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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Year-End Giving 2015!

I am always thanked for this reminder!  





Make donations to Signs for Hope securely online, just click "DONATE".

OR



Mail donations to:

Signs for Hope
PO Box 460
Fairview, NC 28730

As long as donations are mailed in 2015 they will count in 2015.

Donations made by credit card in 2015 will count in 2015 even if they are not paid until 2016.

We are an all-volunteer organization and your funds will directly benefit deaf children here and around the world.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."~Luke 6:38

Saturday, December 26, 2015

When Love Is NOT Enough!




This is a perspective God gave me several years ago when praying for and sharing with frustrated, frazzled and burned-out adoptive and fostering families and He reminds me of it often.  I am sure He has given this insight to others, as well. 

The myth that love IS enough when it comes to adoption and foster care is staggering!

"My love for him will make up for all the pain and suffering he has endured in the orphanage and from being abandoned!"

"She just needs someone to truly love her!"

"If I could have loved him more, things would have turned out differently!"

Fostering and/or adopting a child brings with it many expectations, some realistic and some not so realistic.  False assumptions and unrealistic expectations are often cause for much collateral damage in families who are fostering and/or adopting children. 

Assuming you will instantly "fall-in-love-with" the child you are fostering or adopting may or may not come to pass, ever.  The reverse is often true. Just because someone bears the name "daddy" or "mommy" or "son" or "daughter" does not automatically ensure connection and attachment will reflect these titles, naturally.

So often we falsely believe that love is just an emotion and that a mother's love or a father's love for a child that is fostered or adopted, just comes naturally.  Sometimes even loving our biological child can be challenging.

Love is so much more than just a feeling or emotion!  Most often, it is an act of the will.  We choose to love or choose not to love.  How do you and I truly love someone, unconditionally, especially when they are not easy to love and even reject the love we give them?  This can be our love for a spouse, a mother or father, or even a biological child.  And it can easily be the child you are fostering or have adopted.  

The first fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 is...love. 


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control."



Before I go any farther, let's unpack the English word...LOVE...in the Greek language. 

In the Greek language, there are at least 4 types of love with 4 different words to define each, however they are all translated into English by our one word...love. As you can imagine this is cause for great misunderstandings as we read and study the scriptures if we are unaware of this limitation in translation.

The 4 types of love in Greek are:

1)  Agape - God's perfect unconditional love for me and for you, even when we were His enemies, not dependent on our loving Him in return, ever.

2)  Phileo - To strongly like something or someone.  To feel an attachment to.  When you and I say we "love" chocolate or coffee or the sunset, phileo is the appropriate Greek word.  When you and I have a strong bond with another Christian brother or sister, phileo is the appropriate Greek word for this kind of love. 

3)  Storge - This is the love that is often experienced within a family, for each other.  While this Greek word for love, storge, is not found in the scriptures it is found in conjunction with phileo, philostorgos, in Romans 12:10:
 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 

This combination of these two loves, phileo and storge, represents the Spiritual bond we have with each other, as believer's in Christ, brothers and sisters, God's sons and daughters, which can often supersede the bond we have with a biological relative, especially if they are not a follower of Christ.


4)  Eros - This is the kind of love which is most closely related to our emotions and represents physical, self-seeking, self-satisfying actsThis is where our English word erotic originates.  Eros is not found in the scriptures, however it does represent the Greek culture of the Corinthians which was focused on many gods with the most infamous being their god of love...Aphrodite. The ultimate love, agape love, God's love for you and for me which is unconditional and does not depend on our returning love to Him, is the only kind of love that will endure and bear all things.  1 Corinthians 13 describes in detail what agape love is and what it is not. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."~1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

If this is NOT a description of the love you and I have for others, we should repent and ask God to fill us to overflowing with His Spirit's agape love for others, even those we have a hard time loving. And we should ask Him to fill us with agape love so we can love Him equally and unconditionally in return.

In reality, even if a parent chooses to love a child with agape love, the God kind of love, the love that endures all things, the end result may or may not be evidenced by their love returned.  

Really?  How can that be?

Imagine with me for a moment a home environment that is perfect in every way.  It is a beautiful home with just the right amount of everything needed to provide an environment conducive for all family members to love each other and to thrive together.  A father who loves his children perfectly and unconditionally, always.   And a home where the father only gives one "no" among an innumerable number of "yes-es".  

