Lord, awaken us…

One reason that I am so thankful God is using our family in foster care is because of the awareness it has given us. Not even just of children or families in care but it naturally exposes you to other children and families that my middle class American life might not otherwise get exposure to. That’s embarrassing to admit as a Christian but it’s true. I’ve been on short term mission trips and I’ve done community services where you go, you give, and then you leave. I get to return to my safe, comfortable lifestyle and quickly forget about what I’ve seen. Not so with fostering. Our life is woven in the brokenness of other families day in and day out.

I can not un-see.

There are daily reminders on every corner of this lifestyle that is so vastly different from mine. A lifestyle that is utterly heart breaking to me and yet to some individuals, it’s just normal. Things I consider wrong, irresponsible, neglectful, harmful, is “normal”.

I know things now that explain so much.

Like that “bad kid” in elementary school legitimately was taught from the time he was a toddler to tell people to “shut up” or “F@$& off”. In his life the people around him considered this appropriate and acceptable, sometimes even funny.

Precious little girls who have never been valued. Ever. Never in their life have they seen women being respected and treasured. Why would she assume she should value and respect herself?

Children that grow up in filthy, neglectful, drug using, abusive homes do not typically grow up to one day realize, “This isn’t normal.” From what I have seen, typically, they grow up and repeat it. I know this because I have cared for the children of those children. And the cycle continues. Some might say “They should know better,… eventually.” How could they know??? No one has ever taught them. Additionally, most of these children’s brain development and maturity has been stunted. Their age may suggest “adult” but their brain still operates as a child. (Google trauma and brain development.) Maybe they age and “know better” but they still have the coping skills of say a 9 year old.

May the Lord flood us with compassion and mercy….

I’m heavily burndened this morning. Burdened for these parents and children. Burdened for the generation after generation….. I asked God this morning, “Lord, what does it take? Lord, intercede for these children and families!!” And what His Word reminds me over and over is how He wants to…… through His church.Through us! And I know that we have got to rise up. We can’t just close our eyes and act like “Not my kids, not my problem.” If we are Christ followers, if the love of God is in us, it is TOTALLY our problem. If the love of God is truly in us, that love will compel us to MAKE IT our problem. I think of that beautiful song by Hillsong, Hosanna, it sings “break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your Kingdoms cause.” I have prayed that to God and let me tell you he has not failed to answer that. And my heart is in pieces right now,… kind of beautifully broken, as it is aligning with my Lords heart of mercy, love, compassion and grace.

I am praying that we would not shrink back. (Hebrews 10:39) I am praying that Christians all around would awaken to what God has called us to do. And I’m not saying it’s always foster care or adoption but it IS loving the helpless, the orphan, the widow, the abused, the hard to love and so on. There are so many ways God wants to use us!!! We have got to open our eyes to who is helpless. We have to quit casting our judgement on life styles and choices that we don’t even understand or know the depths of pain that caused it. We need to reach out and be willing to get messy with people. We need to sacrifice our pretty, comfortable, life of convenience and ease. And you better believe I am preaching to myself! 🙂

Pray for me. Pray for our family. I’m praying for all of you. 🙂 Pray we as Christians would wake up and be courageous enough to truly LOVE as God loves, “he who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all….” Romans 8:32

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬


The Joy of Ministering to Birth Families

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

One thing that I have found surprising joy in with fostering is connecting with the birth families. I say surprising for a few reasons. For one, I admit, I pretty much think about adoption with every placement right away. “Could we adopt this child?” “What would that look like for our family?” “How does their name sound with ours?” Fostering is about reunification though. The initial goal is not adoption. It can lead to adoption but that’s not the intended purpose. Secondly, interacting with birth families is scary at first. You never know how the relatives of this child are going to respond to you.

I really want to encourage those that are fostering or thinking about fostering to embrace the ministry of the birth family. Because these kids are coming out of hard, tough situations. Some really bad, horrific even. But that doesn’t disqualify their family altogether. Sometimes, yes, there are no suitable family members. Not one. And thank goodness for the beautiful act of adoption and for the families who step into that role. But a lot of times there is family. Family who has been loving or fighting for what’s right. Family that wants to break cycles of abuse and addiction. And this is a unique opportunity for those of us as foster parents. To give people the benefit of the doubt. To encourage. To uplift. To point them to Jesus.

Baby E has family that loves him. Family that was there when I picked him up from the hospital. Family that has been here for him long before I was and pouring into him in ways that make him healthy and happy in my care. They long for him. They have attended every court hearing and are fulfilling every requirement to have him placed in their care. Today we met with them at the park. They were kind and caring. They were attentive to Baby E. Their children were so thrilled to see this little guy. They showered him with love and kisses and snacks and toys. And Baby E was happy to see them. He knows them and he knows he’s loved by them. What a tremendous joy to see this family reunited with this baby boy.

I stated in my first post about Baby E that we must resist the temptation to jump to conclusions. We must. Every time. Every placement. We can’t allow prior experiences with birth families to dictate how we respond to future ones. Which is hard. But every placement, every family, needs fresh eyes of grace.

