Let Me Introduce You To My Framily

Katie (and baby due soon!!) Stephen, Addie, and Griffin.

Two years ago God brought the Sapp family into our life. I am not embellishing this story in the least. After the joys of Christmas and being with family and friends in Florida, we settled back into normal life in Lindale and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I missed my family and friends. I desired relationship specifically with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We have sacrificed that a little more each time we’ve moved, from Tampa to Dallas, and Dallas to Lindale. I believe whole heartedly that God has used isolation to draw me closer to Him and I’m grateful for it, but I also believe He absolutely desires us as Christians to live in community with the body of Christ.

On a Sunday in January of 2015 we were driving to a new church, that was very small, and I confessed to God and Jason how much I needed friendship. And SOON. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬ On this same Sunday, for reasons only explained by God, the Sapps, Stephen and Katie, visited this church even though they lived 45 minutes away. When I saw this family come in I knew I had to meet them and apparently the feeling was mutual. We shook hands and made lunch plans all within the 60 seconds of greeting. To say we hit it off would be a complete understatement. There was an immediate connection on all accounts. We extended our lunch invitation to, “Hey we just had company leave and our house is a complete wreck but want to come over?!” On our second “date” Katie and Stephen came over and I had to run dinner to a friend and I left them alone in my house with my kids. It felt right and crazy all at once but I really had a high level of trust with them immediately into our friendship. As inseparable as adults with jobs and kids can possibly be, that was us for the next few weeks. Before we knew it Stephen and Jason were in business together. And it’s rare for that mixture to work but it did! Katie and I have a special bond as well, it’s always been easy, natural, like sisters. And our kids, well, they all adore each other. Even if we’ve gone a month with out seeing Addie and Griffin (which is simply dreadful!) my kids ask about them. Caleb had few things to say he was thankful for at Thanksgiving (he’s a 4 year old boy, I cut him some slack for now) but one thing he was explicit about, “I’m thankful for my best friends, Addie and Griffin.” Me too, buddy. 🙂

We all agree emphatically that God has brought our families together, maybe simply for the deep Christian friendship, maybe for future ministry endeavors. Hopefully one day he intends to get us in the same neck of the woods! 🙂 Outside of Jason’s cousins we haven’t had many friendships that have sharpened us quite like the Sapp’s. Is our friendship perfect? No. Do we love each other flaws and all? No doubt about it! I’m so grateful for a couple more friends that encourage us to pursue hard after Christ. Friends that cheer us on to do tough, or what the world might consider risky, things. I’m grateful for friends to confide in, confess to, and be held accountable by. I’m grateful for the body of Christ, for the unique connection Jesus’ sacrifice established for us. I’m grateful for God expressing his love to me through answering my prayers for friendship. And every time we get together with the Sapp’s, I’m reminded of Gods goodness and love and I’m awestruck again by this deeply personal relationship we get to have with our Father in Heaven. As Stephen affectionately dubbed us, we’re framily; friends that feel like family.

“Praise the LORD! I will thank the LORD with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our LORD!” Psalms‬ ‭111:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The In Between

So this is really our first time being in between placements. Typically during any period of waiting I am super antsy. You know how it is when something new is on the horizon and you just wonder what it’s gonna be like and you can’t wait to get there to see. I think there have been many times in my life where I didn’t really soak up where I was because I became so preoccupied with the next chapter of life. Paul’s words of learning the secret of contentedness is something I have prayed I would learn. Philippians 4:12- “… I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, “

Well, praise the Lord, I think I’m finally making some progress in this area. And truly all the credit goes to Him. Since the boys have been gone I’ve really been able to enjoy and soak up this in between. I feel rested now that I’m getting a full nights sleep. The girls and I have been enjoying school together with no interruptions. We’ve been able to get out of the house more, see friends and visit the library. I stay awake later catching up with my husband and enjoying time alone. We’ve eaten less pizza because I actually have the energy to cook. It snowed last night and we played outside till 10:00pm and then stayed up till almost midnight playing cards with the kids. With the babies, I was so tired from the physical and emotional exhaustion that I simply could not hang out as freely as normal. And though the sacrifice is totally worth it, we are very much enjoying this time in between.


I’m grateful for the time to reconnect with my family. It’s also been a good opportunity for me to have some heart checks of my own. My times with the Lord have been so sporadic and I was reminded that my communion with God can not take a backseat to ministering to people. ““Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬ It’s so important to nurture our relationship with Christ because if neglected our service potentially can become about self. If I spend no time at the feet of Jesus I become preoccupied with my performance of the task, not my expression of love to Jesus and those I am ministering to in His name. I become Martha (Luke 10:40) distracted, worried, focused on what needs to be done, resenting everyone for not “helping” me. We are called into relationship with Jesus that is marked by love driven by desire, not duty. Doing ministry without spending time with Jesus is the equivalent to never spending time with your husband or children and saying that all your cooking and cleaning is for them. Does the action mean anything if there is no love and relationship backing it up? I want my actions to point to Christ. I want my love for Him to be the obvious reason for anything good I do. And loving someone requires spending time with them.

