Friday, December 3, 2010

December Focused Fellowship - Note the Date Change!

Attention Ladies! It is almost time for Focused Fellowship again!

DATE: Monday, December 13, 2010 (note: this is the second Monday)

TIME: 7pm

PLACE: Monica's home, 1111 W. Burnside Dr. Peoria

To help us get in the Christmas spirit please bring an appetizer to share. We will encourage one another as we take this journey into fostering and/or adoption.

Any questions please contact Monica or Amy. No need to RSVP.

Focused Fellowship exists to bring ladies together that are anywhere in the process of fostering or adoption. We desire to spur one another on as we journey with the Lord through this amazing and at times challenging experience. We normally meet the third Monday of each month at 7pm at the home of Monica Lonergan. If you have any questions about Focused Fellowship please feel free to contact one of us mentioned above.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Gotcha Day Isn't a Dream Come True

Gotcha Day, the moment every adopting mom longs for when the child you have been dreaming of, praying for, and aching to hold gets placed in your arms. Forever. That moment, you assure yourself, will make the months of paperwork and the thousands of dollars worth the sacrifice.

Realistically you know the actual moment may not go the way you dream, but a mom can hope, right?

On our gotcha day, I was handed a scared 2 1/2 year old who wanted anything but a new mommy, especially one with blond hair, blue eyes and who spoke no Chinese. She cried hard, desperate for her foster momma, and eventually cried herself to sleep in my arms.

The days that followed were more of the same. While my husband made progress with Suhn, she continued to reject me. She would laugh with her daddy but if I attempted to join in, the wall would go up and the light would leave her eyes.

Logically I could understand her resistance. Through my reading and conversations with other adoptive moms I knew I was not alone, but rejection hurts, even when it is not personal. I wish I could say I only responded with patience and love, but instead my own wall started to go up.

The weeks and months that followed were hard. When we returned home our daughter warmed up to me, but the wall I had started to build did not evaporate overnight. I learned firsthand that attachment and bonding are processes that take time.

During our first dark week in China, a friend and fellow adoptive mom left a comment on my blog that has stuck with me, “In the darkest moments I once in a while remember that I would still do this all over because it is right.” I cannot tell you how many times I reminded myself of this truth during our first months with Suhn. When I didn’t feel love for my daughter and wondered if our relationship would ever be normal, remembering that adopting her was right helped me through. My feelings could not be trusted, but God could. He had called us to Suhn. Regardless of how I felt, I was 100% committed. She was my daughter.

Little by little, the walls came down and the love I pretended at some days became real. I cannot put into words how blessed I am to parent Suhn. You hear about the “miracle of adoption,” and it’s true. Adoption is miraculous and allows humans to experience a piece of God’s love like nothing else.

But it is also hard, and messy and gut-wrenching. If you experience the hard-side of adoption, know you are not alone. Show yourself grace, look for moms who have been there, and lean into the arms of God.

He understands. After all, He is an adoptive parent too.

This article taken from

Family Life: Mom Life Today - Check our this site for more great articles related to National Adoption Awareness Month

Friday, November 12, 2010

November Focused Fellowship

Focused Fellowship is a wonderful time of sharing the ways God has stretched us via Adoption/Fostering. We will have a short devotion, spend some time in prayer and have lots of time to talk. This gathering is not limited to Bethany families so please encourage others to attend! No matter what stage of considering/doing fostering or adoption our prayer is that the time we spend together will encourage you.

When: Monday, November 15, 2010

Time: 7:00pm - until we are asked to leave or your husband needs you home. (just kidding - sort of)

Place: Monica's home @ 1111 W. Burnside Drive, Peoria

If you are attending and would like to bring a snack to share just let Monica know. There is no RSVP needed.

