March-April, 2013

Page 1

daughters of

promise {


resolving a critical spirit, p. 9 The Ministry of Foster Care: One Empty Love Tank at a Time, p. 28

books worth reading, p43 ’ MARCH&APRIL2013

inthisissue {open} A word from Rae Meet the Team Mission Statement


4 5 7

relationship exchange Cultivating the Sacred Gift of Friendship Resolving a Critical Spirit Today I Choose

9 13

daughters of God Pursuing Deeper Intimacy with the Father Intimacy with Jesus Rhema: Banner of Love Pearl of Promise

14 17 20

life & style Virtue in Everyday Living

Homemade Sugar Scrubs Simplicity Quotes

21 23

legacy & impact Living God's Heart for the World

One Empty Love Tank at a Time Welcome Home Ministries Africa

28 32

white spaces Creating Rest, Balance, and Room to Breathe Spring Poem Indoor Planting

31 39

{close} Comments & Contact Info




ineveryissue 24

the thrift addict


life through Carmony’s lens


the team recommends


the art of play

COMING SOON! Q&A with the DOP Team





open w x o¡pen [oh-puh n]

vb.– to move from a shut or closed position so as to admit passage.

word Today is

a cold, damp February day that seeps down into the bones. It

makes me want to curl up with fuzzy blankets and coffee and a book and do

nothing all day but luxuriate away the chill. Spring seems slow in coming this

spring, with its splendor of color and

warm breezes and earth awakening, all the more beautiful.

year and I can’t wait to see the sun shine again! However, I can gladly say that

This spring will bring many changes

me on a journey of faith since I returned from Thailand in December, teaching

doors and, in the inviting into

growth, new friendships and change. It has been a busy season, too. Between

precious virtue of trust. Of waiting.

endless projects I keep in motion, my days

hands are empty, or my needs

week} I hardly find time to surface for


in spite of perpetual rain, it’s been a wonderful winter. God has been taking

to my life. God has been opening new

me patience and to trust Him for every need. It’s been a season of waiting and






job hunting, traveling, writing, and the

Of gratitude even when I feel that my

are full to the brim. Sometimes, {like this

insatiable. It is a season of heart-

air. Intimate times with the Father become a battle as I leap out of bed in the

morning, already stressed at all I have to accomplish that day. It’s easy to put

tremendous effort into good things but neglect





spending time with Jesus. Currently I’m

reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand

Gifts and have been so inspired by its theme of gratitude and living a gracefilled life. Ann speaks wonderingly of discovering I AM in the dizzying rush of time’s current: “It’s not the gifts that fulfill, but the holiness of the space. The

God in it. What am I to do? Make every moment a cathedral giving glory…I

What will He do in your life this

spring? As you wait, prepare the soil of your heart. Pull out choking weeds of resentment and selfishness; dig up

stones of bitterness and anger; entrust to Him the hard soil of suffering.

Open your heart to the Father and allow Him plant in you seeds of His

own nature. I’m excited to see what He will do, and would love to share in your journey!

am Jacob and the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it (Genesis

Winter is passing; the earth is

grace, an architecture of holiness—a place for God. Thanks makes now a

splendor of new life. In a few weeks,

hallowing it…In His embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space


28:16). And it is eucharisteo (gratitude) curving the moment into a cupola of

bearing down to bring forth the

sanctuary…Thank God for the time, and very God enters that time, presence

we will celebrate Christ’s death and

and stands so still and…holy. Here is the only place I can love Him.”

refresh you with abundant life and

What an incredible challenge! Here is the only place I can love Him. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but now. I want to embrace this truth.

I love spring. And I love that, though wintertime seems a season of deadness, it is really the secret storehouse in which life is being prepared. Winter makes


joy this spring!



RACHEL SCHROCK | editor in chief, creative director Rae’s unique life experiences and love for writing inspired her form DOP in 2010. She loves Jesus and longs for all women to experience healing and freedom through an intimate friendship with Him. She is an ardent fan of many things, but especially the color red, jazz, good coffee, being a nurse, and her family. In her free time, she can be found undertaking DIY projects, drinking coffee with friends or behind the lens of her beloved Canon. One of her favorite places in the whole wide world is Mae Sot Thailand, where she spent 6 wonderful months in 2011 and 2012. Above all, she strives to experience the precious gift of life with grace and gratitude.

BRITTANY SHULT |staff writer Brittany is a schoolteacher currently living in the lovely state of South Carolina. She loves teaching her 2nd-5th graders and learning life lessons from them. Jesus is her Friend; she is thankful for everything He has done for her. She is excited about the plans that He has for her. Some of her hobbies include reading a good book and whipping up some baked goods in the kitchen, especially cupcakes! She will take a warm sunshiney day and flip flops over cold dreary winter days.

MARLENE STOLTZFUS | staff writer Marlene Stoltzfus enjoys learning, living simply, and using creativity to meet a new challenge. She and her husband Kyle live in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania with their seven month old daughter Elia. They are a staff family at Faith Builders Educational Programs.

CARMIE SANCHEZ | photography, staff writer Carmie Sanchez joined the DOP team in January 2013 as the official photographer. Photography has been one of her pursuits for several years and more recently she has acquired a love of sewing, DIY, and hosting people in her little trailer house. She is a newlywed of October 27, 2012 and her wonderful husband is Gerry. Next to feeding him and being a housekeeper, she enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.

ourcontributors 1

EMILY SITZLER guest contributor

In 2003, Emily accepted God’s call on her life to be in full-time ministry. The years following have been an evidence of her pusuit of that calling. At the age of fifteen, Emily began teaching Sunday School to 4th-6th grade girls. It was during this time God’s call on her life was confirmed. In 2006, she began to teach 7th-9th grade girls instead and continues to teach them presently. In 2010, she received her B.S. in Elementary Education from Bryan College and began her career as an Elementary schoool teacher. In 2011, she completed her M.A. in Christian Studies from Bryan College. In the same year, she accepted a position as Project Coordinator at Full Circle Women’s Services, a local crisis pregnancy center. She desires to see young people maintain purity in every aspect of their lives. In her spare time she enjoys crafts, cream with a side of coffee, hanging out with her friends, and especially running.

Emily’s article: p. 14

GERT SLABACH guest contributor

Gertrude Miller Slabach is the wife of one, mother of six, and (presently) foster mom of three. She works per diem as a nurse and is also a writer. In addition to foster parenting, Dave and Gert also do respite care for foster children, sometimes for just a day and other times for several weeks at a time. In the past four years, sixteen foster children have been in their home.

Gert’s article: p. 28

LAUREN STOLTZFOOS guest contributor

Lauren Stoltzfoos lives in Lancaster City, Pennsylvania with her husband, Delmar. One of their favorite things to do is walk the city streets when the snow is falling. They are expecting their first baby in March. She would love to hear from you, please write:

Lauren’s article: p. 32

Who We Are

WEBELIEVE habit forms character. chevron is overrated. planting things is good for people. in God’s goodness. pumpkin spice lattes are the best. in redeeming love. Jesus is Enough.

WELOVE food. liturgy. music. yellow things. the first spring rain. good coffee. DIY projects. empty notebooks. pursuing holiness. sunshine. green grass. the color red. long walks.

WESTRIVETO live with integrity. read broadly. contribute to Anabaptism. give thanks. live simply. celebrate life. be centered in God’s will. advocate for the poor and needy.

Coming MAY -JUNE 2013


With the DOP team

The new Q&A section is a place for you to share questions and receive feedback from the DOP team—Rachel, Marlene, Brittany, and Carmie. A new theme will be presented in each issue. Send questions relating to this theme to the DOP email:, or via private message to our FB page: The DOP staff will review and personally respond to each question submitted. A few of these exchanges will be selected and included in the next issue of the magazine. The identities of those included in the magazine will remain anonymous.

Q&A Theme for MAY/JUNE: Singlehood If you have a question regarding the challenges, purpose, calling, etc. of being single, contact us by email or Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!