Suddenly this peaceful and contented home becomes a place of turmoil as the children decide to disobey the one command and they are expelled from their perfect home.

The biblical example God gave me for this realization comes from Genesis, God's own story of His perfect family, in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.

God the Father loved His children, Adam and Eve, perfectly with agape-love and yet they chose to turn their backs on that perfect love and disobey their Father when tempted by the Evil One.  Even God's love, as perfect as it is, does not force another to love Him in return.  Agape-love is always a choice.
 



 

Then you have those of us who are also loved unconditionally by this same perfect love, agape love, by our perfect Father in Heaven and we just cannot seem to accept it fully on face value.  We somehow cannot truly believe it is a free gift.  Some how, some way we have to do something to earn it. 

And...

When my own thoughts and actions are not instantly lovingly obedient all the time, as God's own beloved daughter, how does that make my adoptive Father in Heaven feel? 

When I forget to thank Him for the vast number of blessings He has given me, freely and undeserved, how does that make Him feel?  When I refuse to accept His best and settle for something else, how does that make Him feel? When I tell Him "no" knowing full well it is His plan, which is always in my best interest, how does that make Him feel?  When I choose to ignore or doubt the promises He has made to me, even when I do not see them fleshed out, how does that make Him feel?  How about when I misquote His words and twist them into something He never said, how does that make Him feel?  When I go days or even just a few hours without thinking once about Him, or speaking with Him, how does that make Him feel?  When He tells me "NO" and I do it anyway, how does that make Him feel?  What about when He wants me to do something a certain way and I just want to do it My way, how does that make Him feel?  The list goes on and on.

The way I treat my heavenly Father who has adopted me into His only truly forever family is how God helps me better identify both with those being adopted into earthly families and families obeying God's call to adopt children here on this earth.  This correlation between how adoptive children treat their adoptive parents and the way I treat my own adoptive daddy, God, is constantly on my mind.  In addition, I cannot help but stop to think about how my selfish, self-centered, attitude causes my Father in heaven grief and disappointment.  No, He is not surprised by it because He knows all about my baggage and my sinful nature, but I do believe He is still wounded by my disobedience, compromise, pride and lack of faith...just to name a few.

Does He ever say, "I do not like you right now, but I still LOVE you?"  NO!  His love or like for you and for me is never based on our behavior, right or wrong, it is always and only based on His character and His unconditional love, His agape love, for us...ALWAYS!

If fact it was while you and I were still sinners that Jesus died for us.  We were enemies of God.  And yet, in all our mess and chaos He died to save us from our sin.

I suspect He often feels much the same as parents of children, adopted and some biological, who act the same as I mentioned above.  This is the perspective He is constantly bringing to my mind. 

When I hear and read the stories of adopted children doing this or that and the collateral damage it causes within families, He quickly shows me the things I am doing which causes collateral damage within His and my own heavenly family. 

So when the agape-love you show others is trampled on, you now know you are in good company as you and I are constantly trampling on His agape-love for you and for me, as are those who reject Him fully.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
~Romans 5:6-8



"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:12-13






Monday, November 9, 2015

T4A 2015 God-Connections! ONLY GOD!!

It has been a while since I stopped long enough to share specifics surrounding His never-ending, awe-inspiring...God-connections.  They always take me by surprise and I cannot help but smile and shake my head in disbelief.  This year's Together for Adoption conference certainly was full of them. 

They started during the Thursday afternoon pre-conference.  The presenter had us each introduce ourselves and state why we were there.  There were about 25 of us in attendance.  At the break, one of the other attendees came over to confirm what I had said.  His wife teaches at the Florida school for the Deaf in St. Augustine.  I told him I have multiple Deaf family members living in St. Augustine.  We shared contact information for whatever God might have in store for us in the future.


 

Exhibit booths were open during registration after the pre-conference.  Charles and I dutifully placed ourselves at ours.  Originally, the Signs for Hope booth had been assigned to a rather obscure place. When I saw the map of the vendors and their placements, my first thought was, "No one will even know we are there."  Almost immediately, His Spirit reminded me of the many God-connections He makes even when I do not have a booth at orphan care events.  He's got this!  Two days before the conference I received notification our booth had been moved to a new spot, since one of the vendors had pulled out.  When I saw the new placement, in the auditorium at the back next to an entrance, I was humbled. 

