Friday, November 23, 2012

Download the Re-release of Noel: A Collection of Christmas Melodies

1. Click "Buy This Album for $5.00" (all the tracks will then be checked off)

2. Click "Click Here To Order" (you will then be brought to the Website Music Player's order page)

3. Click "Click Here To Process Order" (you will then be brought to a page to confirm your order)

4. Click "Click Here To Confirm Your Order" (you will then be brought to where you can enter your credit/debit card information or you can sign into your Paypal account)


5. Click "Pay Now" (you will then recieve a receipt for your order)

6. Click the button "Click here to download songs" in order to download the album. (you will then be brought to the download page after everything is verified and processed)

* Please read all instructions before downloads, as it includes important information about downloading the album. *

Thank you for your support in the sale of Noel!

A special thanks to Dino Pagliardi at for his generosity and the donation of his services.

We'd like to say a BIG thank you to Chris Kimbrell for designing all of the artwork for the album.  

the Last 3 Months

The last 3 months have been a roller coaster for us. We have experienced so many changes and long to share every bit of what the Lord has done in our hearts... but the time has not yet come for us to do so. What we can share can be found on Noel: A Collection of Christmas Melodies, which we hope you will purchase for $5 as a way to support us in the final stretch of our journey. The re-release of this album contains as a very special announcement regarding our adoption as well as a bonus track. We hope you enjoy this album and that you have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

To Those Who Wait

As we mentioned in our last post, in order to finalize our adoption this year we must be matched with a set of siblings by the end of this month. There are now only 21 days (3 wks) left in the month of September and our hearts are overwhelmed with anxiety and impatience. Even though we know in our hearts that God is in full control, we have yet to reach a place of peaceful rest in Him. To be honest, we are struggling. Although sometimes God allows us to struggle, we are not in the struggle alone. He reminded us of that just this morning. We opened Spurgeon's Daily Devotion to these words....

"I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3
Prevailing prayer is victorious over the God of mercy... it enables the Christian to cover heaven with clouds of blessing, and earth with floods of mercy."

I am not what may be called "superstitious" or "mystical" however, I do find it interesting/comforting that the words we read this morning, which were ever so healing to our troubled hearts, are found in the 33rd chapter and the 3rd verse of Jeremiah. 3...3...3... Did you catch that? We have a timeline of 3 weeks to be matched with 3 children in order to finalize this year, and God used a verse from the 33rd chapter and the 3rd verse of the book of Jeremiah to comfort our hearts! I don't know how to interpret such a thing, or if there's even anything to be interpreted from it, but I do know that no matter what chapter, or what verse, or which book it came from, it IS a promise from God. Not a promise that we will be matched in 3 weeks, but a promise that He hears our cries and we are not forsaken... that He has a purpose and He WILL answer, in GREAT and MIGHTY ways that we know not. That is His promise!

We covet your prayers as we find ourselves in a familiar place... a place that we were in at this time a year ago... a place of waiting on the Lord. God used this song to comfort us then and He continues to use it to this day. He reminds us that He truly is good to those who wait...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dossier Approved

On August 13, we received word from our caseworker that we were officially dossier approved! The most amazing part of it all was that there were no revisions requested by Colombia (there is usually a 75% chance that they will ask for revisions/additional information regarding your dossier)! We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was God’s provision for us, yet again. He has truly guided us on each step of this journey. Even when we step out in faith, not knowing what is ahead, He is ALWAYS the solid rock beneath our feet leading us on to the finish. 

