On Stretching Our Dollars: #GivingTuesday

IMG_4589It has come upon us again: the time of year when we give thanks and then go shopping.  My internet surfing has been inundated by Black Friday deals extended for a few more days, Cyber Monday discounts piling up, and Facebook countdowns of the number of shopping days until Christmas.

It is easy to get caught up in it all and run after the latest deal.  Or to lament the state of our society that we so quickly turn to consumerism after consuming a family meal.

But I think that there’s a middle ground.

I imagine my son opening up the gift I went out to buy early Friday morning.  He’s going to love it.  Seeing that joy is one of my favorite things about the holiday season.  I can’t wait until Christmas morning.  And I’m really thankful that there was a deal that turned something unaffordable and not within my budget into a very special gift that I could bless him with.

Setting aside a time that allows you to stretch your money is actually a pretty great idea.

I think the key is to remember what you are stretching your money FOR.  Is it to be able to get more “stuff” with the same amount of cash, or is it to be able to purchase something really special  that you would not have been able to otherwise afford?  Is it to increase your own pile of things, or to bring joy to others?  Is it creating greed and selfishness in your heart, or joy and excitement?

I love being able to bless in the holiday season, and I like that I get this opportunity to do it more effectively.

And that’s why I’m so excited about #GivingTuesday.  This year, Tuesday has been set aside to do a different kind of stretching with our dollars.  To bless in ways other than with physical presents.  To bring joy in tangible ways.

It’s an opportunity for us to work together to make what would be unattainable on our own into a very special gift for others.

#GivingTuesday is a day to give to charitable organizations.  And this year, New Horizons for Children has a special “deal” so that we can reach a goal that is beyond what we can each do with our individual budgets:

Thanks to a corporate sponsor, every dollar given on #GIVINGTUESDAY will be matched up to $5000! 

How many of us went out this weekend and bought something that was 50% off?  How many of us were excited to get something that was otherwise out of our price range?

On #GivingTuesday, we can do something together that will be a gift none of us could afford on our own.  It’s a deal that will bring joy and hope and help.  If we all work together, we can raise $10,000 in a day.

That is a stretching of a dollar that fills my heart with more excitement than a deal on a video game or a toy or television ever could.

And taking advantage of this deal on #GivingTuesday means that New Horizons for Children will be halfway to its year-end goal of filling its Bright Future Fund with $20,000.  These funds will be used to support the mission trips that NHFC has planned to our current host countries, but more importantly, it will be used to reach a new country in Eastern Europe.

A whole new country of orphans in need.  A whole new country of children able to have arms wrapped around them and songs sung to them and love poured into them.  A whole new country of hearts waiting to hear the love of God.

That is a gift I want to give this holiday season.  It’s a deal that is bigger than any I got on the presents that will be under my tree this Christmas.

It’s a gift that will resonate in eternity.

All funds donated now through midnight Tuesday will be doubled, up to $5000.  To participate in #GivingTuesday, donate to the Bright Future Fund, go here:  www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/bright-future-fund/269050

 Veldorah Rice is a three-time host parent and a volunteer for New Horizons for Children.  You can find her at www.hexagonalpeg.com

Love Isn’t

By Guest Blogger Hyacynth Worth

10580625_10153219896747656_1058652545_nLove isn’t always an easy road; but it’s always a worthwhile one. Just ask Jesus.

God knows where each of us would be without His extravagant love that came all the way down from His high place to dwell among us. God knows where we would be without Immanuel, without God with us.

How powerful that the Maker of the Universe would come to us from perfection to live in an imperfect world and love imperfect people. And all out of love. There’s something quite powerful about being with someone, about walking with someone.

Most of us can name people who walk closely with us in our lives, and for many of us those names are the people in our families. And we know the kinds of impacts these people have had in our lives! What a gift!

Perhaps God is inviting you into this kind of extravagant love this Christmas season; perhaps God is inviting your family to give the gift of family, the gift of having someone to walk with to a child who doesn’t have a family.