Within a few moments I greeted one of the volunteers standing at the entrance.  He said he had already noticed our booth and told me his daughter was in Deaf Education in Durham, NC.  A few moments later, another volunteer came closer and began to talk about whether or not she would adopt again.  She was afraid she was getting too old.  Of her multiple adoptions one daughter was deaf and another son Hard-of-Hearing.  The exhibitor manning the Bair Foundation booth next to us was fascinated by what God has called us to and wanted to know if she could connect her brother who is working with orphans in Ethiopia to us?  Yes, of course!

Following the general session, multiple folks stopped by the SFH booth and again on Friday and Saturday morning. One couple was thrilled to see us and took a business card so they could connect her sister and brother-in-law in Greenville, SC to us since they are in the process of adopting a deaf child. 

I shared our T4A trip on my FB page on Wednesday and was contacted by a young lady, living in Durham, who had been connected to me by a dear friend a few months ago.  Was there a time we could meet while I was in town?  Of course.  We spent about an hour and a half together during the dinner break Friday night.  It will be exciting to see how God continues this connection.

One of these days, I will have to start keeping up with these, as they happen, so we can all know the exact count.  Suffice it to say, the percentage of folks who had deafness connections was very disproportionate to the number of attendees...which was about three hundred. 

We found out on Saturday, just after the conference ended, a third T4A presenter, I knew of two previously, was a dad of multiple adopted Deaf children. It is always fascinating to see where God has placed precious Deaf children. 

                                    <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
~Ephesians 3:20-21
 




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Don't Be Fooled...Pure Religion is Far More Than Just Adoption!

On this Orphan Sunday and following the Together for Adoption Conference, below are my observations, musings and ramblings. 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
~James 1:26-27

Together for Adoption 2015


As always, God is constantly growing me spiritually by causing my roots to grow deeper in Him and His Word and by His pruning my unfruitful, sinful branches.  Our spiritual growth can be painful and is certainly humbling, but it is great benefit for His Kingdom and His glory. 

If you do not experience this when His Word is read, preached, taught, discussed or meditated upon...well, let's just say you might want to do some serious self-soul-searching and ask Him, "Why not?" 

From the beginning, March 18, 2008 that day I will never forget, when God said, "I want you to coordinate the adoption of deaf orphans in the world", He has made sure I never mistakenly focused on just the first part of James 1:27, but the entire verse.  Not until this past weekend at the Together for Adoption conference, did He lead me to also include verse 26, as well.

In addition, He also led me to a stronger and deeper understanding when grappling with the orphan crisis in our world, today.  His agenda for me is always different from mine when attending orphan care conferences.  He challenges me to think beyond the surface of things and pulls me in deeper to His heart. Confirmations of His past convictions, by His Spirit, were also reiterated during this conference.

As James expounds on the topic of "religion" in these verses, one is not more pure than the other.  It is all three in conjunction with each other, 1) a tight rein on the tongue, 2) caring for/visiting orphans and widows and 3) keeping oneself from being corrupted by the world (Dan Cruver, Thursday night). 

I have learned much about the "orphan" and God's perspective on the orphan, in the past seven plus years, but it is obvious I still have much more to learn.  My limited human understanding pales in comparison to our God's full intent when it comes to "caring for the orphan".  

Our God's own deep relational character demands our obedience to His command for caring for the orphan become more relational.  For many of us this makes things far more challenging.  It may mean sacrificing more of our time to develop relationships. It may mean being forced to connect with others relationally, which is a greater challenge for some more than others.  It may mean our deep relationships forged, may involve heart-break and suffering, at some point in time.  And it might even change the entire focus of what we have been doing, previously. 

This deeper relational aspect does not come easy.  Simple?  Yes...but.not.easily. 

Christ in you and me...the hope of glory!

This is when we realize "caring for the orphan" is beyond something you and I can do apart from God.  In fact, one presenter this past weekend suggested if you and I are "caring for the orphan" without our God and His gospel being central, it is possible what we are doing is in vain. 

