Category Archives: Together Called

Together Called 2018 Registration Now Open!

You may be all maple and pumpkin lattes right now; we are too. But, we’re already got a vision for March because we’ve got big plans for the weekend of March 23rd-March 25th.

We’ll be at the beautiful Bear Creek Mountain Resort with about 110+ other married couples for the 6th annual Together Called. That’s a little under 150 days from now…not that we’re counting.

Katherine and Jeffrey Reed, director of Lifeway Kids, are joining the Together Called leadership team for the first time as our keynote speakers. We’ll also be joined by singer/songwriters Philip and Jessica Morlan of Seeds Family Worship; Jeff Nitz, Chief Operating Officer of Patrick Henry Services, and his wife Cheryl Nitz, Director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Pennsylvania…just to name a few.

Registration for TC2018 opened last night, and we’re currently at about 70% capacity which means there’s still time for you to jump in and join us. And, we’d seriously love that.

What you get:

Friday night refreshments; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two; Sunday breakfast for two; Friday and Saturday night stay at Bear Creek Resort; and all retreat programming and fun. {$489 per couple}

For those couples who simply cannot leave their children for two nights, we offer an abbreviated registration which includes Friday night refreshments; Saturday breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two; Friday night stay only. {$349 per couple}

We offer a limited number of day-only spots which include only Friday night refreshments; Saturday lunch and dinner for two; and retreat programming…with a little less fun. But, hey, you’re still a part of it, and that’s a good thing. {$179 per couple}

Thought you could make it but turns out you can’t? We will refund your registration cost minus $50 up until March 7th, 2018.

So, what’s stopping you? Click HERE and register now!

Together Called 2018 Announcement

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 2018 is all about. Over March 23rd-25th, at the beautiful Bear Creek Mountain Resort nestled on 330 acres in Berks County, Pennsylvania (approximately 90 minute drive from the Philadelphia Airport and 35 minute drive from Lehigh Valley International Airport), Together Called provides an opportunity for husbands and wives to step out of the chaos called everyday life and be encouraged, a place for us to learn and fellowship together as individual couples and as a community.

Whether you are just starting out in your fostering or adoption journey or completed your family years ago, you belong here. Every part of the plans for the weekend is to allow God to meet you right where you are no matter where that is. Part of those plans include bringing you keynote speakers to remind you of Truth and encourage you to connect deeply with each other and our Father God who loves us.

We can’t wait to welcome Katherine and Jeffrey Reed to our Together Called leadership team for our 6th Together Called.

Married over 20 years, Katherine and Jeffrey Reed live south of Nashville, Tennessee with their four kiddos, one of whom joined their family via adoption.

Throughout their marriage, Jeffrey has served in full-time ministry in all sorts of formal roles in the church including as executive pastor, senior pastor, worship pastor, and family and children’s pastor. In the early 90s, he wrote and produced music, including music that was a part of the 1996 Olympics. In 2013, he became the director of LifeWay Kids, one of the largest children’s ministry organizations in the world. LifeWay serves over 60,000 churches across the country and hosts more than 250,000 through its summer camps. Currently, Jeffrey serves churches directly as a ministry partner and travels and speaks at churches and various events across the country.

Katherine has served alongside Jeffrey in multiple roles in the church and in the world of education. Her Master’s degree in special education and experience working with children with all sorts of different needs allow her to speak both as a professional and as a wife and mother who has been in the trenches herself. She has written for Parent Life magazine and currently serves as the children’s ministry director at the Church at Spring Hill, near Nashville.

Make sure you join our mailing list for registration reminders, and check back to our website under RETREATS for more detailed information and the link to register for Together Called 2018 as October approaches!

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.

TC2017 Recommended Resources

When Together Called attendees requested a resource table, we listened. For the last two retreats, we have offered attendees a place where they can hold and flip through resources that our team has recommended so that they choose those resources that would be most helpful for their own families. While we can’t get that table in front of all of you, we wanted to get the titles and a little blurb about each one in front of you with links so that you could click and order.

(Note: we’d love for you to use these links as they are affiliate links. When you order from Amazon via these links, we get a tiny percentage which adds up.) 

