November 4-6, 2010 - 2nd Annual Columbus Thriftstore Christmas Open House
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
2608 Main Street
Columbus, MS 39701
WE WILL HAVE: new toys, electronics, bicycles, lotion sets, gift sets, crystal, everyday jewelry, holiday jewelry, perfumes, colognes, new clothes, men's Reeds t-shirts, collectibles, Christmas decor, decorations, Dept 56 decor, Christmas Trees, Southern Living cookbooks, Palmer Home... cookbooks, and various gift ideas.
"A few days ago I went to my 16 year old brother’s performance. Over 200 high school students held their heads high and played their memorized music, knowing that their parents were watching from the stands. As they showed off their skills, hundreds of proud parents looked on, eager to capture each moment on camera or film. In the middle of the moment, it felt so obvious, so right: this is what a 16 year old child should have . . . someone interested in their life. It is what I pray for each of the kids in the orphanage.
People often ask me what the hardest part of my job is, and I can say without hesitation that the hardest thing is watching a child’s 16th birthday come and go with no family stepping forward to adopt them. 2010 has been especially difficult in this area. This year there were no families deciding to file paperwork at the last minute to keep a child eligible for adoption.
Instead, 16th birthdays of children I know well and love dearly have come and gone over and over again. Each of them hold a special place in my heart, a place that will now be a little bit broken and hurts every time I think of them and what awaits them outside of the orphanage.
Each of these children is so different, each has unique needs and challenges but in one way they are all the same-they desperately wanted and needed parents, but parents never came. They will never have a chance to show mom and dad what they can do. They will now face life on their own. The commitment of an adoptive family to love them no matter what, could have changed all this, but for those 16 and over, it will never happen.
At the same time that I smile watching my brother, another part of me cries inside for the 16 year olds I know on the other side of the world who have gone without parents for so long and now will go without them forever. Please pray for these kids, as well as others in the orphanage who will be turning 16 this school year."
From a friend about children living as orphans in another country:
“I met him 9 years ago. Back then, he was a tiny 8 year old, bouncy, bubbly, and full of life. Now he is taller than me. On his birthday last week, he turned 17. His mother is alive but mentally disturbed and unable to care for him. He waited for years, hoping for an adoptive family. No one came. I haven’t seen him for awhile; he is in and out of the orphanage, probably finding trouble. But today I saw him and we talked about life, about the future, about his plans—and we played a game together. His eyes lit up, “I LOVE that game,” he said. “Let’s play!” He was respectful and played by all the rules. When it was time for me to leave he helped me gather up all the items that the other kids had been playing with and insisted on carrying the bag as we walked to the gate. I saw it then, in his eyes . . . this child was created in the image of God and even though no other adult is there to see it or notice it or care, there is something good in him, something very good.
In some kids in the orphanage goodness is so easy to see,
. . . in "E" who kicked around a soccer ball today with his little brother and then sat in the grass for a long time finding new bugs
. . . in "V" who found the self-control to not blow up when another boy was teasing him unmercifully this afternoon
. . . in "S" who was trying to fix a bicycle wheel today and sat patiently explaining to another boy what needed to be done
. . . when little "K" skips down the hallway to give me a hug and say hi
. . . when "K" sits quietly and reads her book in the middle of the noise and chaos that usually surrounds her
I can see something positive in each one, but there is negative too, believe me, a lot of negative: bad behavior and habits, disrespect, and hurtful teasing.”
How incredible to know that all of these things can change. By the grace of God hearts can be changed.
I have seen how children can change through adoption. I am in awe of the changes that have happened in one little boy's life over the past months since he has lived with his new family. He looks so healthy, there is a sparkle in his eye, and he chatters on and on, but the most amazing changes to see are the ones that have happened on the inside. He is more confident, loving, caring, respectful, and considerate. These changes have not come without the cost of time, energy, and love from his parents, but oh what a reward! What a joy to see him run into his dad’s arm, carefully push his brother on the swing or sit at the kitchen table working through a school book with his mom!
God created all these good qualities in him from the very beginning, now in a family he is able to grow, and mature in these things under the watchful eyes of his parents and so many other adults who love and care for him. The other children that remain as orphans have good qualities too. Sadly they often go unnoticed. Thank you for praying for them and the many other orphans who are waiting for parents.
