Monday, July 14, 2014

Sweet Summer with my Kylee Bean ~

Kylee Bean ~ Oh sweet sweet girl what a blessing and a treasure you have been to us this summer. 10 years ago when your mom told me she was pregnant for the 1st time I dreamed that one day you would come and spend the summer with us and with your cousins making memories to last a lifetime. And what an amazing dream come true this summer has been!
 Your love and patience with Teddy as you learned to communicate with him using ASL was beyond words for this mama heart to watch. You stepped into his life and loved him right where he was. You protected him, and laughed with him. You taught him games like UNO and Chutes and Ladders all while the 2 of you giggled and giggled the nights away.
 You and Tariku are cut from the same cloth - fiercely 1st borns - and yet you each found your way. You did countless hours of drawing and writing together. You went on more walks and adventures than I can remember and you swam like fish almost everyday.
 My sweet Kylee Bean I am soooo proud of you - you came to TN and jumped right into life with the Hammons House - camp summer sign everyday, soccer practices for the boys, Kylee and Auntie Courtney dates to lunch and the mall. You helped Uncle Kenneth build a swimming pool, you conquered roller coasters and waterfalls.
 My my what a summer it was. And now my sweet sweet girl it is wrapping up and I want you to know how much these last 8 weeks have meant to all of us. We couldn't imagine the joy that you would bring to our summer.
 So Bean I want you to ALWAYS remember the door is ALWAYS open for you to come and hang at the Hammons House! We love you and cannot wait for our next adventure together!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

This post is part of Lifesong's Adoption Journey Series. See previous post, "Adoption: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey" here.

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While nearly two in five practicing Christians have considered adoption, only 5% have actually done it.* What keeps people from growing their families through adoption?

One of the biggest barriers to adoption is the cost. Depending on the circumstances, adoption can cost up to $50,000! It makes sense why many families who have a heart for vulnerable children, look at adoption as something they desire, but is just too hard to grasp because of the high costs.

There are families who have seen God perform miracles as they have stepped out in faithfulness to follow His call for their family...if it's His will, it's His bill. He will make a way to show Himself as THE Provider of all things. Don't let money stand in the way, when He has provided many avenues for families to bridge that financial gap.

Here are few tips and resources for funding an adoption...
  1. Save & sacrifice. It's never too early to start saving for adoption. Try to cut back your budget to set a portion of money aside each month to pay for some of the initial adoption costs, like home study and application fees. Make sacrifices as God moves you, maybe that's postponing a big purchase or selling some of your possessions.
  2. Learn from others. In her must-read book, Adopting Without Debt, Julie Gumm shares how to find extra money in your household budget, apply for grants, and fundraise in order to build your family without saddling it with debt. 
  3. Apply for Adoption Grants & Loans. Research and apply for national, state, and local adoption grants. A few favorites we direct families to are our friends at Show Hope & Abba Fund. See Resource Report for more grants & loans available and don't forget to check out our adoption grant & loan page.
  4. Think outside the box. The fundraising creativity of adoptive families continues to grow. Check out organizations like Both Hands, who help families fundraise for adoption while doing a service project for a widow. Other groups like 147 Million Orphans & MudLOVE provide jewelry, t-shirts, and other products you can use towards fundraising. 
  5. Don't be afraid to ask. Maybe the word "fundraise" and the thought of asking people for money makes you nervous. WATCH the video below to see how God moved in this couple's heart to show them adoption was so much bigger than their family.

I want to hear from you? What ways did your family raise money for adoption?


*from Becoming Home by Frames Barna Group & Jedd Medefind

Friday, June 13, 2014

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Adoption is a journey. 

Like any journey, it's appropriate to think ahead, to plan and to prepare for what is come. Along the way we'll realize that it isn't all what we may have thought or expected. There are unplanned events and struggles, along with unexpected joys and surprises.

Join us as we walk down a few different paths of the adoption journey and discuss some key resources as you look ahead in preparation of bringing a child into your forever family.

Many of you may have already walked this journey. Some of seen friends or close family struggle through the path. Maybe you are just starting to "pack your bag" for your first adoption. No matter the traveler or the progress, here are a few helpful tidbits for anyone who is considering adoption (for the first, second or third time!).

