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Word of Mouth

Most often when I am looking for a new service, I ask around to find the place that someone has already tried and approved. Car services, coffee, resale stores, the doctor. It will save me time and energy and, possibly, a headache if I can use a service that someone else has given the approval stamp.

I don’t think I am out of the ordinary (in this regard at least). We are a busy people living in a busy time. Chances are better that if I ask someone I like or trust about a service they like or trust, I will also like or trust the same service.

After working for Pregnancy Support Services, I have learned the importance of “Word of Mouth” referrals. Many of our referrals come from “my mom’s friend who adopted” or “my friend you helped when she was pregnant.” I always appreciate these referrals because 1. That’s someone we get to help and 2. Someone gave us the approval stamp!

Thank you to all of those that have referred our services. Thank you for your approval stamp! You are all important in making sure that women and families who could use some extra support during their pregnancy, can find our services.

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A LOST BOY FINDS HIS CALLING, as reported by the Washington Post

This is a “must-see video”. It will awaken some strong feelings within you, as you view the utter travesty of severely neglected and abused children. You will be “looking back in time” to Romania in the 1980’s. Izidor Ruckel escaped the horror of his confinement through the open arms of an adoptive family. As a survivor, his goal is to return to Romania and initiate change so other orphaned children do not go through the same horrors he and other children experienced. You can find the video at the link below:


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A New Year: Renewed Desire for Change


“What are your New Year’s resolutions?”


Oh, the infamous annual phrase that reminds us of the necessity for change in our lives.  Well, the New Year has passed, and perhaps, your resolutions with it. In planning goals, there is the great hope of what life could be like, should the change come to fruition. Sadly, we are quickly disappointed when achievement is farther off than preferred. This is not limited to our personal lives; it also pervades our vocations and ministries.

Change is a ‘hot’ topic in the Safe Families for Children program. Our staff and volunteers earnestly desire change to occur within the placing families – change that will foster an increasingly secure and loving environment. Here is the catch: far too often, I find myself wanting that change to happen overnight. When the seeds that have been planted are not growing according to my timeline, disappointment is not far away. The Lord is convicting me of this faulty agenda in a few different ways.

One of these lessons is His admonition that I must cease my attempts to ‘fix’ people. I am not the One who can change lives. It is a complete work of the Holy Spirit and it is done in His timing. This is a humbling, but necessary, reminder that should never be far from mind.

Second, He is challenging me to simply be with someone in their pain. One of the greatest gifts that we can give someone is the gift of our presence. Instead of trying to find the most comforting thing to say at just the right time, what would it look like to just be with that person? This is something that I am seeking to discover. 

Lastly, the Lord has reminded me that my minute mind cannot comprehend the mysteries of His grandiose plan. His ways are far greater than my own. I am to surrender my agenda to His will, trusting that He knows what is best for these families.

The disappointment vanishes when I consider these things and when I hear what God is doing through those involved in Safe Families – the staff, the volunteers, and our placing families. The love of Christ is being lavished on those in our community and across the country.

As another year has begun and our desire for change is renewed, may God quicken our hearts to what He is doing in and through our successes and disappointments.


Emily Shaw, Safe Families for Children Hub Manager

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The Spirit of Christmas

red-christmas-ballOne of the things I love the most about Christmas is not Christmas Day, or the presents, or even the delicious cinnamon rolls that are the traditional Christmas breakfast in my home. No, my favorite thing about Christmas is the “spirit of Christmas.”  Now, Christmas clichés abound this time of year, so let me explain what I mean by “spirit of Christmas.”

 To me, the “spirit of Christmas” encompasses so many aspects of the human experience; from the reminder of our Savior’s birth, to the hope people find when they see long-absent friends or family members, to the generous hearts of individuals who choose this time of year to serve their friends and strangers alike.  It seems as though people, in general, are a little more joyful, selfless, and thoughtful during the Christmas season.  Signs of such behavior can been seen when someone donates a winter coat and hats to a stranger, when two brothers put aside their differences in order to spend Christmas with family, or even when someone simply smiles more at those they see as they complete their last-minute shopping.  The “spirit of Christmas” always seems to renew my hope and remind me of the good in people.