If only you could see this story unfolding from our perspective. Only then could you truly experience the wonder of our circumstance and the outstretched arm of love and faithfulness extended to us time and again by our loving Father.  When we began this journey, almost a year ago, the estimated amount to complete the adoption of 3 children from Colombia was $38,000 ($26,000 in adoption fees and $10-12,000 in travel expenses). It was made known to us that this amount was an estimate and was subject to change. We never imagined that “change” could mean a decrease in the amount, but decrease is exactly what it did! I am not certain when the amount changed, but I am certain it was all of the Lord! The current estimate to complete the adoption of 3 children from Colombia is now only $26,000 ($19,000 in adoption fees and $5-7,000 in travel expenses)!!! This means that we are now ONLY $4,000 away from meeting our financial need! OUR GOD IS SO GOOD

We still have about 150 adoption t-shirts left. In hopes to sell the remainder of our tees, we will be at Loblolly Festival in Laurel, MS on October 6th (the same festival where we began our fundraising adventures last year). If sold, the remaining tees will generate $2,200, which leaves only $1,800 to raise! Does that sound as amazing to your ears as it does to ours? We are TRULY blessed and forever grateful to the Lord for His provision through people like you, who have given SO much to help us fill our home with little ones! Thank you could never say enough!

We are excited to be near the finish line of fundraising because our referral (match) could literally come ANY day! It’s a relief to know that when that phone call does finally come, a lack of funds will no longer be an issue! PRAISE GOD! One thing that is pressing on our hearts is the timeline of the referral. In order for us to finalize the adoption this year, we will need to be matched by the end of this month. Of course, we desire greatly for the match to come quickly and for our families to experience these bundles of joy during the Christmas season, but of course we know who is in control of it all, right down to the smallest detail. We whole-heartedly believe HE WILL PROVIDE, and possibly in ways we could never imagine – we’ve already witnessed a financial miracle in this journey… and SURELY He is ABLE to do abundantly above what we could ask or think, so we trust Him and the time line He chooses.

Thank you in advance for your prayers….. we’re almost there!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ONE:27 Summer Run

On Saturday, July 28th we co-hosted a fundraising 5k event with our friends, Eric and Christen Bean ( at Longleaf Trace in Hattiesburg, MS. After over a month of planning, the day had finally arrived! Although the hour was early, we were full of excitement for a fun-filled morning with our family and friends. The Lord blessed us with a beautiful summer day for this event.

Over 130 runners came to show their support of international adoption! It warmed our hearts to see friends & family members who traveled from all over to particpate in this run on the behalf of our children!

                                              We had runners of all ages... 


runners from Louisiana...
2 of my tweenhood friends from West Monroe... still the same silly girls I remember! :)

a family of runners...
Kelly & Richard Jackson with their baby girl, Mariella

even runners from Colombia! 
Nicolas and his sister, Diana, were adopted from Colombia 5 years ago

 Along with the 5k, we hosted a 1 mile fun run for the young, but determined runners. This was one lion-hearted group of kids who were, in my opinion, the highlight of the day!

Of course, I am partial to this little champion!
Batman, a.k.a. Carter: my (almost) 3 year old nephew

Overall the day was a great success! We had a wonderful time with our friends and family as we celebrated the joy of adoption. After our expenses we raised $4371.16 for the Minyard and Bean adoptions!

We give all the praise and glory to our Lord who made it all possible! He provided our every need! We are especially grateful for God leading us to Tim Irvine - we could not have done this without Tim Irvine Race Timing Services

I'd also like to thank:
the Beans for teaming up with us on this event,
 my sister-in-law, Bridgette for her help in planning,
my brother, Chris (photography),
Alicia Holifield (photography),
and ALL of our volunteers for giving up their Saturday morning to help us make ONE:27 a success!

A special thanks to our friends Marshall McKellar and Kristie Reddoch who made our day more enjoyable with their musical talent! :)  

Last, but certainly not least, we'd like to thank our sponsors! We are so grateful for your support!

Runner's High
Courtesy Ford
McAlister's Deli
Bethlehem Baptist Church
Petal Harvey Baptist Church
Carroll Jewelry
Bright Arrows Farm
Todd Schwebel State Farm
Egg Traders, Inc.
Wells Pharmacy

Lord willing, we hope to host ONE:27 Summer Run annually to benefit families adopting internationally. We look forward to what God has in store for this adoption ministry!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Latest News

Our dossier was finalized 3 ½ weeks ago, on July 6th.  In God’s providence our agency had a service team leaving for Colombia on July 8th, so our dossier was hand delivered 2 days after it was finalized.  Not only did it save us the expense of shipping everything, but it also saved us the time it would’ve taken to arrive by mail.  We were/are extremely grateful for the Lord’s provision in this!