Jesus Himself tells us in John 15, verse 5, "
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Sounds pretty simple.  Huh?!  Why is it, then, you and I make it so hard?

Two areas of "orphan care" that are often overlooked, by the Christian Church, is reunification and family preservation or the prevention of more orphans. 

Reunification is when a child has been removed from a family, for a time, with the purpose of providing interventions and empowerment for family members to ensure the child can be reunited with the then strengthened family. 

Family Preservation (the prevention of more orphans) is often focused on providing necessary stabilization aid and strategies for the family suffering from poverty.  

Sometimes we justify this oversight, by saying saving the family just is not feasible; they are too far gone.  Often we become so obsessed with "saving the orphan" we miss the need of the orphans' family needing salvation, too.  Is this always God's plan?  No, but it should be soberly considered and bathed in prayer each time.

It is possible, you are wondering how I can even mention the above?

Along with orphan care conferences God has exposed me to many things "orphan related" via Joseph, our son.  One of his mentor families provided foster care for three brothers over a period of time, recently. During this time, the foster dad spent time discipling and training their biological father on a regular basis.  Reunification was the goal.  After sufficient time, these brothers were reunited with their father.  This gives me a perspective that I cannot ignore or overlook, any longer.

Allow me to unpack the word "orphan" just a bit.  Rarely, does this label mean mother and father have both died.  More often than not, the more accurate label should be "fatherless".  While this does not necessarily mean the father has died, it does mean the father is no longer functioning as a father should, providing for the family and so on. 

These differing definitions of the word "orphan" have been cause for some inaccurate thinking, within His Church, as the following quote from UNICEF's website explains:


"This misunderstanding may then lead to responses that focus on providing care for individual children rather than supporting the families and communities that care for orphans and are in need of support."

Some sobering statistics, surrounding the fatherless crisis here in America, are found on the following website:

https://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/

Christ's sufferings include all the suffering of orphans, from the beginning of time, presently and for those to come.  When you and I care for/visit the orphan, we are sharing with them in their sufferings, which all have been translated to Christ.   
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
~Romans 8:17


When thinking about this plethora of horrific sufferings by the orphan/the fatherless...I dare say His glory in which we will share in, IF indeed we are His children, will be far greater and beyond anything any of us can imagine.

More so than ever before, I am asking God to give me His perspective on all things relating to "caring for the orphan".  In doing so, I am also asking Him to give me the ability to embrace His promise, below, at the same time.
 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
~Matthew 11:28-30



Monday, October 26, 2015

SFH Matching Grant for the Collicott Deaf Adoption!

PAH!! Matching Grant is fully Matched!!
Funds still needed to bring Christopher home!
All donations are tax deductible!!



$750 Matching Grant = $1,500

   Help bring Christopher Home!  




It is time to bring this precious "little man" home!  Christopher will be the 3rd deaf adoption for Doug and Lynda Collicott.  I have had the distinct privilege of traveling with this family on three previous trips to Bulgaria to adopt and this one is by far the most humbling.  Christopher is labeled deaf with many other special needs and he will be 6 in February, weighs a mere 11 lbs and is 29" in length.  He does not walk yet, but with some TLC and medical interventions, he will, soon! 


Funds are being collected by Signs for Hope (all tax deductible) to help with travel expenses for the family and for a medical person to travel with the family, too.  Once Christopher is picked up from his Bulgarian "home" he will be admitted to the Japanese hospital, Tokuda, in Bulgaria to help stabilize him for travel to the states.  The medical person will help care for Christopher while in Bulgaria and on the long flights home.  Once here in the US, he will be admitted to Children's Hospital in Houston for evaluations and medical services.  Insurance will cover Christopher once he arrives on US soil. 

Signs for Hope will also be paying my travel expenses for this adoption home-trip, as well.  I will be Doug and Lynda's interpreter as they are both Deaf. 

The Collicott family is in full fundraising mode to collect the final monies needed.  Our $750 matching grant will help with those costs, but additional funds will be needed. 

My best guess for all travel expenses (12 - 14 days required in Bulgaria) for the Collicott family (Doug, Lynda and Christopher), the medical person, the ASL interpreter and Christopher's Japanese hospital expenses is roughly, $7,500 - $8,500, depending on airfare costs at time of purchase and Christopher's length-of-stay at Tokuda.  Travel is expected in December or January. 

