She Had a Dream. Or Was it a Nightmare?

It was an upscale venue, there were plush chairs lining the walls. The banquet table entertained and sustained a gathering of men and women laughing without a care in the world. These couples had their well dressed children nearby as they enjoyed family time with friends. There were other children too, children from China. These host children, specific individual souls, were gathered in the middle of the room where these families were engaging. What a brilliant and wonderful event to have families and orphans together for a meet and greet!

In the midst of this, at the heart of it, there was a problem. A dark, brooding problem.

They wouldn’t touch them.

This happy scene wasn’t happy at all, the families were along the outskirts of the room, the host children were separated from them. The families wouldn’t talk to, touch, or even look at the children. Mothers, previously laughing and eating, sternly yanked their children away. “No, no. We don’t talk to them.”

What a nightmare.

I haven’t always been all about orphan care, but I have always been about the care and keeping of children. I’ve always been about motherhood. While in highschool I set my heart and my life in order, lined up – for motherhood, for the care of children.

Sometimes, I’ll be walking by a child of mine and think – what if they were alone? This little human, one I know so well, one I love, WHAT IF they had NO ONE? I wonder if mine have what it takes, if they have enough fire and spunk in them to survive. I praise God they’ve never had to; they’ve always been known, always been loved.

There’s one thing I know, that I’m confident of: I am not special. My children are not special. My country is not special. There is nothing in me, my children or my country that are not completely and utterly undeserving of everything we’ve been blessed with. Family. Love. Care. We deserve, have a right to, have earned – NONE of this.

So, who am I to think that my child deserves a happy summer filled with laughter, swimming, popsicles, and FAMILY LOVE – more than these little faces before me? What inconvenience will it require from me that I am ABOVE? What small spark of hope might be planted in the heart of a child?

When I see my son walk around with the photo of another boy pasted onto his shirt in a plea to host him, when my daughter shares her dreams, when I see all my 7 rally around in a large campaign to explain how perfectly easy it would be for us to take in another child, or another several children… I’m in awe. These who do the extra work, who give things up – their things – to make another child comfortable… these kids, being the hands and feet of Jesus. These kids, who have seen it’s not so difficult or scary after all, that lending a hand – or a pair of socks – is not so difficult.

My daughter spoke of her dream in animated words until she faltered to a stop, “They wouldn’t touch them.” She continued her story in hushed tones, the weight of her words not lost on either of us. The question on her heart is my question too: how to reach the hearts of others, how to make them see? How to live it out before others in a way that will inspire action?

The stark reality is this: My daughter woke up from her nightmare; the kids she dreams about – don’t.

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Nightlight is searching for families in Kentucky and So. California to host these children for 3 weeks. They are awesome adoptable kids – watch the video to see for yourself! To receive a Hosting Packet with detailed info about the program, email your request to dana@nightlight.org.

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Meet Jay

I’d like you to meet a boy that is very dear to me and to our family. I’d like you to meet Jay.

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Oh, how I miss this dear boy. Jay stayed with us for 2 weeks during the summer and captured our hearts while he was here. Jay is in foster care in Taiwan and is available for adoption.  Our family considered and prayed about having him in our family, but it didn’t work out for us. Taiwan has a two child at home already rule that we certainly don’t meet the criteria for! Nevertheless, we love him and talk about him all the time at our house. We’re committed to advocating for him, this great guy needs a family!

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When he first arrived at our house he was sooo sleepy! Working through jet lag was a funny process as we tried to wake him up and he tried to stay asleep. His personality came out even in his sleepiness, we would call “Xǐng lái” “wake up” to him and he would yell “no!” back to us. This became a funny game between all of us.  One day we were in a Starbucks drive through and I was tired so I breifly laid  my head on the steering wheel as we sat waiting. He began laughing and yelling to me “Xǐng lái!” 🙂

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Jay loves spicy noodles, loves to cook fried eggs and to help out in the kitchen. Coming to help cook a meal or make a piece of toast for someone was one of his favorite things to do. He would make something, present it to a kid and say “ummm, so good!” in his adorable accent. He doesn’t like salad or soda and sandwiches took a while to grow on him, but he really loves pizza! He told us American pizza tasted much better than pizza in Taiwan. 🙂

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That first night when he was wide awake we sat up eating noodles and watching  TV with him at midnight. This will always be a treasured memory for us.