PARENT TITLES

30 Days of Hope by Jennifer Phillips (recommended by Stephanie Smit)
Regardless of whether you are just starting out as an adoptive mom or living with teenagers you adopted as infants, in this devotional, author Jennifer Phillips weaves elements of her own adoption journey and encouragement from God’s word to help you see hope and move forward with encouragement.

A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas (recommended by all of us)
Gary Thomas’ A Lifelong Love is our current favorite book on marriage. While there is nothing in this book about adoption, Thomas’ focus on benevolent love and the intimate relationship that only a husband and wife share will encourage adoptive parents who are in the thick of things to press on to fulfill their calling well and to do that together.

A Lifelong Love Journal by Gary Thomas
A great pairing with your A Lifelong Love book, this journal is set up with a devotional on the left side to read together or individually with a full page on the right to journal in words or art.

Adopted for Life by Russell Moore (recommended by Stephanie Smit)
Adoption is a way to build your family. It is also one of the best earthly illustrations of the Gospel. While we do not believe every Christian is called to adopt, we do think books like this one can challenge us to look closely at what God can show us about Himself through adoption.

Adoption at the Movies by Addison Cooper
With a film for each week of the year including Finding Dory, The Blind Side, and Star Wars, this guide includes descriptions of the themes relevant to adoption and ideas to get conversations started around issues such as culture, identity, control, and reunification.

The Allure of Hope by Jan Myers (recommended by the Hagertys)
Published in 2001, this book has not lost its power. Meyers dares readers take the risk of embracing hope even in those places where hope seems to have been destroyed.

Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson (recommended by Kelly Raudenbush)
We can only walk with our children to places we’re willing to go ourselves. In this book, Curt Thompson integrates neuroscience and attachment with Gospel Truth, revealing how it is possible for us to rewire our own minds, altering our brain patterns and literally making us more like the men and women God wants us to be. Explaining the brain in layman’s terms, he shows how we can be mentally transformed through spiritual practices, interaction with Scripture, and connections with other people.

Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray (recommended by Nicole Renee)
This classic text provides practical parenting strategies designed to enhance our children’s emotional health and relational connection. It explains what attachment is, how grief and trauma can affect children’s emotional development, and how to improve attachment, respect, cooperation and trust.

Attaching Through Love, Hugs, and Play by Deborah Gray (recommended by Nicole Renee)
Helpful for kids who have had different starts, Gray explains why routines and play are so important in helping children to attach and shares specific ideas within those areas to help build healthy bonds.

Before You Were Mine by Susan Tebos and Carissa Woodwyk (recommended by Stephanie Smit)
Remembering and celebrating your child’s history can be rewarding and even redemptive. This book, written by an adoptive mother and an adopted daughter, offers suggestions on how to organize details of your child’s birth story into a lifebook and use that lifebook to trace God’s faithfulness.

Cherish by Gary Thomas (recommended by Kelly Raudenbush)
Through personal stories and real life examples, Thomas shares what husbands and wives can begin doing today to turn their marriages around and learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

The Circle of Security Intervention by Bert Powell (recommended by Amy Brady)
This book comprehensively explains the foundations of Circle of Security, the attachment-based intervention for children 0-5.

The Comparison Trap by Sandra Stanley
Written by Charles Stanley’s daughter-in-law who is a foster mom, this book includes 28 devotionals that help you work through the struggle we often have to compare ourselves to others around us or on screens in front of us.

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis (recommended by all of us)
Often required reading by adoption agencies, this book explains what trauma looks like and how it affects our children in an easy-to-read format. While the content reflects biblical principles, it’s appropriate for readers of all faith backgrounds. Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to The Connected Child, by Dr. Karyn Purvis with Michael and Amy Monroe, was written to help illuminate the biblical principles that serve as the foundation for the philosophy and interventions detailed in The Connected Child. Download the study guide free HERE to go along with the text.

Created for Connection by Sue Johnson (recommended by Anna Balfour)
A challenging read for your marriage. Johnson says forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your childhood, or making grand romantic gestures. Instead, she encourages couples to get to the emotional underpinnings of your relationship by exploring your attachment to each other.

