children of Hope {1×1}

Joy! It’s the look you see on the face of a child who has a reason to be proud, and someone else has acknowledged their hard work & potential for greatness. It’s what we were hoping to capture in these pictures. These kiddos bring such joy into OUR lives, we love teaching them & watching them grow. We are thrilled when one of our volunteer tutors shares how one of these sweet children has mastered a new skill or even an important exam. THIS is why we do it, THIS is why we’re here… because of the HOPE we have in Jesus & how He shines that Hope through the eyes of each child we meet!

The following pics are from last semester’s Manna Tutoring Awards Day. The music students performed, an older boy shared his testimony & one of our ICA friends spoke to the students & parents about the program. Then there was a message of Hope given before we closed in prayer & broke for a wonderful lunch together. It was a great time to meet the parents & tell them just how proud we are of their kids!

Mark brought a small kids bible & stuffed animal for each of the 6 girls in his English tutoring group. He promised them that if they finished reading the bible, they could call him & he’d give them another great book! We’ve already given out 2 more books, these kids are working very hard to improve their English. They know it’s the best tool for them to do big things in their lives. We are so encouraged by these girls & we know the Truth they are reading is doing so much more than helping their grammar & comprehension! This is what it’s all about! Making a difference… {1×1}

“It is the same with my word.I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” -Isaiah 55:11

1x1 logo copywright-JK

Advertisements

a Daughter for mother’s day {5k+1} – [announcement!]

Exciting news to share with all of our friends out there!!! We finally found our daughter!!!

Sounds a bit funny to say that out loud, I mean, it’s not like she was ever lost… But  after 15 years of dreaming & praying, over the last 4-5 of those years Mark & I actually began to think it was possible to have a daughter. (Of course, by ‘have’ I mean ‘adopt’, don’t get confused here. *wink*) Now here we are, in the midst of the miracle we always hoped for – God has shown us His timing & His path to adopting our daughter, the one He led us to, who is living in a Foster home China right now. Just a short 8 hour drive up the coast from us… We know who she is, we fell in love with her smile & her laugh, & we know her name!

Now we are officially ‘Pre-Approved’ to adopt a specific 4-year-old girl, who is more precious than words!!! Mark & I first saw her face last December while scrolling through list after list of “waiting children”, all with at least one “special need”… We want to tell you all everything about our sweet girl so you can enjoy the rest of this new adventure along with us… However, due to the regulations that are in place to keep orphans & their information safe, we aren’t allowed to tell you very much until we are almost ready to go get her. ((Praying that will be by the end of THIS year!)) We can’t tell you exactly where she is or even her given name… & we especially cannot share her pictures online yet. As soon as we can though, you can be sure we will!

ajk signsSo, in honor of Mother’s Day & this wonderful news – we want to share something just as special as her picture… Her new name! A name is very important, especially to God. He puts a lot of emphasis on giving meaningful names in the Bible. Many times, when there is a new beginning or a new life for someone, God gives them a new name to emphasize the changes He is doing in their lives… We also have taken great care in naming all of our children. We especially want our little girl to start her new life with a new name that brings her hope & freedom & eventually, we hope it brings her closer to God.

We also hope when you read our daughter’s ‘new’ name that you will think about & pray for all the other orphans who still need families. Maybe one of them is meant to be in YOUR family. Maybe they are just meant to have your prayers until their family finds them… Consider this:

“Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names
They are easier to ignore before you see their faces
It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms,
But once you do, everything changes.” 

– from Radical by David Platt

Now for the fun part – we have chosen a fitting name for our sweet little miracle girl:

ajk2bAnnaBelle Janae Kwong

Anna: a Prophetess in the Bible, a woman of worship, prayer & dedication to God, a woman who recognized Christ! (Luke 2:36–38) {also, Anna is MY middle name!}

Belle: French/Hungarian – Meaning ‘beautiful’. German/Spanish – Meaning ‘intelligent’. {just found out, Belle is the name of my ajkStep-Father’s late paternal grandmother!}

Janae: feminine form of the biblical male name Janai. – Meaning ‘God has answered’, ‘God is gracious’ or ‘gift’

It comes with a ton of fun nick names to choose from too! Anna, Belle, Elle, Ellie, AJ, Nay Nay, etc.

