Some people just look like they have it all together. And, if you’re honest about your heart, sometimes the comparison and envy you feel when you see them makes you not like them and/or not like yourself.
I met Wendy Farrell through the magic of Facebook. Friends of friends. When I first saw her Facebook posts I assumed she had a stylist, designer, driver, and full time assistant! Truly gorgeous family. Perfectly pinterest-worthy classroom snacks. Beautiful stylish home. I gawked and just wanted to be her.
But of course that wasn’t the whole picture. The whole picture is even better. Wendy has a huge, gentle, generous heart. She and her family take big leaps of bold faith. Very quickly the shot of envy I felt was replaced with admiration, encouragement, and delight. Wendy is a gift.
I’m thankful she is letting me introduce her family and their passion to you. At the end of this post there are a few links so you can partner with them in their Family Compassion Focus. I’m so excited for them!
Tell us about the Farrell Family, Wendy!
My husband Ryan and I have 5 daughters: Aislynn, Avalea, Arabella, Adalaise, and Alona.
Aislynn, our firstborn perfectionist, is 7 years old. She is super smart, creative, and kind. Aislynn is a sparkly-eyed bookworm who enjoys taking ballet and art classes. When she grows up, Aislynn wants to be an author and illustrator.
Avalea, our spunky social butterfly, is 6. She is very easy going and a math whiz! She has an encouraging, helpful heart and makes sure all of her peers at school and church feel welcome. Avalea gives her Daddy a run for his money on all Wii U games, and loves taking gymnastics. When she grows up, she wants to be a Fashion Designer.
Arabella, our shy child, is 4 (soon to be 5, she would tell you). She loves going to preschool and the color blue. She is our little engineer and can figure out how to build things and put shapes together in ways that totally amaze me. Arabella is super sweet and has perfected how to get what she wants by batting her super long eyelashes and shy smile. When she grows up, she wants to be a Dance Teacher.
Adalaise, our baby of the family is 3. She is our tiny tyrant. She’s as cute as a button, and she knows it! Her favorite phrases, today anyway, are “Are you kidding me?!?!” and “I’m Marvelous.” We aren’t sure yet what she wants to be when she grows up, but I have no doubt she will achieve whatever it is she chooses to become!
Alona is our newest addition, and is 18 years old. She joined our family 2 years ago, at 16, from Ukraine. It is hard to imagine our family without her. Alona is the most patient person you will ever meet. She adores her little sisters and they adore her! Alona is gifted in drawing and is a great knitter. Alona is hard working, easy going, and adapts to change easier than anyone I know. She has overcome many obstacles with grace, and her sweet spirit is a true testament to how special she is. Alona would love to be a Teacher one day.
Our family is hoping to expand once more, and adopt an 8 year old boy from Ukraine. Our little guy loves to play chess and soccer. He is an “expert” at cars (so he says), and is a huge helper for his caregivers. His smile will light up any room, and he loves to give and receive big hugs. When he grows up, he wants to be a Cowboy! We cannot wait to bring our sweet boy, our only SON home!
Ryan is our rock. He is our family’s provider, and is a huge supporter of any endeavors I pursue. Ryan is a man of faith, and loves to encourage his coworkers and friends. When people ask me how I do what I do, I tell them it is only through Ryan’s help, support, and encouragement that I am able to tackle the projects and ministry opportunities that come my way.
Lastly, I am Wendy. Wife of 11 years to Ryan and stay at home mom to my 5 beautiful girls. I have a huge sweet tooth, love to make crafts, and volunteer at my girls’ schools. I try to seek the Lord’s will and purpose for my life and follow where He leads.
How is your family showing compassion in this season?
I love this question. Adopting our oldest daughter 2 years ago was such a gift to our family. Our girls were 1, 2, 4, and 5 when Alona came home, so they learned at a super early age that there were kids in this world who don’t have families. Adoption gave us a very natural open door to start conversations with our girls about children in this world who are in need. Our girls saw Ryan and me pack up donations to take to the orphanage and saw pictures of where their sister lived. Through the adoption of Alona, God placed a deep burden and desire in our family’s heart to help other orphaned children in Ukraine.
Out of this desire, came our ministry, the 1U Project.
1 U Project’s foundation is the belief in the power of 1. 1 person expressing their faith in Christ through loving and serving another can make a life changing impact. We believe that every single life is valuable, and that every single person can make a difference.