Critical Spirit |by Rae Schrock |Photography by Carmie Sanchez| She stands with a hammer in her hands, holding it tightly. Before her is a small cabin, wood-sided and sturdy. Golden light is pouring out of the many windows, a warm invitation to come inside. She looks long at the house. It is not quite finished; there is still some work to do. A few wooden planks lay nearby on the ground, ready for nailing up. There are stacks of shingles for finishing the roof. She fingers the nails in her pockets. Many may find sanctuary here, and she has the tools to complete it. But she tilts her head; scrutinizes the house. Then she lifts her hammer and swings. CRASH. Wood splinters. Chips fall at her feet. She swings again and again until the front door is mangled and splintered, torn to shreds. She pauses and raises the hammer again. This time it falls against a window. Glass shatters and covers the floor of the room. She swings her hammer until the cabin is scarred and rain drips through holes in the walls. The shutters hang lopsided. Nails jingle in her pocket, but she isn't in the mood for building. Exhausted, she holsters the hammer, and walks away.

Do you know this woman? She seems a little extreme--but when I look at her closely, she is not so unfamiliar. I have acted as she has, and my guess is that you have too. She is the foolish woman of Proverbs 14:1. In this passage, Solomon describes two types of women: "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands" (NLT). This verse speaks metaphorically of the way we destroy or build through our words and actions. Ladies, it is a special gift of womanhood to create places of safety and welcome for others. We have an incredible capacity to bring life to those around us. God has formed us to be cheerleaders, to be builders! Perhaps because of the power in building, the Devil has gone to special pains to attack it. Look around and you will see it--women using their words and attitudes to spitefully tear down when they are equipped to build up. Look inside and you will see these tendencies in your own heart. We injure others in a variety of ways, but today we will address one of the

most destructive: the weapon of a critical spirit.



Merriam Webster describes criticism as “an act of criticizing; to judge as a critic; to find fault; to blame or condemn.” A critical spirit is an obsessive tendency toward condemnation, negative thinking, and fault-finding. It leads us to speak out of self-interest and often behind others’ backs. This is very different from what we call "constructive criticism", which is always expressed face to face, in love, and for the purpose of building up. I have been around women whose presence is like a destroyer, lurking offshore, just waiting to blow something up. Regardless of how nice a day I had been having, in their presence I suddenly felt stupid, depressed, grouchy, or overly critical myself. The critical spirit is infectious. Around negative people, our own mood sags.

I wonder, "Is that how people feel when I walk into a room?" Am I using the tools in my pockets to build people or damage them? Are my words, expressions, and body language conveying an attitude of life or one of condemnation? God supplies us with tools and a calling to build. But He lets us choose: a hammer can pound a nail as easily as it can smash a window. What am I using mine for? Proverbs 21:19 says that it is better to live in a desert than with a bittertongued and angry woman. These are pretty strong words! Yet true. If being around a spiteful woman is worse than living in the parched desert, imagine how life-giving the presence of a sweet-spirited woman is! To become women of blessing, we must deal with the critical spirit within. The first step? Identify its symptoms. There are always a few tell-tale signs.



and most obvious: a critical person thinks negatively of others. Put yourself in a roomful of women— maybe a youth get together, the break-room at work, or dinner at a restaurant. You're looking around, observing. What thoughts are going through your mind? "I wonder how much she paid for THAT outfit!" "Look at how she's acting with him...what a flirt." "Wow, she's definitely gained weight." Sound familiar? A woman with a critical spirit finds it easy to point out the flaws in others, while overlooking her own. Nothing is ever quite right. Unfortunately, she spends most of her time pointing out the answers to the world’s problems

rather than humbly living them out herself. Another symptom is difficulty receiving criticism from others. Do you find yourself reacting in anger when someone points out areas in which you need growth? A woman with a critical spirit responds defensively, as if attacked. Pride impairs her ability to admit need, and she will fight to preserve an image of perfection rather than face her fears and insecurities. Those who suffer from a critical spirit cannot genuinely respond to the needs and feelings of others. Selfabsorption keeps them too distracted. Rather than celebrating others' successes, they find ways to invalidate them. Are you guilty of secretly diminishing the pain or struggles of others? Do you twist conversations to bring the focus onto yourself? This is a pattern of an individual with a critical spirit. A critical person often sees herself as the victim. Thoughts like, “I would’ve done that well too if….”; “Her success was only because…”; or "Nobody really gave me a chance..." reflect an attitude of helplessness. It is also common for the critical person to blame people or situations for their emotional problems. Having a bad

day? “It’s all this rain.” Feeling depressed? “Nobody reaches out to me as a friend.” Angry? “My husband is detached and married to his job.” Are our bad feelings really someone else's fault? No. Situations and people may prime responses, but ultimately, we are responsible for how we react. Playing the victim is a prideful refusal to accept this responsibility. Finally, a critical person's identity thrives on negativity. There is a

certain security in being habitually negative. In a blog post about avoiding a critical spirit, pastor Kevin Offner notes that "the critical person comes to expect—even, dare I say, to hope?—that everything will have something wrong with it. One’s very identity actually begins to be marked by this “need” for negativity."1 Check yourself. Is this tendency present in your life?


Offner, Kevin, “Avoiding a Critical Spirit”. l_avoiding_critical_spirit.html


do you

why do you

criticize and pass judgment

on your brother?

Or you,

look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand

before the judgment seat of God.

of himself to God. Then

And so each of us shall

give an account

let us no more criticize and blame and pass

judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle

or a hindrance in the way of a


(Rom. 14:10, The Amplified Bible)

A critical woman expresses herself in various ways. Sometimes she delivers with a smile, her criticism cleverly disguised under a layer of niceness. Sometimes the negativities spill out like venom and her intentions to damage are clear. Either way, she wounds those around her. The consequences are serious.


As I

studied for this piece, I caught sight of unlovely things in my own heart, like a tendency to complain or to cast hasty judgments. Sometimes I blame others for my problems or minimize their accomplishments so mine seem more impressive. My desire is to be a woman who builds, not destroys! If you, too, seek freedom from critical tendencies, come with me and let us discover the truth together. I believe there are three main parts to the root of a critical spirit: pride, disconnection from grace, and failure to walk in the Spirit.

Pride is a disconnect from the Ultimate Reality that God is in charge—and that I am not! When we lose sight of who He is, and who we are proportionate to Him, we become the standard-setters. Pride says, "I deserve this!" and "My opinion is most important". Pride assumes the right to judge others, highlighting their flaws while overlooking our own. Confess pride to God and asked for forgiveness and cleansing. Seek a humble heart that sees oneself and others with the love and forgiveness of Christ. Pride destroys, but a woman of humility brings life! A critical spirit grows when we disconnect from the sweet grace of Jesus. A critical spirit demands perfection and becomes angry when the standard isn’t met. Grace, by contrast, covers flaws. It accepts imperfection without condemnation, while lovingly urging on to fuller perfection in Christ. Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, says, “Grace is alive, living waters. If I dam up the grace, hold the blessings tight,

joy within dies... waters that have no life.” If this is where you find yourself, reach out and grasp the glorious grace of God. His grace, not our perfection, saves us. We are broken, yet He loves us. When we drink in the healing, humbling waters of grace, we are free to extend it to the flaws and imperfections of others. Grace builds and restores. Finally, a critical nature arises from a failure to walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 urges us, "If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit." This means that if we have experienced life by the Spirit, then we must also keep step daily with Him. The word “walk” in this verse has the idea of a soldier marching in step with the army. When we follow our Commander Christ, our reactions and emotions will be guided by the Spirit, not our own will. As we walk with Him, our entire mindset changes. The things that irritate us; the angry words that form; the jealous looks and condemning comments, begin to diffuse through the cleansing of our

hearts by Christ within us. Walk in the Spirit and you will be a woman who builds.


How can we

make building our pattern, every day? A house is built one brick at a time. So are relationships and people. Since every action and word has significance, let us examine are some practical ways to build instead of destroy.

Relate with the end-goal in mind. To build is to actively progress toward completion. When my family built our home, the blueprint was our beacon of hope. Through the months of hard labor, we looked at it and remembered "someday, it will be this!" Our actions were chosen by how they would help reach the goal. Building others up is to help them reach the extent of what they were designed to be. What is this? In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us it is "unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God .... mature [woman]hood ....the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" [vv. 12, 13, ESV]. The goal is to become like Christ! Examine your interactions: are you helping to build others into the likeness of Jesus? If not, then you might be tearing down or have abandoned the project.

Find things to celebrate! Several nights ago, I was driving home from VA, straining to see through the pouring rain and glaring lights. It was stressful and after several hours, I got mad: "God, why can't you let off on the rain for a few hours? Is that too much to ask?!" I felt quite bitter.