I don’t know how normal it is for foster moms to get a baby and within 3 days attach their name to baby’s name just to see how it fits. You start dreaming of their future with you, and yours with them. Obviously I do this. I’m not saying it’s wrong. In fact, I wonder if it is Gods grace in allowing this little one to be loved as naturally as I love my own children. But given the opportunity we must make every effort to connect with the child’s birth parents and/or relatives. We have to give them opportunity. It can be nerve racking, talking with strangers that YOU have their family member. Baby E has my heart but he has a few others even deeper than mine. And the more I correspond with his family and see these adults AND children that love and cherish him, how can I not want him to go home to them? It would be selfish of me to want to keep him from that. They’re his family. So when we think about the hard thing of letting them go, think about the times we are giving them back to the ones who loved them first. What a blessing in this child’s life that there ARE people who came before us, his foster parents, that are doing whatever it takes to bring him home with them. I recognize this is not always the case. Sometimes these children return to unhealthy environments. Sometimes we do need to advocate fiercely for their safety. But a lot of times we need to strive to encourage and support the birth family. Maybe in ways they’ve never felt it. Ways Jesus would.

Today Baby E’s relative asked me, “How do you do this? Is it hard when they leave?” And I told him through tears, “Yes. But I think about, what if no one did it? What if no one was willing to bring this child to a safe place because they were too concerned about it hurting when they left? I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting E. Or meeting you. So I consider it worth it. And even though it will be sad when he leaves, it’s happy because he’s going to family that is striving to do what’s right for him.” I didn’t get to share my testimony of what Jesus did for me and how Jesus gives me the courage to do this and how Jesus mends my heart to do it all over again,…..yet. We have another visit for that. 🙂

But after spending that time with them I am so full of joy. Joy that comes from the love of Jesus. So Christians, foster parents, I implore you, to courageously, mercifully, and lovingly navigate the waters of foster care and birth families, for the JOY awaiting you. Because it IS so worth it.

Baby E

Sunday morning we got a call at 3 am. A 9 month old little boy needed a safe place to stay. He was at the hospital and I was told I could pick him up at 9 am. Jason and I had been up late having one of those long, deep talks about everything under the sun (or moon). So I was pretty tired but trying to fall back asleep after that call was rather difficult. So I prayed and dozed and awoke repeatedly all the way till 7 am. Then I began to get ready for an hour drive to go pick this little guy up. I had a lot more time to process and lift up this placement before meeting him and it was very cool to see how Gods hands were with me and him when we finally met.

When I arrived I was caught off guard by some of the family that was there. I wasn’t given the impression anyone was there with him. I was nervous to meet them. This kind of circumstance is not really ideal for greetings and pleasantries. Initially I was hoping to avoid it. “I can wait until they leave.” Of course they weren’t leaving. I looked for courage and grace from the Holy Spirit, recognizing God was sovereign in this and walked in the room. I assumed it was Grandma, she was understandably very upset. I could tell they really cared for this fella. One thing we must resist is jumping to conclusions. We just have no idea what brought these individuals to this moment. Seeing the family first hand as their tiny family member was released into my care, a stranger with DFCS, it gave me a perspective I hadn’t experienced before. I introduced myself to grandma and just wanted to hug her but opted for a touch on her shoulder. I sympathized with her, acknowledging how extremely difficult this is for them and that baby boy would be in very good hands. She was concerned but kind. I felt that we connected in that brief moment and she knew, even through her grief, he was going to be safe and loved.

The baby and his cousin were sitting on the hospital bed. I went over and got down to his level. Said hello and waited to see his reaction. He reached right for me, which is a blessing. As much as you don’t really want kids to be that comfortable coming to a stranger, I think it put everyone at ease that he wasn’t leaving in complete outward turmoil. I talked with the family for a short while and then it was time to go. It’s such a sad thing, walking away with someone else’s child, leaving his family in tears and uncertainty. But I’m grateful to have met them because they are impressed on my heart now. I know their names and faces and can sincerely pray for them.

I don’t know how long we will have Baby E. What we’ve learned so far is he’s all boy, active, and into everything. He has THE sweetest smile and big blue eyes, with the longest eye lashes I’ve ever seen. He grunts and laughs and gets really mad when he’s tired. Dressing him is slightly like wrestling an alligator. And every time I pick him up he wraps his arms around my neck so tight and buries his head in my shoulder, which is the best. Needless to say, I’m hooked. And yes, I know, we’re only 5 days in. 😉

Dear Baby C

You’ve been with us almost six months and soon you’ll be going home to your mommy. I haven’t written much about you, not because there isn’t anything worth sharing but because the last six months have been unusually eventful for us. You have gotten to be apart of many of those events and I’m so thankful that your mommy trusted us, even requested us, to travel with you. Your mommy loves you and has been so thoughtful toward what’s in your best interest.

