When the Ride Is Slow


As a celebration to the end of a great school year and the kick off to summer, we bought a groupon for an electric boat rental.  The morning was gray and misty with a slight chill in the air, very uncommon for that time of year.  The weather didn’t dampen our spirits though. We piled into our little boat with our snacks packed and coffee mugs filled to the top.

The guy at the dock gave Steve the instructions and sent us on our way to explore the beautiful Lake Norman.  Well clear of the marina, our speed didn’t change.  Zachary was the first to speak up.  “Dad, let’s go fast now.”

With his feet propped up on the seat, coffee in hand, he smiled back to Zachary.  “Buddy, we are going as fast as this boat will go.”

Three little heads whipped their way to face him with pure astonishment.  “What?!”

“Yep, so sit back and enjoy the slow ride.”

M-girl is here with us.  The sweet girl we are hosting through New Horizons for Children from Eastern Europe.

It’s been the fastest week of my life.  And I want it to slow down.  I want our time with M-girl to be on the electric boat, not the speed boat.

She is pure joy.  Her smile melts me.  Her patience teaches me.  Her kindness inspires me.

We only have 5 weeks, we are down to 4 left.  My blogging will be limited for the next 4 weeks.  Maybe just one post a week rather than 4.  I don’t want to miss a second with her.



Orphan Hosting



In 2012 we hosted a little boy from Eastern Europe through New Horizons for Children.  This experience and program opened our eyes to orphan care.  Orphans are no longer a number. I have a name and a face that I see each time I hear a number.

This summer we will host for the 2nd time.  This time a 12 year old girl.  She arrives today.

When V returned to Latvia in January 2013, the photo listing was published by NHFC for the upcoming summer hosting session, and her picture grabbed me immediately.  It was her sweet smile and the description that she had only been in a children’s home for a few short months.  Her eyes were young and innocent.  I asked Steve if we could host again that summer, and with compassion and wisdom, he said no.  I was grieving the loss of V and needed time for my heart to heal. I needed to leave myself available to support the family that would seek to adopt him.  I needed time to process before moving forward.

I called my sister and asked her family to host.  They did.  And they loved this little girl. After 2 hostings they are currently fostering children and are unable to host and asked us to host her.  We jumped at the opportunity.

When we hosted V, I didn’t know what to expect.  I expected nothing.  This time I know a little of what to expect.  I can expect my heart to grow exponentially.  I can expect my heart to be broken.  I can expect my heart to be healed by my Comforter.  I can expect to see God move mountains.  I can expect to see God work in the life of a hurting child.

Would you be in prayer for our family and the little girl we are hosting?  The next 5 weeks will certainly bring forth enemy attack and your prayers are appreciated.

Here is an index of the postings from our time with V:

He’s Here

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six

Day Seven

Day Ten

Day Thirteen

Day Seventeen

Adopted by the Father

Intentions and Goals of Orphan Hosting

9 Ways To Help An Orphan

Day 22

Advocating for Adoption

Adopted by God

Before and After

He’s Gone

Post Viktors

The Journey Continues- Meet the Sloans

[box] I donate 10% of my royalties from the sale of Seeking Christmas to support orphan ministries such as New Horizons for Children. Seeking Christmas gives families the gift of memories at Christmas. Many children are without a loving family to experience traditions and create memories. We can make a difference little by little.[/box]

Viktors is Back


The emotions ran high last week.  Much higher than I anticipated.  The day was approaching for Viktors to meet the family that would become his forever family.

If you are lost, let me catch you up.  Our family hosted an 11-year-old orphan from Latvia over Christmas.  His name is Viktors.  He stole my heart before I ever laid my eyes on him.  We poured our hearts into him for 4 weeks, and when he returned to Latvia in January 2013, a part of my heart returned with him forever.  I loved him like my own.

I was asked how we could do that.  Weren’t we worried about the hurt when he went back to the orphanage?  Worried we were not.  Full of faith we were.  Jesus hung on a cross for me.  Thank God he didn’t let his fear of pain stand in the way of fulfilling God’s plan.  Our decision to host an orphan  was confirmed by God 100 times over, time and time again.

