When I began working on this series, I knew I wanted a friend who has walked this journey with us to share her perspective. Many of us as foster parents have the unique balance of presenting and inviting our families and friends into this adventure we're on, and most of them know little about it. We were the same. Those in our close circles nodded quietly and smiled, sometimes changing the subject.
And suddenly there is this moment when they realize, this isn't going away. They notice another new head pop from your car because you haven't had time to breathe since you said yes to the call, or they count another little body sharing your lap in the church pew.
I have been blessed with anchor friends. These gals who surround me are fulfilling beautiful and amazing callings God has placed on their lives. However, they have not allowed that to hinder them from finding spaces to enter into the beautiful mess God has given us. I'm so grateful. Teresa is one of these friends. We've been to the dark side and back together. So grateful she was willing to share.
When Catie first told me she and Jamie would be pursuing foster parenting, I thought two things: That is great for them, and I could never do that. I knew enough about foster care to know it was messy, broken, and seemingly forgotten about by God. As they went through the certification process, I absently thought they would find a baby to adopt before the fostering ever came about.
The first child in their home was quickly followed by a second. Suddenly my friend, who I thought already had a bit too much drama in her life, was all kinds of hectic. I felt overwhelmed by the chaos sometimes. The aspects of the stories she could share of the children made me want justice. Their lives are more complicated than I like to involve my safe, controlled self to enter into. The tales of hours and days at court made me ask, Why are Catie and Jamie even bothering? I wondered how to love my friend well when almost everything about what they were doing made me want to run the other direction.
Other children came. Different faces, same brokenness. Yet the children are always easy to love. They are not so very different than my own children. They adapt to a new environment and want to be known and loved. They welcomed the attention. Slowly their extended families became more present. I began to see that not every child in foster care had "bad" parents. They had parents/family who had less resources to hide how broken and in need of Jesus they were. Some even came to church, they held their children, who clung to them, who were so proud that their real Momma was sitting next to them in a place they had come to love and be loved in. These moments made me see that God cares about those parents as much as he cares about their children. He came to redeem it all, became a more real thought. And I saw my friends change. They loved every person who had contact with the children. It was about redeeming all parts, not just "saving" the kids.
The chaos affects me differently now. I no longer feel overwhelmed (most of the time). I still long for justice, but not my idea of justice - His. I long for grace to so invade these children’s lives and their families’ lives that they could not deny its power or His presence and deep love for each of them. So, as a friend and a member of the church body, I had to ask God how I could help enter into this picture of redemption. I still know I cannot do what Catie does, but I realized that God has not called me to be Catie. He has gifted me differently so that I can serve a purpose. So, that is what I do. I use the gifts I have been given to love my friends and their family. Most days this is simply praying. Some days it's cooking a meal. Many days, it's looking that child or that mother in the eye and praying that the value Christ has for them shines through as I hold them or engage them.
I will tell you Teresa and her husband Lance have prayed, cooked and valued excellently, but they have served us in much greater ways than that as well. They have been the hands and feet of Jesus. Lance's blog, Build To Think, provides innovative ideas for unique approaches to the business, marketing and design world. However, I recently began applying some of his strategies in our case plan meetings and ministry relationships, as well as with my children around the house, and his challenge to shift my perspective has been so refreshing! Check it out.