Since the start of the school year at the Sparrow Academy, we have had some kiddos who have really struggled with their studies and have fallen pretty far behind on their school work. Their degree of effort has definitely varied as some of them work hard, others work depending on how they feel, a few do not put much effort into it, and of course there are those who get frustrated. But we have one student in particular, Steven, who has worked so hard, never giving up. He tries and tries and for the last couple months he has slowly been getting it. He just started at the Sparrow Academy this year, and entered 3rd grade not being able to read or write. So, you can imagine how difficult 3rd grade has been for him not knowing the basics, and as a result, he often finds himself behind in most of his classes.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
At the Academy, we have started praying this verse with the students every Monday morning. We always pray that God gives them the wisdom to learn and obey during class. We also ask that he gives them extra wisdom to work on the areas that are more difficult for them in school.
This past Monday we once again prayed with the kids in the morning before starting the school day, and on that day our Lord answered Steven’s prayer! He rushed to my office saying he need it to show me something, and of course in my head I thought someone is fighting in class (It wouldn’t be the first time… LOL). So, expecting the worse, I went running to his classroom. But to my surprise, he grabbed a book and read to me for the first time.
This was just a small reminder for me, that often we find ourselves in positions where we can’t do things or we struggle to get something done (I’m right at that point every day!). Whether it is in school, college, or life in general ask God for the wisdom and he will give it to you. Steven never got frustrated at school. If he doesn’t understand something, he works so hard until he finally gets it. His peace about not always seeing the end result as quickly as everybody wants is a great lesson on trusting God with our lack of wisdom and looking to him to provide that for us.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
So this week please take a minute or two to send some prayers over our children at the Sparrow Academy. Pray that as they encounter challenges and difficulties they see that God is right there, waiting to lead them down a path to glorify his name. Steven’s perseverance honored the Lord, and is a perfect example of God strengthening those who seek Him. I pray that we all follow Steven’s example of trusting the Lord to lead us in all areas of our life. We will continue to pray every Monday morning that God provides wisdom to our children, and I challenge you to join us. There are others students like Steven who may be feeling left behind, so please partner with us in our petitions to God. Join us next Monday and every week following as I know our Lord will hear us and “will give generously to all without finding fault.”
Waiting. Not something that we typically enjoy doing as normal, living, breathing human beings, right?! As a people, society, culture, or whatever, we are just people who want what we want and we want it now! We see it in Honduras, and we certainly see it in the USA as well. It knows no geographical, political, racial or socioeconomic boundaries. It is just ingrained in us as a species to be impatient, but God ultimately wants us to be different as a people. His clock is obviously different than ours, and life can become frustrating if we never learn the spiritual discipline of just waiting!
As you read this post, I am on my journey back to Honduras after a nearly month long sabbatical to the USA. Throughout the course of this visit, I was able to spend time with many friends, family members, churches and VBS groups simply talking about what God has done and is doing through the Children’s Home and our work in the community as well. It is, first of all, overwhelming and awe-inspiring to me to even talk about these things because as I speak of them, I am reminded how God perfectly orchestrates the workings of our lives in such a way that things happen at just the right time and in just the right way. And He does so in ways that we can only give Him total credit because we know in our minds there is no way we possibly could have planned things better. It doesn’t mean we don’t get anxious or nervous as we wait upon Him, but it does show that ultimately His plans are perfect. Let me share some examples of this with you. Spoiler alert!! Some of these testimonies you may know from hearing me speak and some will be breaking news for the SMCH, but all speak to God’s incredible timing and plan.
When we first moved to the property in Santiago in January of 2015, we knew there were two schools in our community, and I began praying about how God would have us connect with those schools. As I continued to pray and seek His direction, God literally brought the school to us. One day the principal, a teacher and the handyman showed up knocking on our gate and asked for our help with a project they were working on. Fast forward about year later and Alishia began teaching English in that school and news passed to the other school in our community and suddenly we were active in both. God did that – in His time!
Over a year ago, Roxanne mentioned to me that she felt it would be awesome to begin a sewing clinic for ladies in our community. We began praying. Without knowing this, a good friend of ours who is a seamstress approached us one Sunday night on our last US visit and asked if there was any way God could use her sewing knowledge and expertise to help our community. Less than a year later, in February of this year, she came to Santiago with seven other amazing ladies to kick off a sewing clinic that we now have on site every week that is impacting the lives of ladies in our community. Now there is another group of ladies from the US that has connected with them as well to further encourage them. Again, we could not have orchestrated this much detail in as perfect of a manner. God did that – in His time!
