Planting seeds

When I made the call to travel with The Sparrow Fund to serve at an orphanage in China this past October, I knew that I wanted to get my kids involved. They weren’t boarding a plane with me to go…at least not this time! But, this trip was their trip too. Mommy was leaving and for no short time. The best way to prepare them for that was to engage them and help them grasp the vision for engaging their friends too.

So, I went to their teachers. I told them about The Sparrow Fund and about the trip and asked if they would consider being involved in two specific ways: (1) allowing me to send home a letter written by my children asking if families would be a part of the effort by sending into school specific items from our team’s wish list and (2) letting me come into the class when I was back to share about the experience. We were thrilled when they were thrilled by the ideas.

Over the next month, we collected stickers, toy cars, stickers, play dough, stickers, beach balls, and more stickers! When I finally left for China, I had a suitcase literally half full of stickers (which were a huge hit) and came back with a suitcase literally half full of little Terracotta Warrior excavation kits I picked up along the way that I thought my kids’ classmates would like chipping away at when I came in to share.

I was so excited to go into that class with those excavation kits in hand as well as lots and lots of pictures of those stickers in action. Kids recognized the same stickers they had picked out themselves stuck on the faces and fingers of children on the other side of the world. It was if those stickers made the connection between them.

I shared about China and the kids and the orphanage building and how we helped. One little boy’s hand went up right away when I explained how nearly every child who lives in the orphanage has some sort of special need.

“I have ADHD and ‘personal space’ issues. Are there any kids like me there?” he asked.

Another child almost fell out of her seat trying to get my attention. She signed with so much facial expression that I felt I understood even while I awaited her ASL interpreter’s explanation.

“All the kids in those pictures are orphans?”

My yes only spurred more questions from her that she continued to sign with her face full of feeling.

“None of them have a mom or dad? Why would their parents ever want to give them up?”

I did my best to answer their questions. I don’t know if I satisfied them with my answers. I felt at peace regardless. My answers were a window into my own process as I have faced the realities of broken relationships. I hope they planted some seeds as they start their own process and were made aware, some for the first time, of children just like them on the other side of the world who do not have families.

I have been back from China over 7 months now. The effect of my experience isn’t growing smaller as time passes; it’s growing bigger as opportunities to share continue to arise. Each of these opportunities is a gift because they serve to remind me and keep it all close. Every time, I get to relive those moments that changed my life forever.

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Announcing Recharge 2017

Recharge Men’s Retreat

Every story of how each of our families got to where we are today is entirely unique. As different as our families are, perhaps there is something we as husbands and fathers share. It is the desire to do what is right for our wives and children and, ultimately, our God and the realization that that is very, very hard.

For 5 years, The Sparrow Fund has hosted a marriage retreat to pour into couples committed to living out their calling together. In November 2017, we are hosting our first men’s retreat limited to only 35 men. We’ve named it appropriately Recharge as every part of the time is designed to do just that. We don’t want to add items to your to-do list or call out where you may be falling short. Instead, our hope is for every man there to be reminded that he matters and that he can be a powerful nurturer and hope-giver for his family.

Whether you are just starting out in your fostering or adoption journey or completed your family years ago, you belong here. Register starting Sunday, June 11th at 9:00pm EST for our November 9th-11th retreat at the beautiful Refreshing Mountain Retreat & Adventure Center nestled on 80 acres of woodland in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (approximately 90 minutes west of Philadelphia and 30 minutes east of Hershey).

Check THIS PAGE for more details as they’re set (we’re still figuring all of them out) and the link to register next week.

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Our You-Are-A-Good-Mom Mother’s Day Giveaway

In the midst of trying to remember dentist appointments and when ball team sign ups are and teacher appreciation week and shopping for birthday gifts, there’s something that’s really easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that you are what your child needs. You. Imperfect you. The one who doesn’t get it right all the time. The one who wonders if she’s getting it right even some of the time. You are a good mom.

Just to help you and all of us remember, we’re hosting a little giveaway. It’s not a fundraiser; it’s just a joyraiser and a community builder. And, we want you to be a part of it.

HERE’S HOW:

  • Look on your phone for a picture that gives a snapshot of this season of motherhood for you. Could be you on the sidelines of a big game or a graduation. Could be you pushing an overflowing shopping cart or a baby carriage. Whatever you want to share, share it.
  • Tag The Sparrow Fund on Facebook or @sparrowfund on Instagram
  • Use #IAMAGOODMOM

After Mother’s Day this Sunday, we’ll pick one winner and send out a prize package worth over $100 including goodies from The Sparrow Fund, Jenny Borba Designs, and Fund the Nations.

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Big Dreams {The Sparrow Fund’s New Space!}

It was on a dining room table, a coffee table, and a small desk in a little den where The Sparrow Fund has functioned for 6 years. But, as The Sparrow Fund grew from a little nonprofit giving grants to a handful of families to a bigger team effort to include training, counsel, a marriage retreat, and short-term trips to orphanages to care for caregivers and the children there, it became pretty clear that leading this effort from wherever it could fit would no longer work.

Big dreams led to bigger dreams as encouragement from our community confirmed that a designated space wouldn’t just be nice; it was actually needed for our team to not only continue what we are doing but to grow.

About one year later and more than a year’s worth of effort from our board and the community cheering us on, we officially have a space!

Stay tuned. We’re pretty sure we’re just going to be dreaming even bigger now that we’ve got a space to do it.

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Beauty Compounded

We knew this was good.

We handed tools to children living in an orphanage in the middle of China and told them You are uniquely made. You are capable. Live it out and let us celebrate the beauty you create and you are. 

We knew this was good.

We handed tools to children living in an orphanage in South China in a public park, before a crowd of passerby, and told them You are uniquely made. You are capable. Live it out and let us celebrate the beauty you create and you are. 

We admired their choices of color and willingness to try something new and something kind of hard. We praised the ayis who teach them to make and pointed out how good they are at what they do. We collectively marveled over how God made us to be beauty-makers like Him.

We trusted the good wasn’t finished when those weeks in the orphanages were over. We left with great expectation of good things growing, of beauty compounded.

An art exhibit isn’t the end goal to do that; but it one tangible way we get to see it happen. A few of their pieces were displayed as masterpieces along with their sweet faces, and the team of people marveling grew from 15 to literally hundreds. And, I took pictures of their pictures and sent them back to those same ayis and said, “Look at what your children can do because of what you do!”

So, so good.

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