Our 4 weeks were filled with joy, sorrow, trials, and triumphs.  Small victories and big victories.  Exhaustion and elation.  Deep pain that left holes just the right size for God to pour in comfort and peace that can only come from Him.

And through God’s mercy, grace, and loving-kindness, He brought the family that will one day adopt Viktors to contact me the night before he was to depart.  Within one week of Viktors returning to Latvia, this family had received confirmation that they were to be His forever family.

And so the story of Viktors didn’t end when he returned to Latvia.  It was only the beginning.

A boy forgotten in the eyes of the world has not been forgotten by God.

In the wee hours of a June morning, he arrived again.  His 3rd trip to America with New Horizons for Children.  Lord willing, this will be his last hosting.

And this new mama to him.  Well.  It’s hard to articulate.  She’s something else.  This mama who has loved him for 6 months while waiting for him.  This mama who knows he is one of hers.  This mama who must fight the insecurities that creep in wondering if he will love her like he loved his past 2 host moms (and he will no doubt).  Would you believe she brought a picture of me to the airport and showed him when she introduced him to my sister, who happened to be at the same airport picking up her host daughter.  What a picture of selflessness.  What a picture of true love.  A desire to comfort her soon to be son.  By showing him my picture, she was bringing familiarity to him.  Comfort when he was nervous and uncertain.  Oh how he will love this mama, who thinks of others before herself.

She gets it.  She gets him.  She sees the hurt buried deep inside his heart.

Eagerly, I’m checking Facebook to see what she has posted.  What they are doing.  What they are experiencing.  Questions run through my head constantly.  Are they bonding?  Is he pouting?  Does she see what I saw in him?  Yet I know.  I know.  I know the answers.  Because I know the One who orchestrated this entire scenario.  I know the One who chose the players to play the parts.  I know that it will all work out according to His good purposes.  So we trust.

As if she knows how I must be feeling, she calls.  She calls to tell me everything is going just fine.  She loves him.  They all love him.

This hosting season, I watch from the sidelines the families in the trenches.  I’m following the stories of the families.  I’m cheering on their successes.  I’m grieving in their disappointments.  And I’m praising God that He has brought forward so many families willing to open their hearts and homes to children in desperate need of some love.

Day 1


5:45 the clock read.  A mostly full night’s sleep to start the day.

6:30.  Slowly, I opened the door to the boys’ room, fully expecting everyone to be sound asleep though Jacob and Zachary needed to be up getting ready for school.

“Hi!”  It was the first time I heard him speak.  The nightlight silhouetted his beautiful smile.     Movement spread in all the beds.  For the first time in history, all 3 of my boys bounced out of beds with cheerful hearts and sunny smiles.  They were dressed and ready for school in 5 minutes compared to the typical 40 minutes it takes them.  There was no bickering, no fighting, no complaining.  It was a parent’s dream morning on a school day.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

First meal together as this temporary family of 6.  The blessing was said, little was eaten.  Excitement maybe?  Steve voiced concerns that he hadn’t eaten anything and got out the translate app to make sure Viktor understood to let us know when he was hungry.  What he didn’t eat at breakfast he made up for quickly.  He basically ate all day long.  An entire bag of carrots, 4 hotdogs, banana, 4 pieces of cornbread, 5 slices of ham, 3 cheesesticks, almonds, 3 glasses of milk, 5 glasses of water, full plate of spaghetti, and I’m sure more I’m leaving out.

Boys headed out to school, Steve off to work.  “Come on Andrew, let’s take Viktor upstairs and show him his clothes.”  The 3 of us made our way into the guest room where we have drawers set up for his clothes.

I waved my hands at the items of clothing in the closet. “These are for you,” I said to him as I pointed to him.  I lifted out a polar bear shirt and pants.  “You like these?”  I asked showing him a thumbs up with a smile or thumbs down with a shake of my head.  He responded with a thumbs up.  The soccer shirt received the same response.  The hand-me-down guitar and peace frog shirts got thumbs up.  The one shirt I picked out, he tilted his head to the side, with this sheepish little grin and shook his head side to side while he gave me the thumbs down.