Maybe you’ve read about hosting an orphan or know someone who has and don’t know much more … and perhaps something calls to you about opening your own home and sharing your own family with a child who doesn’t have one of his or her own.

But maybe the reality is that you’re still on the fence about hosting. There are so many reasons that tempt us to toss the idea out of our minds because honestly it can seem daunting or even impossible.

Before you let the thought fade, though, here are six reasons you may want to consider allowing God to show you that He specializes in making the impossible possible, just like He did the very first Christmas when Jesus was born.

6) It’s Heartwarming

Hosting a child from another country who doesn’t have a family is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. As we shared Christmas and all of the traditions that accompany our advent and Christmas celebrations, I witnessed so much beautiful interactions between our host daughter and our young boys, then 6 and 4. My children thoughtfully included her into our traditions and she in turn embraced our family and our traditions eagerly. Watching the love grow between all of our members in our family with a complete stranger turned family member has forever changed my heart and has reminded me that Christmas is about love — God’s great love for us in sending His son to us.

5) It’s Eye-Opening

Before our host daughter came to live with us for a month, I knew there were orphans. But I didn’t think about them because I didn’t see orphans on a daily basis. They were not even on my radar. But then I held her in my arms. And I knew her name. And I loved her in a way I cannot explain. And orphans then became to me people instead of numbers I had read in statistics. We can ignore numbers. We couldn’t ignore Eta. Or Vika. Or Alina. Or Nauris. Or any of the number of other children we’ve come across during hosting.

4) It’s Inspiring

Our host daughter boarded an airplane in her native country and traveled across the Atlantic via plane for the first time to spend a month with a family she’d never met and who didn’t even speak the same language. And she was only 12 years old. When we first met our beautiful host daughter, she looked completely bewildered and overwhelmed. We quickly learned that hugs and laughter translate well into any language. As we settled into life during the first few hours and then days of her visit, I was inspired by her resilience and her desire to receive and give love despite all of the disappointments and hardships she’d faced in her short life. I recalled the feeling of terror I’d experienced before hosting began about welcoming a stranger into our family and recalled how others had said we were so brave for doing this. As I watched our host daughter strive to make heart connections, I realized bravery was involved in hosting — but most of it was needed by the children being hosted! After all, we were in our own home, with our own families, speaking our own language. Talk about bravery! These children are so courageous, and our host daughter showed me that I could live and love courageously, too.

3) It’s Humbling

The world is so much bigger, so much more vast than what I can see when I’m looking at what’s before me. I recall days when I thought and lived like the world revolved around me and my small family. When we met our host daughter I began to realize on a greater scale just how small I am and just how vast the world is. My children also began to grasp the smallest realizations of just how big our world is and how great the needs. We’ve realized as a family that while we cannot nearly meet the worlds great needs, we can do something. No one can do everything; but everyone can do something. We have learned that while we cannot save the world we can go where our deep passion meets the world’s great need. And we have taken to heart a great perspective from Andy Stanley: “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

2) It’s Perspective Altering

Though we’d read James 1:27 many times — “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” — we didn’t really understand it until our host daughter came into our lives. We then began understanding how God wants us to love and how God loves us. Orphans have no standing in the world — they have nothing with which to repay for the love, time and effort. This is the way God loves us — though we have nothing to offer him but our hearts, he loves us and cares for us as His own.

1) It’s Life-changing

People have often mused about how we’ve changed our host daughter’s life for the better. And I know this is true without a doubt. We loved her with every ounce of love we had and then some —  often praying and asking God to multiply our efforts in only a way He could deep within her heart. I know we’ve given her a picture of what it means to be welcomed into a family and what it means to be part of a family. I know we’ve made a difference in her life, and our love has been tattooed on her heart.

But you know what else? God used her and hosting to change our lives … to change our hearts. Our family has had our collective heart broken for children who don’t have families. Even our young sons at ages 5 and 7 are vested in praying.  When discussing if we should host again our oldest son exclaimed, “Yes! Of course! Every kid needs a family!”

