For my daughter as we go

Are you ready for this trip to China, dear one?

While your sister has been making packing lists and shopping lists and preparing for her first trip to China, you’ve kinda been preparing too. You aren’t going to China like Ashlyn is and Mommy and Daddy are, at least not right now. But, I kinda think you’ve been working on getting ready in your heart for what is happening. While we’ve been preparing to go, you’ve been preparing to stay home without us. You’ve been asking me what day it is and how many more days until there are until we leave. You’ve been telling me how you feel and that you’ll miss me—you are so good with using your words now. And, you’ve been writing me a lot of notes. This one is probably my favorite.

Translation:  I will miss you so much all the way to Pluto. That's right.  For Mommy.

I will miss you so much all the way to Pluto. That’s right.
For Mommy.

I know this isn’t easy for you. I know it’s hard to have Mommy and Daddy and now Ashlyn too leave for such a long time. I know that 15 days can feel so long. I want you to know that we aren’t leaving because it’s boring here, and we want to have fun without you. We aren’t leaving just because we like to travel the world and take long plane rides. We are going because God wants us to go, and we are a family who is committed to doing what God wants us to do above all else. We can’t just do what we want to do do; we have to do what He wants us to do. And, right now, that means that we’re going to China to love others and serve others and work hard even when we’re so so tired and even when we miss you and just want to be home snuggling with you, tickling you, and reading you books.

I love you all the way to Pluto…that’s right…and Pluto is a whole lot further away than China (it’s more than 500 million times further away…I actually checked). So, you better remember that I really really really love you all the way to China…and back again.

She’s packed. I’m not.

IMG_5050She pleaded to go to, literally begged.

We said she was too young; she said she could handle it. We said it would mean long days; she said she’d rally. We said there would only be Chinese food…and no forks; she said she’ll eat anything and that she’d practice. We said we couldn’t cover her entire cost, that she’d have to raise enough support to cover her plane ticket; and she said she’d do it.

We said yes, and she did some figurative cartwheels and then got moving, painting beads to sell and sending out support letters. She even asked for support for her trip instead of birthday presents, putting every spare dime in this jar that she decorated herself. We watched that jar fill up over the months. Now, days before we board a plane together for China, she has emptied that jar to the tune of $920 towards the plane trip and $200 to spend there.

To say that she’s excited for this adventure would be an understatement.

While I’m looking at t0-do lists, stacking up piles of stuff that is all supposed to somehow make it to China, putting away Lydia’s winter clothes so that Grammy can find something to put her in everyday while we’re gone, and organizing our freezer so she can feed the rest of our clan, Ashlyn’s fully packed. Like done. Like ready to zip that baby up, check it in, and say zài jiàn.


Yes, that’s an “I love China” shirt right on top there.

The good news is that all her goodies fit very nicely into half of her suitcase. Saweeeet. I’m claiming the other half.



Save the date! #TC2016

A little less than 2 months ago, 220 men and women made meals in advance, set out clothes in little piles, arranged rides to practices, and said goodbye to children (pulled them off their legs in some cases). We set aside life for a weekend to come together, as a couple and as a community, for refreshment and reminders of why they’re doing all this to begin with. In worship, engaging words, and fellowship, over that weekend, we were encouraged as parents to children who have experienced hard things, as couples who need each other to work as a unified team, and as individuals who are called to a big task. That’s Together Called. It’s awesome.

We know it’s only the middle of May, and that we’ve got a whole lot of other things going on around here with leaving for China next week. But, in all the busyness of that, we’ve been signing contracts and looking at menus and taking tours as we get things set up for TC2016. So, since we’ve been readying things for you, we thought you might want to ready yourself too.

Mark your calendars with two dates–registration in early October and the weekend of April 8th-10th. We want you to be there with us this year.

TC2016 Save the Date


Don’t forget that there are 40+ businesses supporting adoption and the work of The Sparrow Fund this month.

Head over HERE to see who they all are and to shop with purpose this month so that The Sparrow Fund can continue with things like Together Called.

Building the Nest 2015

When we started The Sparrow Fund in 2011, we set out to give grants to families for the specific purpose of preadoption support, counsel, and medical reviews. We could do that; it was needed and filled a gap that we saw in the support out there for families, and it was manageable for us. We knew we would need to raise some money to keep it going. But, it wasn’t that much we’d need. But, a lot has changed since then. Mark quit his job a couple years ago to do nonprofit work full-time with another organization working in China. While we transitioned into that role knowing we needed to raise our salary {gulp}, we did not feel God calling us to end the work of The Sparrow Fund. In fact, we actually heard Him tell us to keep growing it in partnership with the full-time work. So, we have, responding to needs and walking in faith. Now, The Sparrow Fund not only gives grants but also provides training events and an annual marriage retreat and leads teams to serve at an orphanage in China.

But, none of that can happen without funding. We have monthly supporters and donors who support us so that we can do all this, but we also need funds to go straight to the programs themselves–the grants, the trainings, the retreats. We’ve gotta build the nest. As you can imagine, building the nest isn’t an independent task; it takes a lot of people to build that nest so that we can help others as they build theirs through this thing called adoption. And, we’re so thankful that so many have come around us and said yes to that.

All the businesses linked up below have joined us by making a really big commitment to donate 10% of their total sales during the month of May to The Sparrow Fund so that we can continue to serve adoptive families in a significant way.

Visit their sites, shop with purpose, and make that 10% something crazy. I know it can be.

Jewelry Design

Art and Design


Clothing & Accessories


Special Gifts & Services

Sponsors for Building the Nest

To get the nest started…

Sparrow Sponsor

Norman L. Graham, Inc.

Norman L. Graham, Inc. is a premier builder of custom homes and additions in South Central Pennsylvania. From design to construction, every Norman L. Graham project is built with care and careful attention to detail. What better partner to build the nest than a company who is all about nest building.

Pearl Sponsor

Mervin Zimmerman Heating, Plumbing, & Air Conditioning

Merle Zimmerman Inc. has been serving customers as a family-owned business since 1968. The retail store and showroom near Lititz, PA, The Bath Barn, is a place to come to get questions answered, receive personal service, and be inspired by modern bathroom designs to make your dream nest a reality.

Rice Law Firm

Neal Rice became an attorney because he loves to help people. Being an attorney gives him the chance to do that every day. He counts it a privilege to walk alongside his clients as they journey through life including as they grow their family via adoption and care for their nest going forward.

Other Sponsors

Hey, I know it’s almost mid-May already, but it’s not too late to join the effort here and support adoption, the work of The Sparrow Fund, and allow us to tell the world that you do. Simply contact Wanda at The Sparrow Fund to learn about how you can be added to this post and future posts as part of Build the Nest 2015. She’s heading up this whole deal and is doing an awesome job getting the word out and growing that 10%. I love her. :)

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