Then I remembered that I was alive and healthy and was coming home to my family in a warm, dry car. I thought about the amazing weekend I'd spent with the wonderful man in my life. Suddenly the negatives didn’t seem so important and I felt excited by the reality of my blessings. Rejoice—it leaves no room for complaint!

Confront real issues with discernment. Ecclesiastes, the book of wisdom, says "there is a time to tear down and a time to build." Ironically, many who struggle with a critical nature also have the gift of discernment. This gift should not be discarded but exercised with discretion. Remember, "building" means raising others up to the fullness of Christ. Sometimes the only way to make room for growth is to tear out damaged parts. Nailing boards over rotting walls won't fix the decay spreading underneath. It will only delay collapse. Kevin Offner offers this wise advice: “Exchanging dull gray sunglasses for rose-tinted glasses is no solution. Following Christ doesn’t make someone a Pollyanna. Fake smiles, repressed anger and a lot of spiritual “praise-the-Lords” don’t build God’s kingdom. Sin needs to be confronted and rebuked—in ourselves, yes, but also in others.”

Request feedback.

Ask others how you come across and take their input seriously. Do people feel energized by you? Or does your presence have a draining effect? Those closest to you will have keen insights into the way you relate and affect others.

Listen to yourself talk.

Is your speech habitually negative? Do you constantly turn the attention of conversations back to yourself? Make a sincere effort to speak blessing and joy through your words and body language. If your spirit is critical, your presence will shout it.

Look for the good in others. People are often aware of their own shortcomings without having them pointed them out. Counter negative thoughts by finding things to genuinely encourage. People do what makes sense to them—and we cause deep hurt when we jump to hasty conclusions. Believing the best about others is extending grace, which builds and restores. Examine the tools God has placed in your hands. Each of them may be used to build up, or to tear down. What will you do? Strive to become a woman who creates spacious, growing places in people's hearts. Ask the Lord to develop you into a lady who builds with clarity and openness and always, love. She stands with a hammer in her hands, holding it tightly. Before her is a small cabin… built for welcome and rest and safety. Many may find sanctuary here, and she has the tools to complete it. Lift your hammer. Finger the nails. Raise them high, and build. | "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

Today I ChOOSE

By MaxLucado



No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I accuse. I choose goodness.

Joy... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

Peace... I will live forgiven. I will forgive so I may live.


Faithfulness... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My friends will not question my word. And my family will not question my love.

Gentleness... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it only be in praise. If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so, Rather complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.



Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for that is how God has treated me.

I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then when this day is done I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Intimacy with Jesus

I would love to tell you that everyday my walk with Jesus looks picture perfect, but the reality

is my life is messy. If you are honest with yourself, your life is messy as well. Yet, how glorious to know

we can come to our Beloved, confess our sins and He

What a beautiful call from the Beloved! Not only does He call us beautiful and His love, but He commands us to come away. Upon reading this, I

realized my time with God, although meaningful, was not sacred. Growing up in the

will still hold us in His arms and speaks words of love over us! That, my friend, is intimacy. That is true love. Once upon a time, I thought having a relationship with Jesus meant keeping rules and standards. Thankfully, by His grace, God continues to teach me that being

South, I developed a deep love for front porch rocking chairs. Watching cars go by, while talking with a












in relationship with Him is not

“Don’t miss His presence in the waiting.”

my room and my

the splendid sunrise has called me to come away with Him, and I have followed. He speaks, and I listen as He paints the sky before my eyes. His presence alone is my sacred sanctuary. His presence is my greatest love and most intimate relationship.

journey is living in His presence. It is conversing




life is found in the daily tasks

window, I set up a wicker

watch the sunrise each morning is that the Creator of

more. The Christian

events. Rather, most of

room, directly beside my

and hear Him speak. The most beautiful aspect as I


made of a series of big

In the corner of my

find myself longing to come away with my Beloved,


rules. No, it is so much


time with my Beloved.

importantly my Bible. When I rise up each morning, I



that atmosphere to

rocking chair, a lamp, and most


of life from talking with a coworker to cleaning the house. As a young woman, the temptation often arises to put life on hold while waiting for the next big event whether it be graduating, beginning a career, or even getting married. Yet, our calling is so much greater; it is an intimate, daily relationship with Jesus. Our calling is not to wait for the next big event. No, we are called to live every day with abundance. After all, Jesus says,





cell phones. The Israelites kept waiting on God to



perform; meanwhile, He showered them with daily

the TV. Let

blessings of manna from heaven. His presence


hovered over them with a cloud by day and a

and Twitter

pillar of fire by night. His presence was constant, but

take a rest. Turn off your computers. Get alone with

they kept waiting. When it seems that you are

God. Be joyful. Do good. Be all there. Life is too

waiting, hold His hand. His presence never leaves.

beautiful to miss. My mother always tells me to

Don’t miss His presence in the waiting.

“Thank God for the ordinary days.” Life is not made

We cannot predict the future. Ecclesiastes

for waiting. Life is made for living. Live it well. Sip your coffee. Take a walk. Fall in love with Jesus.

3:11-12 states,

Say, “I love you.” Make amends. As the

Israelites continued

to wander

through the wilderness, God faithfully reminded them of Canaan, their true destination. Finally, they arrived. They made it home. See, the journey was not about the waiting. He never called them to wait

on anyone, but Himself. He called them to long for home, just as He does for us. God does not call us to wait until we are out of high school to minister. He does not call us to wait until we are married to love others and open our homes. He does not call us to wait to have children to reach out to the orphans. He calls us to life. Right here. Right now. Don’t miss out on the beauty of it all. This is life. It is not made for waiting, but for living.

As we live and wait on Jesus, let us be ever mindful and anticipate His return. Live every day to please We are to do be joyful and do good as long as we

Him. Long for the day when He comes to make all

live. Life is beautiful. Missionary Jim Elliot once

things new. Talk with God. Listen to God. Respond to

stated, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the

God. For that, sweet friend, is having an intimate,

hilt every moment you believe to be the will of

beautiful relationship with Jesus. |

|Expressions ofDIVINEXPRESSIONS the Divine |TheRHEMA Living Word:|


Banner of Love I was 21 when I experienced my first real heartbreak. It happened during a cold Pennsylvania winter—the sudden, unpredicted death of a relationship. Love, fragile, like a tender violet, was crushed. And pressed into the murky sod of disappointment, the dreams I had embraced with both arms tight, were muddied and buried deep. Those of you who have loved someone and been jolted with the electric shock of a too-soon good-bye, you know what I mean. It is a grief that penetrates to the soul and crashes into the depth of one’s being. The relationship I had believed in for so long had come to nothing. As I stood, numb and wavering in the ashes of burnt-out dreams, I wondered, “What now?” I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t even want to start. Yet somehow, one foot went in front of the other. And when I ached for relief, the Father met me. His Word became more precious than it ever had before. Through the long days and tear-filled, numbing nights, He whispered comforts in my ear. I learned about suffering and how it is a gift and how pain can mystically usher us into the most intimate presence of the Lord. I clung to Him. It was in this dark season of loss that I had the privilege of taking a 3 week choir tour through Canada and the western U.S. Under the flaming evening skies of Wyoming; through the barren South Dakota Badlands—stunningly beautiful even in their desolation; into vaulted blue-sky Montana

of the


| by Rae Schrock | Photography by Hans Mast

mornings; beside shimmering Canadian lakes; and beneath the peeling white Minnesotan birches, God chased me. Love became the theme of those 3 weeks. And it has become the theme of my life. The person who had cherished me, offered unconditional acceptance, invited me to open my heart in return, had walked away. My concept of love was shattered. “You have been a fool.” I accepted the Enemy’s lies. “You are unlovable.” I had believed, somewhere unspoken inside, that the love of another was my salvation; that it defined my value. But God needed to teach me of my true identity—to tutor me in the riches of His love, the source of all other loves. Loss carves away our child-like, selfish clasping of all that is not best for us. It removes the props, and defies the notion that we are in control. What we fear most—this gutwrenching, life-changing pain—is ultimately what saves us. God at work through devastating circumstances is like a surgeon evacuating a terminal cancer—should He heed our cries for relief, and stay the hand short of removing the disease, all the pain up to that point would be wasted. Lying in the surgery of my Creator, I wondered, can I trust that He knows what He is doing? That the pain is ultimately working my salvation—the freedom of my heart, the release of all my shame, the blessed privilege to lay myself peaceful in His firm hands?

