Thursday, April 28, 2016

Guest Blog: Faith Is a Muscle - Part I

As we've mentioned previously, we love hearing personal stories from the Scarlet Threads community. Today we're very excited to share Part I of a guest post from Paul Evans and the Evans family, "Faith Is a Muscle," in which they share their fostering and adoption stories with us. With Mother's Day coming up, we're not only celebrating mothers (moms rock!), but all families, everywhere, that come in every shape and size. Check back next week for Part II of the Evans' story!  
When a person lifts weights, the muscle is torn and broken down during the exercise. Then, during the rest that follows overnight, the body repairs these muscles and they grow in size and strength. This seems to be a fitting example of how our faith in God grows. The Lord offers us opportunities to exercise our faith. If we step out and trust Him, we find ourselves in circumstances that break us down... we end up on our knees more than ever, and God comes through. There are deep truths that can only be revealed when we are most vulnerable.

Adoption was elusive. My wife, Sara, and I felt the tug on our hearts pulling us in 16 years ago. Being a young married couple with one little girl, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we thought to ourselves, "This raising kids stuff isn't too bad." We knew there were countless babies & children that needed families, so why not us? We really had no clue what kind of faith journey this would be.

Private and international adoption seemed totally out of reach financially, so we turned our attention to the kids in our own 'Jerusalem,’ and thus began our dance with the Children Youth and Families Department of New Mexico. They required us to become licensed foster parents so that potentially adoptable children could be placed in our home. This was our first exposure to the training process, and it was eye-opening to learn what abandoned, abused, and neglected children do to cope. It's heart wrenching.

After completing the training, we came near the end of our home study process and discovered my wife was pregnant with our son! Our caseworker recommended we stop the process during pregnancy and revisit this after he was born. Well, life threw us a curve ball, and we decided to relocate to Colorado Springs. It would be nine more years before we would have our first foster care placement.

Since then, we persevered through foster care in two different states, having numerous little ones come and go in our family. We fostered infants, several toddlers, a couple of elementary aged kids, and even one pregnant teenager. Some were only with us for a day or two, some stayed for nearly a year with our family. 

These were truly some of the most grueling seasons of our lives—but these were also some of the largest growth periods of our faith.

One of the most wonderful and difficult earmarks of our foster experience was bonding with these precious children (sometimes instantly), and sending them back into a broken family situation with great uncertainty, knowing we may never see them again in this life. Without an opportunity to develop a relationship with the birth parents, it is impossible to expect any kind of relationship to continue with foster kids when they leave our home, but they will always be in our prayers. 

Our family moved to Nebraska in 2013, and our foster care days came to an end. At this point, we had four biological children, plenty of memories, and even a few scars. We decided not to become foster parents again, and we were quite busy and happy as a family of six. Little did we know that God had been growing our faith for a bigger reason: adopting.

Check back next Thursday, May 5th, for Part II of the Evans family's adoption story! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Your stories mean the world to us, and to families around the world

Each item we promote through Scarlet Threads begins and ends with a story--stories of families working for economic empowerment, working to stay together so that no child becomes orphaned due to poverty; stories of men, women, and children working to become families through adoption, adoption awareness, and adoption fundraising; and finally, stories from all of you, our wonderful community who purchase Deng's beautiful aprons from China, or Denge Doti's Borana Michira bracelets from Ethiopia, or any of the handcrafted items from the amazing artisans we support.

Today, we're honored to share the story from one of our customers, Kim, who graciously emailed us about her ST experience. We are so touched by her words!! Scarlet Threads Community, we love hearing from you; never hesitate to share your personal story with us. Thank you, Kim, for sharing your story, and for supporting artisans like Deng and their families!
We were immediately attracted to [Scarlet Threads] because we have not seen anything this beautiful or well-made in stores. Mass production items simply do not have the unique, handcrafted quality evident in ST merchandise! 
We were also blessed knowing that we support individual artisans and their children with each purchase. While we have become much more conscientious of the sources and fair trade practices of our food, we have also learned to consider similar criteria with our household and gift purchases. We have come to appreciate the quality and beauty of hand-crafted textiles, and found ST to be the perfect vendor for us. Our questions were given prompt, personal attention, and the delivery was fast and accurate. 
We were also delighted to see the aprons and hot pads are even more gorgeous and colorful in person. We immediately made a second order and instantly and happily completed our Christmas shopping! Each person who received these ST gifts commented on the quality and unique character of the hot pads and aprons, and were very eager to learn more about ST.  
I especially enjoyed purchasing the "Evelyn" apron, one for my sister, and one for myself. Although I do not get to see my sister very often, I enjoy knowing we are in our respective kitchens wearing our ST aprons! I am grateful that ST provides personal, unique items that are specially made. It is gratifying purchasing these beautiful items from ST rather than purchasing generic, random, mass-produced goods from big-box corporate giants. 
Thank you, ST, I look forward to shopping with you again soon! --Kim