4.18.2014

Aching {An Open Rambling}

I'm not sure what's gone on with me this week. 

It may our baseball schedule, the crazy kids, the end of school, or my emotions, but I have no doubt it is something Satan has used to whisper lies, loud and strong.

This is me writing this week, dreaming, hoping. This is me turning from the laundry to refocus.


There was a time I was told I existed for survival, to be fulfilled, to make sure I was provided for.


Then I began doing life with Jamie, the hard life.


Now I know: I exist for the One who died for me, who took the shame and guilt I often feel so deeply, who took the fears that paralyze me.


I'm not sure why I've been so emotional this week, but it's been an aching realization since my birthday, that I know that for which I was designed: to love my man madly, to love my sons faithfully, to bring Jesus to the realm of foster care, specifically children who have lost hope, and to know my Savior deeply.


As I look to this calling, all else pails in comparison. I want nothing else. I want to throw my all into this.


I have no regrets for any child who has been in our home or who is now.  It's not convenient or easy. 


Some days it feels like death. 


But I can't explain what I learn of myself, of Jesus, of being a mother, of being a child of God with each precious one that comes into our care.


I get to do that. I get to experience that. I get to live life this way...I am the luckiest woman in the world, and I really, really mean that.


I think I've paused because this month has been so very intense schedule-wise, and as we look to the future, the boys' schedules will only become more complicated. Everyone at this point would tell us to remove foster care, but removing foster care would remove the thing that takes me closest to the heart of God.


Others would tell us to continue meeting the "needs" others ask us to meet, before we consider continuing in foster care.


I would humbly say: I can step away from these false needs in order to continue in what we were crafted by the hand of God to do.


I look to the future, and I fear...the opportunities that will whisper a greener grass to our soul... I fear my boys becoming sold out f
or their Savior - or turning from Him - because of the life we have chosen...I fear being broken again and again and again.

But if it takes us to the space where we look upon Christ's glory and our need, and know that His mercy was displayed through our lives with every ounce... I know we will have lived with all that we are...

That is fulfillment. That is contentment. That is rest.

And that is so counter to what the world tells me, to what it tel
ls you.

But Jesus is Worthy ~

4.13.2014

Dear Foster Mama {On Need}

Need is a beautiful thing.

Yet your stomach clinches at the thought of owning this truth.

But think of the One who defined Truth...

Who, being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
rather, He made himself nothing,
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And begin found in appearance as a man,
He humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death ~
Even death on a Cross.
~ Philippians 2: 6-8

You've taken the nature a a servant,

Of one who is capable of fixing, but accepting that you will surrender ~

That your heart will die, the death of a Cross.

He's invited you to love with a Holy love,

And to bleed a Holy death.

You've chosen the life of bringing Hope and Restoration with open hands
marked with scars from loving again and again,

Photo Source: Walking with Dancers

Rather than taking for your own gain with clutched palms.

My Friend, your scars are kissed by the One who bears them for You.

So as you stand peering into tomorrow, into the week, into the unknown,

Knowing only that you will be called to love endlessly and die a daily death,

Own your need for the Glory of your Savior...

Because God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in Heaven and one earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
~ Philippians 2:9-11

Your need declares to the world your trust, your rest in the only One who can meet your need.

My Friend, we rise to bless you.

Because Jesus is Worthy ~

4.11.2014

Rest.

Her piercing screams jolted my sleep.

2:21 am...

For the third night in a row, I muddled through the dark of the house to her room where she thrashed in her sleep, screaming and kicking her feet against the walls.

Yet her eyes were closed tightly, looking inwardly at the prison of her dream, replaying the tales that haunt her, the puzzles pieces that somehow brought her to my home.

I took her fifty-pound frame and cradled her as I did with my sons' on their first nights home from the hospital.

I rocked her as she wailed against my chest, resisting rest with all her strength, unable to escape the terrors of her memories.

I held her more tightly, more deeply, and I whispered Psalm 23 over her soul...


The Lord is your shepherd, Sweet Girl. You shall not want. 