As the bus toured the wide, beautiful west, the Lord took me on a journey of my own. Slowly and tenderly, He began to reveal the reality His love that is deeper than any ocean, higher than the heavens, strong enough to rescue me from sin. My life began to be shaped around this love that reaches and forgives and delivers grace unmeasured and undeserved. I stood with my face to the West many an evening, watching the sun disappear in robes of flaming scarlet, burnished gold, and gentle ocher, and for the first time in my life, felt His adoration. I began to recognize this love that had not given up on me, that had moved aside the barrier of my mistakes, that had fashioned the splendor of emerald and azure and brown earth, breathcatching, just to thrill my senses and stir me to awe of Him. His love was for me! A lifetime of doubt and striving for perfection that I might be lovable, slowly began to crumble away into the revealing Light of truth. The One who needs no defender, defended my heart. He who exists, self-sustaining, sustained me. In my loss—in your loss—in the staggering horrors enveloping the world, His love stands faithful, and true, and sufficient, longing to fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts. When I doubted His love, He reminded me. Sometimes through a friend; sometimes through the beauty of nature; often, through His Word. One cold Canada night, after a difficult day, He gave me a special reminder, unexpected and healing. Our chorus group had given a program at a church in Canada and been divided out to stay in the members’ homes that night. Several of my friends and I were assigned to a family who lived deep in the woods of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. We arrived and began to unpack, when suddenly, there were shouts from outside. Rushing out, I followed the gaze of my friends and gasped: overhead, the velvet night sky was swirling with ribbons of emerald and violet. The Northern Lights! All my life I had dreamed of

seeing them. I remember, as a small child, being riveted by my dad’s vivid descriptions of this phenomenon of nature. And now, here they were, coursing above me. On and on they went, flickering across the sky, flashing banners of radiant color. It was as if God was reaching from heaven with a glowing translucent ribbon, dancing it over our heads. I was riveted in wonder, overcome by the beauty. And the “He didn’t have to”. It was early April; our hosts reported that it was rare to see a show of the lights at that time of year. We all exclaimed and marveled. God didn’t have to break the rules of nature and season, but He had. A simple, glorious love-note etched in a cold April sky. “I love you THIS BIG, Rae!” it said. My Abba Father could have chosen to hide His beauty from me that night. He could have revealed it different. But He knew what my heart, so full of doubts and fears, needed. His reminder was of beauty, of hope, of His ability to wield and turn nature itself to demonstrate His power and to touch specifically the needs in my heart. Later that night, after the sky had ceased to glow, this precious verse pressed into my heart, lines of grace: “He brought me to his banqueting house, and His banner over me was love. “ [Song of Sol. 2:4] I trembled at the realization: my bridegroom has ushered me into His house of blessing, a place lavishly adorned and richly supplied with foods—sweet meats of grace, the wine of love, the bread of soul-sustenance. His provisions for me are complete and full—tokens of kindness and redemption! The banqueting house is a place of celebration, a chamber of promises-fulfilled, a love-feast prepared for the nourishment and cheering of my heart. This is something only Jesus can give. Earthly relationships will always fall short—but with Him, my heart is perfectly loved, perfectly filled.

As He ushers me in, the flag of His love flies high, conspicuous, a triumphant declaration, “She is my beloved!” This Hebrew word “banner” is derived from another word that means “to flaunt”. Wait, my heart pounds, could He be so proud of me? That He would display, for the world to see; that He would raise His flag above me, its inscription shouting love? “She is mine!” There is no mistaking it. The mark of the cross secures my identity. His banner raised above me shouts of the consuming love that tasted an agony of suffering of which mine only touches the surface; the love that bought my freedom from death. I am breathless. Wonderment steals from head to foot. I am His. He is mine. He has Chosen me. The banner of declaration ripples and flicks over my head, the symbol of the One who has claimed His own. Not as a soldier who has conquered a foe, but as a lover who has rescued his beloved. I am beloved. I am His. One verse back, I read the words like cool water: “I sat under his shadow with great delight…” and knew that this is the place I am to dwell. From the piercing heat of sorrow, the dry winds of change, the thirst to understand, He is my shade. His love is my shelter and joy—a reprieve from the scorching sun. A punctuation in the growing, to feel cool breezes stirring, to breathe before traveling on.

That frigid night in southern Canada, God flaunted His love for me in the dancing auroras of a velvet April sky. It was the first of many times when He assured me of my worth to Him. The journey has been long, but rewarding. Many months later, I would journal these words, on another night when the Lord once again confirmed to me His deep love, “Is there something to be found at this, my altar of lament? Something more than the, ‘I should have done…’ ‘If only I had…’ and ‘Why didn’t I…?’ The altar of lament is where I have found room within to be filled with Christ. If I am to be made rich and abundant in Him, then I must allow suffering to tutor my heart. It rarely occurs to me that my life could be extraordinary as a result of hardships. Yet at times, I catch sacred glimpses of what suffering has been slowly, wisely carving into my soul. And it is something I can rejoice in. It is something God can use.” What was being carved into my soul? The nature of God’s love. It has re-arranged the way I live. In His presence, fear dissolves, doubt crumbles, and pride is chiseled away. In my story, it took heartbreak to turn my gaze onto Christ—but there I found the source the true Love. As I travel the terrain of life, experiencing His love in the gifts of beauty, in the whispers in the ear, in the promises of His Word, my heart rejoices, for I belong with Him—the safest place in the universe. My prayer is that you, too, will experience the captivating love of God, in whatever road you walk today. |

Pearl of Promise

You are my chosen servant, my very favorite. I will bless the thirsty sending streams of water; I

land by

will bless your descendants by giving them my Spirit. They will spring up like grass or like willow trees near flowing streams. They will worship me and become my people. [Is. 44:2-5]


By Brittany Shult Photography by Carmie Sanchez

REJUVINATE sugar scrubs [with homemade]

I stumbled across my first sugar scrub recipe a couple years ago. To be perfectly honest, when I was introduced to this concept, my first thought was, "Really? Taking my mom's baking supplies and rubbing it all over my body? Weird." The idea of using sugar as a method of exfoliation simply did not appeal to me. I do not like it when my skin is sticky or greasy. However, not too long ago (as in just a few weeks ago) I was on the internet and came across an article that extolled the virtues of homemade sugar scrubs. I decided to give it a try and was instantly hooked! I am now a huge fan of sugar scrubs and the best part is that they are so easy and inexpensive to make. All you need are common pantry ingredients to throw these together. For the scrubs you see here, I used extra light olive oil and white sugar. My first couple attempts, I used 100 % extra virgin oil. I switched to a lighter version because I didn't like the strong olive scent of the extra virgin, plus I didn't like how yellow it made my sugar scrub. However, you don't have to use olive oil. Pretty much any type of oil can used. Several recipes I found used coconut or sunflower oil. The sugar doesn't need to be white either. Brown sugar makes a really yummy scrub. According to my research, the sugar and oil ratio should be 2-1. In another words, two cups of sugar should be mixed with one cup of oil. I am the kind of person who uses a little of this and sprinkle of that so I don't pay attention the

2-1 ratio at all. I just dump sugar into a bowl and slowly add oil until I get a consistency that I like. One thing I enjoy about the whole sugar scrub concept is the fact that you can experiment with so many different "flavors" and most of the time, you don't even have to buy extra stuff to make various scents. I made a warm vanilla sugar scrub once by using brown sugar, vanilla extract, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dash of ground cloves. Another idea, one that I haven't tried yet, is to mix in some type of citrus peel into your sugar. I think a coconut lime scrub would be so good! For the cucumber melon scrub you see, I used the Something Fabulous Fragrance brand from Hobby Lobby. I used around ten-twelve drops, but you can adjust that amount to suit you, depending on how strong you want the scent to be. The vanilla sugar scrub I simply went to the cupboard and pulled out some vanilla extract. Again, I just used a few sprinkles. Feel free to adjust that to your tastes. When you use these, you may have to give the scrub a stir before using it because the oil may separate from the sugar just a smidge. I generally like to use my regular body wash first, then I massage the sugar scrub lightly onto my skin. Everything should rinse right off in the shower, but if you're like me and don't like that oily feel on your skin, you could use a light skim of body wash again and rinse. Towel off and moisturize with your favorite lotion. Your skin will feel absolutely wonderful! |

{to accept willingly}

embracingsimplicity {freedom from complexity} “Simplicity sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared with others.”

