Compassion Lived Simply by Carrie Cottrill

Balancing a family of seven and ministry has become a way of life for the last few years.  Structure, balancing, time management, and organization are attributes that I’ve been thankful for throughout my life but especially in this season.  Our family and ministry have been blessed abundantly (see my other MHM blog posts) but the growing pains of ministry hasn’t always been easy.  There have been frustrations, loneliness, abandonment, and often times the thought of, “I didn’t sign up for this.”  The ups and downs, the reality of volunteers coming and going, and Satans constant attacks.  Ministry is not for the faint of heart.  But then there are the blessings!  God blessing our family as well as the families that we serve.  Let me just leave it at, we serve a BIG God!

In the midst of starting a brand new ministry in a new area, we were often asked why we would sell our beautiful home in Orange County and move into a 130+ year old farmhouse.  Concerned friends would approach us with the question of why we would move our family again after just 3 years,   Our church family would often talk about us as if we were doing something out of the norm.  I would be in studies or groups and used as an example of sacrifice.  To this day, I still don’t know exactly how to react to these kinds of statements.  Honestly, most of the time I’m thinking, “Isn’t this what all followers of Christ do?” 

When I was younger and applying for scholarships, colleges, and jobs, there was one question that I always dreaded.  What is your mission in life?  I now know why this question was always a struggle, I was relating it to a worldly perspective.  I was trying to fit all my goals and aspirations into a mission that would look as if I stood out.  The reality was, I was just average in a worldly view but spiritually, I stood out.  I remember the question coming up years later as we were filling out paperwork to become foster parents.  Spiritual maturity had taken root in my soul and this question no longer intimidated me.  I knew exactly what my mission in life was.

God has called us all to live and love compassionately.  I can fully attest that God has equipped me for His calling on my life.  I certainly am not worthy!  It’s Him who gives me strength and helps me die to self daily so I can live for Him.  He has given us all spiritual gifts, a heart to serve, and a special calling on our life.  Where is God calling you to serve?  For me, I’m simply trying to change my little corner of the world by living more compassionately.



God Moves! By Carrie Cottrill

When you’re in ministry, often times it’s easy to forget the many prayers that have been answered.  We get focused on the details of ministry, the women we are ministering to, the children, the volunteers, not to mention the funding to make all this come together and flow.

I write this as a reminder not only to myself but to others who are praying about their specific ministries, those who are entering into a new ministry, and those who may have forgotten the prayers answered to deliver them to where they are today.

Eight years ago we felt called to go on a mission trip to Matamoros, Mexico to work at an orphanage.  God was preparing our hearts for orphans.  As we were preparing for the trip, God showed us that he had different plans.  We were made aware of a need and the Lord quickly burdened our hearts.  The orphanage had the opportunity to purchase some land that would allow them to expand and also build a playground.  While we didn’t go on this trip, God called us to fill the need to purchase the land for the orphanage.  We thought we would be going to love on orphans, and teach them about the Lord.  God prepares our hearts, if we seek him, he will reveal the specific need we are to fill.

Seven years ago, the state came to share about foster care and how churches can get involved.  Several families from our church gave their testimonies in how God had called their families to serve children and families.  We had two amazing boys and were quite content with our family of four.  We shared with each other that we felt the call to enter into foster care.  While I always wanted to adopt, I was amazed that God had also placed this in my husband’s heart.

Six years ago, we entered into foster care. We were very specific in exactly what we wanted.  We wanted a 4-5 year old little girl.  We decided there was no way we would accept children under 4.  We also had specifically talked about, limiting the contact with the bio family as we ONLY wanted to adopt.  I chuckle when I think about how we put God in a box, and were limiting the amazing work he was about to do in us.  I was in the middle of Target when we received the call for a 2 year old little boy, a 3 year old little girl.  I immediately knew these were the children God had sent us.  The case worker explained that they were coming with their clothes on their backs and no shoes.  I walked over to the clothing department and started gathering clothing, shoes, and YES, diapers!!  I was so past the diaper stage!  I called my husband and I remember him asking me if I could handle a 2 year old.  I said, “We can do this.”  I remember the feeling in my stomach while I was waiting for them to arrive, I honestly felt like I was going to throw up and my heart was beating out of my chest!  When they arrived, they were dirty, had lice filled hair, and were malnourished.  My heart bled for them.  I was so angry with their parents for neglecting them like this.  Later on, at the first parent visit, I met their mom.  It didn’t take long for me to love her and take her under my wing.  This is where Magnolia House  Ministries was born and God changed our hearts.  This mom, who had been in foster care herself, was broken.  Thank you Lord for changing my hideous, judgmental heart and teaching me how to love these women exactly where they were.