Early on after we took in our first children in 2015, we felt the need for a staff member that would live on site and serve as more than just a nanny or supplementary childcare, but as part of the families. We called this position a Tía, or “aunt”. Someone who our children would view as part of the family which would help out when our house families needed to step away for whatever reason, and be a vital part of our ministry in the community as well. Earlier this year, we met a young lady named Leah Gruneisen who was serving as one of the nursery workers at a missionary conference and spent a lot of time with our babies as such. A few hours after leaving the conference, she messaged me about what it look like if someone were to come work for our ministry. I described the vision of the Tía and she immediately responded that it was something she was definitely interested in doing. We are super excited to be welcoming Leah on staff at the SMCH in an official capacity as our very first Tía, and we can’t wait to see how God is going to use her going forward. God, again, did that – in His time!
We were blessed early on with Chris and Alishia Weeks as our first house parents at the SMCH, and have been praying continuously from the time we opened the doors at the SMCH for God to lead us to more house parents in the future. This past Christmas Day, we were visited by a teacher from the language school we all attended along with a friend of his and his family. We began talking about our vision and our work, and the couple began asking more questions. By the end of the conversation, they were asking how they could help and possibly work with us as a house family. After several months of getting to know them and both families praying, we are happy to welcome this amazing family as house parents in our second home. We will announce more about this as their move approaches, but this man grew up in an orphanage in San Pedro Sula and his wife was raised by her Aunt. So they both possess a firsthand knowledge of what life is like for an orphan and foster child being raised by family not of their own blood. Amazing, godly people that we would never have met had God not literally brought them to our doorstep. He did that – in His time!
I could go on, but the point of all of these testimonies, and so many others, is that we can never make God’s will happen. If we rush it, we may miss it. We have to wait. Habakkuk 2:3 says:
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (ESV)”
Habakkuk had just finished complaining about injustices to God and the reply that God gives is basically that His judgment will come about at the appointed time, and even though it may not happen right away, it will come about. So, God’s response – just wait! And that’s the same response He is still giving all of us today in whatever situation you are going through or for whatever need you have been praying.
The waiting is not a bad thing. It teaches us patience. It reminds us to constantly be in prayer and seeking God’s direction. It teaches us to be watchful for the moment that the answer comes. At least that is what we have learned through this season in our lives. Waiting is never easy and sometimes can be frustrating and, to the world around us, appear futile. However, in so doing, it allows us the opportunity to watch God amaze us at His impeccable timing and ability to do something that we ourselves could never do, and to give Him the glory as others see what transpires and as we share what He has done. So, enjoy the waiting and find God’s peace within it. At the end of the day, it will always be better than you ever imagined. He will do that – in His time!!
I’ve always been an all or nothing type of person. Growing up, I typically had the mentality, especially in sports, that if I can’t win or excel in something, why do it at all? As I have grown, I have mellowed quite a bit and learned to enjoy the journey. I feel like many people, including myself, are guilty of having that type of mentality when it comes to living on mission for God. We may feel like if we can’t change the world or achieve huge, great things for God, why bother doing anything at all? Maybe you’ve experienced this… Think about a time when a friend or acquaintance has been in need. Let’s say they need to raise thousands of dollars for an important cause, for example. You may not be able to give a significant amount, so you opt just to not give anything at all.
This became real to me over the last couple weeks. I recently was asked by a friend of mine to be her accountability work-out partner this summer to help her get in shape. I encouraged her to strive to be active at least 30 minutes a day. In my own pursuit to live up to my word, I have been striving to be active for at least 30 minutes a day. Some days, those 30 minutes are action packed with sprints and long distance jogs. Other days, I achieve those minutes by chasing 3 year olds around the backyard. Initially, I felt like if I couldn’t do a hardcore, high intensity workout, then it’s not even worth it. I am quickly realizing that every little bit counts. Some days when running is the last thing I want to do, I simply walk around the block and do stretches. In the past, what I may have viewed as a failure (in the workout sense) really are stepping stones that lead to growth, strength, and endurance. I am learning more and more everyday that if I just do what I can (even when it’s seemingly small or insignificant), the little steps that I take lead to big growth.
Now, back to living on mission – when the crowds asked John the Baptist about what they should do to live for God, John replied:
“If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Luke 3:11 (NLT)
I love how simple he makes it! He doesn’t require anything hard or unobtainable. He simply says that if we have extra – share! If we have two, give one away. He never says, share only if you can help everyone. So why do we often think that if we can’t make a significant, life-altering change in the lives of many, then it’s not worth doing anything at all?