“In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate results. In the East -- especially in India -- I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it. Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving -- it is not in the result of loving. ” ― Mother Teresa

--Richard Foster

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ― E.F. Schumacher

“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” --2 Corinthians 1:12

“A simple and orderly life represents a clean and orderly mind. Muddled thinking inevitably results in muddled living. A house that is cluttered is usually lived in by people whose minds are also cluttered, who need to simplify their lives. This begins with simplifying and clarifying their thinking. Mind and life need to be freed from the “disorder of the unnecessary.” -Elisabeth Elliot, Disciple: the Glad Surrender

aDdICT $

By Rae Schrock

4 Tips for Hard I love thrift stores. Maybe it's the hunt for a good deal. Maybe it's the satisfaction of getting something awesome for a fraction of the original cost. Maybe it's the quirky, random things I find that are just my style. In any case, I'm a die-hard thrifter. I was raised with a common-sense approach to money and am very comfortable buying used items. It is also feel called to embrace a lifestyle of simplicity, and sometimes, the best way to do that is

to not spend exhorbently for what I can buy used. It energizes me to save money to put toward something or someone else. Some people hear “thrift store� and have a hard time getting around the idea of dim interiors, greasy junk, and stained clothing. However in my experience, many thrift stores are quite the opposite! In fact, they are often gold



/Thrift/ Noun-

The quality of using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.

mines of unclaimed treasure! It is amazing what some people toss out--there is a lot of truth to the old adage, "One man's junk is another man's treasure". Buying from thrift stores, ebay, or wholesale outlets is a wonderful way to save money AND find unique things on a budget. Embrace the simpler way [as in, "it's not my right to have the newest and best of everything"!], get on your hunt, and see what treasures you can unearth!

Core Thrifting Here are a few tips for successful thrifting:

1. Be Patient!

Buying new items is easy. In America, we tend to expect the privilege of getting exactly what we want, when we want it. Thrift shopping requires patience and some searching but often proves worthwhile. For months, I resisted buying some awesome retro pans at a major department store, hoping to find something less expensive elsewhere. Recently it paid off: I found 2 bright orange pans at a Goodwill for a total of $8. Each of these pans retails for a minimum of $35.

2. Don't be deterred by dirt! This is a real stretch for some of you. That's ok. Everyone has standards for when an item has crossed the line between

salvageable and totally nasty. Still, don't reject something just because it needs a little cleaning up or TLC. Plain old soap & water, paint, and thread can do wonders for cleaning up a used item. There is no need to go out and buy brand new what you can purchase used and clean up a little.

3. Shop with an eye for potential! My mom and I found a thrift store that gives customers one free bag of clothes and one carry-out item per month. How awesome, right? I got a bag of clothes.

She carried out a door. It was muddy and ugly and the paint was peeling off. But she had a vision to convert it into a corner-piece for the living room and brought it home for a total reformation. The door is now a beautiful, rustic fixture in our living area. My mom could have gone out and purchased an expensive room divider, but instead she took a dirty old door and transformed it into exactly

Stainless Steel Bowls Cost new: $49.95 What I Paid: $7.50

Rachael Ray Saucepans Cost new: >$70 What I Paid: $8 what she wanted. For free! [+ a little inspiration and elbow grease.]

4. Don’t buy just to take advantage

of a good deal.

This is probably the one I have the most difficulty with—I love a good deal as much as the next person. Thrift stores are full of useful,

unique things at a fraction of their original cost, and it's tempting to feel that this is justification for snatching every deal I find. However, we must remember that the ultimate goal behind thrifting is to use our money carefully and not wastefully. It is counterproductive, then, to spend money on things we really don't need—even if the price is good. Buy intentionally, not just to take advantage of a bargain.

Bongo Wedges Cost new: $39.95 What I Paid: $2.99


One Empty

the ministry of foster care


came knocking on the door of our room this morning before it was time for school. Dave opened the door and found her there. Still in her pajamas, she held up her arms and said sleepily, “My love tank is low.” Dave picked her up and held her tightly. “Tighter,” she said. He squeezed - more tightly, wrapping his arms around her waist as her feet circled his. She threw her six-year-old arms around him and buried her face in his neck. “More tighter,” she said. So he squeezed, “more tighter.” The first week she came to us back in September, she’d climb onto his lap at the end of supper each evening, wanting to be held. “Is your love tank low?” Dave would ask. “Here, let me fill you up.” So he’d hold her on his

Love Tank

at a Time

By Gert Slabach | Photography by Rae Schrock |

lap, rocking and squeezing her gently. Her brothers watched and, although they never said it in so many words, they needed their love tanks filled as well. Now that she might be leaving us soon, she seems to need it filled even more. I am sobered by the realization that our time to make a difference in their lives might be over soon, because it seems we have only just begun. Yet, since we don’t choose how long or how short their stay will be, we recognize that our part is to do what we do well – and leave the rest to God. When we received the call last fall asking us to take three siblings with medical and emotional needs, we said yes. This was our third set of siblings in less than two years. Merely two months since halfbrothers had parted ways as they left our home, another opportunity had

come our way. I had just begun to enjoy the peace and quiet, the decreased amount of laundry, and the ease of preparing meals for only three or four, come suppertime. And yes, I enjoyed my Sunday afternoon naps. So when I returned the call in response to the question to give a yes, I wasn’t thinking about empty love tanks. I admit that my first thought as I hung up the phone was, “There go my Sunday afternoon naps.” So why do we do this? Why add to the work load when we’re practically home-free after raising six of our own? Why spend my time shopping for groceries, visiting classrooms, keeping doctor appointments, and going to court in response to subpoenas? Why do mounds of laundry every week and spend hours on the phone (a total of eighty phone calls in just one day) just because we’ve added three new children to

our household? Why spend time in yet another doctor’s waiting room with children who are not my own when I could be sitting at home, enjoying a new book? Why ask our own children to give up beds and bedrooms to make room for little ones who need a safe place to stay? Why keep filling empty love tanks when our own feel drained at times? We are giving back to God. Eight years ago Dave fell off a roof, shattering his heels. That August afternoon in 2004, our sole income stopped abruptly. Going back to work as a nurse after a twenty-year

bounty of God and we wanted to pass it on. I have learned that, when we decide to give back to God, He does not usually ask for extravagance. He has a way of using what we already have. When Moses thought he was incapable of leading God’s people out of Egypt, God asked him one question: “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). At that point in time, Moses did not have wealth or prestige or power. He had a staff. Using that staff in obedience to God parted waters bringing deliverance from slavery, provided fresh drinking

While most of the bedrooms are small, our house boasts six of them as well as three bathrooms. We had experience raising our half-dozen children, an interesting assortment of tender-hearted and strong-willed individuals. Both of us come from large families where children are loved and enjoyed. I am a nurse and Dave, a contractor, has also functioned as a teacher. Instead of just giving money (a luxury of which we had little anyhow), we wanted to give in a way that allowed us to experience the aroma of sacrifice. When we considered how we could best give back to God, it made sense

I have learned that, when we decide to give back to God, He does not usually ask for extravagance—He usES what we already have. hiatus was daunting for me and put more responsibility on our children. Six months later when Dave was able to begin working, we knew how blessed we had been. Family, church, and community had stepped in and funded our way, keeping us from going into more debt as he recovered. How could we ever say thanks? God’s people had come through, and we wanted to tell the world. We had experienced the

water for millions, and won extraordinary battles. With that common, ordinary shepherd’s staff, Moses led God’s people to the Promised Land. What we have is pretty common and ordinary. The walls in our house have chipped plaster and weary cracks. An unfinished railing and a narrow hallway make passage into one bedroom difficult. There is always one room stacked full of tubs from the previous remodeling project.