He makes you lie down in green pastures.

Shhhh.

He leads you beside the still waters. He restores your soul.

The kicking began to subside.

He leads you in paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Even though you walk right now through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you will not fear.

Jesus is with you. He loves you. I love you.

His rod and His staff comfort you.

Sweet Girl, He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies.

He anoints your head with oil.

You cup will run over, and Precious One, goodness and mercy will follow you, by His grace, all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the House of our Savior forever.

And just like that, a six-year-old baby slept in peace against my chest.

I studied her eyes, her lashes, her fingers clasped in her lap.

I felt my shirt wet with her tears.

I thought of one who surely rocked her before.

The one of whom she dreamt.

And for the third night in a row, I wept silently with a precious one against my chest.

It's been just over a month since she's been here.

Our first week of nights was spent just like this; our days were spent in the Principal's office.

Her heart knew no rest. No peace. No security. Nothing of the things she most unknowingly craved and needed.

And in some moment between the sleepless nights and dreaded daily meetings, I suddenly realized I could not point this new little one to rest if it was something I did not know or understand.

So I have been quiet in order to rest, that I might point my children, specifically ChaCha, to new rest.

Not sleep and not even necessarily a ceasing of activity, but I have feasted on the One who said, Come to me when you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I've taken Him at his word these last weeks, and my soul has found rest and healing in God alone, and as a result, I've been able to invite the ones who depend on me most to true rest.

And now she sleeps.

And we haven't seen the principal in a week.

In repentance and rest is your salvation; 
in quietness and trust is your strength.
~ Isaiah 30:15

Because Jesus is Worthy ~

3.21.2014

10 Ways Foster Families Can Love Birth Families

Jamie and I have done it wrong in so many ways.

We've somehow become identified with our heart for birth family ministry, but we failed greatly when we thought we could do it all.

That will work for one placment...

Maybe two...

But if you continue to walk this road child after child, family after family, year after year...you glance behind you to discover tens and tens of families running behind you, families with deep need.

This is not a formula for long term discipleship and Gospel-centered friendship.

Personally, we've devised a slow and steady progression for walking with our children's families. This is essential as many of us as foster parents have learned, you can always add on, but it is almost impossible to step back in a healthy way.
Source: Polyvore.com

~How Foster Parents Can Love Birth Families ~ 
  1. PRAY, PRAY, AND PRAY some more. Always begin here. Literally, lift them before the throne of grace with confidence from your knees. Satan longs to destroy families. We are in a war.
  2. Care for their children with excellence and the enduring love of Christ.
  3. Send pictures of the children (not you) with every visit if you are able. Text pictures to them weekly. The child(ren) in your home is your common ground.
  4. Create visit newsletters of things that have happened since the week before. There are so many simple programs to do this.
  5. Create a special “visit box” only to be used and taken out when the children in your home visit their family. Stock with new crayons, fresh playdough, cards, a special book, and a family question game.
  6. Write them a letter telling them about you, your motivation for foster care, and that you believe in them. So many of these parents have never heard that someone believes in them.
  7.  Ask them for a picture of themselves to put beside your child’s bed or on the refrigerator.
  8. Make time once a week for supervised phone calls and FaceTime between the children in your home and their parents.
  9.  Under your agency’s approval, begin to invite them to special events and doctor appointments.
  10. Do not do this alone. Seek the counsel of your elders or leadership at church. Introduce your child’s family to possible mentors. They can go places with that family that you cannot.

Because He is Worthy ~

3.19.2014

Eight Ways to Pray for Your Child's Birth Family

The phone rang Friday morning at 11:47 am.

Will you say, Yes, to a ....

I felt the weight of the call, because a Yes to a child is also a Yes to a family...if nothing else ~ above all else ~ to the commitment of carrying that mama and daddy before the throne of grace with confidence.

If the Jesus can do the impossible for the children in our home, He is worthy of us taking the impossibles of their families before Him.

reflectionsintheword.org
How can we specifically cry out on their behalves?