All donations are tax deductible as Signs for Hope is an approved IRS charitable organization, non-profit. 

Donations can be made online through our secure Qgiv donation page or you can mail checks to:

Signs for Hope

PO Box 460
Fairview, NC  28730
God places the lonely in families. Psalm 88:6a 




Monday, October 5, 2015

What My Eyes Have Seen! Part 3 of...

This blog post is the 3rd in the series entitled "What My Eyes Have Seen!"  Part 3 - Deaf Adoption, Up Close and Personal continued.

Part 1 - Is Sign Language the Natural Language of the Deaf Child?


Part 2 - Deaf Adoption, Up Close and Personal

These posts are shared in an effort to help me and others along with me gain a deeper biblical perspective of some of this world's injustices because of the fall and most often those injustices against the least of the least...in my opinion...deaf children.  

After a year of filling out the required paperwork and waiting on both countries to do their work it was time for me to join soon-to-be-Deaf-mom, again, on the first required trip to visit with this precious "little man".  To see him with our own eyes and confirm the official commitment of soon-to-be-Deaf-dad-and-mom to in fact embrace him as their own son.   Dad had recently started a new job, therefore he would not travel with us on this initial trip of confirmation, but would join with us in a few months on the trip to bring their son home. 

This boy's adoption was already confirmed by both mom and dad, over a year ago, this was just a formality in their minds required by their son's country of birth.



How does one prepare for something like this?  I knew God would have to do a work in me prior to my visually seeing this "little man", with my own eyes. He is now five and a half years old and weighs 11.2 pounds and is 29 inches in length, not height, as he does not yet walk. 

One of the things my Father has been reminding me of in various ways, during the past year of waiting/preparing, is the sanctity of every human life and the many ramifications of what that truly means on so many different levels and in many different arenas.  The ways He has done this are mind-boggling for me.  I needed to be led through this process before I arrived here for 'such a time as this' and as always my God knows before I do what I need. 

Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8

I was intentional to ask Him for weeks prior to our trip to help me not react inappropriately to what I saw, but to respond, instead, in an appropriate way with an accurate perspective, His.  Many times before our flight, my mind visually took me back to previously seen pictures embedded forever in my memory. Through the years I had seen photographs of young African children with distended malnourished-bellies and photographs of the men literally starving to death in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 1930's. But never...with my own eyes.

 

Our first morning visit, the unknown was the hardest.  We were all three a bit nervous.  This was our adoption guides' first time to see a child like this, too.  Mom and I had already discussed so many things prior to this first morning meeting, we each knew we were nervous, but were both trusting our God to give us what we needed that moment our eyes saw him for the first time.   

After the formal introductions with "home" staff, we were all asked to put on, over our garments, green disposable gowns, shoe covers and masks.  Mom instantly explained that covering my mouth would make our communication very difficult as she is skilled at reading lips and depends strongly on this.  Our guide shared mom's concerns and it was waved off as not a problem. We proceeded down the hall a short way to a small room with five of the "home's" staff.  They were not wearing any protective gear.  It was obvious we were on display for all that morning and this felt very awkward, too.  It was very warm and humid, as well, and the additional gowns and masks made things more uncomfortable in that overly crowded tiny room.  





In a few moments, another "home" staff came in carrying a tiny frail body with dark hair, eyes and skin in the crooks of her arms, swinging them a bit back and forth.  We awkwardly just stared at him.  I suggested mom sit on the built-in child-sized bed on one side of the room and he was placed in mom's arms for the very first time.  Mom has raised five children of her own and adopted two others, but it was clear she had great concern she might cause this little one pain or injury...just by holding him. 

She and I both pulled our masks down around our necks so we could communicate, as moms hands were both full, now.  No one seemed to notice or to care.  Praise God!


Mom studied him intently counting his fingers and to her delight he could grasp her finger with both hands.  She began to lightly rub his face, head and then his torso and he did not seem to mind this at all.  In fact, he would place his hand on hers as she rubbed up and down slowly on his torso.  She kept him in the same position for most of the hour, in the crook of her left arm, studying his face and body as best she could since he was clothed in two shirts and heavy denim pants and socks. 