 Unfortunately, the “spirit of Christmas” only seems to last for, as expected, the Christmas season.  The “spirit of Christmas” goes into hiding and comes back out the following year just after Thanksgiving.  But what if it stayed with us the whole year?  What a radical thought.  What if the “spirit of Christmas” became our norm and people were always a little bit more friendly, more giving, more considerate?  I am not sure what the “spirit of Christmas” means to you, but for me, I want the “spirit of Christmas” to extend to the “Spirit of Christ;” I want it to expand beyond the Christmas season, encompass the love that Christ has shown us, and stay with me throughout the year and throughout my interactions.  My goal is to be a catalyst, part of the cause, instead of merely being affected by the once-a-year Christmas fervor.  Join me? 🙂


Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


**Merry Christmas and Merry Life**

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It is “SAD Season”

Here we go again – the season of short days, less sunlight and confinement indoors. It is the season when the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) appear. For some people the holidays may delay the onset of SAD, also called “winter blues”. People afflicted with SAD see Christmas as a time when joyfulness is required, but it takes a great deal of energy.

The Mayo Clinic defines SAD as “a type of depression that occurs the same time every year….symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”

Several family members and I are vulnerable to SAD. The change back to Central Standard Time in early November is one event that can trigger SAD, with the sun setting around 4:45 pm. For those in the Eastern Time Zone, the sun rises as late as 8 am in December, which can make getting out of bed more difficult.

Symptoms of SAD include the following:

– Depression                                                            – Social withdrawal

– Hopelessness                                                       – Oversleeping

– Anxiety                                                                   – Weight gain

– Loss of energy                                                      – Difficulty concentrating

– Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs    – Losing interest in enjoyable activities

– Appetite changes

The good news is that there are a number of things that each of us can do to help prevent or reduce the affects of SAD. The following tips are courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:

  • Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
  • Get outside. Take a long walk and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help, especially within two hours of getting up in the morning.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.

More serious symptoms may be addressed by light therapy, medications and/or psychotherapy.  Your personal or family physician should be consulted. ECFA Counseling Center may be able to assist in addressing SAD symptoms with brief-term therapy. Call us at 630 653-6400 to schedule an appointment.

Meditating on the spiritual (original) meaning of Christmas can also be helpful. Set aside some time each day to re-read the story of Jesus’ birth. Immersing oneself in the “glad tidings of great joy” can help SAD-vulnerable people keep things in perspective.

David  Lundberg, MSW, LSW                                                                         Counseling Supervisor

For more information visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder

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Spreading the Christmas Cheer

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” –Isaiah 9:6

Christmas Presents image for blog

I love Christmas!  It is my favorite time of the year and with this weekend’s dusting of snow my house was filled with Christmas carols, Hallmark movies, cookies, and wrapping paper.  Christmas fills me with such joy that I feel like a little kid again and a flood of warm memories flood my thoughts as we set up the tree and unpack the nativity.  But, as an adult, I have come to realize that Christmas is not always a happy season for everyone. That for families going through hard times financially or emotionally, or for those without family Christmas, can be a really hard season.

Enter my favorite song this holiday season by Anthony Evans called Immanuel.  The chorus says:

Immanuel, our God is with us, yes he is with us still

Immanuel, he has not left us and he never will

I love it, because it reminds me that Christmas is about Immanuel, God with us, and that HE is the reason for the season.  That is what we have to celebrate whether or not we find the perfect gifts or take the best holiday card photo.  It reminds me that Christmas is about sharing His love and the gift of His son with those around me.

Reflecting on this message this holiday season, I realized that He has truly blessed me with the opportunity to serve on a ministry like Safe Families here at ECFA.  Where it is my job to connect  families in crisis, who are alone and hurting, with families who want to be the arms of God embracing them, reminding them that God is with us, he has not left us and he never will!