Any questions you can contact Monica or Amy, or simply leave a comment on this page and we will get back to you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

8 Ways Every Christian Can Care for the Orphan and Waiting Child

PRAY for them
• Sign up for Bethany’s Orphan Care Prayer Ministry at: (orphan care)
• May is National Foster Care month. Bethany hosts an annual prayer vigil.

PROVIDE for their needs
• Sew a quilt or security blanket for area foster children- due December 1.
Contact Charlotte Beck at 444-7071.

SUPPORT those who support them
• Mow, baby sit, or take meals to foster parents. Pray with them and tell them you appreciate what they do.
• Encourage a family adopting an older child by hosting a shower for them.
• Sign up for Bethany’s Meal Team to assist foster and adoptive families when child(ren) come home. Contact Michelle Hahn at 444-5161.

PROTECT them from harm
• Become a foster parent or emergency foster parent. Contact Amy Park
at 266-1635 or Monica Lonergan at 303-7965 for more information.

VISIT them where they are
• Go on a mission trip to an orphanage. Look for details when Bethany
lists 2011 mission trips.

GIVE sacrificially to them
• Contribute to an adoptive family to help offset their costs. Families with
Adoption Funds at Bethany Baptist are: Marvin & Sara Streitmatter,
Steve & Jennell Dietz, Gregg & Kris McClelland. At Bethany Community: Philip & Charisa Ausfahl, Mark & Michelle Hahn, Brian & Jennifer Entner. Contributions are tax deductible- and can be sent to Bethany Baptist.
• Contribute to Bethany’s adoption ministry general fund, used to give
grants to Bethany families that have been through a screening process. Contributions are tax deductible- and can be sent to Bethany Baptist.
Contact Lisa Schwarz at 383-4270 for more information.

ENCOURAGE them to press on
• Become a mentor or tutor to a teenager in a foster group-home.

ADOPT them into your family
• Give a child a home through international, domestic, or foster care adoption.
• Adopt a young adult who has aged out of the foster care system.
• Every Spring and Fall, Bethany offers an Orphan Care Bible Study to help you discover what God says about adoption and caring for orphans.
Contact Jerry Sanderson at 692-1755 for more information.

• Bethany’s Focused Fellowship provides encouragement for those walking through the journey of fostering and/or adoption. Ladies meet the third Monday of each month at 7pm. Contact Monica Lonergan at 303-7965.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Focused Fellowship Review

This past Monday a group of 13 ladies met to encourage each other as we each walk through the journey of fostering and/or adoption. Each family has a little different story, each is at a different stage in the process but each has a heart to follow the Lord in caring for orphans. For some of these ladies this is their first experience in raising a child, for others they are blending a family of biological and adopted children, some thought their families were complete and the Lord showed them His heart in a new way.

After a short devotion on II Timothy 2 we introduced ourselves and the conversation took off from there. There was much laughter, a few tears, and each one received encouragement. What a great way to support each person's family.

I have heard that the mom sets the tone for the family. So as we spur one another on we are ministering to an entire family. As a mom as I am refreshed I am better able to love on and serve my family.

We would love to encourage each of you on your journey. To pray for these ladies is a priviledge and to get to know each one a delight.

Join us on the third Monday of each month at 7pm. For now we will continue to meet at Monica's home as it's location seems to work for many. No need to RSVP, just come.

An Orphan Event: United 4 Orphans::2010

November 6th, 6:30pm at Grace Church - Morton, IL

A time of worshipping God and praying for the orphan crisis in the world. A opportunity to support projects in ZIway.

Ethiopia Live Band: "They Came Running". Dynamic guest speaker/testimonials.

Dessert and Gobena Coffee will be served.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Focused Fellowship

Focused Fellowship
for ladies

Please note the location is the same as last month. If you would be willing to host a Focused Fellowship at your home, east or west side of river, please contact Monica or Amy.

Date: Monday, October 18

Time: 7pm

Place: Monica Lonergan's home, 1111 W. Burnside Dr., Peoria, IL

No need to RSVP just show up.