Miraculously, for the afternoon visit, we were left alone with only our adoption guide to monitor us.   This had been a prayer of ours from the beginning.  Mom wanted to see his legs and feet, so she pulled his socks and pants off, very gingerly.  That is a preemie size diaper he has on in the photo.  I took many pictures and video of this sweet "little man" that will be shared with doctors and others in the states before he comes home. No, I did not ask permission, but was very discreet in my actions.  We thank the Lord for allowing us to do this!


His legs are bent at the knee in this photo. 
His club feet will likely require surgery.

These are some of the verses that His Spirit brought to mind which helped to sustain me throughout the week while we were there and beyond.  

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:16-21

Just to clarify...

Signs for Hope pays the travel expenses for a qualified ASL interpreter to travel with Deaf mom and dad when they adopt.  The ASL interpreter donates his/her skill and time to provide this service.  If you would like to help support this great need, please click on the "DONATE" button above and choose the "ASL Interpreter Fund" when given that option. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ASL FOUNDATIONS, NO ENGLISH

 Prayers Appreciated! 



I am in the beginning stages of developing a new way of teaching American Sign Language (ASL).  This approach to teaching ASL as a second language, as a completely separate language from English, was one I began to envision, develop and use almost 7 years ago when I could not find anything else already published.

When God called me to all things Signs for Hope​, in 2008, I let go of this "vision".  Little did I know He would bring it back to me.

About 7 months ago, while teaching on the college campus and at the same time hearing multiple pleas from hearing parents who have adopted deaf children begging for HELP to learn ASL, I began my search again for an ASL curriculum using this method. NOTHING! 

Since that time, I have presented this idea to many hearing and Deaf folks and all are intrigued and wonder why no one has done this before now. 

I am not pleased with our current ASL teaching curricula as I see so many hearing folks struggling to learn the most basic and yet most vital foundational aspect of ASL, the ASL handshapes. 

There are differing opinions on how many handshapes there really are in ASL, but I will focus on what I believe to be the most commonly used across North America, initially. 

Please join me in praying for me as I continue to develop this curriculum and for this method to be one that will benefit greatly those desiring to learn and master ASL, especially family members with their deaf children.
  
John 15:5b  Apart from Me, you can do nothing. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Together for Adoption 2015! Orphan Care = Gospel




   
ASL INTERPRETERS PROVIDED!!
Please let us know you are coming!

I have exciting news to share with you!  Please share this with others! 
The Together for Adoption 2015 conference is coming to Durham, NC this November 5 - 7.  ASL interpreters have been secured for all aspects of this event, covering both adult and children's activities. 

I want to share a few quotes from Dr. Russell Moore, the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, from his 2009 SBC Resolution on Adoption & Orphan Care: 


“Something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind.  God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. Southern Baptists have affirmed our belief in the authority of Scripture, and the Bible tells us pure religion is defined by care for the fatherless."

“We’ve been defined by our commitment to evangelism, and there is no greater field as `white unto harvest’ right now as children in orphanages, group homes, and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus. When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does…"

“My prayer is that twenty years from now there are thousands of Southern Baptist pastors, missionaries, and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, now preaching the gospel of God their Father.”


James 1:27 – PURE RELIGION



Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:

to look after orphans and widows in their distress and

to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Together for Adoption



“Over the past 5-7 years orphan care has become a bona fide movement within evangelicalism. This is why Together for Adoption’s primary focus 
is to look out 50 years and provide that which we know will sustain
the church’s long-term care for orphans, namely,
a vibrant gospel-centered theology of adoption.”

Our Mission:
Together for Adoption (T4A) exists to provide
 gospel-centered resources that
magnify the adopting grace of God the Father in Christ Jesus and
mobilize the church for global orphan care.
__________________________

Signs for Hope has secured ASL interpreters for this event and we have special rates for registration and hotel rooms for Deaf attendees.
Contact Becky Lloyd, asap, for all the details.  beckyblloyd@gmail.com
If you cannot attend this amazing conference, personally, please join us in praying God will be glorified and His kingdom advanced because of T4A 2015 and those who are obedient to 'care for the orphan' will spread the gospel as they do. 
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What My Eyes Have Seen! Part 2 of...