In her early 70's Grandma Lela left her home in the States for Ukraine so that she could show orphans the love of Jesus. The first time Lela saw Karina, our daughter was trying to read but could barely see the words on the pages of the book. Grandma watched as Karina held the book close against her face so that her eyes could see what was there. Grandma walked over to Karina, gave her a hug, told her she loved her and took her to the eye doctor.
That was about eight years ago.
God used Grandma Lela to help Karina see both physically and spiritually as she not only bought glasses for Karina but told her about the love of Jesus. Lela told me one time that she left family and home to care for those that had no family and home and to tell them about Jesus.
The first day Sheila and I met Lela she was sitting on a couch in the playroom at the orphanage and one by one boys and girls would give her a hug and kiss.
"Does Grandma Lela love you small, small?" she would ask the children.
"No! Grandma Lela loves me big, big!" they would respond.
She loved on every child... and every child loved on her.
As we watched her interact with the kids we thought, "What a woman!" In the words of a fourteen year old former orphan, "She could have retired and done nothing with her life or just taken care of herself. Instead she gave herself to us."
It is an honor to know her.
Lela had to leave Ukraine not long after we adopted Karina because of medical reasons and a few weeks ago several of the children that she ministered to came to visit her.
As each child came to her she told them, "I love you!"
And they responded, "We love you Grandma, Lela!"
Grandma went to be with Jesus this past week.
We are so thankful for her, we praise God for her and we pray that God would raise up many more Grandma Lela's.
For many orphans, she was the first person to show them Jesus.
I imagine Jesus telling Grandma, "Lela, I love you big, big!"
We are looking for a couple/family to serve as house parents at our Hernando Campus. If you are interested, know of someone who would be or would like more information, please let me know. If you do not have my contact information you can send me a comment. Comments are moderated and the public will not see it.
We have an orchard full of apples, peaches, blueberries, plums, blackberries, grapes and figs where the children love to pick and enjoy eating the fruit. It is fun to see them exclaim how delicious the fresh picked fruit tastes and teach them how the fruit must be nurtured for it to grow.
Palmer Home for Children is known as a "Christian ministry where hope still grows". This summer at Palmer Home I have seen that statement to be so true. The good news of Jesus and the love that the staff showers upon the children here at Palmer Home truly gives them hope. What a joy it is to see so many children come from a place of hopelessness to Palmer Home where they do have hope, love, care and the gospel. Over the past few weeks a tiny little girl told me, "In the shelter we cried every night but at Palmer Home we do not cry anymore." An eleven year old boy exclaimed, "I am not afraid anymore!" when a caring staff member helped him conquer one of his ongoing fears. A six year old boy professed Jesus as his Lord and Savior with joy. These are just some of the wonders that happen through the love and service of the staff of Palmer Home and because of the grace of God.
Someone called me recently crying out for us to help three children that had no parents to care for them and were staying in a different location almost every night. At the end of the conversation she said, "Thank you. You have given us hope."
Jesus has given us hope. It is that hope that we pass on to these children and then nurture them to see them grow.
When we were adopting Karina we met one of her good friends. This was the girl that begged us to find a family for her. On the day that Karina left the orphanage with us, this girl grabbed us and pleaded with us not to forget her, to pray for her and if we could, send someone to rescue her.
God answered her prayers and a year and a half later, she has come home to live with her new family not far from Karina.
It is good to see them together again and we praise God for the family that was willing to rescue another former orphan from the hopelessness she was facing.
Many of you prayed for this girl. Thank you. She is home.
Many have asked to know more about Palmer Home for Children where we are serving. Palmer Home is a ministry for children growing up as social orphans without the nurture and support of a loving family. Palmer Home provides a stable, Christ-centered home for these children. To learn more, click on the link and see the mission statement below.
The mission of Palmer Home for Children is to reflect the hope and love of Christ by providing a stable, long-term Christ-centered home for children who lack an adequate family structure.
To that end Palmer Home, as it has since 1895, remains committed to privately-funded, non-government child care which keeps siblings together, models evangelical Christian values, mends emotional scars, restores self-esteem, and provides for each child the full opportunity to reach his or her God-given potential.
Palmer Home for Children currently serves nearly 100 boys and girls from birth through college age who live year-round on two campuses in Columbus, MS and near Hernando, MS. It also extends counseling to the family of origin, foster care, and other family-related services that Palmer offers through its well-qualified, professional staff.