So during this time I want to seek and savor Jesus at every opportunity “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalms‬ ‭34:8 NLT and enjoy the time and freedom with family and friends. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We are praying over the next little one God brings in our life and capitalizing on the opportunities to continue helping the boys grandma whenever possible. And for maybe the first time, I’m really enjoying the in between. 🙂

Faith to let go

There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus.- John Piper in Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than Waste it

Today Micaila and I made a little visit to see the boys. I had run across a few items of theirs and wanted to check on grandma, make sure she didn’t need anything before we headed out of town. I’m so thankful she is close, it was so sweet getting to see them. In my last post I wrote about the strangeness of having children for six months and then one day they are gone. It was surreal and I wasn’t sure how I was going to emotionally handle it. That’s the thing a lot of people say, “I would get to attached. I wouldn’t be able to let them go.”

God has been so very gracious.

I love that about him. You guys, can I just be honest with out getting on some sort of “soap box”? Sometimes I feel we choose not to do things because it seems like it would be too hard, too sad, too risky or too painful. We are so protective of ourselves that we miss getting to love and serve others. I’m here to tell you that you can entrust your heart, your fears, and your emotions to the Lord. I’m here to tell you that He will step in in ways that you can’t possibly imagine if you will just trust Him. He is not a God that wants to leave you broken hearted. He is a God that wants to offer hope and healing. Does it always look the way we thought it would? No. But we can still trust him.

God has flooded me with peace during this time in a way I could never muster up on my own. It is 100% a work of the Lord. And I am so thankful that we get to continue a relationship with the boys and their grandparents. Because what if this isn’t just about two boys….. what if this is about several family members that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?

I am praying more Christians would take the step of faith and serve these children and their family members who need Jesus in foster care.

If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.- John Piper, Risk is Right.

Please please check out this video!!

Time To Go

Fostering brings about so many strange feelings. One of the strangest is how it feels when it’s time for them to go. Our very first experience with this was three years ago and we asked to have a little girl placed in another foster parents home. I felt relief and guilt and sadness all at once. It was hard even though we knew it was the right decision. Today I am packing up all the belongings that the boys have accumulated in the last six months. They are going to live with a grandmother. Last night I finished a photo album of all the memories and mile stones they both had while here. They’ve grown and changed so much. It has been a crazy season for us. Going from three children to five and the fact that the boys are so close in age, it’s been non stop. We have had moments of joy and laughter and I have felt plenty of moments of inadequacy. Even in the most overwhelming times God has been there, affirming me through his people but mostly through his Word.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews‬ ‭10:36‬ ‭


“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58‬

So today as I packed all their things; their little clothes, their blankets, toys, presents we bought them for Christmas, and their memory book, and thought about all we’ve walked through with them…..I felt so strange. Not overwhelming sadness but not necessarily relief as we go back to “normal” for a little while. We took them to grandma and I didn’t have a complete come apart like I anticipated. I can attribute that to Gods grace. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ I am confident that grandma loves them and will care for them as we have, so that helps. Still, as we waved goodbye it’s almost like it’s not hit me yet. It feels like we will be back to get them in a few days. As I contemplated baby K’s expression as he waved at us I felt almost a sting in my heart,…. he doesn’t understand. He probably feels the same thing, “they’ll be back”. And maybe we will be. Grandma said to stay in touch. And I hope we get to. I hope this isn’t the end of our story with those boys. I hope we get to see more of Gods mercy and goodness at work in their lives. Because one thing is for certain, he loves them, his hands are on them, and he desires for them to know him. So we may not be their foster parents anymore but we certainly will never stop praying for them and we will always love them. Those boys will forever be in our hearts and I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve them.

“LORD, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.” Isaiah‬ ‭26:12

Nothing Special 

About a year ago Jason and I began talking and praying through whether or not we would step back into foster parenting. James 1:27 is pretty clear about Christians caring for widows and orphans in their distress and while we know you don’t have to be foster or adoptive parents to do this it was still heavy on our hearts. So we prayed and began pursuing what would be required to become foster parents again. Which in case you are wondering everything was required all over. We attended orientation, 20 hours of training, and began our home study. Around every requirement we saw opportunity for God to open or close the door and reveal His sovereign will. We encountered a few hurdles and lost paper work but ultimately God would say “yes” and we officially became foster parents on June 3rd. We already have our 2nd placement, two baby brothers, a one month old and a one year old.

Now before your head starts spinning as you consider the ages and number of children currently in our home I just want to let you in on a secret.

We are normal.

We get tired. I am in fact, very tired. We need time outs to regroup. We all, Jason, me, and the kids, have to adjust to new visitors and how it throws off our groove. We are learning a new level of patience, we don’t just have it. We are learning new ways to sacrifice and share and love. We are not super parents. We are not saints.

All I can say we are is willing. God most certainly is our strength, joy, patience and provision. It’s just not us. It’s Him. It’s the Holy Spirit.