Pray that they would know God’s mercy and the sacrifice of His Son on their behalf, so that they may be reconciled to God.
~ Romans 5:10 and 8:32

Pray that they would grasp there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because He has set them free from the law of sin and death.
~ Romans 8:1-2

Pray that the Lord would be faithful to them. That He would establish and guard them against the attacks of the Evil One. Satan longs to destroy families!
~ II Thessalonians 3:3

Pray that they would have the courage to examine their lives and the work of their hands and that they would be accept responsibility “for their own loads.”
~ Galatians 6:4-5

Pray that God would not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can bear, that He would give them wisdom to see a way out.
~ I Corinthians 5:13

Pray that they, by God’s mercy, would be strong and courageous as they wade the waters of the court systems. That they would know the Lord God is with them.
~ Joshua 1:9

Pray that they would be able to forgive as they have been forgiven. 
~ Colossians 3:13

Pray that they could know that God’s grace is sufficient for them that His power can be
 made perfect through their weakness.
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

3.18.2014

Are they Orphans?

It was a date.

Big Sis and I talked as the lady filed her nails and covered them with a glossy pink. 

So, you're not her real mama?

I swallowed because I was not in a mood to defend.

But Sis was quick to answer, I have two mamas. Both love me.

The lady turned to me, Are you going to adopt her?

Again, quicker than a whip, Sis jumped in, I don't need to be adopted. I have a mama who loves me and is working really hard to get me back.

The nail gal didn't ask another question.

I was recently asked why my nostrils flare when foster care is lumped into the cause of orphan care without distinction.

It is because these children are not orphans.

This ministry cannot be summed up at an orphan care conference with a one foster care catch- all break out session. 

Foster care is an all-consuming beast.

It's a lifestyle.

It's a mindset.

It is not adoption.

We foster care.

Yes, sometimes it does end in adoption.

But you cannot begin this road with that end in mind, or your heart will be gutted more deeply than normal in this path.

Yes, these children are vulnerable, and they are in critical situations, but the vast majority of them have parents who are incredibly overwhelmed, suffocating from the oppression of their choices and the decisions of the generations who preceded them.

They cope because they see no way out.

Despair is their captor.

Yes, they've made some really, really bad decisions.

But almost all of them love their children, just as you and I do.

And the moment they ask you why you do what you do...

And you respond with the Christian answer, We want to help care for orphans...

The door to their soul, to their understanding, is barred and shut.

Sonoma Barracks
Because their children are not orphans.

And the reality is, every parent with whom we have ever worked, was once a vulnerable child, too.

You say they are the orphans of society...

And I'll tell you many of their mamas are the widows of society...

We advocate for the child, and we cheer for the birth family, partnering towards reunification so that these children do not become orphans, not so that they will become adoptable for our gain.

We are called to stand in the gap. We have the honor of being a bridge of redemption to prevent children from become another "number."

We have the treasure of telling these parents they have what it takes, and the Church has the ability, because of Christ, to walk with these parents who are in crisis.

Because of Jesus, our people can "rebuild the ancient ruins, restore the age-old foundations, repair the streets with dwellings," as it says in Isaiah 58.

Does this happen every time, No. {Come back later this week as I begin to look at when birth family partnership doesn't work.}

But folks, if we enter this ministry with any underlying ambition, we've missed the purpose of foster care.

And we're gonna burn out really fast.

Alone, we cannot further the vision of holistic foster care.

As a Body of Christ, the unimaginable is possible.

Because He is Worthy ~

3.17.2014

Making Some Rounds

While I've been quiet on the personal front, I've made my rounds in guest blogs. Be sure to check out some of the posts I've been honored to write in the last week!

On Lifeline Children's blog, I share how Jamie and I feel we've done foster care wrong in some places. In vulnerability, I'm honest regarding our desperate need for our Church and the Body of Christ.

On The Forgotten Initiative's national blog, read and be real with me in the ways our calling can feel like suffocation in the midst of God's glory.

Because He is Worthy ~