 

May we know more than His name this Christmas; may we know the love of God with us, and may we emulate His love in our very lives.

Hyacynth Worth lives with her husband John and their two boys in a northern suburb of Chicago. They have hosted twice with New Horizons For Children. Hyacynth writes at www.UndercoverMother.com about family, faith and the intersection of it all. 

Not Fixed, But Changed

AerostichGutWrenchSet“I change after America.”

She tells me this in the midst of catching up on her life: her friends, her activities, where relationships stand.

I am surprised.

She puts on a tough exterior, this girl of mine.  Heavy matters are dismissed with a shrug, everything is “whatever,” and life is transient.  This girl, surrounded her whole life by people caught up in their own lives, quietly teaching her that her emotions don’t matter, that even if she wants something no one is going to stop to worry much about it.   There were times of care and love, but….always the but.

I can’t fix the but.  I can’t fix her.  I choose not to try to fix her.  That’s not my job anyway.

I think often people see orphan care as a process of “fixing.” There are these children, and they are broken, and all we have to do is come in and give them love and a family environment and poof! All of the hurt and loss and broken is gone.  Sheesh, these kids should be grateful for our generosity!  They should be so thankful.  And once they get a good old fashioned dose of family lovin’…why, they will go away mended.  Better.

That’s not how it works.  They aren’t cars coming in for repair or tarnished silver in need of a good polishing.  They are people.  People who have lived in hard places.  People who have loved in spite of the darkest of spaces.  The thing these people need is not fixing.  It’s love.  Love unconditional, love not tied to the expectation of a result, love given without hope of return.

And as I listen to my girl talk, I hear that this is what it was.  This is what changed her.

“I change because I come,” she says.  “I change because I know I can do things now.  I come to America all alone.  Me.  No one tell me to do this, and no one come with me.  I know now that I can make choices.  I know I can choose who to help, who to listen to, who to have as friend.”

Please note: I did none of this.  All I did was give her the opportunity.  All I did was open up my arms, my home, and my heart.  The change came because she was brave enough to accept the welcome.

I “fixed” nothing.  I loved.  I loved a girl I didn’t know, because I know love unconditional, given sacrificially for me.

And we talk and I ask her the ways this change has played out in her relationships, and she tells me how her friendships have changed because of who she is now, and how hosting has altered the fabric of her thoughts but some of her friends don’t understand it.  I smile sympathetically.  I know that pain, too.

She tells me that she realizes that she doesn’t have to be passive in her choices; she’s realized the strength that comes with standing again after loss.  It’s a disorienting thing to know you are strong and resolute and vocal, and to still become a victim of others’ actions.  It causes you to question everything you are.  And she’s always been strong, but when her world collapsed, she had to reorient herself, and she needed to figure out who she could be truly open with.  Coming to America helped her realize this.  I catch my breath.  She is telling my story, too.

She tells me that she has found others like her, who have experienced hosting, and what that has done for their friendship.  She tells me about her friends coming for the first time this summer, and how happy this makes her.  She tells me how there is a special connection with those others who understand this time in America.  I nod.  Those are my thoughts, too.

These things that have changed for her…they are not things I have done.  They did not happen because we were the perfect family and we taught her all of these amazing things about life.  I don’t think I “fixed” a single thing in that sweet girl’s life.

But I hugged her.  And I told her I loved her.   All I did was show up.  I listened every day.  And then I listened more.  And then I listened to the revised version with a little more truth in it because there was more trust built.  And then I told her how I would always listen.

She left me at the end of Christmas hosting appearing to be unchanged. And she went home and realized how different things were.  But she never told me.  It’s been six months of Skype and Facebook and packages and loving across an ocean.  And only now do I hear how this mattered to her.  I know I’m one of the lucky ones, because most people don’t get to hear how their actions changed others.

And so we sit in my kitchen, two very broken people with no easy answers or fixes.  But with each other.

I change after America, too, my girl.  Thank you.