Today, I want to challenge you to stop with the “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to helping others and consider that even the smallest act of kindness can make a big difference. We must learn to make a lifestyle of small, daily, selfless choices and let God handle the multiplication and the impact. After all, the little boy only gave 3 fish and 2 loaves to the disciples. It was not enough to feed everyone; it was hardly enough to feed a single family! But when our offerings and acts are humbly submitted to Jesus, he can multiply them in extraordinary ways. So, let’s give of our time, energy, and resources what we can, and let God do the rest.
Buy someone a meal
Call and encourage a friend
Drop off clothes to those in need
Mow someone’s yard
Sponsor a child at www.sparrowmissions.com (Justin made me write that)
Support someone in financial need
Babysit for a single mom
Whatever it may be, no matter how big or how small – do what you can to serve others, show them the love of God, and nudge them towards Jesus.
“No act of kindness is ever wasted”
“I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and loved them even as thou hast loved me.” John 17:23
As many of you know, Chris and I are welcoming a new bundle of joy into our family very soon. We are so excited, and the kids are overjoyed to have a little brother! We have had so many fun conversations about what it will be like to have a baby around for them. They are all great helpers who love to serve. When they get excited, we sit and talk about all of their questions. Many nights, they will come over to me unprompted to surprise me with a foot massage or to read a book to baby Micah.
One night, A said that he liked that we were a colorful family, that all of our skin tones are so different. K responded with, “Yes. I think it will be so fun to have a white brother. I’ve got one really dark brother (pointing to B), one lighter brother (pointing to A), and now I will have one really white brother!” We’re all laughing and talking about it, when all of the sudden, B turns to us with his jaw dropped and says, “Wait a minute! Baby Micah is going to be WHITE?!?!” Hahaha. So we explained to him that a baby gets his traits from his biological mom and dad, and B explains that he thought that if you were born in the United States, your skin would be white. But if you were born in Honduras, then your skin would be brown. We all just laughed and laughed and laughed. It has been so fun to celebrate and learn about babies as a family!
This last Saturday, we were surprised with a baby shower hosted by some teachers at the local public school where I teach, and many women from the sewing clinic also came. It was so special for us. We received so many sacrificial gifts. Gifts made with love and gifts given from the heart. And we had tons of fun! Then on Sunday, we had a “virtual” baby shower with our home church and family, and we were truly showered with love! We felt love from afar, bridging the gap of distance, and letting us know that we are not forgotten. We are prayed for and loved on even when we don’t realize it!
It was so special… We were reveling in the joy of it all when K asked me a question… “If we were born from your body, would we have had baby showers too?”
Everyone wants to say that a foster child or an adopted child is no different than a biological child. But that’s not true. My love for them is the same. But I never got to celebrate their births. We never had baby showers for them. I never got to feel them kick inside of me. My grandma didn’t get to make their first baby quilt, and my mom didn’t get to cross stitch their first blanket. The reality of this is all very sad. It’s sad for me and for K that I will never be able to show her what she looked like as a baby or a toddler. B and A will never know what their first words were or how much they weighed when they were born. But we will have all of these things with Micah? So what happens when A says, “That’s not fair.” What happens when B asks why we only have baby pictures and memory boxes of Micah.
Where does the sadness end and the celebration begin? Or can the two coincide? How can we grieve loss and celebrate fullness?
This may sound silly, but after I prayed for a clear explanation and understanding for myself and our kiddos, the first thing God filled my head with was the movie Inside Out. If you haven’t watched it, basically the whole theme of the movie is that we have to let ourselves feel sadness and not just cover it up with fake joy. Then our joy can be real. So that’s how I have tried to explain it to the kids. First, they all have permission to be sad about the hardships life has thrown them.
But secondly, God reminded me of this verse: Psalm 30:11-12
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”
And it reminded me once again of the line we have discussed over and over with our kids from day one. GOD USES BAD THINGS FOR HIS GOOD. So I talked to the kids about this. We are allowed to be sad. Life has been hard, and Satan sure knows how to throw curve balls that can be devastating. But when God uses your experiences or your tragedies for His good, there is celebration right in the middle of the sadness! There is a joy that comes in the morning!
The kids’ responses were so sweet. K asked, “Do you think that God has used the bad in my life to make me understand and love Buddy so much?” (Buddy is the nickname of the Bowman’s youngest little one.) “That is God’s good coming from the bad, right?” Yes. Most definitely. That’s the joy coming in the morning! That’s what happens when we truly feel that grief, but we let God use it for His kingdom! That’s where the sadness turns to celebration.