You are a beautiful, smiley girl. Yes, at times, I think you smile out of nervousness, but still, everyone is so drawn to you. Everywhere we go people say how beautiful you are. And that baby chunk, oh my….. it looks good on you. 😉 You do have quite the set of lungs though. Maybe you’ll be a singer. You came to us screaming out of confusion and fear. You’ve grown comfortable with us now and I’m happy to say that when you scream it’s typically like any normal healthy toddler just trying to be heard. And one look from daddy J and, as they say around here, you “dry it up”. I need to learn that look. 😉 Baby C you are incredibly smart. I mean yeah you’re only one but seriously, you are sharp aaaaand you’ve got a little bit of sass. Most girls do though, right? This enables you to push the boundaries and test certain waters. I’ve already caught you, after being corrected or redirected, laying on the floor face down and peeking your eyes up to see if anyone will react. Oh boy, I hope your mommas will is stronger than yours. I think it is. She has shown great strength and determination to get you home. You have so much potential baby C. I hope you will always know that God made you and he loves you. You may not remember it but you have already been disappointed by people. Even me. People are not perfect, we make mistakes, and we all disappoint each other. But God is perfect and God not only will not disappoint us but He can redeem all that has. No matter what happens in your future, our greatest hope for you is that you will trust Jesus with everything.

Baby C you have tickled us with your laughter, dazzled us with your smile, pierced our ears a time or two, but most importantly, you’ve taught us another level of how to love. That is something I am truly grateful for. It wasn’t always easy, but it has been so worth it. We love you and will always be praying for you.

Jason Johnson Blog

I promise…… I will write something of my own soon 😜

I am sharing this particular article today because as a foster parent I want people to understand why Jason and I are doing this. I want people to understand our thought process and the things God has revealed to us. And often times someone else articulates it better than I can. Jason Johnsons website has truly been an invaluable resource to me. If you know someone who has fostered or adopted I believe this may help you better understand their decisions. And with greater understanding comes greater support, encouragement and prayer, which we definitely need. 🙂


Lean not on your own understanding…..

I wrote this post a few weeks ago. When I got around to publishing I wasnt sure what to title it. And then it hit me. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I have written before on strange feelings that you experience in fostering children. There are so many. Strange not being necessarily bad, just weird, like butterflies in your stomach.

We had gotten to have our two previous foster boys with us for several days. Their grand parents were feeling under the weather so I was thrilled to offer some relief. We had little baby J a week and big baby K for the following weekend. I thought I was biting off more than I could chew. I mean 6 kids is one thing. But 3 of them under the age of 2 that’s another story. All in all it was a real treat. You really learn how to improvise with that many babies. “Here, have an appetizer while I fix your dinner. Puffs anyone?” Honestly the goal in my head goes something like this, “If we can keep the crying to a minimal it’ll all be ok. I’ll be ok. Here, have a go go squeeze.” I probably spent half our grocery budget in all that trendy baby junk but whatever, it works! And then Jason came home on Saturday with the big guns. Bubbles, chalk, and a slide. My hero! 😍

Back to the topic at hand though. As I watched Jason teach baby K, who is now totally a toddler, how to play teeball I felt mixed emotions. On one hand I felt a sense of happiness and Gods grace in this little guys life. Someone (us!) is teaching him teeball. Yet there is a sadness over the fact that we are filling shoes of his real parents. When I feed baby J his bottles and snuggle up to his precious face….. I feel privileged that I get to do this but I feel broken that his mommy isn’t. It’s good and sad all at once.

People often tell me, “I could never foster. I wouldn’t be able to let them go.” Honestly, it’s crossed my mind to respond, “Do you think I’m void of those emotions?” Usually I say something to diffuse the comment because I know people don’t mean what could be implied. A fellow blogger and foster/adoptive parent Jason Johnson has the perfect response, “Instead of letting the fear of getting too attached deter us, we should actually let the fear of these kids never feeling truly attached to someone drive us. These kids need people that are willing to love them enough to hurt for them if they ever have to let them go.”

We’ve only “let them go” 3 times so far and each time was different. We had our first placement (4 years ago) that we requested removal, that stunk. It was confusing trying to do what was right but fighting guilty feelings. Then we had a emergency placement. That was strange because two little girls came and went within a week and I have no clue how they are doing. Then came the boys. That’s been a roller coaster. In ways I have bonded with baby J like my own. And then there is K…. he has some quirks but something about him is equally endearing. I love these boys. God flooded me with peace when they left us. I pray for that peace to return. As their case moves forward and is coming to a close I am trying to grapple with what their future holds. I want to confidently place them in the sovereign hands of God but my mothering instincts and that pesky desire for control creeps in. I find myself wondering how all the choices that were made for them will effect them. I have this urge to spring into action, “What can we do?!?” And yet everything is out of my hands. And though Satan may tempt me to fear and worry, I am reminded Who’s hands they are in. And so I pray and I trust and I rest in the Fathers infinite love for those two little guys. And I cling to scriptures like this.

“Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them.” Psalms‬ ‭10:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Foster Care Article

Today I would like to share with you an article on foster care that was posted on Desiring God. Probably one of the most well written, well summed up, articles I’ve read on foster care and the Christian’s response. If you are a foster parent, you’ll find it relatable and I believe encouraging. If you are interested in fostering, you’ll find it helpful. If you know someone who fosters, you’ll find it extremely insightful.