3 Ways to Prepare for the Journey...
  1. Pray. Fast. Read. Most importantly, seek God's direction and plan for your family. Spend significant time praying, fasting and reading His Word together for guidance, wisdom and peace. God does not call everyone to adopt, but He may be calling your family to be involved in caring for the orphan in some way. Sit and listen to the Father, He will prepare your feet for the path He has for you (Psalm 18:33).
  2. Educate Yourself (With Trusted Materials). With some of the best Christian material on adoption, Empowered to Connect provides books, videos, trainings and other resources to help foster and adoptive families parent children from hard places. Prepare and receive realistic expectations ahead of time by reading books like The Connected Child or attending an Empowered to Connect Conference.  See resources & upcoming Empowered to Connect Conferences >>
  3. Take a Pre-Adoption Assessment. Striving to make the adoption process less complicated and overwhelming, our friends at Loving Shepherd Ministries have helped guide over 6,000 couples in their early stages of adoption. Through their Adoption Assessment Form, their staff gives your family adoption options you are eligible to pursue, along with lists of agencies, home study providers in your area and more! Best yet, they offer this as a free service to prospective adoptive families. Learn more & fill out their Adoption Assessment Form today >>
There is wisdom in preparation, but don't forget to keep in mind that we have a Father who knows the beginning and the end. An Almighty God who is writing and arranging your family's story behind the scenes. When things don't make sense, wait on Him. His way is always best!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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 "If our effort to love only affects ONE person...it is worth it!" -Ivan Zhykhariev, Ukraine Graduate

Child Sponsorship. It's easy to underestimate the impact sponsorship has on a child. Not only are basic needs (such as food, clothing, shelter) met, but also a sense of belonging is given that money can't buy. Sponsorship speaks "YOU MATTER TO ME." to a child who is longing for love from a family, security and hope for a future.

Giving FAMILY to Evelyn {HONDURAS}

Testimonies like Evelyn's reminds us of the work God is doing to change lives in Honduras. Children who lose their earthly father, learn about their heavenly Father. Children who lose their family can say they have a new family. Children with little hope are taught that they can change their nation!

Currently, Evelyn has not been chosen by a sponsor to help support her Christian education and hopeful future. By sponsoring a child like Evelyn, you can be a part of changing a life, letting a child know they matter by bringing joy and purpose to their lives.

Will you help us find Evelyn a sponsor?
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 Learn more about Child Sponsorship at www.lifesongchildsponsorship.org.

Testimony: More than Money {LIBERIA}

Listen in as Carla Cornell, Liberia Child Sponsor shares on sponsorship...
Cornell Sponsorship"Meeting Thomas, Sharine and Prince was something we had been picturing for months and to finally feel those arms around us was a priceless, God-given moment. It was then we realized that sponsoring a child can be so much more than just sending money.

It can be an opportunity to open our hearts and share the love we so often take for granted with a child who needs it desperately. A child who may never have the same blessings and opportunities that most of us enjoy but with our help, they can have hope and they can know Jesus loves them and has not forgotten them. And we can be blessed beyond measure to be a tiny part of God's plan for them."

#31kids31days

31 in 31 badgeThis month, Help us find 31 sponsors in 31 days! Each day, we feature a child that does not yet have a sponsor. Will you join us in advocating on their behalf?

Meet a few of our kids waiting for sponsorship....

See all featured kids for the #31kids31days Campaign at lifesongfororphans.org/31kids31days 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is Courtney up to this summer?

Greetings Family and Friends,
 I am overjoyed to let you know that The Lord has called me to return to Africa this summer to learn from whom I consider a dear dear friend the job that is short term mission work.  You see I am in the process of moving forward on some dreams that are so close to my heart and so personal to my family (I promise more information on that soon) that I need to understand 1st hand the work that is short term missions and I truly thought there was no one better to guide me on this course than my dear friend Gina.
To that end, my trip in July of this year will be to serve alongside the pastors of a local church in Kigali Rwanda. During our visit we will be delivering care packages to families who need to know The Lord, visiting and praying over the sick in the community the church serves, and assisting with worship, children's programs, and whatever else the church members can find use for us to do! It is my hearts desire to serve The Lord and I believe the best way to do that for the hurting people of Rwanda is to connect them to the local body of Christ that can minister to them long after I've returned to my home.