Clothing settled, we moved into the bathroom where I showed him how to operate the shower, how to adjust the temperature, how to use a washcloth, how to brush your teeth.  Still few words coming from him.

The 2nd word I heard from his lips.  “Mom,” he called out to me as he pointed to a pack of floss broken on the floor.  I always wondered what he would call us.  Would he call us Steve and Renee?  Would he never address us by anything?  Or would he call us what he heard our own boys calling us?

He led me around our house pointing to our family pictures.   He touched my arm as he pointed to my picture.  “Mom,”  he said.  He pointed to Steve.  “Dad.”  As he pointed to each of our boys he held up fingers to show me how old they each were.  Steve had shared this information at breakfast with him.

I began bathing Andrew while Viktor played with cars on my bathroom floor.  “Lay back so I can wash your hair,” I instructed him.  Viktor set his cars aside and joined me at the side of the tub, his arm resting into mine.  Touch doesn’t bother him.  In fact the more we give him the more he wants.  He watched closely as I washed Andrew’s hair.  He leaned in and touched his little blond curls. And he smiled.  Then he turned back to his cars.

As Andrew played in the tub, I brushed my teeth.  Again he stopped what he was doing.  And he watched me.  Closely.  The entire time I brushed my teeth, he never broke concentration.  When I made eye contact, he just smiled at me and looked down.

He raced through the house going from window to window, door to door.  At the first opportunity to go outside, we were out.  Being with him was like being with a toddler.  Not because of behavior, but because of his sheer delight in all things new, all things simple, all things we typically rush right past or take for granted.

Cars whizzing by made him nervous.  Each squirrel he spotted caused him to call for me so I could see it.  We biked down the sidewalk and he ventured off the path mesmerized by the creek, the birds, the rocks.  He noticed everything.  Delighted in it all.

I did life with Viktor today, like I should do life every single day.  I was 100% fully in every single moment.  I ignored the phone most of the day, my house did not look the way I like, I didn’t stick to my typical schedules.  But I was WITH him.  When he rode his bike, I rode mine with him.  Because he asked me to.  When he asked me to ride electric scooters with him, for hours, I did.  The looks I got from cars passing by were priceless.  How many adults do you typically see scootering with their kids.  This was a first for me!

Every white car that went by he would call out, “Dad?”  To which I’d answer, soon.  He continually asked me how long until the boys got home from school.

And I was so invested in the day, I actually did forget to go pick up carpool!  Completely lost track of time and Steve bailed me out.

I have never been prouder of my boys than I was tonight.  They took to Viktor immediately.  They treated him like he was their brother.  Or better.  They had his best interest at heart constantly.

Bike riding and balls are instant bonders.  I walked outside as the 3 older boys were heading my way on bikes.  Viktor hollered out, “Mom!”  as he wildly waved at me.  I heard Zachary say, “Did he just call her mom?”  Immediately, I began to worry my boys would feel jealous.  Bringing their bikes to a halt in front of me, Jacob wore the most beautiful, genuine smile on his face as I confirmed that he did in fact call me mom.  Zachary replied, “That is so cool.”

The evening was full of basketball with Steve, park trip with Steve, soccer match with boys and friends up the street, games, hide and seek, and simply being together.

So many times through the night, Jacob came to me and said how much he loves having Viktor here, will we ever have him here again, etc.

Our family already loves him to pieces.  And he seems to love us back.

As I read bedtime stories, he would lay his head into me.  If I were near him, he would reach his hand up to touch my shoulder.  You can tell he likes the touch, he just doesn’t know how to do it.  With the boys, he tickles them constantly.  Maybe it is the only way he knows how to show affection to our boys?  To Andrew, he will gently touch his curls.  He will walk by the boys and tap their head, which lights them up!  When Steve reached for his hand to pray at dinner, he didn’t hold back.  When we sat down to lunch and I didn’t pray immediately, he said, “Mom.”  I looked at him with his hands together and head bowed.  He saw us do it one time, and he knew it was important and a part of our family and he wanted to take part again.

This post only gives a surface glimpse written in scattered fashion of what we experienced on our first day with our host son.  We are exhausted, but full.  A different kind of joy was experienced in our home tonight.