boy, but needs the title of son!  He is designated Special Focus and is currently with Madison Adoption Associates.  They have video and more pictures to review.  Also, up to $2000 in grants are available for his adoption fees!  Please, if you are at all nudged to find out more about Wayland, email Sarah Hansen at Sarah@MadisonAdoption.org.

____________________________

NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

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In My Heart Forever {China Trip}

I’m home.  And I’ve been awake since 3am thanks to jet lag.  I gave up trying to fall back to sleep at 4:30am, and finally got out of bed.  With the children from the orphanage taking over my dreams, and their precious little faces dancing across my closed eyelids, I knew it was a lost cause.  While everyone else on this side of the world rests, I am wrestling with what I experienced and captured through my camera this past week.

Thinking of the children and the reality of their daily lives brings me to my knees.  While I can drink coffee without boiling water first, and write a blog post without a sometimes-working, buggy VPN, the children are most likely finishing up dinner halfway across the world.  While I will soon hug and kiss my beloved little ones good morning, and tell them how much I love them, the children will prepare for bedtime with no mama and baba to tuck them in and tell them how much they are adored and so very worthy.  While they sleep, my day will carry on in the peace and warm serenity of my home and church, surrounded by my treasured family and friends.  And some variation of my comfortable life will play out every day while the children in the orphanage remain inexplicably grateful and joyful and happy, despite all that they’re missing.

The incredible disparity of our worlds is almost too much to fathom.

I was invited into a community of His people that I didn’t know before.  A community that’s real, even though it’s easy to ignore because it seems so distant and far away.  A small community of His children who are hurting and longing for mamas and babas of their very own.  A community of His nannies who give their very best every day to help the children live and grow.  But even their very best simply isn’t enough because there are too many children and not enough of them.  Because nothing replaces the love and belonging of a family.

I think of precious Wayland and the way the Father literally put him in front of me, despite my ability to remain emotionally unattached behind my lens.  My job as photographer makes it easy to observe from a distance.  It’s a role that I’m comfortable playing because it allows me to stay focused and complete the task at hand.  It’s the role that I signed up for when I said yes to this trip – to document our time and bring home pictures of waiting children to help them find families.

Though I wanted to be open to what the Father had waiting for me during this trip, I did not expect to fall as hard as I did.  He wrecked me.  Not just for Wayland, but for all of the children.  For the nannies.  Although I was the designated photographer on the trip, the Father used the short time in mighty ways to show me why I was really on that trip.  Despite myself, I got to see a small glimpse of His love for all of His children.  To understand what’s truly important.  Not medical diagnoses or adoption files or questioning whether a nanny is feeding children the right way.

But people.  Loving people is what’s important.  No matter their status or special need.  Orphan, nanny, or otherwise.  That’s what He wanted me to see.  Because the Father wants all of us to be adopted as His sons and daughters.  And He’ll use anyone to accomplish His mission, if we just humbly offer ourselves to be available.

As Mike Foster wrote in his book, People of the Second Chance, “Bring what you have, no matter what it looks like.  His standards are embarrassingly low, and he will work with everything you’re willing to put into his hands.  You are imperfect, but you can be perfectly loved and perfectly used by him.” (pg. 30)  I’m resting in that truth this morning.  As I reflect on this past week and try my hardest to make good on my promise to Wayland, my prayer is that He perfectly loves and uses me and all of my team members, despite our imperfectness.

_____________________________________

NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

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