2014
Eastern Europe 
Gender: Boy
Age: 4
Multiple special needs, including DEAFNESS
Weight: 10 lbs 




His picture and the label of deafness is what caught the attention of his unknowing soon-to-be parents, because they are Deaf themselves. 

I remember, vividly, the day his picture was shared in the adoption group in 2014. Even fully clothed, the years of limited nourishment were blatant, as was his distant stare.

Four years old and just 10 pounds?!  Surely that was a typo, a misprint or a gross understatement?  Maybe it was in kilograms instead of lbs?  That would make more sense for a four year old boy...roughly 18 kilograms, that would make more sense.  
I remember soon-to-be mom commenting on advocating for this precious fragile one.  If she and soon-to-be dad had not just brought home their 2nd deaf adopted son earlier that year, maybe...

I remember thinking, "He looks like a __________ (last name of soon-to-be mom and dad).  No, I did not share that with them, then.  

A few weeks later, I just happened to be in soon-to-be mom and dad's home for a visit.  With great pleasure, I was observing the growth and improvements of their two already adopted deaf son's from the same country as this one.  

A few days prior, God had begun to open the windows of heaven for soon-to-be mom and dad to bring this third little one home.  I sat and smiled, shaking my head in agreement, as they shared with me story after story of the ways God was moving to convince them, especially soon-to-be dad, he was to become their third deaf adopted son and He would provide all the funds for his adoption and He would equip them to care for and raise him.

I had traveled twice before with this family to bring home their first two deaf adopted sons.  This time, I would actually be going into the orphanage with them, for their first of two required adoption trips, IF the orphanage director would allow it. 

We did not know it then, but it would be almost a year before that first trip would take place, but already my heart was pounding as I wondered how I would react to seeing this frail little one, for the first time...with my own eyes!

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Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant 
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,  
equip you with everything good for doing His will, 
and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, 
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13 : 20-21

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for 
teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3 : 16-17


 

 

 

Monday, September 21, 2015

COLOMBIA SFH DEAF ADOPTION MATCHING GRANT!



God places the lonely in families. 
Psalm 68:6


We are so thankful to be able to offer another matching grant for the Coleman family for the adoption of a precious deaf boy in Colombia, South America!  For every dollar you donate up to $750, Signs for Hope will match it!!   Read the first chapter of the Coleman Family's Deaf Adoption Journey below:


Hi! We are Jacob and Misti Coleman from Slidell, Louisiana. We have 3 biological children, Anna Beth (7), Lynnsie (6), and Creek (4).

We started the process to adopt from Colombia in January 2013. On our "special needs list" for our dossier, my husband and I both marked "Deaf" as a special need we were open to in our adoption. I grew up signing to music and have always loved the language and my husband had a very good friend when he was a child who was deaf. My husband also currently has a very good friend with a daughter who is deaf - which played a big role in him being open to deafness as a special need.

We were presented with the file of a precious 22 month old little Colombian boy in February 2015 who was diagnosed with profound deafness, following an audiogram in December 2014 and a delay in speech development. Our hearts screamed yes immediately, but we wanted to make sure we had the ability to provide an education for him through our school systems, first. We had already started discussions on the possibility of moving to be closer to the School for the Deaf an hour and a half away, if it was needed. It took 8 months for our son's orphanage to officially match us and send the referral. 

During our time of waiting, we completed several exercises of deaf education, as requested by Lifeline Children's Services, our adoption agency. We immediately began teaching our children sign language through the video series, Signing Time, at our local library and purchased the Learn and Master ASL DVD series for ourselves. We have also met with an ASL interpreter in our community who is willing to come work with our family in our home when we all return from Colombia. We have connected with several Deaf adopting families through Facebook, as well. In addition, our local Deaf action center has a monthly Deaf gathering at a local coffee shop that we plan to be a part of. 

One of our biggest prayers right now is to be able to connect with another Deaf child who is the same age as Silas. We hope that the Louisiana School for the Deaf can assist us in that.

We've also been extremely excited about the support we are receiving from our family, friends, and church family. Extended family and very close friends here are eager to learn ASL so they can communicate and love on Silas. Just yesterday, his future Sunday School teacher said we needed to plan an ASL training for the church volunteers who will be working with him. When I related this message to our preschool minister, she told me she had been praying about this very thing for a long time.