Please pray that God will continue to provide the finances for us to go get AnnaBelle! Before we committed to the adoption, we prayed for God to confirm that He wanted us to move forward. When we felt He had, we paid our application fee. When we were accepted, there was a very fast deadline for the first $3,000+ in agency fees. We prayed again, knowing if God provided for the need in the short time, it must really be His will & plan for this girl to join our family! Miraculously, God provided almost $5,000 in less than 2wks! Isn’t he great!!! Since then, He has continued to provide & over half of the fees/expenses have already been paid. Now we are praying for the remaining $20,000 that will need to be paid before we are finished with the adoption. Please pray with us!

Yes. That IS a lot of money. It is simply the cost of adopting internationally these days. The cost of a life… And we KNOW that God will provide it because He has told us He will. He has confirmed it by already providing through many of His children, isn’t the Body of Christ a wonderful thing?! — We can’t wait to pay every penny it will cost for our daughter’s life! SHE’S WORTH ALL THAT & MORE!!! Mark & I & the boys are so excited to go scoop up our little AnnaBelle & bring her home! If all the timing works out, we should have her just in time to bring her home to the States on our next trip – then she can meet so many of you that will have helped to pray her home to her Forever Family!!! Don’t you agree that every little one deserves a Forever Family to love them forever?!

We hope you will check back with us as we share more updates on our adoption journey! We have a long ways to go yet, we only have half of the paperwork phase finished. So there is much busyness around here, getting ready! The boys are very excited too, I’m sure I’ll write more about that another time…

ajk announce1 copy

If you or anyone you know would like to help us with our adoption costs, we do have a couple of ways you can do that. Please just shoot us an email & we will fill you in! (mark.kwong@na-link.com) We are overjoyed to know our daughter will soon be home!! Thank you for your love & encouragement! You all are some of the best people on the planet & we love each of you so much! We’re praying God’s grace & blessings over your families today!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

-JK

thanks disney… NOT

Training up my children in the way of the LORD, not the way of the mouse. Discussions on the Disney Channel always make me glad we left the country & don’t have cable here in HK. We actually only see what we purposely record online & then make special time to view, which is not even on a weekly basis; maybe LESS now that our TV broke yesterday… LOL! I totally agree with the below comments on the Disney Channel programming… While I do let my boys watch Good Luck Charlie & Jessie on occasion, the catch is that I’m watching with them & we discuss the negative attitudes as we go. The rule at our house is, if you learn negative behavior from ANYTHING, out it goes. They all agree to this for their movie, music, tv & friend choices. I believe it’s very important to teach our children to use their own discernment & I totally agree that when it comes to Disney, much discernment is needed. Thanks Disney, for giving me so many chances to teach my kids what NOT to let into their growing minds! 
These days, less is more friends. Discernment is KEY. Training is needed so our kids will be wise as serpents & gentle as doves, both now & as adults.  -JK
Re-Blogged from “Life Inspired” – original post

Between Us: An Open Letter to the Disney Channel

No More Disney Channel copy

Dear Disney Channel Executives,

My daughter Journey has recently become a fan of the Disney Channel.  She just turned 7, she has officially outgrown Nick Jr. and since Nick seems to show SpongeBob all day, she has moved over to the Disney channel.  At first, she was pretty much only watching Phineas and Ferb.  Eventually, she started watching the rest of the line up including Good Luck Charlie, Austin and Ally, Shake It Up and Jessie.

The more she watched, the more I realized that all of scripted shows on the channel have one thing in common—all the storylines center around pretending to be something you are not or lying to get what you want.   I also realized that just about all of the episodes are recycled sitcom storylines from 20+ years ago with the same premise.  The pet that dies (or gets lost) and is replaced.  The favorite item that is mistakenly given away and has to be retrieved by any means necessary.  The boy who pretends to be someone he’s not to get the girl or vice versa.  While the setting, faces and fashion has changed, the stories are basically the same.