Veldorah is in the midst of her third hosting.  She is a volunteer with New Horizons for Children and blogs at www.hexagonalpeg.wordpress.com

At the End of the Rainbow

This weekend, New Horizons for Children is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by filling up a pot of gold!

There are still many children on our photolisting who have not been chosen for this summer’s hosting.  All of these children want to come to America.  Some of them want to learn to swim; others want to ride a bike for the first time; still others wish they could try out a roller coaster.  All of them want to experience a family.

This weekend through St. Patrick’s Day, generous leprechauns will double your gift! 

If you place a scholarship on a child not yet matched with a family, your gift will be doubled. 

Turn your $25 into $50, your $100 into $200, just like magic. 

All donations up to $500 will be doubled on any child not yet matched.    The goal is to raise $10,000 by midnight EST on St. Patrick’s Day.

Click here to donate.

Will you help these children chase their rainbow to America this summer?

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Why Host a Teen?

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NHFC interview team with some of the teens available for summer hosting

If you are like most people, when you look at old family pictures, your eyes are drawn to the children.  Wedding pictures are always cuter with a scowling flowergirl sitting on a bride’s train; a vacation shot of a tiny boy staring in wide-eyed wonder at the vast ocean is the one that is framed and hung on the wall.

No one frames pictures of the 15-year-old with the bad perm.  No one gets the warm fuzzies when a pimply teenager scowls in a family photo.

Teens aren’t cute.  They are awkward and pointy in all the wrong places.  They have a sense of style that is foreign to adults, and the music they like, well, it’s just…strange.  They are struggling with that land halfway between child and adult.  One moment they are sweet and engaged, and the next they are looking at you like you have three heads because how can you possibly understand their world?

No one willingly desires to go back to their teen years.  They are hard, and confusing, and seem so overwhelming.  Parenting children through those years isn’t a whole lot easier.

And this is the struggle that orphan teens face.  Many people are looking at the New Horizons for Children photolisting right now.  Who would want the girl with the bad perm?  Who would want the lanky boy who is all elbows?

But hosting isn’t about picking the cutest or the youngest or the one who looks the happiest.  It’s about loving a hurting child.  It’s about showing a child who doesn’t know what a functional family is that they are not alone.  It’s about being Christ to them…being a servant who helps set the lonely into families.

Unfortunately, teens often go overlooked.  They don’t look vulnerable the way a six year old does.  They don’t show their fear, or appear to need a family.  They look confident and brave and maybe even defiant.

That’s because they have to.  They spent years learning that no one wanted them, that they can only trust themselves.  Of course they are going to look brave.  If they made it this far, they had to be.

And that should break our hearts.

One host mom of a teen boy had this to say, “As we looked through the 300 pictures of available orphans and read all their bios (all deserving to come and be loved by a family), one thing really struck us. One of the teen boys interviewed said, ‘I am still looking for my family.’ The reality is that once an orphan reaches the age of 5, their chances of ever being adopted are slim. The chances of an unadoptable teen boy being invited into someone’s home are astronomically slim. There is a huge group of hurting kids who need love that are being dismissed because they have ‘aged out.’ Our hearts broke for these boys who cannot be adopted but still want the love of a family.”

Five reasons you should consider hosting a teen:

1)      They are at a critical point where they can make really good or really devastating decisions. Think back to your own childhood.  Think of the most important conversation you had with your dad.  Think of the time your mom spoke her heart and you realized the depth of your actions.  Think of that time your trusted mentor had a true heart-to-heart with you.  Those moments likely happened in your teens.   These children don’t have those people around them.  But they could—you could be that person for them.  You can have a huge impact on them!

2)      They tend to understand and appreciate hosting. While they might not express it verbally to you, they know the losses they have suffered.  They know what they have missed out on.  And they are eager to experience it, even if they pretend that they aren’t.  They understand the amazing opportunity they are being given.  They just might not tell you about it.  But it doesn’t matter.  You didn’t get into this for the accolades anyway.