Upon our caseworker’s return from Colombia, our agency held a conference call for all Colombia families.  Although this call is done on a monthly basis and often contains routine information and updates, we were all urged to listen in.  During the conference call we learned that because of some unfortunate circumstances in recent days, the Constitutional Court in Colombia released a mandate declaring that on behalf of all children presently available for adoption (and those becoming available for adoption in the future) family members to the 6th degree must be contacted before the child can be considered relinquished and adoptable.  Because of this mandate, a thorough investigation must be done on ALL cases presently being presented for adoption.  Naturally, this will cause adoption processes to slow down.  We feared the worst and called our caseworker as soon as the conference call ended.  Much to our surprise, she informed us that the mandate wouldn’t affect our process.  She explained that in cases like ours (special circumstances, multiple children, older children, etc.) a thorough investigation has already taken place.  We were so relieved! She went on to tell us more good news.  While she was in Colombia, an orphanage requested to work with us!  They asked that our dossier be sent over as soon as it was translated.  I am happy to report that we will be working with Casa de la Madre y el Niño ( in Bogotá!  I’m even happier to report that our dossier has been fully translated and was hand delivered to Casa de la Madre yesterday!

What’s next?

We are awaiting official approval Colombia, which should take 2-3 weeks.  This approval basically means that Colombia has examined our information, it has met their criteria, and no revisions need to be made.  Once they determine they have sufficient/accurate information from us/about us, they give us an official approval.  Once we receive Colombia approval, we will be able to formally accept an official referral (match).  Technically, they could find a match for us any day, but because of the recent mandate, it is likely they will wait until everything is official before they approach us with a match.  Once we receive the referral (match) we will have some time to review the information and have it reviewed by a physician.  Once we make a final decision to accept the referral, we will travel 8 weeks later.

In a world full of “IFs”:
IF we received Colombia approval 3 weeks from now, it would be August 22nd
IF we received a referral and accepted 2 days later, it would be August 24th
IF we traveled exactly 8 weeks from that day, it would be October 19th

Obviously there is no real way to predict how this will all play out.  The only one who needs to know, is the only one who does know, and HE’s the one who is in control!  We are thrilled to reach this point in our journey; a referral can literally come any day!  We absolutely CANNOT WAIT to see their faces and look forward to the day when we can announce to the world…. BOY or GIRL… or BOTH!

(Our recent fundraiser, ONE:27 Summer Run was a great success. More about that soon….)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mission: almostIMPOSSIBLE

It has been quite a while since we posted an update. Since our last post,  a lot of things have happened. For starters, we worked quickly to complete all of our paperwork and had everything notarized for our dossier within a few weeks time. We had received our USCIS approval and sent our fingerprints to be cleared through the FBI, which we knew could take up to 8 weeks to come back. We had breathed a sigh of relief that "our part" was done and all we could do was wait. UNTIL.... out of the blue, we received a phone call from Kate (our dossier preparer) saying she had received word from the Secretary of State that one of the notaries we used had an expired license and that 8 documents needed to be redone. One of the documents was the physicians report, which required a signature from the doctor who examined us back in April. Thankfully, upon finding this out, we were able to discuss this with the notary, who paid her renewal fees and was reinstated, and she agreed to re-notarize everything at no cost. However, the next issue was scheduling a time when both she and the doctor were available. This proved to be a huge struggle, as we tried to reach the notary for several days with no success. Once we were finally able to reach her and schedule a convenient time for her to meet us at the clinic, the doctor was then unavailable! You can imagine our stress level at this point was through the roof!!! (mine more-so than Blaine's, of course) The clinic graciously arranged for us to meet with another physician, who agreed to review the original physician's report and re-examine us. PRAISE GOD the report was completed, with a notarized signature, this past Friday (June 15th)!!! We mailed all 8 documents, along with our FBI clearances (which we only waited 7 weeks for) on Saturday. They are currently en-route to New York and should arrive there tomorrow. Our dossier preparer will then have the FBI clearances apostilled (which could take up to 2 weeks). The next step will be sending our dossier to Colombia for translation.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again..... adoption ain't for sissies! This has truly been the most stressful experience of my 27 years of living. But I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, God is using this to make me better. I am not the person I was when we began this journey 9 months ago. I have learned what it means to FOLLOW God - even when I don't know how I'll make it to the finish, He calls me to follow His print in the sand, one step at a time. I've learned the meaning of FAITH - even when everyone and everything (including myself at times) reminds me how impossible this is, He reminds me "with God, ALL things are possible." I am encouraged by the story of Abraham,  and how he waited on the Lord's promise to him concerning the birth of his son, Isaac. Romans 4:20-21 tell us that "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform." Although we face, what seems impossible, makes us doubt, and drives us to fear - scripture reminds us that God is able to perform what He has promised. It's our job to trust Him. 