Format - Adoptive/foster mom will share a short devotion on what the Lord is teaching her lately. Followed by a time of sharing and prayer. Of course there is always a sweet dessert.

Any questions call Amy @ 266-1635 or Monica @ 303-7965.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OHOH Fall Social!

Because it is good to be together.... We invite you and your family to join others that have a heart for orphan care of any kind to join us for our fall social.

Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010

Time: 5:00pm

Place: Mark and Michelle's home in Washington, IL
. 26625 Liberty Lane

What to bring: A dish to share and lawn chairs. We will be serving hot dogs and have a fire to roast marshmallows. We will be outside.

Any questions or to RSVP : contact Amy at
Please note other dates of interest in the post prior to this one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two Events to Note

We want to remind all of you ladies, no matter where you are in the process of adopting or fostering that you are invited to Focused Fellowship.

Focused Fellowship

Date: Monday, Sept. 20th

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Monica Lonergan's home @ 1111 W. Burnside Dr., Peoria, IL

No RSVP needed. Questions contact Amy @

For Husbands and Wives together:

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to go through the Orphan Care Bible Study now is your chance.

Orphan Care Bible Study

Place: Bethany Baptist Church

Dates: October 10- Nov. 14

Time: During the 2nd church service (starting at 11:00am)

Any questions contact Jerry @ or Amy @

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meant to Be

(To turn off the background music, find the controls in the right hand side-bar and click pause)

Friday, August 13, 2010

New & Improved Focused Fellowship!

Monday, September 20, 2010 at Monica Lonergan's home at 7pm
Address: 1111 W. Burnside Dr., Peoria

Ladies, no matter where you are in the area of fostering and/or adopting Focused Fellowship could be for you! We have made some changes to what we have tried in the past and are excited about the prospect of encouraging one another.

Format: We plan to have a special woman share a short testimony each month about, "What God is teaching me through the experience of fostering/adopting." We will have a short time of sharing and finish with a time of prayer for each other. We'll top it off with a sweet dessert!

Place: Open Hearts, Open Homes is a ministry of the Bethany Fellowship of Churches so we plan to rotate our meeting place between east and west of the river, (2-3 homes). This lessens the burden of the drive for each person. Our plan is to have a schedule for the next few months at our first meeting.

Any questions feel free to email:
Amy Park @ or Monica Lonergan @

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Christian Adoptive Families Picnic

Christian Adoptive Families is a group of adoptive families from Central Illinois. They meet approximately two times a year for fellowship, food, and encouragement.

There will be a picnic on Sunday, July 18 at 4:00pm. This picnic will take place at Idlewood Park in Morton. They will meet at the shelter off E. Greenwood St. (This park is right next to the new Morton pool.)

We will begin with supper, followed by a short time of sharing and testimony, playground time for the kids, and finally one hour of swimming at the brand new Morton Pool beginning at 7:00 pm.

For our testimony, Nicole Heid, birth mother of the host family's adopted child Analea, has agreed to share about her experiences from the "other side" of the foster care system. As a mother who had two children placed in the foster care system, eventually regaining custody of one and giving up rights to the other, it should provide a really powerful insight into some of the feelings and struggles that birth parents experience when their children are taken.

Dinner: Grilled Chicken!! For those who were at the last get-together, Nathan Eichorn who gave his testimony, has offered to come from Indiana and grill chicken! Each family should bring a covered dish and dessert to add to it. Paper products and drink will be provided.

Cost: A donation will be taken to help cover the cost of the chicken, paper products, and for renting the pool for an hour.

To help us figure how much chicken to buy, we would really appreciate getting a good count, so please RSVP if you plan on attending to:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome Home!

Welcome to your new home Benjamin!
Congratulations to Gregg, Kris, Ashley, Lindsay, Tara, and Jaime!
We'll be praying for all of you as you become the family the Lord wants you to be.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The McClellands are coming home!