3)      They have the ability to create lasting relationships.  They might not be adoptable, but adoption is not the only way to bond with a child.  Sometimes student visas are possible.  Sometimes they can come for hosting again.  Regardless, most teens have greater access to social media and other communication methods, like Skype.  With today’s possibilities for international connections, an ongoing relationship IS possible. Imagine someone choosing YOU to walk alongside as you transition to young adulthood – after you believe your opportunity has passed!

4)      They need affection.  There is no age limit on loneliness.  There is no magical year when you suddenly don’t need your mom to say, “I’m so proud of you!” or your dad to say, “You really are talented!”  They need to hear it.  You can say it.

5)      God calls us to love the ones the world sees as “unlovable.”  Jesus ate with sinners.  His best friends were lowly fishermen.  His inner circle was constantly bickering and posturing.  These people weren’t cute and cuddly.  They were prickly and awkward, constantly challenging and questioning.  They said a lot of mean things and made choices foolishly.  They were sort of like a group of hurting teens.  And he more than loved them…he invited them into his inner circle.  They became his family.  He never “adopted” them with legal paperwork.  He just loved them with everything he had.  And in return, they betrayed him and denied him and made all kinds of drama around him.  But he was faithful in loving them.  And what did they become?  His children.  And they took his love and spread it to the nations.

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to plant in the fertile soil of teenage hearts.  Host a teen.  Show God’s love in a tangible way.  Change a life.

Click here to view the photolisting of available children.

Give the Gift of Love

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love.  A day to tell your dear ones how much they mean to you.  A day to count the ways that they have changed your life.

Not all of us have significant others, but we have family—mothers and fathers, siblings and friends, some with us and some gone from our lives—and all of them mattered.  All of them made a difference in helping us become the people we are today.

But what if you didn’t have anyone to celebrate?  What if you had no one to love you?  No one to tell you the ways you matter?

This Valentine’s Day, consider showing your love by donating towards a scholarship for hosting an orphan this summer.  Instead of asking for flowers or candy or jewelry, sign up for the photo listing and select a child to sponsor.

Give the gift of love this Valentine’s Day.

Scholarships make a HUGE difference—80% of the children with a scholarship are chosen for hosting.  What is a $10 box of candy, or a $25 bouquet of flowers compared to helping someone else know that they matter and that they are loved?

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, New Horizons will double any scholarship donation of $25 or more for unmatched children.  DOUBLE your gift of love February 13-16, 2014.

Scholarships help change lives.  Please give one today. 

 

“Someone made a $500 donation scholarship to our host daughter before we were matched with her. That donation spurred us to choose her from the 2-3 girls we were Juliestill praying about. We are now pursuing her adoption to be her forever family. Your gift got that moving. We are so grateful for your generous gift that allowed us to meet her. The other girls we were praying over were all hosted and are in process to be adopted at this point, too. Maybe that would have happened under different pairings. The fact is that this arrangement of children and families was tipped and guided by your act of kindness. Thank you and God Bless!” –Rob and Julie, New York
 
“We waited until the final hours…literally three hours to go until matching ended.   If our boys didn’t Chelseyhave a scholarship, we NEVER would have been able to host both of them. I was only looking at hosting one child…..then my TWO boys had a scholarship that made them an option.   To think–money almost kept us from having the most amazing 4 weeks.  I’m so grateful to the donors for contributing and believing that these boys needed a family.” –Bobby and Chelsey, Wisconsin
 
“Hosting was a stretch for us financially. We stepped forward with hopeful hearts. But when our chosen host child was unable to come, we gave away our gathered funds to others so that they would find a family. THEN we found the Suzan2child that God had for us…but we had no money. The beauty of scholarship money coming in at the “last minute” from people that we had never met in person, but who shared a passion for these kids and love for Christ, was like a heavenly nod of approval. It was the encouragement we needed to go on. Thanks to those gifts, we enjoyed the most amazing summer and are on the way to bringing our host child home forever!! Each of you who gave made that possible. Please don’t underestimate what scholarships of any amount can do for a child or for a potential host family.” — Bryan and Suzan, Maryland
 