Pray for us as we attempt to raise the final amount needed to bring our children home. Although the money needed to complete the adoption is our focus, and a great need in our lives at this moment, we face an even greater need. We ask that you begin to pray for us as parents. Afterall, when we bring the children home, the journey will have just begun. We desire to raise our children in way that is pleasing to the Lord. Join us in prayer, as we ask God to equip us to instill in our children a godly character and a love for their creator, so that HE might receive the glory.

ONE:27 Summer Run (5k walk/run and 1 mile FUNrun)
Saturday, July 28th 7:30 a.m.
Longleaf Trace USM Gateway, Hattiesburg, MS
for more information visit

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


With only a few months left before we travel to bring our children home, we're nearing the end of our journey. We began at the end of September last year with $300 and almost 8 months later, God has provided close to $26,000! We give all glory due to His name! We still need $12,000 to complete the adoption, so we are asking everyone to simply watch the following video, pray about what the Lord would have you do, and ask everyone you know to do the same. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

6 months in

We started our adoption journey in September of 2011.  A little over 6 months later, here we are in full swing; the initial application paperwork is done, our homestudy has been finalized and sent to Colombia, the psychological evaluation (that took 7 weeks to finalize) is complete, we received our Gladney approval, and we recently started our dossier.  Even though we sometimes felt like we would never get here, a lot has been accomplished in 6 months.  Up until this point, we've had a "to-do" list a mile long and time has zoomed by.  Now, things are slowing down and there's not much left for us to do but wait. 

 Gladney introduced us to a service called "KBS Dossier" which we've decided to use for peace of mind.  This service will ensure that all of our dossier documents are prepared correctly and relieves us of the stress of what is known as "paper-chasing."  We have a few things left to do like, getting fingerprinted at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and getting a notarized medical report form stating that we are each in good health.  KBS will compile all of our documents and have them verified by the secretary of state from which the documents originated.  Once all the documents have been verified for authenticity, the dossier will be sent to Colombia.  This could take up to 6 weeks to complete.  With that projected timeline, Colombia would receive our dossier the week of May 14th.  Further timelines are dependent on Colombian officials.  There's really no way to pinpoint how long it will take for our dossier to be translated and accepted.  Once our dossier is accepted we will receive an official referral containing medical history, current medical conditions, background information, and any other information beneficial for a physician's recommendation for adoption.  Once we receive the official referral, we have 2 weeks to make a decision.  During this time we will seek a professional medical opinion about the health of our children.  Based upon the recommendation of a physician, we will either accept or decline the referral.  Once we accept the referral, we will receive a court date and make plans to travel to Colombia.

Meanwhile, our homestudy has already been sent to Colombia in an effort to match us with children quickly.  Our caseworker will be communicating with personnel in Colombia to locate children that match our specifications.  Although it is possible for us to have limited information (pictures, ages, names) in the coming weeks, we will not be at liberty to share this information until given permission to do so.  Even though it's extremely difficult for us to contain our excitement about finding out who our children are, it's even harder to imagine knowing who they are, but not being able to share it with the world!!! We always imagined feeling relieved to get to this point in our journey, where we didn't have a million things to do.  But, now that we're here, we wish we had something to keep us preoccupied!  Waiting truly is the HARDEST part!