to use our home, our abilities, and our experience to say thanks. That’s how we became foster parents. People think we give a lot. We do. Yet we receive so much in return. We have learned to go with the flow, to choose our battles carefully, and to be willing to give up well-laid plans. We have learned how selfish we truly are. I don’t like to give up Sunday afternoon naps, but it often goes with the territory. Our children have learned that they’re not as patient as they considered themselves, that

playing one more game of Scum or Sorry can be more chore than game, and that coming home to visit can mean difficult dynamics as they share their parents with other children. All of us have learned the value of the security of family. We’ve seen firsthand the devastation of emotional and psychological wounds in children who have never experienced the freedom of just being a child. We’ve experienced the aftermaths of that pain and wondered if we are capable of the energy necessary to deal with a love tank that has practically run dry. So when we get a call asking if we will provide a home to more children, we know we’ll be back in the trenches again. As I prepare beds in an empty bedroom, I try, again, to prepare my heart. And God comes through. I continue to be amazed at how readily my heart claims these kids as mine. How can I so quickly become like a mama bear, daring anyone to tangle with my cubs?! Even so, with the arrival of new cubs in our den, everything turns upside down. While our family grew by gaining one

infant at a time, we’ve experienced an invasion of two or more children, including teenagers. While our children grew up doing chores and participating in dinner discussions around the table, our

foster children have had to learn about responsibilities; they also experience eating together as a family for the first time. While our children knew what was expected of them, these children experience a learning-shock when they enter our home. It takes time, wisdom, and patience to deal with their emptiness. It means giving them space to figure out where they fit in our household. When I thought I was almost done raising kids, I’m still teaching, “keep your back to the dirty and your face to the clean” when mopping a floor. Once again, I’m checking toothbrushes to see if they’re wet so I’ll know if a child is telling the truth. I’m calling out spelling words and dolling out hugs and love to kids who’ve missed out on so much. Dave helps with homework, comes up with unique incentives for good behavior and is greatly admired by “our” kids. We are grateful that our biological children are active participants and become favorites of our foster children quickly. And, always, my to-do list changes. Instead of cleaning out and organizing for the next remodeling phase, I purchase more fresh vegetables because I’m canning more produce. We buy milk and laundry detergent in larger quantities, bake more cookies, and look for creative ways to deal out discipline. The dishwasher hums three times a day or more. Laundry is never caught up, and there are always, always floors that need to be mopped. Windows that finally stayed clean for a month are smudged with finger prints every day. An upstairs that is still not remodeled and unfilled dreams for

exotic flower beds continue to be a part of my life. Those piles of papers get pushed to the back burner of my desk again, and I hope I can find what I need when I come up for air. The back yard is

always a wreck, and bikes are seldom left standing upright as they should be. There does not seem to be enough time-–and sometimes not enough energy–-to teach everything a child should know, so we divide and conquer as best we can. We’re back in the trenches, concentrating on the three Ds we won’t tolerate from any children in our home: dishonesty, disrespect, and defiance. I think of it as Kingdom work - using what God has placed in our hands. We’re preparing more children for life as we keep filling empty love tanks. While our own kids are growing up and moving out, we’re still busy. Instead of our house becoming almost empty, most of our beds are still full. And our hearts, though weary at times, receive an overflowing measure of grace. We believe that, by opening our hearts as well as our home, we can help make a difference in the world, one empty love tank at a time.|

A Prayer in Spring Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year. Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white, Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; And make us happy in the happy bees, The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. And make us happy in the darting bird That suddenly above the bees is heard, The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love, The which it is reserved for God above To sanctify to what far ends He will, But which it only needs that we fulfill.

  

felt strongly we were

to serve at an orphanage somewhere for up to six months. God led us to Uganda and the pink orphanage near the Nile River called Welcome Home Ministries Africa

(WHMA). A few days after we celebrated our first year anniversary, we flew across the blue ocean to Uganda, a land of green beauty. There we worked hard for six months, learning and loving and growing as we loved the kids and the staff at WHMA. We came back to our guest house every night exhausted and dirty, worn out from giving

  

and giving and giving. I had to get used to being touched so often by so many little hands. Sometimes it felt like you were literally squeezed out of every ounce of strength and love. Welcome Home Ministries Africa (WHMA) started in 1995. It is home to around 70 children birth to six years old. Each child has a name, a story, a hope, a dream. Each child there has a story of loss. We fell in love with all of them. The purpose of WHMA is to care for the children of Uganda who are orphans, sick, dying, abused, abandoned or neglected-who have no chance of survival without intervention. We want to provide them a loving life-giving environment so that each child has a healthy, secure foundation for life. Through worship, prayer and Bible classes, they learn every day how much God loves them.

Uganda is a poor country in Eastern Africa. The average age in Uganda is 15 years old, due to AIDS and poverty and war. It's a land of children, many of them orphans. 20% of the children in Uganda are orphaned, 2% of the entire population (.00016% of the US is orphaned). The average income is $1.30 per day. Many people are hungry. And yet, it's a beautiful country of lush greens and mountains. It's full of courageous people who smile when they

Serving overseas together, as a young married couple, in a third world country is one of the best decisions we ever made. We knew stepping into it that it was going to be good, but I don’t think we realized how good it was going to be for our marriage. Why? It helped build a foundation for our future. Even before we married, we knew missions were going to be a central role in our lives. We both had spent a lot of time in missions as singles. But, how quickly the “American dream” can try to suffocate even the most sincere mission-minded newlywed hearts! Surrounding ourselves every day with dirt, poverty and tragedy gave us together a firmer resolve and purpose to live our lives intentionally and sacrificially for “the least of these” as we live in the United States. It was a good “shot in the arm” kind of six months, solidifying the call of God on our life as a Mr. and Mrs. We got to know each other in new and amazing ways. We spent every day together, working side by side. We figured out we were only apart for three hours in the whole six months we were gone.  That is good for any marriage! I know not every young couple can go on an extended missions trip within the first year or two of marriage, but— boy—if you possibly can, go! The work that God will do in your hearts together is worth every penny and every bit of sacrifice and effort. It’s a treasure you both will cherish forever.

have so little, who keep going when all is against them. It's a country of music and color and dance. I invite you to come with me to Uganda right now. I want you to see the children, hear their laughter, catch their tears, feel their tights hugs and look deep into their hurting eyes. I want you to have to stutter a reply when one of them asks you, "When are my parents coming?" I want you to know their names and know their stories.

who were far behind in school due to physical or emotional reasons. We loved our class time every day, loved watching the kids learn how to use scissors and color in their coloring books properly. One little boy, because of severe abuse, did not have much muscle strength in his hands. It was a happy day when he learned how to write 0's all over his page. We spent a lot of our time with Oscar, our little friend who has hydrocephalous (water on the brain).

                                           What did we do every day? Our days were rarely the same, but always full. There was never a lack of things to do. We would take the children out on bike rides (they rarely left the home), play organized games with the older kids, face paint, and read stories (lots and lots of stories!). We had special therapy times with some of the most needy kids. One of my favorite things was to take the sibling sets out and allow them to have special time together as brothers and sisters. Another highlight was to "introduce" the children to their adoptive families through pictures and photobooks their soon-to-be-families would send to Uganda. Delmar and I taught an afternoon remedial class. We had about 8 students, students

He was 2 years old and in need of physical therapy. A visiting nurse taught us some therapy and we also read everything we could about how to care for a little boy in his condition. His right side was partially paralyzed. Every day we massaged and stretched his muscles. He hated it, but slowly and surely he started to gain more control and use of his right leg and arm. Please pray for Oscar. His future is bleak in Uganda. He needs a forever family so badly.