“We were considering hosting a set of three siblings a second time.  The thought of paying the hosting fees for three children again was a bit overwhelming. It Melodywas the biggest obstacle in our decision. We contacted NHFC, and they offered us a partial scholarship.  This brought a sense of relief to us and was the encouraging factor that helped us make the decision to host again.  After that hosting, we committed ourselves to adopting them and now are waiting on travel dates to bring them home.  We are so appreciative of the help we received from them.  It helped make our decision a whole lot easier!” –Wendell and Melody, Ohio
 
Lori“We decided to host on one of the last days possible. Our two host children had a scholarship, and that played a part in our decision to host them. We would have hosted regardless, but since we were paying for two children instead of one and the cost was doubled, it helped us decide to host a sibling group.”–Dan and Lori, Pennsylvania
 
“We were only able to host because someone who had met our child on a mission trip chose to offer him a hefty Stacey2scholarship on the very last day of matching if someone would agree to host him. That was the push we needed to say yes. Our host son was amazing. He was so incredible, in fact, that people were falling in love with him everywhere. Because of that scholarship, we were able to help him find his forever family and now he is an orphan no more.” — Peter and Stacey, California
 

THIS WEEKEND ONLY! All scholarship donations of $25 or more given February 13-16, 2014 for children not yet on hold or being rehosted by the same family will be doubled.   Click here to donate.

Why Me?

Teen“Why you want me?”

It was a question that surprised me, coming out of my confident and poised host daughter.  She is all spunk and light, and one of the greatest people-readers I’ve ever met.  And yet here she was, suddenly so much younger than her self-assured 16-year-old self.

“Why you want me?”

The tilt of her head a little more insistent, the pressed line of her half-smile a little harder, her arched eyebrow a little higher.  Her whole body was poised for my answer.

I wanted to scoop her into my arms and never let her go.  Oh, my dear one.  Why?  How could I not?  You are in my very soul.  I love you beyond the bounds of what I ever thought possible.  Want you?  No, I didn’t just want you.  I needed you.  My whole life I have been waiting to find you.

But I know why she asked the question.  She wasn’t a nine-year-old, like I had hosted before.  She wasn’t “cute and adorable” on a photo listing.  She wasn’t adoptable.  She was a teenager.  And who in their right mind wants a teenager, especially one with prickly hurts that sometimes peek out of a strong and confident exterior?

It sure wasn’t me six months ago.

I found out about hosting last year, after hoping to adopt for four years but having no success.  Perhaps during the wait, I could use my time wisely and show a sweet child the love of a family.  And maybe this was a path that would lead to adoption after all—I was open to the possibility.  I hosted a nine-year-old boy that summer, and loved him very much—more than I expected, actually.  But while he was here, I discovered that I could not adopt him even if I desired it.  And I found out something even more surprising: it didn’t matter.  He was a special little boy, and my love for him just poured out easily.

But what of my plans?  Sure, I still wanted to adopt, but I found myself seeing a world even bigger than adoption.  Love doesn’t end just because a child isn’t adopted.  Family isn’t defined by legal words on a piece of paper.  We were designed to be relational, to be known intimately.

Every child feels that need to belong. Every child needs to know love.  Every child needs to know that they are seen, that they matter, that they are not forgotten.

Goodness…isn’t that what we ALL want?  I don’t think that there is ever an age when we stop needing that.  And so my heart opened a little bit more and I realized that maybe my vision had been too narrow.

I think it’s easy to see that the little ones need arms to hug them, need someone to tuck them in at night, need someone to kiss their boo-boos.  And they do.  But at what age does that stop?  At what age do they stop needing someone to care?