Thankfully we have the Lord with us each step of the way, teaching us patience and calming our restless spirits.  Gladney has also given us what they call a "tool kit" to help prepare us for what life will be like as adoptive parents.  Now that things have slowed down, we'll actually have a chance to read all of the wonderful information they've provided.  We've also recently been given the names of the 4 orphanages that Gladney works with in Colombia.

Our children will be coming from one of these four places! Everything is becoming more real by the day.  The excitement is building and we are more eager now than ever to see their faces.  We feel privileged to be a part of something so big and are secure in the Lord's promise in Philippians 1:6  "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Although we understand this scripture to refer to the security of our salvation, we know the Lord is faithful in ALL things.  We're confident that He will make ready the path for us and provide every thing we need to complete this journey... this good work that He began!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bountiful Blessings

2 weeks ago, on the weekend of March 24th and 25th, God reminded us yet again of His faithfulness! Our home church in Laurel, Mississippi (Bethlehem Baptist Church) hosted a fundraising event on our behalf. The event included a live auction, a bake sale, BBQ plates, popcorn, snocones, music, and games on Saturday and an adoption emphasis Sunday service. God truly surpassed our expectations and the event was a huge success!

Teresa Chancellor
Dava Thomas

These 2 ladies were the ones who made this wonderful weekend a reality. We are forever grateful for their hard work and dedication to helping us bring our children home! 
WE LOVE YOU, ladies!

There were countless people from the Bethlehem family who volunteered their time and goods to make the weekend a success. Auction items were donated from members of Bethlehem as well as businesses and individuals in the Jones County area. There were over 200 items in the auction!

The items included clothing, art work, children's furniture, hand bags, hair and tanning services, 
cleaning services, 
toys, home decor, fitness equipment, tools, outdoor furniture, jewelry and our favorite item, a portrait of our children painted by our sweet friend
"Worth the Wait"
painted by
Abbie Thomas

The event was enjoyable for all who attended and for us it was a weekend that we will never forget. We were blown away by the generosity of our Bethlehem family as they bid on item after item. We were truly touched as they demonstrated their love and support for us.
Rod Smith, Auctioneer

our nephew, Carter with our friend's daughter,  Sofia

we appreciate all of our volunteers for supervising the kids' play area

 thanks to all of our bidders!

The Sunday service was a celebration of our own adoption into God's family and also included testimonies from families at Bethlehem who have adopted children in need. 
We shared a little about our journey thus far through this video

With the Lord's blessing, we were able to collect $13,000 over the weekend!!! We are so encouraged by the outpouring of support from our Bethlehem family and will never forget how God provided in such an enormous way. We are currently about $12,000 from our goal, but we believe God will provide, just as He's provided thus far.  The miracle of our circumstance is that we began this adoption with $300 and God has given us over $26,000! He continues to affirm in our hearts what we believe to be His calling. We firmly believe that when it's His will, He always makes a way. So, we go to bed every night trusting Him for the remainder of our expense and for the strength to raise these children in a way that is pleasing to Him. We covet your prayers in the remainder of our journey, for it won't be long before these children are no longer an idea, but a reality. They are counting on us to continue this journey, no matter what obstacle stands in our way. We have to accomplish this work, because 3 souls depend on it!

One of the ways you can help our children come home is by purchasing one of our Tshirts. Our T-Shirts that read "This shirt helped an orphan find a home, what did your shirt do?" are $15.00 (plus shipping/handling) and can be ordered by mail. Just click here to download the order form. By purchasing a T-shirt, you will personally invest in the lives of our children! When has your $15.00 ever done so much? (If you live in the Baton Rouge area, contact us by email for ordering information) Make all checks payable to Bethlehem Baptist Church, memo: Minyard Adoption.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gladney Approved