I have many, many stories to tell, but I’ll continue them later.  Please help Jay find his family, he’s a sweet and smart 8 year old boy who would thrive in a family. We love him!

For more information about this wonderful boy,  please contact Kathy Junk at: kathy@wiaa.org

– Julee

 

 

 

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Visit my store on Storenvy

A Labor of Love

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It’s been a labor of love, bringing this sister home. Daddy has been working extra hours and we’ve tried to do our part and cut back on spending, listing items on Craigslist, etc. Lately, we girls have been having a lot of fun sewing up some American girl doll quilts. We also discovered these adorable cloth dolls that we’ve just fallen in love with. Hosanna carries hers all around with her.  Today we did a fun little photoshoot to feature the Mooshka Dolls and quilts.

Look at how cute they turned out:

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Would you do us a favor and share our Melody’s Song shop with your friends?  We’re so thankful for all our friends that have supported us, but we really don’t want to overwhelm them. We think these doll sets would be awesome Christmas gifts, could you please help us get the word out by sharing this link: http://melodyssong.storenvy.com/

Thank You!

– Julee & Katie Ann

Looking for Sparkles

She calls them sparkles. When they fall off your finger, they go to find a family.  So she says.

The dryer yields more of these sparkles with each load, the dress they abandoned now sparkless. So the search for sparkles and search for family continues, as the laundry cycles on.

Moving twice in 11 months, leaving behind everything known, planting and replanting – the tumbling, spinning cycle of life leaves me dizzy. Stepping out of comfort zones, saying yes to God, walking in weakness to discover Him strong – it’s exhilarating and exhausting.

This family, these kids, they’ve persevered long and given much. It’s time. Time to rebuild, time to nourish and replenish.When the walls are worn thin and there’s windy weather on the horizon, it’s time to fortify.

There are changes, just around this corner.

Another sparkle is found, she takes it to her drawer, adds it to the other sparkles. “So they can be a family.”

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In an instant, in a distant city in China, our lives will change forever. It’s going to be beautiful, miraculous, and life changing. Life altering in a million amazing and beautiful ways. Life altering in a million difficult, painful, sacrificial and still beautiful ways.

As we wait, we rebuild.

It isn’t popular to withdraw, decline invitations, pass on commitments and position, but rebuilding is a work that requires full focused effort.  The changes are difficult, but the results are tremendous. There is laughter, stories, parents hanging out with kids, kids playing together…

There is time.

Sweet, beautiful, time.

There are bibles and memory verses, routines, reading, playing, laughing, did I mention laughing. There are old ones spending time with young ones; siblings choosing to be together.

We ache for Melody Joy to come, we see her in her siblings faces (how can this be?), talk about her, pray about her, prepare for her. As we wait, we fortify. Just like a baby in the womb, we prepare to bring her home.

She opens the door, the light from the dryer illuminates the glimmer of each glorious sparkle.  With great excitement she exclaims,

“They’re all in here together, they found their family!”

The Gift of Time

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There is a certain safety, a quiet comfort that comes with time. Lately, there’s been a quiet contentment settling in my heart each time I spend time with him. I can’t explain why this is different than the awe and marvelling that we’ve done all our married days at how easy this comes for us, and maybe that’s it, it doesn’t always come easy anymore.

This man knows me more intimately than anyone has ever known me. I carried his children in my body. He was there as I delivered each of our 6 children, stayed by my side, strong and steady. He’s seen me in my most vulnerable state and been a pillar of strength to draw from in it all. We’ve only been at this for 15 and a half years and I am starting to sense this steady comfort that grows with having a protector of my life, my body, and my heart . A man who fears God and leads me to Him again and again.

