Archives For Community


My friends at Shameless Plug (who are gifted artists and worship leaders, by the way) were kind enough to nominate our blog for a Liebster Award, which helps to spotlight blogs with less than 1,000 followers.  Part of the deal is that I answer some fun questions so that you can get to know me a little better, so here goes!

Q.Which is your favorite season?

My favorite season is fall.  Nice and cool (most of the time), and you have the end of the baseball season and the beginning of football season at the same time…I love it!

Q. What is your favorite movie, and why?

My favorite movie is probably “Chariots of Fire”…there is something about watching the scene where Eric Liddell wins the race after taking a stand for what he believes that is both motivating and convicting.

Q. If you could take your ideal vacation, where would you go and what would you do?

I’m torn.  I love Australia, but would love to hang out in Alaska or the Seattle area and see the gorgeous views as well.

Q. If you had a chance to take 3 things with you to a deserted island, what would they be?

My wife, my kids, and a piano.

Q. What type of cuisine do you enjoy the most?

I eat almost anything, but love to have Pho…it is one of my favs.  And I apologize for not having the slash above the o!

Q. Which band/artist would you like to see live in concert (if you haven’t already)?

David Ramirez.  I love the artistry of his lyrics and the authenticity with which he plays.

Q. Do you have any hobbies you’d like to take up? List it/them!

I would love to learn more about electronics when it comes to rerouting them to digital technology.  Yes, I am a geek.

Q. Who (one person) inspires you, and why?

My father, Lanny.  He is 63, serving full-time in music ministry after retiring from teaching music, and getting ready to embark on a whole new journey as well.  He works hard, loves hard, and follows after Jesus even harder.

Q. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Mint Chocolate Chip!

Q. Do you want to build a snowman?

Of course!  Every year our family builds a snowman and takes a family picture with it.  Sort of like tradition.


So now it is my turn.  I have several blogs that I am going to nominate, and ask them to answer a few questions about themselves:

Brandon’s Bits–This is a blog by my friend, Brandon Jones, who is a pastor in Herreid, South Dakota.  He writes highly intelligent, intellectual, and thoughtful blogs that you should check out.

Frayed Parent–This is by my friend, Jamin Garoutte, who also doubles as my counterpart in trying to remind each other to blog.  But when he does (get on it!), he blogs honestly and thoughtfully.

Heart Mommy’s Strawberry Shortcake–This is a blog by a foster mom who does a wonderful job of sharing the struggles, joys, and doubts and fears of fostering.

Worship Synths–This is one of my resource pages for my craft–keys.  Love it!


And the Questions for these bloggers:

1.  What motivated you to start blogging?

2.  What is your biggest challenge right now?

3.  If you could have a conversation with one person, who would it be?

4.  What is your biggest goal for the next year?

5.  If you could share one thing with your readers, what would it be?


Thanks to all who participate, and may this shed some light on your blogs!


Over the past year of fostering, I have heard many statements like:

“I just don’t think I could foster, because giving back those children would be so hard.”

You are right. It is heartbreaking, especially if you are struggling with not supporting the situation, or have truly bonded in a special way with the child or children that have been in your home. There is a grief process, like any other loss. But you work through it, and move forward, looking to the next child that you can provide, love, support, and safety to.

“It just seems like this is a better place for them.”

On the surface, this seems like a nice, complimentary statement, but underneath the surface it says something different: It says that we know the exact answer for the child, and it is our way. But what if we aren’t the best place? And how would you feel if someone thought there was a better place for your child? These are things I try to remember when thoughts like this sneak into my head.

“I am afraid they are going to change my kids.”

You are right about this (but probably not in the way you think). Your kids will be changed. Ours have been completely, irreversibly changed. Our four year old will now tell new placements “don’t worry, you are safe and loved here!”, and our six year old will go over the house rules (which he himself may or may not follow). They learn empathy, loss, and how to properly grieve as each child leaves or stays. They learn bad behaviors, and how to react or not react. There are good and bad consequences, with the good outweighing the bad by far. They learn how to love someone who needs it desperately.

So why do I share these little tidbits with you? Because as hard as these different statements and questions are to work through, it isn’t what I would consider to be the most difficult part of fostering. Difficult, yes. Heartbreaking, yes. But not the hardest part.

The hardest part of fostering is saying no to a child you have fostered who needs to be placed again, and you know you can’t take them. To know that the right answer is they aren’t a fit, for whatever reason, and that it would be a disservice to them and to you to reacclimate them to your home.

It is as if you are looking at their desperation and then turning away to act like it isn’t there. It is gut-wrenching, as if you have rejected a family member, because you know it was necessary to be healthy. But it hurts.

Walking through that experience is like walking through a tragedy in slow motion. Everything is second-guessed, you assign blame to yourself as if it would make you feel better, knowing it won’t. You try to bargain, to hope for a miracle. But you know…and that makes it hurt worse.

I share this because I want people to realize that in spite of the pains of fostering, the hurt, anxiety, and questions that are spurred on by the different weaknesses that are so glaring in the system, we won’t give up. Even though we realize there are heartbreaking decisions that lie ahead, children that will go home to both wonderful and turbulent homecomings, we will still love them whether they stay a day or a year. Most of all, we see the potential for other families that are much more stable then our flawed, sinful, human family that would be wonderful co-laborers in this process.

Don’t let fear keep you from considering what love can provide for a child.

Nothing trumps His love for us.

CupsOfHopePosterFinal1When I hear the phrase unaccompanied minor, the first thought that comes into my head is the little (or not so little) child that is being walked through the airport by an airline official to make sure that they make their connecting flight or meet their parent like they are scheduled to.  So when I first heard that term in conjunction with our mission trip, I was a little confused.  Maybe you are as well, so let me take just a moment to share about what an unaccompanied minor actually is when it comes to this mission trip.

As of this year, the population estimates for the main Mai Aini refugee camps range widely, depending on the source you find.  There are thought to be between 11,000 and as high as 20,000 refugees housed at Mai Aini.  Within that camp, there is a separate section for unaccompanied minors, or a child under the age of 18 without the presence of an adult with them.  Since the camp was started in 2008, there have been more than 4,000 unaccompanied minors in the camp, and there are between 1100 and 1400 at any one time.

Many of these children come for various reasons…some have family who forced them to flee from Eritrea so that they would not be placed in the army as a child.  Others have lost their parents in civil wars.  Some want to reconnect with other family members, and use the refugee camp as a stopping place.  Whatever the reason, once they are across the border, they are still alone, with great need, and few resources.

It is difficult for me to imagine giving up my child so they can hopefully find a safer future.  Even harder is to wonder how many of these children become statistics as they make dangerous journeys through Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and other African nations.  It is our hope that through our trip we can continue to lay groundwork in a partnership with the camp at Mai Aini to help make brighter futures for these children.

I have included below a video that recaps what Jim Tompkins and Rodney Hammer encountered last time they visited.  Having no flight, they had the privilege of traveling over the road, and this was something Jim put together afterwords…Enjoy!

P.S.  You can read more about unaccompanied minors here!

Sometimes it helps me to do a little reflecting in the morning, whether on important or trivial things.  So today, I have a few questions for you…

Answer one, answer two, or answer them all! Just a few questions to get the mind rolling today…I will give you my answers in the comments section later this morning.  Take a few moments, jot down your thoughts, and have a great day!

1. If you could do anything for the rest of your life, what would you do?

2. If you could have dinner with three people (past, present, or future…;), who would they be and why? Okay, that’s two in one, but roll with me.

3. What is your biggest barrier to pursuing what you are passionate about?