So as we enter this season of giving would you consider sharing with your family and friends the ministry of Safe Families?  Maybe you can just take a moment to pray for our families.  Maybe you can start by sharing the 4 minute youtube video before or after Christmas dinner.  Maybe you want to pray about you and/or your family becoming volunteers with Safe Families in 2014.

Merry Christmas!!

Joy Winquist, Safe Families Host Families Coordinator



REHOMING: The costs to children are great!

Dear Readers,

When I did a Google Search of the word “Rehoming”, the following definitions were the first to pop up. It appears that rehoming has previously, and maybe exclusively, referred to pets that were adopted and then readopted into another home for one reason or another.

**Longman’s English Dictionary of “re‧home” is “to arrange for a pet to have a new owner and home, especially a pet that has been looked after in a shelter”.

**WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY defines “Rehoming” as follows:  Pet adoption usually refers to the process of taking guardianship of and responsibility for a pet that a previous owner has abandoned or released to a shelter or rescue organization.

**The Oxford Dictionary gives this definition for “rehome” verb [with object] – find a new home for (a pet): every stray animal is neutered before being rehomed

Unfortunately, “Rehoming” has taken on a new meaning these days. The definition now includes children. How can this be?

Investigative reporter for Reuters (National News Agency), Megan Twohey,  reported on the extensive underground network for rehoming children without any oversight by a licensed and accredited social service agency. It’s appalling how children are being shuffled around by parents who have just given up on them. ADOPTION IS FOR KEEPS, exactly as if the child was born into the family. What can a family in crisis do when they are at their wits’ end? GET HELP. Help is out there.

If you have not heard or been exposed to Ms. Reuters’ investigative reports or read any news reports about children being rehomed, you can view one or more of the links I have provided here for your use. If you wonder  “What can I do?”  consider the following:  offer assistance to a family that is struggling with parenting their children, encourage your legislators to make it illegal for families to privately “rehome” their adopted child, and encourage Facebook to close down internet sites that advertise the private rehoming of children. This can be an invitation for child sexual predators.   Read more at Voice for Adoption.

Adoption is a beautiful thing and ECFA is proud to have been involved in placing children into Christian homes for more than 63 years. When biological families choose to make an adoption plan, we are very thankful that Christian families step forward to open their hearts and homes to these babies and children.  After all, Jesus stands in the gap for us so we can be adopted into God’s family. Can we do less? But what about rehoming?

There has been much said in the news lately about “rehoming” based on some investigative reporting. We are appreciative that the majority of adoptions involve children being placed into loving and appropriate homes. However, we also recognize that if even one child is placed into an unacceptable home or is “rehomed”, that is one child too many.

We need to be aware, mindful and educated on what negative practices are occurring in regard to children so we can be part of the process for positive change. If rehoming occurs because families are ill prepared for the challenges of parenting in general, or parenting older children or children with special needs, then let’s take responsibility to educate the parents. Some adoptive applicants should be directed against adopting children and others simply need additional training. Maybe you know of a family that is struggling in parenting a specific child (adopted or biological or foster). How about giving them a hand? Let’s not be shy about offering assistance to parents  in need.

If you are a struggling family, have courage to ask for professional help.  Available resources could include one or more of the following::  1) agency that assisted with the adoption, 2)  home church or other churches have some support groups or orphan care ministries (Willowcreek in Barrington, Wheaton Bible Church in West Chicago and a new ministry entitled “Replanted” with Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton to name a few),  4) consider  contacting groups such as CAFFA (Chicago Area Families For Adoption). They have great training opportunities for adoptive parents, 5) Counseling may be indicated for the child(ren) and/or the parents. There are post-adoption counseling services available in most communities and in some cases funding may be available for counseling. 6) ECFA offers counseling and we are sensitive to and knowledgeable about adoption concerns.