I have no idea when or what I’ll write about. Of course I have to be careful of not sharing personal information about the children but I do hope to write to encourage foster parents and also give insight to how others can obey the call of James 1:27 with out having to be a foster or adoptive parent. We have been loved on in so many ways by the body of Christ and my heart is full of gratitude for Gods people. We can’t do this alone and I hope to share about how we aren’t. 🙂

Obedience and closure are what I’m after :)

Since I was a little girl I have always enjoyed writing. Even from an academic stand point writing to me was fun. I still find great joy in writing for pleasure but over the years I have learned that writing is much more than a hobby for me. God has actually gifted me with exhortation, the gift of encouragement. Apparently he gave me a thing for words. 🙂 I don’t know if this is twofold for everyone who possesses this spiritual gift but writing is extremely therapeutic for me as well. Over the last 5 years I have found great delight, rest, and release in writing on this little blog site. Not only has it allowed me to document precious memories but I’ve been able to connect with many of you, sharing in the faith, and mutually encouraging each other. It’s not always easy to blog though. Sometimes I find myself compelled to write on more sensitive subjects and in the aftermath questioning “Is this how God wants me to use what he has gifted me with?” Being confronted with the fact that I AM a sinful human being inevitably means I won’t always get it “(w)ri(te)ght.” Just because I type something up that I feel incredibly passionate about and tag on Jesus Name does not make it infallible. Only the Word of God possesses that quality. Every part of me wants every part of my life, even a blog, to represent Christ well. And I am fully aware that every single one of our words carries weight in matters of eternity.

Though imperfectly, when approaching this public avenue of writing I have tried to be very prayerful, reliant on the Holy Spirit, and at times accountable to more mature believers. I have sought to view this as a ministry of encouragement. I’ve shared about family memories, marriage fun and fails, the struggles and joys of parenting, and the delights of being an over-thinking melancholy, among other things. I have written things that are personal, embarrassing even, because I genuinely felt led by the Lord to be authentic and reveal how the power of His love moves us to repentance and turning from selfish ways.

Still, I find myself wondering, in a world where we have SO MANY people expressing themselves in public forums, could our exposure to such a wide range of lifestyles and opinions be polluting the ONE opinion that matters? We are even warned in scripture to be careful of those whose words we allow to persuade us. I was reminded this morning in Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

Ultimately I don’t want people to just listen to me. I have always wanted my writing to lead people to Christ, to study and listen to HIS Word. This blog isn’t meant to express “Look at how we do life. Mimic our way it’s the right way.” It’s supposed to be expressing “We’re trying to seek the Lord in each decision and moment. This is how he’s working in our life. We’re not perfect. Our way isn’t right but HIS WAY is.” I know. Not the most fluid caption. That’s why I chose the Ephesians verse instead. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Inadvertently I have taken several weeks off from posting here. I have been writing though. You just don’t even understand how necessary it is for me. 🙂 I mean a lot has happened in the last month! But lately I write and then something interesting occurs. I get a very strong sense, as if God is gently speaking over me “Just leave this one between you and me. It’s treasured and cared about here.” When this first happened I actually had to ask myself “Is this enough for you? Is it enough, that God, your Creator, and Heavenly Father, hears your hearts concerns, your joyful moments, your passionate beliefs? Or do you still need someone else to validate you?” It may sound like a small insignificant step but in faith I laid it at his feet actively answering the question that He is enough for me. He knows my thoughts and hears every prayer and that is absolutely all I need. So that was the first time. I didn’t really expect to have to do it again and again. But God knows me best and practice makes perfect right?

I believe God is leading me to step away from this blog for a season….. or all 4 seasons…. I’m not real sure how long. A lot of big changes, total God things, have happened in our life in the last 6 months. In fact a lot I haven’t even typed out here. :-/ Sorry if this seems vague it’s not you, it’s me. 😉 As we continue in what the Lord has laid before us and impressed on our hearts, His Spirit just keeps telling me to “Be personal, not virtual. Use your gifts in real time, real life, in the flesh. Trust Me. I’ll bring people in your life to speak truth to you. I’ll also lead to you those who need the truth and will listen and hear My voice.” I love in 2 John 12 how he writes “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you in person and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

Of course I believe we can benefit from the outside perspectives of strong trusted Christians. It’s called being a disciple. We are called to it and to do it after the point of our conversion all the way till we get to Heaven. (Matthew 28:18-20 The Great Commission: Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”) Pretty sure Jesus expected us to do it like him. Most of discipleship is going to take place in person. 😉 We can’t stay home alone with our Bible and close our self off from allowing God to use PEOPLE in our life. Not at all. But we do need to be cautious of WHO we listen to. The fact is there’s a lot of misinterpretation of the Bible and misrepresentation of Christ out there. 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say whatever their itching ears want to hear.” I do read lots of Christian books and heed instruction from mature believers but I also take every word, belief, or idea back to scripture. I pray that we who call ourselves Christian would be vigilant, prayerful, and devoted students of the Word of God.

This really is as they say bittersweet. 🙂 Thank you for being so gracious with me. Many of you have let me “Work out my salvation with fear and trembling” here and have been extremely uplifting with your responses whether by comment, text, phone, or email. So… until I am I led to write again,…

Grace and peace be with you all.
Katie

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.