Palmer serves both individual children and sibling groups, brothers and sisters who need and want to be together, providing opportunity for every child to learn traditional family values and to become responsible, caring adults. Each day is structured to provide a careful blend of education, work, family, fun and freedom - all the things a healthy child needs, including the incorporation of Biblical principles into every aspect of life.
But whatever the length of stay or depth of need, Palmer is there to extend effective, healing help, so that hurting children can dare to hope, to dream, and to love again...all because caring friends have chosen to participate in Palmer's growing outreach, prayerfully and lovingly providing financial support and volunteer help.
Last night, four former orphans welcomed home two more children that are no longer without a family. What a joy it was to see all of these children and their families together. Karina and her siblings love seeing children, no longer living in an orphanage on the other side of the world, coming to live with their family in a home and they pray that more and more children will be coming home soon.
Almost every week we receive messages from different orphans in different parts of the world asking the same question: Is someone coming for me?
Mother's Day is a special day for a former orphan. Karina drew flowers, purchased a frame for the drawing, wrote a card and had it ready for Sheila on Mother's Day.
"I am so thankful to have you as my mother." Karina told Sheila.
A friend that ministers to orphans in Eastern Europe sent us this video recently and if you listen to the end you can hear orphans crying out for a mother...
Last week a family came home with their new son. It was a great homecoming with many people welcoming a child, no longer an orphan, at the airport. We praise God for this homecoming and we pray for this family as they learn to live as a family together.
Today we visited a church in Alabama and the pastor briefly touched on God adopting us as his children. To describe adoption he said that in adoption God tells us we are his forever and I could not help but think of how that should also describe earthly adoption (obviously in our fallen world there are cases such as the one recently in the news with the woman sending her child back to Russia).
I pray that the boy we met at the airport last week soon understands that he belongs to his family... he is no longer an orphan... and, God willing, it will be that way forever.
There is another family that leaves for Ukraine tomorrow to bring two girls home and into their family. We thank God for both of these families, for the example they set for us, for the faith they demonstrate, for putting fear aside, for not listening to worldly wisdom and stepping out to do what they have been called by God to do.
Our prayers go with this family.
As they leave they are still in need of money.
If anyone reading this will pray for them and support them, please visit their blog where you can donate and help them bring two orphans home: http://www.takingupourcrossesandfollowinghim.blogspot.com/
If you cannot adopt... if you cannot go... will you give to help them adopt?
The name of this blog is A Story of God's Grace. We are so thankful for the grace that he pours onto us. After an intense nine months that included a blood clot, hospitalization, the discovery of a near fatal blood disorder that could of taken the life of my precious wife and our unborn son... James Walter Nasekos was born on March 8. Both baby and mother are doing great and James' five siblings are loving every minute with their new brother (and so are mom and dad). He is such a joy and we thank God for his love and care of us and for this little blessing in our life.
Hello. My name is Karina and I learned something that I want to share with you.
I was really upset about what I saw yesterday and today.
I was an orphan in an orphanage in Ukraine. There are a lot of kids that need a family in this orphanage and I was one of them.
Our life in the orphanage is not good. We need love and we need parents.
Children in the orphanage are the same as children everywhere else except we are orphans and need a family... but I think that people think we are different. Why do people think we are so different that they will not make us part of their family?
I was waiting for someone to adopt me for a long time but it never happened. I wondered why it took so long.
Children in the orphanage are usually mean to each other, fight with each other and make fun of each other.
In our orphanage every child has imperfections and I was no different. I had imperfections too but I did not see them. I was looking at other people's imperfections instead of recognizing my own.
In 2008 I was adopted and left the orphanage.
I was really happy but I remembered the kids still in the orphanage and I knew they needed a family and most of all they need God.
He is our heavenly Father and we need his love more than anything else.
One year after I was adopted my daddy was planning a trip to Ukraine and I wanted to go with him.
He told me that we were not going to Ukraine just to "hang out". We had a mission. Our mission was to visit orphans and people that ministered to orphans.
I wanted to go with him and go to the orphanage where I spent so many years.
I was able to go with him to Ukraine and we went to the orphanage I came from. I saw my friends and supervisors but the thing that made the biggest impact on me was that I saw a change in the orphans and I saw a big change in my heart because I realized that God had given me true life.
