Why Would You Do That?

“I heard you took 4 kiddos into your home…Why would you do that?”

This was the question posed to us a few months ago.  It was innocent, and yet, very misguided.  The question came from an elderly Christian who had spent their entire life in the church.  Honestly, we were thrown back by the question and the only response we could think of was, “Why would we not do it?”

The early church made waves, because they chose to do things that were radical, abnormal, crazy and full of love.  Now it seems that when people decide to do something truly Gospel driven they get the most push back from ‘comfortable Christians’ within the church.  These individuals simply don’t understand why someone would want to lay their own life down to serve the ‘least of these’.

Hear our hearts, we have no desire to cast stones at anyone, because on our best days we are still highly imperfect individuals and we know even on the church’s best day it is still filled with highly imperfect people. But, we do desire for people to start ‘getting it’, to start living out the Gospel in evident ways. That is why we hope our lives are a canvas for God to paint His story in all it’s beauty and messiness, to encourage others that although this work is hard, it is possible and even rewarding.

What if it became the ‘norm’ in the church to take care of the ‘least of these’? To live out true religion by taking care of widows and orphans, to be the good Samaritan to our enemies, to forfeit our gain for the gain of others, to act like the early church and pull all our resources together to serve others in the body and show the world who Jesus truly is not only through our words, but our very lives. How would the world respond to that church?

The world has heard about our Jesus, but isn’t it time we as Christians start showing them our Jesus?

Yep, we took in four foster children. Why would we do that? Because, despite our huge imperfections, the Gospel compelled us to do so.

Snuggle Time and Love

Early on in our six-year old’s life we began a tradition called ‘snuggle time’.  Essentially, it is the time right before going to sleep where we lay in bed and snuggle her.  It was something that quickly became a favorite of hers and she would often tell us, ‘I’ll always be your nuggle-bug’.  Yes, nuggle, instead of snuggle.  This tradition has carried over to our second child and she appears to like it as much as her older sister.   We also started night-time devotionals and prayer with our daughters at an early age.  Something they are still quick to remind us of if we ever forget, especially on the nights they are avoiding sleep!

Since coming to our home in October our four foster children have been exposed to devotional, prayer, and snuggle time.  And, while we do not ‘snuggle’ them.  We do make a point to do devotionals and pray together.  Then we give each of them big hugs, tell them how much we love them, how proud of them we are and then we tuck them in to their beds.  And, if we ever forget, much like our biological daughters they are quick to let us know.

Funny thing is, these practices are just habit for us as parents.  And yet, tonight our 9 yr. old foster son asked Staci, “why do y’all give snuggles?’ Staci explained it is our way of showing love to our girls and then proceeded to ask him, “Didn’t you’re mom and dad snuggle you when you lived at home?”  He thought about it for a long time and then said, “No, but when I get home I’m going to teach my dad to tuck me in and read the Bible.” 

His statement is humbling and reminds us that they are watching how we love and how we parent.  It reminds us that our love will extend back into their home.  That our actions as parents now, will be reflected by these children when they are reunited with their biological parents.

These are the nights and statements that make what we do worth it, while also breaking our heart for the children we have grown to love.

If and when these children get to go home;

  • We hope their parents understand how precious these little ones really are. 
  • We hope their parents learn to tuck them in and read the Bible.
  • And, we hope these children remember what it is like to have a mom and dad make them feel important every night before bed. 

In this life we never know how our love will impact others.  But, this we do know…..Our love has already begun to create change beyond the present!

The Gospel Alive

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One thing we love about being foster parents is the fact that the Gospel regularly comes alive in front of us.  Since the first day we took children into our home we have continually expressed our love to them and reinforced how important they are to our family.  The three youngest were pretty quick to reciprocate love back, although never encouraged nor expected.  The oldest child, the boy, has been the most guarded with his words of affection.  And then, sometime around Christmas he began writing us little notes.  Each note simply said, “I love you” or “I love you so much”.

These notes are his way of sharing his heart.

Reading these notes and watching all of this unfold we are reminded of our own lives and the spiritual conflict we have had with accepting God’s love for us.  And yet, regardless of our response, God has always affirmed His love and affection to us.  Gradually, over time we came to a place where we began to affirm our love back to Him.  It wasn’t overnight, but it took time, trust, and experiencing God’s pursuit.  Similar to the process it has taken this young man to understand we love him with no strings attached.

In our opinion, the beauty of foster care is the opportunity we have to love deeply, regardless of any return of affection.  To put ourselves out there day after day to love these children and affirm their importance not only to us, but to the world as a whole.  Much like God has always done for both of us.