We spent special time with two little boys every day, Isaiah and Levi. Both boys came to us with traumatic past which delayed them physically and emotionally. The first time we saw Isaiah he was crouched in the corner like a caged animal. He was abandoned at the hospital, no one knows his history. He is probably 5 years old. Haunted eyes darted everywhere as he slowly ate his food. Delmar and I worked with him every day. He didn't smile and he didn't talk. It took weeks of therapy for him to start engaging with anyone. Finally, a small and tentative smile. And then one day, the mute, scared little boy was looking at a book with me and he loudly said, "Dog!" He looked more surprised than we did that he said an excited word; that his mask fell just a little. I cried. Levi was probably around 5 years old, but because of prior abuse, was in the body of a two year old. Levi came to the orphanage right before we came to Uganda. He had trouble walking and never talked or even made a sound. His bright eyes and smile stole your heart even in his silence. Slowly--slowly--slowly words started to come out. His smile became even bigger as he was loved and cared for at the orphanage. His walking became a little stronger. Two weeks after we left Uganda, Levi died of measles. His past before he came to WHMA was haunted and sad. I'm so glad that for the last six months of his life, we could help him experience true love and

lives. WHMA is solely run by Ugandans. It is directed by Mandy Sydo from the States, and she visits three times a year. Besides a rare volunteer like Delmar and I, it is indigenous. We love seeing Ugandans care for their own kids and want to do everything we can to keep it primarily staffed by the Ugandan people. By empowering and educating the Ugandans, we are helping the next generation be well loved and healed.

safety and give him a just a little bit of what his childhood should have been like all along. When we said goodbye to all the kids at WHMA, Levi was the one that cried the hardest and longest. Now, all his tears are dried and he's running in heaven, probably chattering up a storm. We don't have to worry about him anymore. He's safe and loved. Delmar and I painted murals in the boys and girls rooms, giving them something bright and happy to look at when they go to sleep and when they wake up in the morning. We loved painting them in the afternoons during nap time, as a way for us to impact their lives even after we leave them. Another way we found to impact the kids’ lives long-term was to invest in the staff's

We left Uganda, completely worn-to-thebone and sick (I was very sick with malaria and a kidney infection), but happy—so very happy. We left with dreams, lots of dreams about the future. We found, though, that God was dreaming way more than us.

Upon returning home to the States, we were asked to become the future directors of WHMA. The current director, Mandy, is in her sixties and has been looking for someone to "pass the torch to" for awhile. We knew our lives were going to be centered around orphan-care and "loving the least of these," but we never in our wildest dreams thought we'd be in charge of a large orphanage in Uganda! God dreamed much bigger than we ever dared! We prayed about it for four months and finally felt peace in our hearts to say yes. It feels like a really big undertaking for a young couple. Pray for us.

We are slowly transitioning into the director role. The transition could take up to five years as we continue to learn and assume more responsibilities. It's primarily a state-side position (like I said, it's run on a daily basis by Ugandans) with several visits a year to Uganda. There is a lot of work to do stateside for WHMA: primarily raising funds and awareness for the kids at

-Pray for the children of Uganda. Pray that they can be restored to relatives and family in their villages or be adopted to the USA or Europe. Pray each of these beautiful children will know what it is like to be loved by parents and to belong.

-Give financially. It takes a lot of money and resources to run WHMA. It is supported entirely by our gifts. Over 95% of your donations go directly to Uganda to be wisely used for the children. No Westerner is paid by your donations; all US positions are volunteer. Send all donations to: Welcome Home Ministries Africa P.O. Box 9771 Brea, California 92822 -Educate yourself about orphans and God’s heart for them. The children need all the voices and advocates they can get! -Pray for Delmar and I as we serve in WHMA. We need a lot of wisdom and direction. Pray especially for grace to do this large task with a young family (we are expecting our first baby in March and hope to adopt ourselves within the next couple of years).

WHMA. We're taking it a step at time. We have never felt our weakness more. When it all feels overwhelming, I remember it's not about us, it's not even about the kids; it's about God and His compassionate, loving heart that longs for all people to know Him. *children's names are changed to protect their identity.

{Focus} indoorplanting Depending where you live, the weather might already be warm enough to put the word “spring” back in your vocabulary. But I’m still stuck in northwestern Pennsylvanian winter, where I can’t safely plant a garden until the end of May. Around this time of year, I begin to crave the sight of green growing things. There are several assuage this thirst.


will encourage the plant to branch and develop fullness, rather than being a single long tendril of growth. Houseplants are wonderful doses of green, but growing indoor flowers feel especially indulgent during the last dregs of winter and early spring. Since most houseplants are not flowering, you’ll have to move from rooting shoots to forcing bulbs.



I like to grow houseplants, especially those that require little care. My plants have been creating rest, balance, a unique way of receiving from family and friends, for nearly all room to breathe were started from the plants of people I know. It’s a simple project because plants are wonderfully able to recreate. Keep your eyes peeled for plants that you like and (using the rules of polite behavior) request a snip. A few shoots, like those of the Wandering Jew, can be planted directly into soil and take root that way. Most of the time, though, you’ll have to take your little shoot home and plunk it in a cup of water. Put it in a sunny spot, maybe at the kitchen window, and watch and wait. Roots will begin to form along the stem. Once they are an inch or two long, you can transplant the shoot into a pot of soil, where it will continue to grow. If you grow plants with long stems, such as ivy and philodendron, keep snipping and transplanting. This


Various bulbs are available for forcing to bloom in the winter. Amaryllis and Paper Whites are more readily available, but tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses can all be forced as well. Different bulbs require different care.

To force Paper Whites, start by buying your bulbs. Then choose a container to plant the bulbs in. It should be shallow and wide enough to accommodate the number of bulbs you’ll grow. Put a layer of pebbles in the container and secure the bulbs by making sure the basal plates (the part on the bottom of the bulb from which the roots grow) are down in the stones a bit. Put water in, making sure that the water doesn’t touch the bulbs, just the basal plates. The water will encourage root growth, but it can also rot the bulb if there’s too much immersion. Wait and watch the root development. As the roots grow downward, shoots will start growing from the top of the bulb, becoming full

my garden, from the first seed through the final harvest.

stems. Buds will develop, and eventually the day will come when the buds open and you feel that spring is living in a corner of the house. The third type of indoor growing I do is with an eye to the future. The gardening season in northwestern Pennsylvania begins late, but I can start early by growing plants from seed. Starting your own seedlings has a few advantages. It’s less expensive, for one. I was flabbergasted to discover how many plants I could grow for so little. I walked into the local farm and garden shop (an invaluable resource if you can get your hands on one with knowledgeable staff) and walked away with seeds of two heirloom tomato that cost $1.43. It was the smallest amount of bulk seed that I could buy and there were still far more seeds than I needed to grow into fully bearing tomato plants. Also, growing plants from seeds opens up a lot of possibilities. There’s more variety available through seed catalogs than if you purchase seedlings at Wal-Mart. This is especially the case if you’re interested in heirloom seeds. Do you want to try growing yellow and white tomatoes or miniature melons? A seed catalog is probably where you’ll have to go. And, at the risk of sounding eccentric, I find a special satisfaction in knowing that I witnessed the complete growth cycle of a section of


To grow seeds, you’ll need good soil with good drainage and lots of light. You can start your seeds in biodegradable pots or use flats of pots purchased from a greenhouse. You can start them in individual pots, or throw a bunch of seeds into a larger pot and transplant the seedlings individually as they start to crowd each other out. You can even use old egg cartons to serve the purpose. The bottom line is to use what is best suited to your situation and make sure that what you use can drain properly. For instance, you’ll have to prick holes in the bottom of egg cartons to allow excess water to escape. And don’t forget to have some way of catching the excess water, such as a tray. Know deep you

how should

plant the seeds you’re growing and then give them lots of light, either with fluorescent lights or at a south facing window. As seedlings grow, most will need to be moved into larger pots to accommodate the growth from gangly childhood to maturing adult. Above all, enjoy the venture of growing things. If something didn’t work out as envisioned, chalk it up as an experiment and a chance to learn something new. Learning what doesn’t work is a valid, too. If you’re new at something, give yourself a long leash for discovery. There will be time to try again and there is always a way to tweak the project and try something different next time around.|


Life through Carmony’s Lens

Winter is drawing to a close and spring is beginning to sweep in. This is the time of year when even the earth is being prepared to burst forth into life and color.

Trees and flowers are beginning to bud, birds are building nests, farmers and gardeners are gathering seeds and preparing their plots of ground for planting.

Likewise, we as Christians are being prepared for the work that Jesus has for us in His kingdom.

Thinking about this, my mind was drawn to verses from 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Verse 11 is very familiar to us as the verse that states “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We know that our foundation must be Christ. Our work is in vain without Him. But what are we building on top of our foundation? With what are we preparing ourselves for kingdom work? Will those materials withstand the fire?

Verse 13 tells us that “fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” What do we use to prepare ourselves? The answer is simple but powerful: Bible reading and prayer. How many times do these two things get lost under a pile of other things that are seemingly profitable for building on our foundation?