Cry of the Soul by Dan Allender (recommended by the Hagertys)
Beginning with the Psalms, Allender explores what Scripture says about our darker emotions and points us to ways of honoring God as we faithfully embrace all our mad, sad, and scareds.

Different by Sally Clarkson (recommended by the Hagertys)
Choosing to shut out the voices of the world that said her son was “bad,” “broken,” and in need of fixing, Clarkson shares how she moved to trust that her son’s differences could be part of an intentional design by a loving Creator. Appropriate for any parent with an outside-the-box child as well as adults trying to make sense of their own differences.

Different Kind of Hero by Sally Clarkson (recommended by the Hagertys)
A companion to her book Different, this is a 12-session Bible Study exploring misfits in the Bible like Peter, Ruth, and Elijah and the surprising ways they became heroes of the faith. All about how God can take our own weaknesses and turn them into strengths as He draws us outside our comfort zones.

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty (recommended by all of us)
We sing it on Sundays and put it in greeting cards—God is good. But, we live our days not grasping that God is good to us. In her book, Sara Hagerty, past Together Called speaker, poetically draws us into her story of loss, grief, and redemption and how God’s name was written over every word of it, drawing her to Himself and showing her that He is not only a good God but a God who is good to her, His treasured possession. Click HERE to download a discussion guide to go with it.

Falling Upward by Richard Rohr (recommended by Anna Balfour)
This book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually more by doing wrong than by doing right and that spirituality grows throughout life as we inevitably fall down over and over again.

Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn (recommended by Nicole Renee)
An easy read, Forever Mom is a good resource particularly for women interested in adopting or waiting to adopt for the first time. Author Mary Ostyn touches on preparing siblings, building connections, and handling challenging behaviors newly home.

Games and Activities for Attaching With Your Child by Deborah Gray and Megan Clarke
When it comes to choosing the best games to play with children who have difficulties attaching, it is often hard to know how and what to play with a purpose in mind. This book contains fun, age-appropriate games for infants to older children along with an explanation of why they matter.

Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel
Kimmel leads readers to explore big questions such as: How can you live out grace when your spouse frustrates you? How can grace enhance your sexual relationship? How do you show grace without being walked all over? How can God help you make grace more of your go-to response in your marriage?

I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey (recommended by Nicole Renee and Kelly Raudenbush)
This resource offers parents more than 70 rhymes and games that take only minutes a day but send our children messages of unconditional love. Appropriate for infants through elementary aged children, these easy-to-follow-and-learn ideas can help us help our children have fun and build relationship.

No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (recommended by Nicole Renee and Kelly Raudenbush)
Highlighting the link between a child’s neurological development and the way a parent reacts to misbehavior, No Drama Discipline provides an effective, compassionate road map for dealing with tantrums, tensions, and tears. Defining discipline to be more about instruction than punishment, the authors explain how to reach your child, redirect emotions, and turn a meltdown into an opportunity for growth.

Nurturing Adoptions by Deborah Gray
Written primarily for professionals but a helpful resource for parents as well, in this book, Gray explains how neglect, trauma and prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol affect brain and emotional development and how to recognize these effects and attachment challenges in children. She also provides ways to help children settle into new families and home and school approaches that encourage children to flourish.

The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz (recommended by Nicole Renee and Kelly Raudenbush)
Kranowitz offers comprehensive, clear information about sensory processing challenges and drug-free strategies.

The Out of Sync Child Grows Up by Carol Kranowitz
Picking up where The Out of Sync Child left off, Kranowitz offers practical advice on living with sensory processing challenges as our children become tweens and teens, covering social and emotional aspects of grooming, dating, playing sports and music, etc.

The Out of Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Kranowitz (recommended by Nicole Renee)
A companion book to The Out of Sync Child, this book presents over 100 activities to bring fun and play to everyday for children who face challenges with touch, balance, movement, body position, vision, hearing, smell, taste, etc.

Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel
Siegel offers parents ways to form a deeper understanding of their own life stories and attachments so that they can better help their children navigate their life stories and attachments.

Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen
Play is the work of children to explore the world, communicate deep feelings, build connections. From eliciting a giggle during baby’s first game of peekaboo to cracking jokes with a teenager, Playful Parenting is a complete guide to using play to raise confident children. Written with love and humor and grounded in research, this book will make you laugh as it encourages you to be a playful parent.

Raising a Secure Child by Kent Hoffman (recommended by Amy Brady)
Building on Circle of Security strategies, this book encourages parents to balance nurturing and protectiveness with promoting independence, consider the emotional needs your child may be expressing through challenging behavior, and how your own history affects your parenting style and what you can do about it.

Recipes for Fostering by Andrea Warman
Foster families share their favorite family-friendly recipes that have worked for them and their kids from hard starts. They also share their experience of using shopping, cooking, and mealtime to build relationship.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas (recommended by Kelly Raudenbush)
Sacred Marriage explores how marriage trains us to love God and others well, how it exposes sin and makes us more aware of God’s presence, how good marriages foster good prayer, how married sex feeds the spiritual life, and more.

Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas (recommended by Kelly Raudenbush)
This is unlike most parenting books. Rather than a “how-to” book that helps parents change their kids, Sacred Parenting discusses how God uses our kids to change us. Parenting is a school for spiritual formation, and our children are our teachers. It affirms the spiritual value of being a parent, showing you the holy potential of the parent-child relationship for all of us.

Serving Without Sinking by John Hindley (recommended by the Raudenbushs)
Required reading for The Sparrow Fund’s orphanage trip teams, this book discusses not only how to serve but why we serve, reminding us of who we are and who He is.

Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson (recommended by the Raudenbushs)
Thompson provides theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle the shame that binds us and helps us identify our own broken places and find freedom from lifelong negative messages.

To Be Titled Journal printed by Mark and Kelly Raudenbush
Designed for you to go deeper individually and to create an opportunity to connect with your spouse. This is the tool introduced in the breakout session Connecting as Husbands and Wives Together Called. Copies are available via email (info@sparrow-fund.org).

Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals by Angie Voss (recommended by Amy Brady)
This practical handbook helps parents, teachers, and caregivers pause to consider if a child’s behavior may be driven by a sensory challenge and strategies to help.

CHILDREN’S TITLES

A Safe Place for Rufus by Jill Seeney
Written to help children navigate change and transition and subsequent uncertainty and fear, this title comes with a guide in the back for parents to use to discuss the text, pictures, and underlying emotions on every page and encourage children to share their own.

Ana’s Song: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Carolyn Byers Ruch
Ana’s Song helps begin the conversation if you desire to protect your daughter from sexual abuse or you suspect or know she has been wounded by it. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.

Bobby Gilliam, Brave and Strong by Carolyn Byers Ruch
Bobby Gilliam helps begin the conversation if you desire to protect your son from sexual abuse and pornography or you suspect or know he has been wounded by it. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.

Elfa and the Box of Memories by Michelle Bell
This is an excellent book for children struggling in navigating memories, both good and bad. As Elfa pieces together her story, she learns that sharing the memories with someone and then putting them in a safe place is the only way she can take off her burden and live freely.

Everything Counts by Steven Case
For generations, people have been touched by Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest. Now Everything Counts presents his work in this daily devotional in a new and fresh form designed to speak to teens.

Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones (recommended by all of us)
Our favorite children’s Bible, readers will come to see how every part of God’s word from Noah to Moses to the great King David points to Jesus.

Just Between Us by Meredith and Sophie Jacobs (recommended by Kelly and Ashlyn Raudenbush)
Includes writing prompts and fun activities to build connection between mother and daughter. Use the framework to start and consider using the journal to create some special face-to-face connections too.

Searching for the You We Adore by Valerie Westfall (recommended by all of us) $20
General enough to read to children adopted domestically or internationally, Searching For The You We Adore is a story of a family’s journey and unconditional love…and is our personal favorite. Note: Valerie Westfall gifted all her stock to The Sparrow Fund to bless families. Copies are available exclusively via The Sparrow Fund.