Simply, the Gospel has come alive within our home and for that we are humbled and thankful.

***The note above is his most recent one.  I walked in from work this afternoon and he was very excited to give me the note he had painted earlier in the day.

Are We Enough?

In a few short days we will welcome a sibling group of four into our home.  As we talked tonight, the fear, the anxiety, and the excitement began to sink in…..

Will we be good enough?

Will we love enough?

Will we trust enough?

Will we offer enough?

Will we BE enough for all six children in our home?

The journey that began in college over 12 years ago is coming to fruition.  We can see the path…Youth Pastor, Special Education Teacher, CPS Investigator, friends who have fostered, Adoption Coordinator, State Director, friends who have adopted, Mother’s Day Out teacher, biological children–each step taking us one step closer and preparing us furthermore for the journey that lies ahead.  No step unplanned nor unnecessary.  And yet, the question lingers, are we enough?  The answer–no.

The truth; He never called us to be enough, only to follow Him, as He is enough.

Father,

May you be enough for us and the children, both biological and foster, that you have called us to love, serve, protect, and care for.  We are inadequate, but you are always more than enough.  Thank you for the call, but even more for the journey.  Amen.

Foster Care..Really?

Often times when individuals or couples talk about their decision to become a foster parent they hear things like,

“I couldn’t do that. I could never love a child and then have to give them back.”
“Oh, that takes a special person.”
“You’re a better Christian than me.”
“It takes a strong person to do that.”
“But, what about your own children?” and “Why?”

Here are a few of our thoughts regarding such statements.

We are not special, nor better Christians.  In fact, our brokenness, failure, and lack of being a ‘perfect Christian’ has often times paralyzed us from moving forward.

We believe it will hurt like CRAZY to “love and release,” but if we do not do it, then WHO will?

We believe all we have is from God and belongs to God; including our home, our resources and even our CHILDREN.  So why would we shelter them–when God has given us the opportunity to expose them and teach them to live out their faith visibly and wholeheartedly?

We believe obedience is never easy, comfortable, convenient, nor safe.

As for the “Why?”

We believe our story is one of adoption and as adopted children of God, we must live out the love, mercy, grace, hope, and adoption that has been given to us. (Romans 8, Gal 4:5-6)

We believe it is mandated in Scripture for followers of Christ to take care of the “least of these,” “fatherless,” and “orphan” in some form or fashion. (Matt 25:31-46, James 1:27, Psalm 68:5-6)

We believe God has continually broken our hearts for and exposed us to children who need someone to love and protect them, while giving them a safe place to heal.

And, then there is the current Need,

  • Approximately *400,000 youth in the United States will go to bed tonight in a Foster Home, Emergency Shelter, Residential Treatment Center, Psychiatric Hospital or even in the office of a state case worker.
  • Approximately *101,000 youth are lingering in the foster care system, waiting to be adopted.
  • Approximately **600,000 youth are served in the U.S. foster care system every year.

The numbers are HUGE and such numbers are sometimes hard to wrap our minds around.  So, we went searching for the need in our own city and we found that there are over 360 youth in Foster Care, and within a 2 hour radius of our house, there are over 1,000 youth in foster care from all the surrounding communities combined.  That is our backyard, our community, and our children.

We are imperfect, inadequate, and not really special at all.  But, we have a Father whose heart breaks for these children and He seeks to find strong, loving, and safe homes for each and every one of them.

A local Pastor recently prayed, “Father you are the author of a better story…”  We believe this and we believe our lives are the tangible pages that He seeks to write His story on.  We also believe children in foster care deserve the opportunity to have their ‘better story’ written——It is our hope and prayer that our family may provide the pages for such a story as we move past ourselves to love and serve others

*http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport20.pdf

**http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/trends_fostercare_adoption2012.pdf

 

 

 

“We don’t really have an excuse not to….”

The journey begins.  It is a journey we have talked about, dreamed about, discussed, and ultimately put off again and again for one more “excuse”.  But, when it comes down to it, James 1:27 instructs us to take care of the ‘orphan’s’ of our world as a way of living out ‘pure and true religion’ and ultimately, we have no excuse as to why that cannot be done within our very home, in a much more real and meaningful way.  Now we begin–investing our lives, our children’s lives, our resources, and our family in serving those who need us most, children in foster care. After all, we don’t really have an excuse not to.

But, we have are own kids.

I already serve foster children through my job.

We don’t have enough room.

We don’t make enough money.

We are too busy.

What will our family and friends think?

None of these excuses really held up when compared to the Gospel, so here we go.