I think we quickly forget how much we needed our mamas when we were 15 or 16 and our hearts broke for the first time.  Our memories fade on that time the tears flowed when the boy didn’t ask us to the dance, or when the girl laughed at our awkward attempt to tell her how we felt.  And we forget how we fell into our mom’s arms, or just wanted our dad to put his arm around us and tell us that it’s not the end of the world.  Our boo-boos were different, but oh, how we longed for someone to kiss them and take the pain away.

And these teens, their world of heartbreak isn’t a school dance or a flippant girl.  Their problems are sometimes adult-sized.  Their pain is often more than most adults could bear.

And yet, here they are, faces smiling with courage maybe their hearts don’t have.  Daring to hope that maybe things will get better.  Believing that it has to.

And they go into these interviews with New Horizons for Children, and they tell their stories, all the time believing that no one will want them.  Probably the cute little kid will get picked, and they will be forgotten again.  And still they go.

Still they go.

Still they speak.

They say, I’m still here.  I’m still fighting.  And I want to be seen.

Such bravery in the face of such hardship.

And I was moved by it.  Me, who never would have looked twice at a teenager a few months ago, was captured by the bold hope on those faces.  And there was one sweet, brave girl, with a hundred watt smile and a mischievous sparkle in her eyes.  I saw her, and I did not want her to be forgotten.

I wasn’t going to host over Christmas.  I was instead going to support others who were.  And I certainly wasn’t looking for a teen.

But I couldn’t let her go.  I was originally intending to advocate for her to others, but the more I talked about her, the more I knew I needed her.  And so she came, and we became family.

She has changed me.  Made me better.  And I found that her age didn’t matter.   She needed me as much as that nine-year-old did.  Maybe more.

And I told her so.  Why did I want you?  That’s simple.

I want you because I love you.

Love doesn’t have an age cut off or a cuteness factor.  There is One who loved me in my sin, when I was the most unlovable.  How can I not love others that way?

But the thing is, it’s not hard.  These teens, they want a mama’s love.  They want a daddy’s affection.  They want the same thing you do.  They want to be known.

And when I look into my girl’s eyes, all the questions about whether I could do it or if I could be enough just melted away.  I didn’t see a teenager all cocky and confident in front of me.  I saw a girl, a young woman, hoping that maybe it was true.  Hardly believing it could be.

“Why you want me?”

Because, my love, I saw you.  I truly saw you.  You are not forgotten.

Veldorah Rice is a two-time host mom and volunteer with NHFC.  She also teaches English and Communications to high school and college students.  You can follow her blog here.

Step Out Onto The Ice

Today our interview team took a risk and walked out onto the ice of a frozen lake. We thought it was risky to step onto that lake. That first step was hard. It took courage, and it forced us to reflect on our host kids and the huge risk they take when they choose to come to America. They will face so many unknowns…our team was unsure if the ice would hold their weight, these kids are unsure if a host family will be able to hold the weight of their heart. They too have the courage to face weeks inundated with a language they don’t understand, courage to try new foods and to leave behind their friends and all that is familiar to them! Will you choose to step out onto the ice and host a child this summer?

 

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God Sized Dream: What they Don’t Tell You About Hosting

Post by guest blogger and host mom, Hyacynth Worth. You can follow her awesome blog here.

 

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They told us this would be exhausting.

They said that blending a family with a child from half a world away who doesn’t speak the same language and doesn’t have a family to call keeps forever would be challenging and rewarding

and that our hearts would be full.

They cautioned us to set boundaries, guidelines and stick to the many, many rules put in place to protect the children and the families.

The shared statistics, helped us understand what happens to these children, many of whom have found themselves in situations that bad dreams are made of and helped us see what the love of a family does to turn around a life — what being chosen and Chosen does for a hurting heart.

They said to keep it simple, show love and limit sweets.

They promised our sentences would become broken fragments of two different languages and that laughter would become our universal language.

They warned time would swoosh by too fast, that our hearts would be forever changed, that we’d suffer the kind of whiplash that only occurs when you’ve been swept off your feet by God’s amazing goodness on display.

And all of that has been true.