It is the purpose of 1U Project to channel the God given strengths, talents, and prayers of individuals into serving those in need.
It is our desire to provide practical, monetary, and spiritual resources to existing ministries and individuals that serve impoverished orphans and families in Ukraine.
I travel to Ukraine several times each year to work alongside, and encourage christian caregivers. It is through these mission trips that we met our son to be. Our primary focus, currently, is assisting the Renewal Center, not only financially, but in prayer and encouragement.
How did your family start practicing compassion?
We knew when were in country adopting Alona two years ago that we wanted to do more for other orphans in her country. We just didn’t know what. Those thoughts and plans were put on the back burner as we adjusted to life back home with a teenager, who didn’t speak our language. Alona’s 1st year home was very much about settling in to our new normal.
At the one year mark, the Lord started tapping on my heart to start thinking about helping other orphans in Ukraine. I didn’t know what to do, or where to start, so I started looking at any and all opportunities to serve. The first opportunity to arise was to volunteer with a hosting program. Through this, I was able to meet a lot of wonderful people who shared my heart for Ukrainian orphans. The Lord continued to nudge me to dig into ministry in country, and He began to place a burden on my heart to help christian orphanages, specifically, who were struggling to make ends meet.
With Ryan’s support and encouragement, I made my first trip back to Ukraine since adopting Alona this past February with a fellow adoptive mom. It was on this trip that I met the amazing staff and children of Renewal Center, and a deep friendship and bond with these precious people were formed. This past June I made a return trip, along with an amazing team, to spend time at Renewal Center, and visit another new christian orphanage that opened its doors this month.
How did you choose your plan of action?
I would have to say that I didn’t choose a plan of action, I just kind of jumped in. Early on, I made a pact with the Lord, that I would follow Him wherever He leaded me, and I’ve stuck to that. It is super scary to start a ministry, or plan a mission trip, without having an exact plan of action, and that is exactly what I did! I was super nervous about leading my first mission trip this past June because we didn’t have a detailed plan, but I can tell you that God took care of each detail beautifully, and amazing things happened on that trip. I am a huge planner, and perfectionist, so I have learned, been stretched, and grown so much through this whole process of adoption and ministry.
Why are you doing it?
When you see the faces of orphaned children, hold their hands, and give them a hug that they desperately crave and need, you can’t help but be forever changed. When you spend time with a caregiver that has dedicated their entire life to caring for hurting, abandoned, deeply wounded children and getting nothing in return, and when you hear their stories and see their faith lived out daily despite all the obstacles they face, you can’t help but want to do something to help them. I do it simply because there is a great need, and because the orphans and caregivers I have the privilege of working with in Ukraine hold a huge piece of my heart. They have become our extended family, and I would do anything for my family!
What’s been the hardest part?
The hardest part for me is having to say goodbye to the precious ones in Ukraine after an amazing week with them there. Returning to our country of over abundance, and trying to explain in words to others what I have experienced and feel, and not being able to convey all my jumbled up emotions and thoughts properly is a frustrating. It is super hard to see the vast needs and knowing that I can’t possibly meet them all.
Do you have any advice for other families?
I know many families want to do something, they just don’t know what, and they struggle with where to begin. My advice would be to jump in and get your feet wet! You don’t have to have all the answers, or have a course of action planned out. I firmly believe that if you are a believer, and you pray about what the Lord wants your family to do to show compassion, then He will give you an answer.
Talk to those around you about ways that they are serving, look at the needs within your community, and join those that are already trying to meet those needs. If there is a cause or people that tug at your heart strings, start there. The important thing is do SOMETHING!! You can figure it all out along the way.
How can we partner with you?
- From September 28-October 2 we will be having a Fabulous Facebook Auction to raise money for the Renewal Center. They are in need of financial assistance to cover their monthly expenses. We will have a ton of awesome items up for bid. Please check out our FB page for sneak peeks, and updates and be sure to bid in the auction on Sept. 28!!
- If auctions aren’t your thing, but you would like to help support Ukrainian orphans, you can make a donation here: 1up site
- If you would like to learn more about our family, and follow our adoption journey, you can here: Farrells Full House
Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your story!
To learn more about how the Family Compassion Focus got started, read here.
To get started on your own Family Compassion Focus, read here. It’s never too late!
To learn about my family’s focus for 2015, read here.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015.