The unexpected

Time to deal with the big fat elephant in the room. 🙂 I have been coming back to this post for months. I recognize all sorts of things are going to come to a readers mind and I welcome any questions from friends and strangers alike. On top of pointing to Christ and his redemptive power, I would want this post to open a door for anyone that feels they can relate to the struggle. You don’t even necessarily have to be a foster parent to deal with the strong feelings the enemy can near torture you with. I would be more than happy to exchange emails for an avenue of personal encouragement if you need prayer or just to talk. God created the body, his church, so we can uplift each other. And that’s the only reason I even keep this blog, because by Gods grace, it has been encouragement to others. It’s not me, it’s all him! 😉

So I really feel that I need to share this and am reminded that:

1.) Gods great love covers my short comings 1 Peter 4:8
2.) He works all things for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28

Some of you may be wondering… where we are with foster care and Faithbridge and that little girl who came to us back in July.

Well…..

Our first placement left us in January shortly after the new year. She did not go home though, she was placed with another family. And trust me when I say, I am more shocked by that than you are. I know we are not the first foster family to walk through the process and decision of having to place a child in another home but that did not make it any easier. It was probably the hardest decision we’ve ever made after one of the hardest seasons of our life. Going into this our hope was of course to see her reunified with her mother. We didn’t get to see that through. But it’s not about us…. Which I believe continues to be the BIGGEST thing God needs for me to learn, among many others.😉

I want to share some personal details because I know God has purpose in our experience. I keep coming back to this rough draft trying to determine “Lord, what do you want me to say, how can this story be shared to honor you?” I am confident that someone needs to hear it,…. someone who was like me. There were many times that I felt so alone and that no one would understand. I wouldn’t dare be candid about things I was really feeling with anyone outside of Jason, my parents and a very select few friends. Satan was good at capitalizing on feelings of guilt, shame, and failure and diminishing any of the work God was doing. It just became a very hard time and clearly not at all what we would have wanted or expected. But friends, it’s not a cliche saying to make us feel better, God works in ways we just can’t understand. Often we define success much differently than God and we really can’t see the bigger picture or understand how he uses all things for good. Especially when we view circumstances as bad. We tend to wonder “why would you let that happen?” But stay there long enough and satan will win in keeping us ineffective as Christians. It is a fight but we must move forward with confidence that God can redeem all of our brokenness. Because He CAN! 🙂

I could blog about more intimate struggles I had, like praying for bedtime to come. I was emotionally over-done, spent, maxed out. Can you relate? 😉

#Sleeping.was.my.favorite.

I don’t mind being honest about some of my less than stellar behaviors but for the sake of time I’ll get to the point. It basically came down to recognizing that I was no longer serving her with excellence or our family for that matter. Lots of things led up to that but at that point it became more about letting go of pride, wondering what would people think and doing what was best for her, our children, and our marriage. In the midst of our decision I really mourned the situation, I questioned and wondered. I felt “what was the point?” but I knew I couldn’t stay in that state, it was just plain miserable. God was calling me to trust him. To trust that he still cared and loved that little girl and his love will be sufficient where mine or anyone else’s isn’t. HE is watching over her and knows her future and will put more individuals in her life to minister to her heart and soul. To trust that he still cared and loved our family, that he used us for a season and now he was changing the season on us. I had to trust him that she was going to be okay and that she needed things from this new foster family that I (we) could not provide. And I had to trust the Holy Spirits leading, that letting go of her was what she needed us to do, and that I had most certainly NOT fallen out of my Heavenly Fathers favor. Biggest lie satan tries to tell us. Sometimes we will have moments in our faith where the biggest exercise of it is believing God loves us no matter what. Satan is good at convincing us otherwise, convincing us that we need to work harder at being better to be accepted by God. But Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, and the requirement is not that we have to be perfect for Him to accept us, he already has. I’m an easy target for this mentality and now in what satan wants to stamp a big “FAIL” sign on, God keeps whispering to me “no Katie. I’m still God, I’m still at work, and I will always love you. I have control over this, even when you feel out of control, I still reign and I will be glorified.”

I know that when we started with Faithbridge we genuinely believed God was calling us to that area of ministry. I don’t think it was a mistake even though it did not turn out how we thought it would. There are things we learned that had we not walked that we obviously wouldn’t know. I know we can pray and encourage people in ways we wouldn’t have been able to had we not gone through what we did. Sometimes when we are walking through dark valleys, just having a person tell us “I get it. I truly understand how you are struggling.” That alone can keep us from not going off the deep end! God gives us people like that to say “You can persevere and I will support you in every way I know possible because I know how hard this is.”

So right now where does this have us…. We are stepping back from
foster parenting for now. For me it’s simply trying to make that conscious choice every moment to choose Christ, his hope, believe in his redemptive power and his sovereignty and amazing grace. I’ll be honest, at points I felt so shaken in my Faith and I really am trying to trust where God has us right now and wherever he plans to take us tomorrow.

One day at a time.

