Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The post in which I try to convince everyone to become Foster parents (sorry)

((proof that i'm not a 'blogger' by trade... tried to add pictures because apparently words alone are boring and in the process made the font tiny and certain paragraphs huge... let's just take that as a sign from Jesus about what He thinks is important enough to actually read :)))

I'm not so bad at reflecting... looking back on things that are no more and seeing things I learned, things I missed, things I want to do differently next time, or things that have shaped me in ways I will cherish forever. But freezing time for even a moment and looking at what's around me now and thinking about what God is teaching me now is much harder for me. I don't journal and even though I love the question that almost always comes up on coffee dates with friends, I am not often thinking about what God is doing and teaching and disciplining and stretching and giving right now.

So, let me just talk about my journey while my tracks in the dirt are fresh and the path ahead is still long and winding, with much more ground to be covered. So much left to learn! Though my experiences with foster care have been unconventional (to say the least), they have always involved being a temporary mama to a child who is in need of just that. Most often, I would have preferred the word ‘temporary’ to not exist as a descriptive adjective in our relationship; but it always has. And I am thankful all the same for the weeks, months, or years that these children have been in my hands, even if they are now just mine in heart.

I believe so strongly that it is our great opportunity and privilege to enter into the suffering of others. That's how God led me here, before I knew anything about foster care. A child finding themselves in need of a different roof over their head is a big deal. And the thing is, it’s a big deal for everybody. We can look on, or we can enter in with humility, utter dependence on God, and a willingness to do whatever we can, at whatever cost, to love all who are involved.

You guys, I know this as a daily reality so believe me when I say Satan is after these kids. He so deeply loves a child feeling forgotten, abandoned, neglected, unworthy, and thrown away. I believe God is so clear in scripture about His profound love for the fatherless, outcast, and abandoned on purpose. He makes it simply impossible to read Scripture and not see this unfathomable love for the forgotten. He is crazy about them. As I spend my days (and nights) with them, I see Him working tirelessly to reveal this love to them—He is so faithful in that, but the awesome thing is He invites us in.

If we know this deep love to be true and we know that Satan wants ownership of these kids’ hearts, can we enter into the battle and wrap these little (or big) ones up in that love? Can we get some flesh in the game and welcome these kids into our homes, into our families, for even a brief 24 hours of love? Can we not think about ourselves for a few minutes and just trust God to use silly, small us in the lives of these kids He cherishes? Can we trust Him to give us what we need and help us to love “as much as we love our biological kids”? Can we trust Him with the hearts of our other children who we are afraid of hurting in the process? Can we believe Him when He says He is always and will continue to work for our good, even as we take a break from working to create our own good for ourselves and our families? Can we stop planning and rationalizing and thinking as if we are working in our own power and walk into this with expectancy for how He promises to carry us?

In foster care, it is so much about trusting Him to do what He wants to do in the lives of these kids (again, even for 24 fleeting hours) and letting you play a part even just by reading bedtime stories and wiping sticky hands. It's remembering constantly how deeply He cares for these kids and trusting Him to reveal that to them and to not relent in working for their good. It means trusting Him even when things don't go the way you would have hoped or thought best and continuing to pray for the children all the more when they are out of your hands/view and in someone else's. It’s saying yes to things that are likely to hurt and reminding Jesus that He needs to be so thick in this or you simply can’t walk it. 

I know that many, many godly people are of the mindset that some people are called to this and some are called to that and there are clear distinctions and it’s awesome that I am called to this and not that and it’s awesome that they are called to that and not this. Sure. I get that, sort of. But I think we are missing an important part of our relationship with God when we make our minds up prematurely about what He has or hasn’t called us to. Though it might look different for everyone, He has clearly called every single one of us to love and everyday I believe we can be asking Him who. He will not tire of our eagerness to see who He wants us to see.

In foster care, you will have hurting children (even if they are unable to verbalize the hurt, it is surely there) under your roof and you will be given the unique privilege to put your hands on them as you pray and petition on their behalf. You will be entering into the battle, undoubtedly. You will be fighting right alongside your God and with the indestructible armor that He has already won. You will forget yourself and you will have to remember Him. Your stomach will be filled with the anxious butterflies that they might not even know to have before court dates, family visits, and other life events. You will feel their heart pain and it will hurt, but doesn’t every one need that—someone to weep with them? You will pray earnestly for them and their families, often with tears, and God will so delight in hearing and answering those prayers that might have never been prayed. You will find yourselves loving their moms or dads or grandmas or siblings and that will probably be the Holy Spirit sweetly teaching you that we all need Jesus just the same.

I won’t play with statistics because I just don’t even know them off-hand, but I do know that there is a need. A real need. There is a always, always, always an opportunity for people who love Jesus to enter into the suffering of others and to allow themselves to be used however the heck God wants. As long as we live on earth, we will never lack these opportunities to enter in. When I lived in Atlanta and had thoughts of staying for more than a few months, I started the process of being registered as a foster parent. If Fulton County DFCS was willing and eager to let me join them in caring for these kids, as a 25 year old single student who had 3 roommates and would be keeping the child in a closet-turned-bedroom, I’d say there is a great need. 

I encourage everyone to pray about it… but maybe not in the “am I supposed to do foster care?” kind of way, though there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe in a “Here I am. Here is my home. Here is my time. Here is my heart. Here is the family you’ve given me. Use us as You see fit. We are here for You. Take what little we have and use it for Your glory.” And then listen. It’s not foster care for everyone; of course I realize that. But it’s something

Prayer: there is so much power in this! it blesses me (and our babies) so much when visitors who come to Neema House pray over the children, their families, their futures. Contact me and I will so so gladly match you with a child who would so greatly appreciate your prayers. Think about how you who have children pray for them and commit to pray the same way for a child who has no one to pray those bold prayers for them.

Supporting someone who is doing it: here is an awesome way to get some beautiful art AND support a girl who is fostering. I'm also willing to bet your pastor knows who in the church is involved with foster care and maybe they'd love a fresh meal when they bring home a new child, just like new moms home from the hospital love!

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  1. Hi this post on fostering. We just became foster parents, here in Marietta, and are loving the fact that we have to wake up trusting God every day for whatever adventure/new hurting child he brings our way!

  2. Annie, I'm auditing Bible school, and it's a constant thread throughout to care for widows, orphans, and strangers. We are all commanded to do this. It's part of our tithe to the church, too.