Searching for the You We Adore Activity Book by Valerie Westfall $5
A fun activity book that compliments Searching For The You We Adore and helps you stretch the book a little further for your family. Note: Valerie Westfall gifted all her stock to The Sparrow Fund to bless families. Copies are available via email (info@sparrow-fund.org).

Together Called Swag

What’s the magic word?

Believe it or not, it’s not please.

It’s not sorry or thank you or hello. It’s actually together. Science says so.

Some years ago, social scientists put willing participants in small groups and then separated them to work on difficult puzzles on their own. Some participants were told that they would be working on the puzzles together even though they were separated into different rooms and that they would share strategies with their teammates. Other participants never heard the word together at all. They were were still promised help though, but their strategy sharing would be with the researchers only. All the participants were doing the same puzzles and getting the same measure of support really; the only difference was the feeling produced by being told they were working together. In the end, the participants who believed they were working together with a team endured the challenges 48% longer, solved more puzzles correctly, and had better recall of the challenges when it was over. Also, compared to the other participants, their own reports showed that they felt less physically tired and less depleted by the challenge and that they weren’t as frustrated with the challenge itself.

It’s remarkable really.

There’s something powerful about being reminded that we are part of a team–and we are. There something powerful about knowing that we are not facing whatever challenge is before us alone–because we aren’t. That awareness of togetherness literally changes us, giving us precisely what we need to be producers of change around us. It almost is a magic elixir. So magic in fact that in celebration of our 5th annual Together Called retreat, we are wearing reminders.

These shirts are cute and comfy in and of themselves. But, they and the matching hand-stamped necklaces we’re selling right now are more than cute; they are wearable post-it notes, wearable ribbons on our fingers to remind us that we are not alone, that our family whole is better than the sum of it’s parts even in the midst of hard things. We don’t have it all together; but we’re better together.

 

We’re offering these only as a flash sale. All orders are due by Friday. Together Called attendees can order by filling out the form HERE.

Not attending Together Called 2017 but want to order some goodies? Email info@sparrow-fund.org and let us know. We’re glad to let you in on the Together Called loot.

Sneak Peek at Together Called 2017 Breakout Sessions

In addition to hearing from Nate and Sara Hagerty during the keynote sessions, Together Called 2017 attending couples have the opportunity to hear from others who have been prayerfully preparing to share Saturday afternoon during two different breakout times. Here’s a sneak peek at what will be shared this year and who is sharing.

HIS: Bringing Out the Best in Her – Jeff Nitz
Whether she is Super Mom or is running on fumes, you play a critical role as your wife’s parenting partner. What should that look like? Unwavering support? Gentle challenge? How do we address concerns? And, where does the priority of our marriage versus our parenting fit in? Come and hear as Jeff leads in a discussion about how we can help our wives to be all that God intends for them to be–for her sake, for our sake, for our children’s sake.

About the speaker:
Jeff has spent the past 30 years working in the field of child welfare social work with experience in foster care, residential treatment, foster care adoption, international and domestic infant adoption as well as Safe Families For Children. For the past 21 years, he has served in various capacities for Bethany Christian Services, currently as the Sr. Vice-President of Adoption and Family Services where he helps to lead the U.S. based service and marketing teams. Jeff has been married for over 30 years to his college sweetheart, Cheryl, and counts her as his very best friend. Together, they are the parents of four adult children ages 24 to 38, two of whom were adopted. Jeff and Cheryl attend New Life Presbyterian Church in Dresher, PA where Jeff serves as an elder and together he and Cheryl are involved in marriage ministry. As a licensed clinical social worker, he also enjoys serving with his wife in providing counsel to couples who are struggling in their marriage.

HERS: Bringing Out the Best in Him – Cheryl Nitz
Whether he is Super Dad or is running on fumes, you play a critical role as your husband’s parenting partner. What should that look like? Unwavering support? Gentle challenge? How do we address concerns? And where does the priority of our marriage versus our parenting fit in? Come and hear as Cheryl leads us in a discussion about how we can help our husbands to be all that God intends for them to be–for his sake, for our sake, for our children’s sake.