In order to be properly prepared for work in Christ’s kingdom, to have a building that will withstand the fire, my foundation must be in Jesus Christ and I must build on that with communion with Him through His Word and through prayer. And as I commune with Him, His plans will open up before me and life will spring forth.

Photography and Comments by Carmie Sanchez

WThe Team RecommendsX



One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp Recently reading this book for the second time, I was reminded again of the power of thanksgiving. Ann writes from personal experience in a poetic way of the necessity of giving thanks and the evidence of God's grace that daily surrounds us even in the midst of hardship and tragedy. She calls our attention to the small details in everyday life that may seem mundane or insignificant, but are actually grace moments.


The Hawk and the Dove trilogy by


Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot I have read and re-read this little book, a collection of letters written by Elisabeth for her daughter. With candid wisdom, Elisabeth addresses matters of femininity, singlehood, roles, and purity. “Whose are you?” she challenges women to answer, and offers simple counsel into what it means to embrace godly womanhood.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan


Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ― Charles William Eliot

Penelope Wilcock, follows a monastic community in the Middle Ages, especially the transformation of the steely head abbot through becoming a cripple. While the tone is occasionally affected, Wilcock writes skillfully of love, vulnerability, and the call of God. Young readers should use discretion because of mature themes.

This book is not a book for the faint of heart. Francis Chan cuts straight to the core of what a Christ-follower should look like. Following Christ is completely giving up our fleshly desires and laying it all at Jesus' feet. While this book is challenging and at times it feels as if your heart is being turned inside out, the blessings of following Christ with our entire being can hardly be described.

The Art

of Play

Creative ideas for cultivating and preserving play in childhood.

Play: luxury or essential?

| by Rae Schrock | Photography by Carmie Sanchez|


hen I was a kid, we lived in a small house

on less than two acres of land. We didn’t have a Wii and there was no such thing as an ipod. Goodness, I was about 13 before we ever even owned a VCR. My family still laughs about the old Windows ’95 computer that cost $1100 and groaned and strained with every game we attempted to play on it. We were homeschooled, so, well, we were home a lot. Frankly, there weren’t a lot of entertainment options.

Technology, compared to today, was infantile. Besides, my parents were adamant about us not becoming dependent on electronics for fun. So, what was a kid to do? We learned to play! Though space was limited, we wrenched every possibility for fun from those 1.8 acres. We started a “bike repair shop” in the old tin shed, built forts and tree-houses, and planted little gardens. The trampoline we got one Christmas provided hundreds of

hours of fun. Dad fenced in a tiny section of the yard and we raised a milk cow and two steers. We used to run out to the “barnyard” with a little plastic bucket, chase down slow, patient Melissa, and milk her just for fun. Miss Margie’s fields bordered the back of our property, and we spent every spare minute in them during the spring and summer. We built houses in the lush spring alfalfa, and after harvest, would comb the field for arrowheads and Indian pottery, tossed up by the plows.

The neighborhood was friendly and we kids had the luxury of exploring away from home without fear. Mom would let us run across the field to a nearby creek and bamboo patch to swim or fish or build bamboo huts. A mile’s walk from our house was Starr Mountain where we hiked and hunted squirrels. Biking for miles around our little valley was as comfortable as our playing in own backyard. I treasure the memories of my childhood, made so rich by creative play. Unlike the experience of most children today, play was a natural part of our lives. We didn’t have to create it, it just happened. Living in cramped corners drove us out of the house and into nature where we learned to have great adventures with what we had.

children between the ages of 8 and 18 …pack in nearly


hours of media use daily. Childhood playtime is essential for healthy mental, emotional, and social development! Statistics and scientific research confirms this. Children who engage in creative, imaginative play are doing so much more than having fun—they are learning to problem solve, forge friendships, create, invent, and in short, think. Despite it’s healthy benefits, play is a luxury for many children today. Their lives have become so organized and scheduled that there is little freedom to engage creatively in the world around them. What

used to be a routine part of childhood now has to be specially inserted into the schedule. Spontaneous play has been all but forgotten. Recent studies reveal that since the 1980s, kids have lost 12 hours of play time per week, and experienced a 25% decrease in play and a 50% decrease in unstructured 2 outdoor activities. Most of a child’s playtime consists almost of structured activities such as Scout groups, sports events, and after-school programs. A study released in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, on average, children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend over 7.5 hours per day on entertainment media—an increase of 1 hour and 17 minutes from the average 2

Juster, Thomas F.; et. Al. Changing Times of American Youth, 2004, Institute for Social Research, MI. /Nov04/teen_time_report.pdf

media use in 2004. And due to the use of multiple forms of media simultaneously, children actually pack in nearly 11 hours of media use daily.3 This is astonishing! Television, movies, and online games provide entertainment, but do not allow children to engage in life itself. And while generally, children do not have to be taught how to play, a steady diet of electronic entertainment dulls a child’s ability to create and have fun on their own. The good old days of jacks and marbles, cowboysand-indians, fort-building, and star-gazing have all but been replaced by screens, ear-buds, and after-school activities. Childhood obesity, depression, and ADHD are increasing at alarming rates. In general, today’s children are stressedout, overstimulated, and oversupervised. Consider the benefits which are lost when creative, free play is absent from a child’s life.






Rideout, Victoria J.; et. Al. GENERATION M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-YearOlds, A Kaiser Family Foundation Study. 0.pdf

Clearly the benefits of creative play are invaluable. Here are some ways you can help to preserve this essential component of childhood!

interactions. They learn to share, be communicate.



| Playing helps children gain a sense of

who they are as

well as where they fit into the world. |



practice valuable


life skills:

problem solving; cooperation; communication and invention. | Appropriate time for play helps children to focus better when they are set to specific task later. |Play


imagination—children who play are better at critical thinking and finding efficient ways to do things. | Unstructured play teaches


decisions without depending

increases physical activity levels 3

| Free play helps children to

children to interact and

Benefits of Play |

in children, thus reducing the potential of childhood obesity.

on an adult to push, guide, and structure everything for them. Inventive childhood play helps produce adults of maturity, leadership, and stability.

1. Sacrifice personal agenda. I cringe when I hear a mother forbidding an activity simply because of the work it will cost her. Little fingers are certain to smear the paint or get dough in the hair. Boys will surely come in muddy, with holes in their jeans. But this is all part of healthy childhood! Set safe boundaries but don’t abolish creative play because it might produce a mess. My mom was great about this. We had an old brown couch that weighed a ton and was impossible to destroy. During the winter months, the couch became a trampoline, vaulting horse, stage, and tunnel. Over

the years it became stained, ripped, and lumpy, but mom recognized that its value was nothing compared to that of her children being able to creatively play. Muddy feet, ripped clothes, and a messy house are worth the extra work when they are the result of your child learning new skills, building imagination, and developing coordination. Embrace it!

2. Make opportunities for creativity. From the kitchen to the garden to the store there are ways to engage your child’s creativity. Involve them in cooking; teach them how to build a teepee or make a terrarium. Start an insect collection. Even simple household tasks can become a setting in which to inspire creativity and build imagination.

The home should be a place where imagination can soar. Create an atmosphere or adventure, not rigidity.

3. Expose your child to new things. In the early years of life, children rapidly absorb the world around them. They are ripe for learning! Provide your child with things that will expand their minds and develop their own interests. Museums, books, hobbies, games, and social interactions are a few ways to help develop wellrounded, creative children.

4. Find new ways to do things. Encourage your child to discover creative ways to accomplish common tasks. This keeps play fun and exciting. It helps prevents boredom from repetition, while fostering the skill of ingenuity and efficiency. Many of the world’s great inventions

were the result of somebody trying to find a new way to accomplish an old task.

5. Make time for free play. Children need to be able to spontaneously play, without a schedule or structured activity. Many parents overzealously pack their children’s schedules full of “worthwhile” activities like sports and after-school programs. This can be more exhausting and stressful than beneficial for a child. I’ve interacted with children who don’t know how to play on their own because their activities have always been so defined for them. Free play develops healthy independence. Be sure your children get several hours of it each day. Remember, play is an essential, not a luxury! Teach them to play and you will raise happy, healthy individuals who have much to offer the world around them! |

CLOSING COMMENTS Thank you for reading Daughters of Promise! It is the support of readers like you that makes this work possible. May God be glorified and magnified in your life…and your heart swollen and full of His loving kindness toward you.

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