On February 2, a member of our Gladney team came to our home to complete our Home Study.  Blaine and I had anxiously anticipated this day since the start of our adoption process.  Of course, I was obsessing over the details of the house and spent hours cleaning to make sure everything was in it's place.  We had heard horror stories of Home Studies where the social worker had come in and searched every cabinet and closet!  We also worried about the questions they would ask, and wondered if we would know how to answer them.  Imagining the worst, we were very nervous about this day approaching.  But, despite all of our irrational fears, the day was quite pleasant.  We talked over lunch and then spent a few hours sharing stories about our family life with our Gladney friend.  She asked questions about our childhood, and what our families were like.  We also shared stories from our dating life, and how our marriage has been for the last six years.  The purpose of the day was to get to know us and our family, so that Gladney could present the most accurate description of our family to the staff in Colombia, who would be matching us with our children.  It was also intended to prepare us for the reality of adopting three children at once.  We talked extensively, both together and separately, about our expectations and desire for three children.  Blaine and I both understand that adopting three children at once will be a challenge, but we also believe this is something God will equip us to do.  After about 4 hours of talking, our friend from Gladney flew back to Fort Worth to write up the official Home Study report.  We were relieved to have completed another milestone in our process, but anxiously awaited our official approval to adopt internationally.

6 weeks later................
we received our official approval from Gladney in the mail!!!

 We have applied for Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) approval and are awaiting our appointment for fingerprinting. This is basically approval from the U.S. government to adopt internationally.  Our next step is to begin our dossier (gathering of birth certificates, marriage license, and other documents required by the Colombian government).  Once our dossier is completed, it will be sent to Colombia for translation.  Colombian officials will then review the dossier and either approve or deny us.  We anticipate this will take approximately six weeks.  With that estimation, we should receive word from them in mid-May.  Typically this would be when we would receive our referral (names, photos, and medical information of the children) but in our case, they are sending our Home Study ahead of our dossier in an attempt to match us more quickly.  We still won't receive the official documentation (medical information and backgrounds) until the dossier has been approved.  But, it is possible that we could receive photos, ages, and names of the children before mid-May.

We covet your prayers as we continue this process.  Time is winding down, and there is much to do.  Pray that God would continue to guide us each step of the way and that most importantly He would put His hand of protection on our children until we can bring them safely home.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Pathways is a 2-day training that Gladney requires parents to take part in prior to placement of children in the home.  One might consider this training unnecessary, but it proved to be very valuable.  We attended this training at the beginning of January, in Fort Worth, Texas.  There were about 16 couples in attendance, each adopting from various places.  There were several couples adopting through the state of Texas, one of those couples (in their 60s) were adopting 5 siblings ranging from toddler to teenager!  Quite the inspiration, huh?  Other couples were adopting from China, Russia, and of course Colombia.  We were able to get to know most everyone, which was an encouragement to us.  It's always nice to talk with someone who is walking (or has already walked) the same path you're walking.

We were also able to meet our caseworkers, who have been at our side since October, as well as other Gladney staff.  Being able to finally put a face with all of the names and voices we've been hearing made the process seem more real.  I feel as though it gave us a boost of confidence in our Gladney team and helped us feel more comfortable.  Whether you realize it or not, adoption can feel like (for lack of a better word) an invasion of your life.  I guess now it just feels more like our friends are invading our lives! Ha!