About the speaker:
Cheryl Nitz, ACSW, LCSW has worked in the field of adoption and foster care for over 30 years. In 1997, she began specializing in working with families impacted by adoption, trauma, and attachment challenges and is now a therapist and the Director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA where she and her staff are committed to joining with parents to help their children find hope and healing through the love and security their families provide. In addition to her professional experience, Cheryl often says her best education has come from being a parent with her husband to their four kids (two of whom came to the family through adoption) and grandparent to four. She presents as a fellow sojourner, sharing with other adoptive parents joys and challenges and lessons learned both in the trenches at the Nitz home and from the families with whom she has had the privilege of working.

Building a Circle of Security – Amy Brady
Imagine what it might feel like if you were able to make sense of what your child was really asking from you. The Circle of Security® Parenting™ program is based on decades of research about how secure parent–child relationships can be supported and strengthened. It strives to work with parents to help them (a) understand their child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs, (b) support their child’s ability to successfully manage emotions, (c) enhance the development of their child’s self esteem, and (d) honor the innate wisdom and desire for their child to be secure. As a registered Circle of Security® parent facilitator, Amy will share a brief overview of the program and ways to build security into the attachment you are developing and deepening with your child.

About the speaker:
After being a national conference speaker, Bible teacher, and Bible study author for over a decade, God began to reveal His greatest journey for Amy and the Brady family yet by steering them down the adoption road. From years of waiting for her daughters to arrive to years waiting for God to send a reprieve from the most difficult places on the adoption road, Amy has journeyed with God into places, hidden and sometimes dark, or beautiful and filled with light to find one thing in them all: He is there. Amy and her husband John just celebrated 25 years of marriage. They have 4 children and a beloved daughter-in-law. Amy is cofounder of PAUSE, a postadoption support network, and is a registered Circle of Security parent facilitator.

Tuning Into God – Anna Balfour
What if when you “tuned into God,” you sometimes, just sometimes, felt He spoke back to you? Maybe not in an audible voice but perhaps an impression, a sense of someone you should reach out to or pray for, or something you felt you needed to do or check out? And then later, you discover you were spot on. What might happen to us in our walk with God, in our relationship with Him, if we expected Him to speak personally to us? Come to this session, listen to stories, and learn how to do that and practice it, believing that God will show up!

About the speaker:
Anna and her husband Doug, two Brits, have done a few wacky things over the last 30 odd years including working with street children in Columbia, working in Liberia between the civil wars in the early 90s, living by faith and living in community with young children. They moved 10 years ago to the USA to live in the ‘burbs with their their three teenagers. In every circumstance, they have had to rely on God, expecting Him to speak and lead. He always showed up! Anna is a clinical psychologist specializing in schema therapy. She is also a motivational speaker who is passionate about helping men and women be all God created them to be and do all He has laid out for them.

How We Can Love the Wounded and Protect Our Children – Carolyn Ruch
We’re all in the trenches with a mission to love deeply and protect fiercely. Maybe there are children in your home who have been wounded by sexual abuse. Maybe you were wounded yourself and want to make sure you are doing all you can to protect your children. Maybe you have a heart to fight the fight for the most vulnerable. Come to this session ready to learn as Carolyn reminds you of your call to love and encourages you in ways to do that well and teaches four simple and specific relational action steps that will build trust and increase prevention against sexual abuse.

About the speaker:
Carolyn is an author, speaker, child advocate, survivor support group leader, and founder of the Rise and Shine Movement. But, her role as mother to seven children (three biological, one adopted, and three foster) is where she’s had her most joyous successes . . . and her most painful failures. Carolyn has protected and won, protected and lost. She joins you in the trenches as we fight for our children’s safety and bring healing to the wounded.

Connecting as Husbands and Wives Together Called – Mark and Kelly Raudenbush
Parenting is no easy thing. It’s a task that requires a large part of our personal resources, especially as we seek to meet the needs of our children with hard starts. As we pour ourselves out to connect with our kids, so often even the best partners in parenting find that we can fall away from the practice of connecting with each other. Come to this session to be reminded of how nurturing our foundational relationships individually with Christ and with our spouse can help us best nurture our children and to learn one new way that we as husbands and wives and fathers and mothers can do it in the midst of our inevitable busyness.