So much of our world has changed in the past ten years alone.  Yet Disney continues to promote shows built around formulaic characters that reinforce negative cultural and gender stereotypes.  There’s the doofus dad (Good Luck Charlie, A.N.T. Farm); the scheming brother (Good Luck Charlie, Jessie, Wizards of Waverly Place); the not too bright best friend (Wizards of Waverly Place, Austin & Ally).  But the worse show on the channel by far is Jessie.  A show about self-absorbed absentee parents that have left a flighty, inexperienced nanny and lazy butler to care for their culturally diverse adopted brood that represents as many stereotypes as it does ethnicities.

I am also concerned about the portrayal of mature subject matter between some of the characters.  Girls and boys regularly pursue each other and sometimes end up in relationships.  While this may be appropriate for teenagers, I don’t think it is behavior that should be presented to children around my daughter’s age.

At first, I thought it was my fault for allowing her to watch a channel that was programmed for older children.  But after a bit of research, I realized that Disney Channel is programmed for kids ages 6-14.  The obvious way to solve my dilemma with your programming would be to change the channel, and believe me that is exactly what I did.  When I made that decision, I sat my daughter down to explain why she couldn’t watch the channel anymore.  She was upset about it, but she did agree that most of the characters make bad choices at one point or another.  “But mom, they always fix it by the end of the show,” she said.  This is the message that our children are getting—that no matter how many times you lie, scheme or make bad decisions, it will all work out in the end.  Of course, anyone over the age of 7 knows that is simply not true.

With three Disney channels, I am asking that you consider airing programming on one of them that is suitable for kids ages 6-10.  Or at the very least, a block of programming during after school hours that features shows like Phineas and Ferb, Gravity Falls, and Disney feature films, as well as age appropriate scripted shows.

But then again, maybe I’m just expecting too much from a corporate conglomerate that occupies such a large place in the hearts and minds of children across the globe.  In the end, it’s up to me as the parent to make sure that the content that my child is exposed to is in line with my beliefs and values.  So for now, much to my daughter’s dismay, she is no longer allowed to watch the Disney Channel.
______________________________________________________________________
Parents, do you agree or disagree? If you do, like and share this post.

already known… by the Father {5k+1}

A little girl in China turns 4 today. I wish I could be there to celebrate HER & tell her that she’s beautiful & amazing & full of God’s goodness! But I know God will be with her & whisper His loving words into her ears today & every day. I pray I will see her very soon & hold her in my arms for the first time. I hope it’s before her next birthday… maybe even before next Christmas… I cannot share her name, although it’s pretty just like her smile. I stare at her picture knowing I love her, but not knowing her at all. What’s her favorite color? Which toy does she treasure? How does she like her hair? Will she have a birthday cake today??? So many unknowns… but I am grateful that God knows her. He has always known her.

God’s always known everything about her. He knew her in her mother’s womb where He knit her together. He knew she would be taken to a police station & then to an orphanage when she was barely 2 months old. He knows her name & every hair on her head. He even knows if today is really her birthday… Most of all, He knows how to take care of her & protect her… & He knows how to get us to her, no matter the cost – He has the provision & no matter the obstacle – He makes the way, & He’s always on time! She lives only 6 hours away from us, but it will be months before we will be allowed to meet her. But she is in good hands because her Heavenly Father has never left her alone…

This precious birthday girl has been on God’s heart since before she was born. He has prepared for her a family with 3 brothers, a Daddy & a Mama that already love her. We don’t know her yet, but we’re on our way to bring her home. The journey will be long & uncertain, with ups & downs. We’ve already hit bumps, yet God has provided. I can’t wish her Happy Birthday this year. I don’t even speak her language. But God can & He can speak it. I don’t know her favorite food or the name of her dolly… Or if she even has one. But I hold on to what I do know. God cares for her & has asked us to care too. He has promised to make a way where there seems to be no way. God has never led me where He will not sustain me. Most importantly, I know that God has shown me that sweet 4 year old girl. I don’t know her yet, but I know…

… She is my daughter.

-JK

{5k+1} our adoption journey