I was merely a girl when we married, 18 years old, insecure and unsure of who I was. As I discovered who God was making me to be, he was always there to cheer me on, push me a little; support me a lot. There’s been a new transition as I’ve turned thirty and discovered my voice, my opinion that doesn’t always match his; as I learn to assert myself with respect and love. This dance becomes more complicated as our days go on, our life together is more detailed, intricate, complex and full. But, dance we do, stepping on toes and reorienting ourselves to dance in sync.

There’s something unique and special in being blessed with time, extended time, with the same person. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I’m not promised length of days, but I’m thankful for the days I’ve been given. I’ve truly seen the goodness of God in the land of the living; I rejoice.

I’m thankful for you, Anthony Huy.

Seen & Heard: 10 Apps I Use (Nearly) Everyday

I use my phone a lot, for a lot of things, there are many apps that I use everyday and I thought I would share them with you.

10 Android apps that I use everyday or nearly everyday:

Kindle – This is a must have in this household. This app is on all of our devices for reading and the kids also use this for many of their schoolbooks.

Feedly – I love this blog reader and switched to it when Google Reader went away. I use this to read all of the Gospel Coalition blogs, Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, etc. I also have some crafting, organizing and money saving blogs that feed here, but I don’t read them much right now. 🙂

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Amazon MP3 – I used to buy all my music on iTunes, but now everything is in the Amazon cloud. I use this in the house with my bluetooth player and in the car through auxiliary port. Many a calming moment provided here!

Facebook – For a while I deleted this one, I prefer to not make it easy to be distracted by Facebook. I finally just turned off notifications so that I wasn’t constantly being pulled back in.

Runkeeper – There are probably better running apps, but this one has kept all my runs and walks since I started running so I like to keep using it.  It is also tracking how many miles I’ve gone in my running shoes since I got those at about the same time! 🙂

Expensify – I love, love, LOVE this app. It’s probably not useful to anyone else, but it allows me to take a picture of receipts and turn in all of the items I purchase for the church.  This little app saves me a huge amount of time.  I’ve taught Katie Ann how to use it too, so when we are at the store I run the church purchase first and she records the purchase while I complete our personal order.  Once a month, I go online to their website and turn in all our expenses, quick and easy! YAY! (There was underground chatter about discontinuing the use of this program at church, much moaning and groaning came from me about this so I’m going to put in one more, I LOVE EXPENSIFY, just for good measure!)

Cartwheel – Oh my. I just discovered this app. It’s a terrible app for saving money because it makes shopping at Target like a game for me and I just want to go spend more so I can earn more dumb badges in Cartwheel.  All of that to say: I really like this fun app!

Goodreads – I had hoped that when Amazon bought Goodreads we would see some better cross-app integration, but alas – we have not.  Never the less, I do enjoy being able to go on my phone and update where I’m at in books and see what my friends (my daughter) are reading. This app helps keep me on track for my 2014 booklist.

YNAB – This is for the You Need A Budget budgeting program that we’re trying out.  It’s still not a perfect fit, but I like their app because you can see how much money you have in each category while you’re out and about spending money! This assumes you’ve updated your bank account and budget recently, which is something I TRY to do everyday, but I’m not always on top of it.  It’s a pretty app.

Path – I use Path a decent amount of time. I’d use it more if it’s notifications worked properly and I actually knew when I had new content. We use this privately for my parents and my siblings that have moved away. This is where all the pictures and topics that we don’t want everyone in the world’s 25 cents about. It works well for this, but like I said, I’d be closer to my family if it would tell me my niece or my brother posted.

One of my very favorite apps is my alarm clock. I don’t know if it’s the one that comes with my phone or what, but it just works great. Goes off every morning without fail! Go figure! 🙂 No, but really, it’s easy to set alarms and easy to use. You can even set it to make you do a puzzle in order to turn it off, ha ha!