 Additionally, I am over the moon excited to be visiting a local school for the deaf. Several of our team members are fluent in American Sign Language, and the nation of Rwanda is in the early stages of creating a unified Rwandan Sign language which is very similar in dialect to ASL. You have no idea how much this means to me and our dear Marilyn who will be traveling with me!! I am excited that The Lord has called me to partner with him in reaching people in the communities around Kigali. If you feel led to serve The Lord by contributing financially to my mission trip I would be thrilled. I will be collecting help for my expenses as well as for donations to purchase goods while in country.

I'll be leaving American soil on July 13th and will return to the states Aug 1st.  It is truly a blessing and an honor to take this trip this summer alongside our sweet Marilyn!  Donations can be made to me via paypal - courtney@amagicalaffair.com or via check to Courtney Hammons

As always prayers appreciated as I prepare my heart and mind for this journey.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

14-04 MM email
Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs & self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}

Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life.
Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}

Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

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Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School

Read More...

Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video

Impact on Farm Workers - Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video

Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} - CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register

Thursday, March 20, 2014

14-03 MM email
"If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday."  Isaiah 58:10

The Forgotten Initiative, Lifesong's foster care ministry, exists to bring joy and purpose to local foster care communities through mentorship, service projects and family support organized by local TFI Advocates. With a holistic approach they reach out not only to foster children, but also agency workers, foster parents and vulnerable adults. Read along to learn more...

JOURNEY BAGS {For Children Entering Care}

The Forgotten Initiative (TFI) has many different ways to get involved. One is creating "Journey Bags" for local foster care agency to ultimately reach foster kids in your community.

What exactly is a Journey Bag? Children often come into foster care with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Journey Bags are backpacks filled with personal items for kids to have when they are abruptly taken out of their homes.

Listen in to the impact of Journey Bags...
"Last night at midnight, three precious little beauties showed up on my doorstep. They each had with them a blanket, a stuffed animal, and a book bag, their Journey Bags. I kept waiting for more, anything more, but nothing came. The investigator told me this was all they had. 
Our 5-year-old came with shoes so worn, they had to be thrown away. One of our two-year-olds had no shoes, the other had two left shoes. When I asked about getting anything out of the home, the investigator said it wasn't possible. The kids had nothing. There worldly possessions consisted of Journey Bags. As I stared at those bags, I began to cry. What if no one took the time to fill those bags and deliver them? What would our children have then? Absolutely nothing. Nothing to claim as their own, nothing to protect or cherish. Thank you for all you do. Thank you for my kiddos Journey Bags." 
--Heather, foster mom

PROJECT RENOVATE {Supporting Local Foster Families}


Go on a local "mission trip" with Project Renovate!

Often foster care families feel alone and overwhelmed. Spend a day reaching out to families in need while at the same time raising support for The Forgotten Initiative with projects like deep cleaning a home, landscaping or giving a room a makeover!

Check out this new promo video & see how you can get involved at www.theforgotteninitiative.org/projectrenovate.


Join us this year for a Project Renovate in Central Illinois:

June 7th -- Clinton, IL
July 12th -- Creve Coeur, IL


Read More...

Journey Bag Testimonial - Listen in as foster mom shares the impact the TFI Journey Bags had on her and her foster children. Watch Video

Showing Jesus to the Forgotten - Learn what it means to become a TFI Advocate for your local foster care community!  Read More

ReMoved - Originally created for the 168 Film Festival, ReMoved follows the emotional story through the eyes of a young girl taken from her home and placed into foster care. Watch Video

Coming This Spring...

Zambia Choir KidsCelebrate Life Tour - Featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambian Children's Choir! This concert will be an excellent opportunity for the whole family to hear how they can help care for orphans and vulnerable children! Learn more about dates, locations & where to buy your tickets>>

Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} - CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register