They even told us we couldn’t possibly fit everything we wanted to send back with her into a suitcase and adhere to the 50-pound weight limit … and they were right about that, too; there was no way our family would fit in it even if we tried.

I helped her pack yesterday, the afternoon before she was set to return home to Eastern Europe. I’ve never wanted to crawl inside a suitcase the way I did then, 50-pound weight limit be darned.

As she placed item after item into her suitcase, I thought about how much stuff accumulates in one month … and I thought about how it doesn’t even compare to the amount of love; I found myself grateful that love doesn’t pack into a suitcase, or we’d surely have blown through that limit like you wouldn’t believe and like I could never explain.

No one told us that.

But how could they? How could anyone have put that kind of love to words? How could anyone have said we’d feel like a piece of our heart had stepped out from our chests and boarded a plane to Europe, still tethered to us?

People kept telling us how we were blessing her with this gift of a month in our home … and I know there’s truth in that as I recall some of the last words, hugs we shared this morning before she stepped through security.

But that’s not the whole of it, and I’d be sorely amiss to end there.

That beautiful girl came bundled with many gifts — she added to the love, laughter, fun and spirit of our Christmas and New Year Celebrations and our home. She lavished attention on the boys and brought us all lots of smiles and giggles. She was a patient language teacher for me, and she reminded us to slow down and savor life.

Those are all really big, wonderful gifts.

But the real gift? The real gift was simply knowing and loving her, a beautiful blessing from our extraordinarily good God.

There’s a lot no one told us about hosting. And there’s a lot I never would have understood.

No one told us that we’d be left feeling like the gift we’d given

would feel like it was given 10-fold back to us.

 

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

Leaping…. together

Post by guest blogger and host mom, Veldorah Rice

Recently, I worked on a commercial shoot.  I love working in the film industry, and always look forward to the next gig.

The thing is, most of the time, no one knows what I *do*.

I mean, when you talk about a film you like, you probably discuss the actors and the director, right?  If you’re really into films, maybe you discuss the cinematographer or the music director.

But rarely do people talk about the producer, or the craft services outfit, or the production assistants.  Unless you were there, you don’t really know they exist.

That’s my job.  I don’t exist in the final product to most people.

For this last shoot, I was the unit producer, which means I did a lot of paperwork, managed a lot of people, and made sure everything was running smoothly throughout the day.  You won’t see my work in the finished project.

But you’ll see the results of my work.

For example, there was one moment in the shoot when someone walked into the place we were shooting and wanted to know from the director what we were doing.  This person had an issue that needed to be resolved.  That’s where I come in.  I took the person aside to see how we could help fix it.  In the time that I took to help this person, the director got the shot he needed.  If he had stopped to resolve the situation himself, the shot wouldn’t have happened.  I may not have worked on the shot myself, but I enabled it to happen by taking care of the things around the director. And every time I see that shot, I’ll know that I did a good job and worked hard.

 That’s the way it is with hosting. 

 Often, all we see is the kids.  We see where they start and where they end up.  We see what a change hosting made.

What we often miss is how that process happens.
The change can only happen when we create an environment that allows the children to grow.  We need to take care of the things around them.  We need to give them a chance to feel the love of a family.
And there are lots of people working hard to do just that.  The teams of volunteers helping to match the kids.  The people who support the families financially.  The prayer partners who faithfully intercede for each hosting.  The chaperones who give up their holidays to travel halfway around the world in order to help these children.
There are so many people who work together to make a hosting succeed.  Most of their work will never be recognized in the final product: a changed child.  Yet still they work.  And that child would not have been changed through a hosting experience without their efforts.

 So let’s come together to help these children.

As we come to the end of the matching period, there are still so many children waiting to be chosen by a family.

They need you.
They need to have you on their team.
Host a child.  You’re not doing it alone.  There’s a whole support system to help you.
Or be part of the support.  Host a chaperone.  Give financially.  Pray.  Tell a friend that they can do this.
Sometimes just knowing that there are others with you is enough to take the leap.

 

So leap.

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