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Arming our kids for battle

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT)

There is a reason there are so many references in the Bible to putting on our armor and fighting battles. For one, it gives us a mental picture and an analogy that we can grasp. Many of us have not fought in war but we’ve heard stories, been close to veterans, and even seen how Hollywood tries to depict what has been a reality for thousands of people. War, battle, armies, weapons, armor, it’s all been around for centuries. In Gods Word we are instructed to put on our Spiritual Armor so we can be equipped for the Spiritual battle that IS going on right now, every day, until Christ returns.

Over the last 2 weeks something has been brought very “front and center” for me and that is arming and equipping my children. I have always read that scripture and applied it to myself but it is weighing heavy on me now that we MUST properly arm our children. Admittedly, even with as much information that I feel like I have been given, I still naively and ignorantly believed that there was a chance we could keep our kids in our little bubble. That Jason and I would have enough power to filter out the “bad” that comes in and that we would have the ability to shield and protect them from the present darkness of this world. Protecting is most certainly A component but it’s not sufficient. We can not always be there to protect, therefore we HAVE to teach them how to protect themselves. And this is where it gets scary for us as parents. To teach them how to fight darkness and evil involves telling them about it. Most of the time we acknowledge and strive to be very intentional with telling our children about the good things God created and how he has purpose for all things. (I say most of the time because let’s be honest, God created sex, and I for one, for some reason have been terrified of that subject with my kids) But we can not leave out the fact that the world tells a different story. The world has taken what God has created and is twisting it into sinful, atrocious, harmful, wicked, obscene, offensive, wrong…. -insert your adjective- I am discovering as a parent that I can no longer tell myself “it’s not that bad” or “that won’t happen to us” or whatever else I have told myself to avoid confronting with my children what’s really out there. I recently read an article titled “Teaching your child to ‘say no’ to porn”. (Excellent article btw, you can click here to read it) A few years ago a title like that would rock my boat. I would have thought “I don’t need to read this, not now, hopefully not ever.” I realize now, that I was fear driven and foolish with that thinking. We can believe it or not but the fact is porn, among many other abhorrent things, sadly, is either right outside our doors waiting to knock, or it’s already in. Thankfully, the Lord has been growing me in my areas of fear and I feel eternally grateful for his timing. My daughters are only in Kindergarten and First grade and I have already dropped jaws over some things they come home from school telling me. And I can’t be there to protect them.

It’s just the beginning.

There is a scene in the movie The Patriot. Benjamin Martin has just had a visit from the British army and they have taken his oldest son, Gabriel, as their prisoner. The family knows full well what his fate will likely be, death. His 2nd oldest son, Thomas, in a brave and emotional attempt to save his brother ends up being shot in front of his entire family, which includes 5 younger siblings, ages ranging from around 12-2.

Can you even imagine, having your young child watch their sibling be shot to death? This was a movie, but I have no doubt it’s been someone’s reality.

The scene goes on though. The British leave with Gabriel, leaving Thomas dead and the mourning family in shock. Oh yeah and they set the Martins home on fire. Once they are out of site, Benjamin, the father, retrieves all his armor and weapons. He instructs his 2 daughters to find safety at an Aunts house, on foot mind you in the middle of a war, I think they are around 9 and 2 years old. He takes his 3 remaining sons with him, Nathan being the youngest boy, looks about 6. He gives each son a rifle that they clearly are well acquainted with already and they end up taking out a whole squad of British soldiers and being reunited with Gabriel. Seriously, these boys know how to shoot.

What’s my point in recapping this? The father, Benjamin, was well aware of the dangers and evil in the world. He strived to protect but he also gave his kids a rifle to defend themselves!

It takes trust and bravery to arm our children with the appropriate weapons so they can fight their own battles and conquer them in Jesus Name.

If Benjamin had been naive and too scared to allow his kids to practice shooting guns they wouldn’t have succeeded in their mission. But he was bold! And he created a safe environment for them to learn, to learn why they needed these skills. He told them the truth of what’s really out there so they could be aware of the dangers. He armed them with everything they would need and he allowed them to practice their own bravery so that when the time came they knew what to do.

We can’t pretend darkness doesn’t exist. It’s all around us. We can’t think or hope that it won’t try to enter our home. It’s already at work. We better believe satan is already trying in some way to slither his deception in our minds AND our children’s minds. Everyone has to get their armor on and you better believe we have to be brave enough to give our kids their own sword!

I feel this post requires a “to be continued……”

Today I spoke briefly on the phone with my best friend and as I was sharing the cliffs notes version of my post I was telling her “I know we have to do something now. I know waiting isn’t the solution. But I don’t know what to say, what to do, when to say or do it ect.” And what I can only credit to the Holy Spirit it dawned on me….. Pray about it.

So this is my prayer.

Gracious, all knowing, loving God, Thank you for the opportunity to parent along side you. Help me Lord in this journey that can often times be overwhelming and scary. Continue to create braveness in myself, my husband, and our children. Continue to grow our faith and trust in You. Give us the opportunities to boldly and lovingly tell our children the truth about the world we live in and Your Truth that has the power to conquer all the darkness. Give us the appropriate words at the appropriate times, help us to not shrink back in fear but be confident in our motives as we align ourselves with Your Word. I pray we would do all we can to arm our children with everything they need to fight this battle and have victory in Your Name. You are our strength and our hope and I pray we would trust you with everything including these children you entrusted to us.

In Jesus Name, Amen