Five years ago – We were hosting a foster parent support fellowship at our house.  We were talking to our sweet friends about ministries and a way that we could minister better to these biological families.  Our friends are now operating a Transitional Living Program in Georgia.  The Lord moved them to start this ministry.  Little did we know that we would be moving too.

Three years ago – Our “Little kids” become forever ours!  Our adoption was final!  But there is more, God had also been working in our lives to move us to North Carolina.  Our adoption was finalized a day before we moved to North Carolina.  We had no idea what was there for us but God said, “Go”, so we obeyed.

Two and Half Years ago – Remember that sweet family who has the ministry in Georgia? She sent me a facebook message about Safe Families for Children, an amazing organization that helps families in crisis stay together.  We were excited to learn more about this program that would allow us to minister to parents and families while giving them a hand up.  I became the community lead for our area.  Through this position, I became aware of the need in our area for the Transitional Housing Program that I had envisioned long ago.  God was bringing everything together for His good.  I was so busy with networking and starting Safe Families in our area that Magnolia House Ministries had to take the back seat for a while.  However, God was continually working in the background.  He brought circumstances and people in our life that kept this vision alive.

Two years ago – We met The Darby’s (our ministry partners).  They had also foster and adopted and had a heart for this ministry.  They were helping a pregnant mom who they were seeking housing for.  They purchased a townhouse to be used for Magnolia House Ministries, and jumped in with both feet without knowing much about us or the ministry.  Talk about faith!!  They are simply amazing!

One year ago – The Darby’s learned about a contest that could potentially help us in getting started and become incorporated.  We won the contest due to The Darby’s faithfulness in entering.  Shortly after we became incorporated, we started looking for a campus or a property.  We met one of our current board members who told us about the retreat center at his church that was not being used.  It turned out that the church was looking for a ministry who could benefit from the use of the grounds and facility.  We decided to partner with River of Life church.  They had faith in us and due to their faith and generosity, we are currently operating in a building that was very close to my vision of our future property.

The story doesn’t stop there.  My original vision not only had a facility for our families but my vision also had a building where our family could live at the ministry location.  The same board member who told us about the retreat center, suggested that we move into the empty farmhouse on the property.  We thought he was crazy at first as this farmhouse needed major renovation.  We knew God was moving so we moved forward.  We put our house up for sale and started working little by little on the farmhouse.  We had some amazing volunteers who gave their time to start making this empty, wasp infested house into a home.  We were having a good amount of showings on our home but no offers.  After 6 months of getting nowhere with the sale, we decided that maybe God had other plans so we took it off the market.  A week later, we received a note in our mailbox, a family who had seen our house online wanted to see if we would still be willing to sell.  We set up an appointment with them but before they arrived another couple drove down our driveway and told us they had also been watching our home and asked if we would be willing to show them the house. By the afternoon, we had a full price offer from this couple and I might also mention, we didn’t have to pay any realtor fees.  God is amazing!  There was still one problem.  This family was in a hurry to move in but we had nowhere to go.  We had only painted the farmhouse and it still had two gutted bathrooms, broken windows, it needed all new floors and a new roof.  Again, God’s plan is perfect!  Some friends of ours were getting ready to leave on mission to Africa.  God provided a rental as well as an amazing contractor, and many friends who helped us finish the farmhouse in a month.

So here we are, we now live on the property, we currently have 4 ladies and their children in our transitional homes.  We have two locations that we are currently operating.  We are growing, learning, and relying on the Lord to grow this ministry through funding, expansion, and volunteers.

We serve a mighty God, AMEN!







Where did the name originate from?

By Carrie Cottrill

I observe people, that’s what I do. It started at an early age with my grandparents. I observed my grandparents relationship and even though I came from a broken home, I was blessed to witness how God designed a marriage to be. My grandfather met the standard! He loved my grandmother like God loves the church. My grandmother loved the smell of Magnolias. My grandparents lived modestly but my grandfather still found ways to make my grandmother feel special. He worked at a clinic close by that was filled with Magnolia Trees, Every week he would bring her a bloom and she would place the bloom in a clear bowl with water in the center of the table. The aroma would fill the kitchen with a wonderful, sweet smell. He would give her a kiss on the cheek and say, “I love you, Shug.” (Short for Sugar) This act of love has played in my mind since childhood. When the vision of MHM first came to me years ago,  the name Magnolia House Ministries seemed fitting.  Magnolia House is a simple act of love coming along side families to help them to live independently.