I also use Brightest Flashlight, messaging program and navigation a lot, but those aren’t worth mentioning, except I just did.

One app that I do not use, but would love to is Gqueues. I use their website everyday, all day, to keep track off all the different things I’m doing. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to pay the $25.00 a year it takes to be able to use their app. The app would be the only reason I’d be upgrading, that’s a $25.00 app that expires! Yikes!

What are your favorite apps?

Happy Friday!

The Woman Who Came to Dinner

Observe and Understand His Lovingkindness

I saw her standing there with the baby strapped safe to her chest, snuggled in, on that cold afternoon. Her small son stood beside her, in his little black hoodie, looking well cared for and loved. Standing beside her man, like we women do, for better or worse, we do. Most of us anyway, those “unenlightened” ones of us. She stood there beside her man who was holding a sign. I couldn’t see the sign, but I could see them. Sometimes that’s all that’s desired, to be seen, truly seen.

I considered buying her dinner, drove right through KFC and considered it. There was a pause as the man waited for the rest of my order… don’t buy them food, they aren’t homeless, invite them to dinner. “That’ll be all, I don’t want to order anything else.”

Invite them to dinner. I don’t invite my friends to dinner, I can count on my two hands how many times I’ve invited a friend to dinner in the last 15 years. Invite them to dinner.

I didn’t feel safe inviting them to dinner myself, call it wisdom, call it fear, I don’t care much what you call it. I was getting that feeling, you know the one where you know that you’re about to be swept away in the will of God and you best just go with it?

So, I drove home. I went to my husband who was studying for his sermon the next morning. Minutes are critical on Saturday, I’ve blocked them off, considered my husband gone on a retreat every Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. But, I was a woman on a mission.

“There was this family… they were holding a sign…”

He knows me. This man who has walked with me for 15 years, he knows me.

“You think I should go down there?”

“Yes, or something. I’m about to make chili… there will be enough… if you feel like you should, you know, invite them to dinner.”

So off he goes with our daughter to see this not homeless family in front of Taco Bell.

Shortly after, I received a phone call, they’re coming, 30 minutes. They’re coming to dinner. Ok.

The kids jumped into action, this was all of our routines and schedules in action, this was in large part, why we do all of these things. The ministry of availability, this was it.  Make a salad, add chairs and leaves to the table, make room, pick up, put away those electronics, bake a batch of brownies! They were champs, I praised them for it afterwards.

These kids, they too were caught up in the random adventure that God laid out for us. We didn’t know what He had in store, but we were being obedient. “Loaves and fishes, loaves and fishes” they kept repeating it and giggling. Loaves and fishes, a cry we learned from my friend Melissa, a wild cry for God to extend our hand of giving and provide in a wild way.

Then she came.

She brought her little one year old daughter, her son, the child she carried within her, and her husband. She came into my home and ate my food. We cared for our children, we fed them, corrected them. When her daughter took my daughters cup, she made her return it. Often, we would look across the table at each other and smile, nod, laugh a little.

We invited our friend and he came to join us. He came after being woken up from a nap, this friend who has never been to dinner at our house, this friend whom we’ve talked to only a handful of times. On this night, he was a welcome protector, rescuer, friend. Forever after this night, he is a dearly beloved brother.

After a while, she went home. She took her little family and went to her apartment home 2 miles away. I looked her in the eye, I hugged her. We were women. Wives. Mothers. We’d shared a meal together, lived a bit of life together. With this hug I wanted her to know that I saw her not as a woman asking for a handout beside her husband, but as a sister who came to share a meal, a moment of life together.

We hugged and she left.

Our dear brother stayed and talked for a while, there was a comfort, knowing we had done this thing together. There was no physical reward, no grand stories of redemption, there was just the deep, lasting fellowship that comes when believers gather in His name.

And that’s what happened when the woman, a real, live, self proclaimed gypsy, came to dinner.