About the speakers:
Married over 18 years, Mark and Kelly Raudenbush are passionate about serving together as a team. They founded The Sparrow Fund in 2011, having been changed by the adoption of their youngest child and desiring to meet what they saw as a need among adoptive families. While Kelly serves families as a therapist through the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA, they work side-by-side as Mark is the Director of Operations for a large nonprofit’s efforts serving students in Asia. They consider it a joy to pour into mothers and fathers who are eager to do the right thing for their families, encouraging parents to understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for the hearts of their children. Mark and Kelly have 4 children, their youngest joining the family through adoption from China.

Same-Page Discipline and Correction – Jeff and Cheryl Nitz
God definitely made us different. Each of us has our own childhood history, personality, and life experiences that contribute to making us the kind of parent that we are. Even more than in marriage, parenting can really highlight those differences. Discipline and correction specifically can be challenging, even though ultimately we want the same thing! Join Jeff and Cheryl as they share some of their own journey as adoptive parents and offer thoughts on how to work through differences and become an even more powerful parenting team.

About the speakers:
Jeff and Cheryl Nitz bring both professional and personal experience as they offer insights, challenges, and encouragement to families whom God has brought together through adoption. Jeff is the Sr. Vice President of Adoption & Family Services for Bethany Christian Services. Cheryl is a therapist and the Director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA, specializing in working with families impacted by adoption, trauma, and attachment challenges. But, Jeff and Cheryl often say their best education has come from being parents to their four kids (two of whom came to the family through adoption) and grandparents to four. Most importantly, Jeff and Cheryl are presenting as fellow sojourners—sharing with other adoptive parents the joys and challenges and lessons learned and deeply committed to fostering a fun, growing, supportive marriage in the midst of chaos!

Where Are My Green Pastures? – Stephanie Smit
If the Lord is our shepherd, shouldn’t we be enjoying some green pastures? Perhaps your adoption journey has felt much more like the valley of the shadow of death than green pastures. Maybe His leading was clear and easy to follow early on in your adoption process; but, now that you are home, the new reality feels as if you’ve been left without a shepherd. Sometimes it’s just the day-to-day living that leaves us longing for some refreshment and green pastures. Whatever your circumstance, if you want to know more of the green pastures Psalm 23 promises for you specifically, come to dig deeper into the “what” and the “how” of green pastures. Using Biblical truth and practical applications, you will walk away with encouragement that you can embrace now and bring home with you.

About the speaker:
After 18 years as an elementary teacher, Stephanie transitioned to home as she and her husband Matt grew grew their family. Through struggles with infertility, joys of an unexpected pregnancy, stress of one adoption, challenges of an another independent international adoption, navigating the many surgeries of her cleft affected daughters, and simply raising three girls so close in age, she has seen God’s mighty hand and clear leading. Stephanie and her husband serve as board members of The Sparrow Fund and on the leadership team for Together Called. This past January, she joined The Sparrow Fund’s team as the primary teacher to serve in an orphanage in South China. Stephanie counts it a privilege to connect with and encourage those called to adopt.

The Nuts and Bolts of Family Worship – Philip and Jessica Morlan
Teaching our children to trust and follow Jesus is a great privilege and responsibility. In this breakout session, Philip and Jessica Morlan, our weekend worship leaders, will give encouragement on how to impress God’s Word on the hearts of your children. They’ll share from their personal journey and give ideas on how to shepherd your children to Jesus as you go through life.

About the speakers:
Philip and Jessica Morlan are worship leaders and teachers for Seeds Family Worship. They partner with churches around the country leading multigenerational worship events that equip families to seek God together. They are blessed with five amazing kids (two through adoption) and love to encourage families to live out their faith at home.

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.

TOGETHER Called

We all want a magic word. In those moments of chaos when we’ve told them to put their shoes on for the 8th time. In those moments of quiet when everyone is in bed and we finally have a moment to reconnect but we are simply too tired to finish a sentence. We’ve been there. We know you’ve been there too.