Everything went good while at the orphanage.
My friends asked me why I did not make fun of a boy that I use to make fun of when I lived at the orphanage.
I said, "I do not want to make fun of him anymore. It is sin."
After that, the girl that use to be a good friend would no longer talk to me.
When we left the orphanage I was thinking about all of this and I realized that only God could have changed my heart from one that always joined in with the crowd and made fun of those that were weaker than me to one that wanted to help and care for those that were weak or "different".
When I was an orphan I would make fun of people.
I am no longer an orphan.
I wondered why the kids made fun of certain kids in the orphanage just because they looked a little different or were weaker than them.
I realized how sad it made the kids who were made fun of. I realized how sad I made these kids when I did it. I realized that I use to hurt people with my words.
Thinking about this made me cry.
I cried because I realized what I was like before I had a family. I did things that were wrong but I did not know they were wrong. No one ever taught me that they were wrong. I had no one that loved me enough to teach me the things that are right and the things that are wrong.
I never knew how much I hurt people. I never knew how sad people were because of my actions.
I never knew until today.
I know now that everyone has imperfections but we do not need to make fun of them.
I do not ever want to make fun of a person again.
I want to show them love.
I also want to tell you that there are a lot of orphans that need a mom and dad. These orphans have never been taught what is right and what is wrong. Will you reach out to them, take them into your family and teach them?
If you do, there will be one less child crying in the orphanage tonight.
What a blessing daughters are. God has blessed me with two daughters that I treasure immensely. I thank God for Storey Grace and Karina.
I pray that God allows me to be a good father to them...
To raise them in the way of the Lord...
To protect them...
To teach them...
To love them...
To prepare them to be the women God wants them to be.
They truly are good gifts.
With Valentine's Day approaching I asked two of my Valentine's if I could take them to lunch. They both excitedly agreed and so, yesterday, my two girls dressed up and went out with daddy.
We were able to eat lunch at a nice restaurant where we talked about how they were doing, how God was working in their life and spent time praying for them and their futures.
After lunch we walked around just talking, went to a flower shop and Storey Grace picked out pink flowers, Karina picked out white flowers and we picked out some purple flowers for mommy.
It was a great time with the girls God has given me.
I encourage all fathers to give their daughters some time this Valentine's Day weekend.
Your daughters need you.
Right now it is 21 degrees Fahrenheit in Kiev... warmer than it was a couple of weeks ago... but still cold.
How cold does it have to be for you to put on a coat?
How cold is it when you put a coat on your children?
One of my favorite things in life is to snuggle up with my children and keep them warm.
"Keep me warm, daddy!" they often tell me. Warmth and love often go hand in hand.
For some children in Ukraine, even when the temperature drops below freezing, they do not put on a coat... because they have none.
There is an orphanage... there may be many.... where the children do not have coats to wear this winter.
Before we left for Ukraine several friends gave money to purchase coats for these children. Thank you to everyone who gave. I cannot imagine spending much time outside in this weather without a coat.
Thank you for showing your love for these children by keeping them warm.
It was an adventure getting the coats... driving through the snow, walking and sliding through the snow and ice, bargaining for a better deal, carrying big bags of coats and getting suspicious stares as our coat bags got larger and larger.
It was a joy to be able to do this. Thank you for wrapping the kids up in warmth and love!
The following is from a letter written by someone who visits orphans every day:
"Little boys shoveling snow in the freezing cold with no gloves... screaming teachers... older boys bullying younger ones... kids running wild around the orphanage... or lonely kids wandering the hallways alone... during the last few weeks I have seen all these things and more in the orphanage.
The reality of life in many orphanages is shocking.
It is not a pleasant reality to talk about.
For those of us looking in, it is much easier to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
For the children trapped in the middle, it is easier to think “I am okay, I can make it”.
But no matter how we all look at it, the harsh reality remains the same and it won’t go away until someone steps in to help.That someone is ultimately God because He is the one who loves the children most of all, and I also believe that God wants to use us to help these kids know and understand His love.
In many ways I feel helpless to do anything that will really make a difference for these kids.
I feel that all I have left now is my voice, my words to express to you what I have seen and heard in the orphanages, to speak out for these children, and to communicate their deep desire to be loved and adopted into a family.