These 2 days felt like a wild ride on an emotional roller coaster.  The subjects talked about ranged from wonderfully touching to incredibly painful.  At times our excitement for our future was at it's peak and other times we felt the intense gravity of the reality of adoption, and what it really looks like.  I would say the message (as a whole) was that we often get caught up in a fairy tale.  We fashion adoption (and the meeting of our children) as a perfectly blissful experience, when in reality NOTHING in our lives mirrors anything remotely close to a fairy tale.  So why do we imagine adoption to be this way?  The truth is, these children are in orphanages for a reason.  They've either lost one, or both, of their parents, or they've been given up as a result of extreme poverty, or they've been removed from a home of neglect and/or abuse.  All of these circumstances are reasons for intense grief, sadness, anger, frustration, fear, and mistrust, among many other unpleasant emotions.  The point being that these children will come with a past, and it is wrong of us to expect these children to brush off that past and embrace the new/ "better" life we believe we're giving them.  To put it bluntly, adoption ain't always pretty.  Adoption is a commitment.  It's a commitment to love and embrace these children AND their past.  It's a resolve to do whatever it takes to help them overcome their fear, anger, and grief.  It's a surrender of your life for theirs.  Even as I write this, my eyes are filled with tears.  What a beautiful image of what Christ has done for us!  What Christ accomplished on the cross has never been so real to me.  God has used the adoption of these children to open my eyes to the beauty and wonder of my own adoption into His family! Have you stopped to consider how marvelous it is that, as a believer, you are now a CHILD of the ALMIGHTY GOD? What an unlovely past we had, yet God, in HIS VAST MERCY, clothed us in the raiment of HIS DEAR SON, JESUS, and remembered our sin NO MORE!!! HOW CAN THIS BE??? What a GLORIOUS love that has been poured out on us. I am no longer what I was. I don't bear the shame and guilt of my past. I am free from that bondage and now bear the name of JESUS! I AM IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF THE KING! So, how could I EVER forsake these children because of their unlovely past? I know all too well what it feels like to be cast out. The difference is that Christ took me in, and He surrendered His life for mine. So, I will be the one who stands in the stead of these little ones.  I will say, whatever it looks like, however long it takes, I will love you through this pain and I will depend upon my FATHER for strength to accomplish it.  We would also ask all of you to pray. Begin to pray for these children, that God would keep them from further harm, and that He would prepare them to be a part of our family. Pray that it would not be many days until they know the perfect love of THE FATHER and the joy of His salvation. Pray for us, that God would make us wise, and that He would equip us to parent these children.

To close, I'd like to share a story that was shared with us at Pathways. It speaks of the persevering love of a mother. (If you haven't already, go and retrieve the tissues!) The story is about a young girl, I'll refer to her as Hope for the sake of privacy. Hope and her two younger brothers lived in Ethiopia. Before being placed in a orphanage, they endured physical abuse from family members as well as others in the community. Hope and her brothers were often beaten with metal pipes and other blunt objects as a means of "discipline." They were removed from their childhood home and placed in orphanages. Hope went to an all girls orphanage and the two younger boys went to a different orphanage for boys. Years went by, but all three children were finally adopted by a family from the United States. By this time Hope was in her early teen years (11 or 12) and very violent. It wasn't until Hope arrived in the U.S. that they discovered she was legally blind. This partially explained why she fought everyone she came in contact with, because she couldn't determine if they were friend or foe. Hope became so violent that her brothers were afraid of her. The family reached a breaking point when she began hurting not only her biological brothers, but other members of her adopted family as well. Eventually Hope was removed from the home, but her brothers remained with the adopted family. Another family stepped forward and agreed to adopt Hope, they were committed to helping this young girl, now 13 years old. Despite their efforts, the violence continued. She became so violent that this new family sought help. They didn't want her to leave permanently, but they knew she needed more help than they could give her. Hope was taken to a type of rehabilitation program, where she worked one-on-one with a therapist. Her adopted mother would call her every day to tell her these words "you are precious and you are my daughter." Every day Hope would hang up on her. Many days Hope would cuss her mother out before she hung up, but her mother continued to call her every day telling her "you are precious and you are my daughter." It was the last day of the program and her mother called her once more to say "you are precious and you are my daughter," this time Hope paused, and then hung up. It was time for her to leave, though Hope was unsure of where she would be going. She began to cry and when asked why she was crying, she said "I want to go home." She was then asked, "where is home?" and Hope replied "where my mother is." Hope returned to her family and remains with them to this day. We were told that they still have their struggles, but Hope continues to overcome her past and embrace her new family. Hope's story is just that, a story of hope. It reminds me to trust God for His sustaining strength and to lovingly pursue my children, just as He pursued me.

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
While the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away
I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone
I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always, look to me
And I will give you what you need
-Matt Wertz