Some years ago, social scientists claimed to have found that magic word, one single word that could motivate people to press on longer and do it successfully without burning out—together. Scientists actually studied it.

Here’s how: researchers put participants in small groups and then separated them to work on difficult puzzles on their own. Some participants were told that they would be working on the puzzles together even though they were separated into different rooms and that they would share strategies with their teammates. Other participants never heard the word together at all. They were were still promised help though, but their strategy sharing would be with the researchers only. All the participants were doing the same puzzles and getting the same measure of support really; the only difference was the feeling produced by being told they were working together. In the end, the participants who believed they were working together with a team endured the challenges 48% longer, solved more puzzles correctly, and had better recall of the challenges when it was over. Also, compared to the other participants, their own reports showed that they felt less physically tired and less depleted by the challenge and that they weren’t as frustrated with the challenge itself.

together-pictureIt’s remarkable really.

There’s something powerful about being reminded that we are part of a team, that we are not facing whatever challenge is before us alone. That awareness of togetherness literally changes us, giving us precisely what we need to be producers of change around us. It almost is a magic elixir.

The Together Called retreat is not magic. Some couples who have attended in years past have said that their marriages were transformed by it; but that’s not because of any supernatural program. What Together Called does well is remind you that you are not alone, that no matter how hard things have been or may be, you have someone beside you who is facing it with you. And, you have Someone leading you both as you walk forward together. And, that, friends, is life changing.

You have been and are now Together Called as husbands and wives and as fathers and mothers or fathers- and mothers-to-be. Won’t you set aside a few days this Spring to step out of the chaos of daily life to be reminded of that truth?

Click HERE to read more about Together Called 2017. Registration opens at 8pm sharp EST on Sunday evening. For four years, registration fills fast (think minutes). So, talk about it now. Figure out how to budget for it. Ask someone if they can support you by caring for your kiddos that weekend. And, set your alarm for 7:55pm EST Sunday night. We want you to join us and 100+ other couples, together.

tc-2017-sponsors

Because of sponsors who have a vision to serve adoptive parents, we are able to offer this retreat to you below actual cost. We are actively seeking more sponsors to help us make this happen. Please email our team if you know someone who may be interested in sponsoring this event.

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

We Were. We Are. He Is.

us(pp_w343_h428)A couple of weekends ago, DH and I gathered with 100 other adoptive, foster, and pre-adoptive couples for our 4th annual Together Called marriage retreat.  It is always a time we anticipate greatly. To say that this year was our favorite is an understatement.  We were so blessed to be a small part of the event.  We met so many new friends and were incredibly honored to hear their stories.  We hugged old friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time.  We learned together.  We worshiped together.  We prayed together.  We shared meals together.  We openly discussed our struggles in a safe environment. We were unmasked and vulnerable together.  We drank coffee by the fire.  We spent time in fellowship and laughed until we cried. Sometimes we just cried.  We enjoyed the beautiful views.  We even watch snow fall.  In April.

We were urged by our speakers to have open discussions with our spouse throughout the weekend – to share favorite memories, reminisce about where we’ve come from, reflect on where we are, and dream about where we might go.  We were inspired to complete our “We were … We are … He is …” statements.

Most of all though, we were reminded that through this crazy journey of life, we are enough because HE is enough.  That can sometimes be difficult to remember in the midst of folding laundry and cooking meals and making beds.  Helping children through trauma and tantrums and bad choices, as adoptive and foster parents often do, can make anyone weary.  And feeling the shame of not measuring up to whatever standard we use, can be utterly crippling.  But this weekend brought encouragement and hope to press on. To keep running the race set before us, looking to Jesus.  We truly are enough, because He is enough.

Many couples have commented about the refreshment, restoration, and connection that this weekend has offered them. I’m so thankful for that. Because that’s what this work is all about.  DH and I were humbled to serve with a remarkable team who tirelessly worked to make this time together simply unforgettable and hope-filled.  Seeing the Father work through so many families was truly inspiring.  We are already counting down the days until next year’s retreat!  Mark your calendars for March 31-April 2, 2017!  We’re back at Bear Creek in Macungie, PA, and would be absolutely delighted to see you there!

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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.