Gregg and Kris are bringing Benjamin home this Wednesday, June 23!

Please be in prayer for them as they travel for many hours with a toddler.

They would love for you to meet them at the airport. If you are not on the OHOH email list please leave a comment here and we will get you their flight information.

We will also attempt to keep you up-to-date with any delays, though we are praying there will be none.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dates to Set Aside!

Here are some dates you will want to put on your calendar!

****This Saturday, June 12 from 5-7 pm. Open Hearts, Open Homes Social. Potluck - bring a dish from your country of interest or a favorite of your family. See post below for details.

****Christian Adoptive Families Picnic - this is a group of adoptive families from Central Illinois Sunday, July 18 at 4:00 pm at Idlewood Park in Morton. More details will be coming - stay tuned!

**** Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VII - Louisville, KY - May 12-13, 2011

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Open Hearts, Open Homes Orphan Ministry
invites your family to join us for a potluck!

Saturday, June 12, 2010
(please note the date change if you received an earlier email)

At: Bethany Baptist Church, 7422 N. Heinz Lane, Edwards
(driving directions available @

Time: 5-7pm

Please bring: a dish to share that correlates to the country you have an interest in or your favorite dish.

We will provide: Cake to celebrate with the families that have brought children into their homes over the past year!, drinks, and table service.

Please RSVP (or if you have any questions?) to:
Ken and Amy :

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Garage Sale for 2 Adopting Families

The Streitmatter and Dietz Families
are having a Garage Sale to assist them with their adoptions costs.

Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15

Time: 8-2pm

Place: 316 North Creek Court, Princeville (Saturday is the Town Wide Sale)

Lost of clothes - boys, girls, baby, men, women, and maternity. Some other items available include: infant swing, train table, exersaucer, bouncey seat, furniture, and household items.

The Streitmatters are adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and the Dietz family from Korea.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

John Piper at Summit VI

Recently 5 of us from the ministry of Open Hearts, Open Homes attended Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VI conference. It was two days of great encouragement and challenge on caring for the orphan. What a blessing to be with many brothers and sisters in Christ that share our passion for the orphan!

The last speaker of the conference was John Piper. The following is the video of his talk for your listening pleasure. If you are currently serving orphans in any capacity, or have a heart for serving orphans you will find this to be of great interest.

Watch the video at :

Monday, April 26, 2010

Foster Care Prayer Vigil

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Open Hearts, Open Homes Orphan ministry it pleased to announce that Bethany Baptist Church will be a host site for a National Foster Care Prayer Vigil. These vigils will be held through out the country during the week of May 16th-23rd. Information regarding the vigils and ministry can be found at On the right of their home page is a link for Prayer Vigil information.

Bethany's prayer vigil is scheduled for May 18th at 6:00 p.m. We will begin with a short devotion and spend time in prayer commited to the plight of the child in foster care, agency workers, foster parents and birth parents. A time of refreshments and fellowship will follow at 7:00 p.m. This event is open to the community and will be advertised locally.

Praying for children in foster care is a very tangible way that we as a church family can demonstrate our commitment to orphans. We hope to see you there. If childcare would be beneficial please contact Monica and arrangements will be made (you could leave a comment here).

Hope for Orphans April 2010 eNewsletter link

I recently read the April 2010 Hope for Orphans enewsletter. Paul and Robin Pennington wrote a very interesting article about trends in adoption. I thought it might interest some of you.

Below is the link where you can read the article:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fundraiser Flyer Community

Please take note of this Adoption Fundrasier Garage Sale
for the Ausfahl and McClelland Families.

May 7 hours: 2-5pm
May 8 hours: 8-4pm

Click below for details!

Fundraiser Flyer Community


Welcome Tyler!
Congratulations Matt and Leslie and big sisters Allison and Ashley!
"The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made." Psalm 145:9

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Call for Focused Fellowship Tonight!

Open Hearts, Open Homes Moms!