In these last few months the urgency of their needs seem to fill my heart even more, I have been quick to share with you about the desperate situation these kids are in.
But as I long to share with you and show you the reality of life here, I have been reminded of an important lesson. . . .the lesson of what must come first, and that is crying out to God for these children.He is the one who can save them.He alone is the one who can work in hearts and lead His people to action on their behalf.
And so, today, I want to thank you for joining me in lifting these precious orphans up to the Father and ask you to continue. He wants them to be loved and protected, safe and cared for.
“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow.” Psalm 146:9a
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling.God sets the lonely in families,”Psalm 68:5-6a
And he calls us to be involved:“Learn to do right!Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Psalm 82:3"
If you are interested in receiving a prayer calendar for the orphans, contact me.
Through our adoption process we learned how governments and groups like UNICEF are responsible for keeping orphans from being adopted and in some instances causing the death of orphans. The situation in Haiti is displaying this tragedy for the world to see. Doug Philips of Vision Forum has been in Haiti caring for orphans since the end of January and explains the situation including his assessment of the missionaries accused of kidnapping. Please visit his blog to learn more: www.visionforum.com/hottopics/blogs/dwp/
Our hosts in Odessa are an amazing family. They have committed their life to caring for orphans and the love they have for God and others is energizing and wonderful. Their ministry, which we are partnering with, is far reaching and effective. The four main areas of ministry consist of Orphan Outreach, Sunday Schools, Kids Games and Summer Camps. The photo above is a picture of two team members preparing to visit sick children in a hospital and bring them joy through clowning (just another aspect of the ministry).
Through the Orphan Outreach they are able to visit orphans in areas where almost no one visits. As they entered one of the orphanages they were told that they were the first people to visit the orphans in over one year.
Think about that for a minute.
Imagine not one person coming to see you this year.
Now imagine that you are alone...
You have no family...
No one to care for your needs...
Imagine that you are a small child...
And no one ever comes to see you.
Now imagine that there are people around the place you are living that are commanded by the God they worship to visit you.
But they never come. What would you think of their religion? What would you think of them? What would you think they really believe?
What if you, as the little orphan child, were sitting on a crowded bus and you drove by a Christian's house one Sunday morning.
The yard was perfectly landscaped.
The house was huge and beautiful.
The people were dressed nicely as you saw them heading for the church building in their fancy car.
What thoughts would go through your mind as you witnessed this year after year after year?
You would understand what was important to the Christian.
And you would understand what was not important.
It is important to them to look good, have a well kept house and yard, have a nice car, be well educated, go to church and know all about good doctrine. It is important to them to be healthy and wealthy.
And those with you....
You are not important. You do not matter.
The Christian, by their lifestyle, would be reinforcing what you have already been told by others.
It would have been better if you had not been born.
You should go the way of your biological parents.
You are worthless.
You are stupid.
You should die.
Not even God cares about you.
These are the things that some orphans learn...
from the world and from Christians.
These are words that were spoken to our own daughter as she grew up in the orphanage.
Why are we partnering with this ministry? Because they are doing what God calls all Christians to do... to visit orphans and widows in their distress.
Why are we involved in orphan ministry? Because there are thousands of orphans that not only have no family... they also have no one to visit them... no one to teach them... no one to tell them about Jesus... no one to care for them physically or spiritually... and many of the Christians around them ignore them.
What about you, dear Christian?
What is your response to the orphans and widows?
What are we teaching them by our life?
By God's grace we desire to live our life to serve and glorify Jesus. He is our treasure. He is the one we trust. He is the one we love.
We are a family of eight praying that God will use us to minister to orphans around the world and encourage Christians to reach out in mercy to orphans. At home we serve with Palmer Home for Children. Palmer Home is a ministry to children who are growing up as social orphans without the nurture and support of a loving family. Palmer provides a stable, Christ-centered home for these children. Internationally we serve with Share the Hope. Share the Hope ministers to orphans around the world. Both at home and around the world we proclaim good news of Jesus Christ and reach out in mercy to these precious children. We hope that this blog is a testimony to you of God's mighty hand and that you are encouraged to serve Jesus with all your heart and to reach out to orphans.
Matthew, Sheila, Karina, Harrison, Isaac, Noah, Storey Grace and James!