We have had a request for some needed Focused Fellowship so...

Consider joining us tonight, April 6 at 6:30pm at the North Knoxville Ave. Panera's to give and receive encouragement to other moms on this crazy journey of fostering and/or adoption!

We'd love to see you all!

Sorry for the last minute decision, but sometimes we have to seize the day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Some Thoughts for Dads

The Oatsvall family is part of 147 Million Orphans. You can check out this ministry at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Orphan Care Bible Study coming soon!

Join us for the next Open Hearts, Open Homes
Orphan Care Bible Study

Dates: Sundays, March 21 - April 25

Time: 9-10am

Place: Bethany Community Church (meeting at Five Points in Washington, IL)

Pastor Daniel will be teaching.

This study is open to anyone interested in hearing about God's heart for the orphan. For more information or questions you can contact Daniel via email

The Open Hearts, Open Homes Ministry is a shared ministry of the Bethany Fellowship of Churches.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Welcome Home!

Welcome home to the Ham family!

The Hams arrived safely home Friday night about 9:25pm.

Please continue to pray for all of the family as they get to know each other.

We praise the Lord for the answered prayer for this family.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ham Family Update

The Hams have run into a delay with their flights.

Watch for emails and further information as it becomes available.

In the mean time, thank you for praying this family home!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Ham Family

"Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18

The Hams are getting close to being on their way home from Ethiopia with their oldest son and their newest two children. Please be in prayer for them as they travel a long distance while building new relationships.

Thank you for your interceding on their behalf.

The Tim Tebow Story

Much ado was made about the Tim Tebow commercial during the Super Bowl. Below is a link to the Tebow's Story on Focus on the Family. - click on the Tebow Story. It is a great story honoring God in a situation that could have turned out totally different.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jonah and the Orphan

What do Jonah and adoption/fostering have in common? Has God ever asked you to do something that you were certain did not make sense? Was your first reaction to run from it?
Did you wrestle with God until your faith in Him took over? Did you step out in obedience, if not complete willingness, because you recognized His voice in the calling? for many, the first fleeting thoughts towards the orphan are not often met with an overwhleming desire to respond immediately. We push the thoughts away and attempt to continue with life as we know it. Be as we see in the story of Jonah, God is a pursuing God. Not just for the benefit of the Ninevites but to teach Jonah something about the condition of his heart. God uses the orphan to reveal layers of our hearts that we might wish were not there. How do we respond when our "ideal" situation is not the one that God presents to us? How do we interact with birth parents that might challenge us in ways we were not anticipating? Do we reflect God's love when dealing with children that were not born to us? We might like to believe that pursuing adoption and fostering is all about the need of a child. In reality, it might just as importantly be about our need to be "revealed." The story of Jonah is a bit of a cliffhanger. We don't know if Jonah sought forgiveness for his attitude towards the Ninevites. What we do know is that God is the Ultimate Multi-Tasker. He is more than capable of using the need of some to reveal the heart of one. He pursued and provided for both. And in the end, they both were better for it!

-Monica (Broadcaster Jan. 2010)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haiti - Orphans and Adoption

Everyone's mind is on Haiti these days. The people, the devestation, those that have gone to help are all in our thoughts and prayers. Even our children are concerned for the children in Haiti. Some good has come out of such tragedy as the Lord has opened the minds of those in power in such a way to unite families with their adoptive children. Our friends the Stanleys have been blessed in this way.

What will become of the orphans in Haiti and how will adoption be affected by all that has happened? We have posted two links for you to look at that will help you understand better how to pray for those in Haiti.

"We loved because He first loved us." I John 4:7

Connecting Hearts Conference- Feb. 20, 2010

Here is a link to a conference in the Bloomington/Normal area. A few of us attended this conference last year and found it to be interesting. I am doing some checking and will post more later but last year it was especially helpful for those in the earlier stages of adoption.

Check it out!