Haven’t done one of these in awhile. 🙂 Awesome song! I’d like to “dedicate” this one to Baby C’s mom. I’m proud of her perseverance. ❤
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. 🙂
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.
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
I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks now. Today we read another chapter out of “A Wing and a Prayer” and I have to include a little from it. Nate Saint was a pilot for MAF, Missionary Aviation Fellowship. In today’s chapter he is in an airplane accident and survives with a badly broken back. Meanwhile, he misses the birth of his first child because he was in a hospital in Panama and his wife was too far along in pregnancy to travel with him. He’s about to be interviewed on Christian radio.
“During his many days in the hospital, Nate had been thinking about the idea of ‘expendability,’ and that was the subject of his radio talk…….. Nate used the term to mean that Christians need to offer themselves to be used up by God however He wishes to use them.”
He nearly died in a plane crash, missed his first child’s entrance into the world, was in a cast for 5 months and still could not wait to get back in a plane to serve missionaries and the unreached people groups of Ecuador.
Lately, the Lord has been teaching our family a lot about “counting the cost” (See Luke 14:28-33) and our commitment to Him and what He calls us to. Oh how we are in a perpetual state of learning…. And re-learning. 😉 As Christians we are representatives of Christ, ambassadors. (2 Corinthians 5:20) So this means everything we do reflects Him. Our choices can reflect him well or poorly. They can show great trust in Christ and strength through the power of His Spirit. They can show devotion to Him and the things he cares about. Or our choices can show a distrust in God and a lack of devotion to him. They can suggest he lacks power or that we don’t really believe what he tells us in his Word. It’s easy to quote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” But admittedly, that’s easier to apply to running a marathon than let’s say, loving hard to love people or responding joyfully to the daily challenges of life. Over the last month our experience with fostering became,…. more complicated. I won’t be disclosing any details here and now. We still have our two little guys and they are doing great in our home. But, as I’m learning more every day, foster care is complex and messy. Our situation is not abnormal but that doesn’t make it any less difficult or overwhelming at points. And there have been moments where we have wondered (again) are we supposed to be doing this? Is this right for our family? Is this risking our children’s safety and wellbeing? Can we effectively serve a broken “system”? Is this worth it? I’ll be honest, we have been able to come up with plenty of reasons for why we could stop and why it would be “okay” and we would have lots of people support us if we decided to walk away from this. But for every reason to quit, God has given us reason to persevere. For every fear or concern, God has given us confidence that it is worth it.
Our reputation could be at stake.
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me.” Matthew 5:11
It’s too risky. Aren’t we supposed to protect our family first?
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life [in the sense of indifference to or relative disregard for them in comparison with his attitude toward God]– he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26 AMP
The system is too broken. It’s not helping the families as it should.
“Tell all the nations, “The LORD reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly.” Psalms 96:10
“For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone…….Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” Lamentations 3:31-33, 37
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:6
The thing is life is hard. Maintaining commitments is hard. But just because it gets difficult (or sometimes illogical) that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it. For those of us who call ourselves Christians we actually are told to expect hardship and opposition and then we are given promise after promise of what our clinging to Christ and perseverance will produce.
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39
In a country where prosperity abounds and comfort is king, we have a tendency to run from difficulty. We view a lot of life’s challenges as strictly negative and when the going gets tough we can easily justify throwing in the towel with a squad of well meaning cheerleaders affirming our decision, regardless of the commitment we once made and its implications. I don’t know what you are considering giving up on. I know Satan certainly wants us to give up on the things God calls us to. And while sometimes God may have us step away from something, we have to ask ourselves, “What will give God the most glory?”
And again, on being “expendable for God” in the words of Nate Saint, “Isn’t the price small in the light of God’s infinite love?”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Godʼs power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9
I have this photo album that I stick miscellaneous photos in and so there are pictures from when Jason and I were just married and living at the beach all the way through the years up to this past Christmas, which is what I was putting in. Those actually filled the album and so now I need a new one. I digress. When I opened it, it flopped to a spot that has been a tender place for me. Tender like a wound that on the outside looks healed but on the inside still has some work to do. Here laid photos of a little face I’ve had difficulty looking at, for many reasons, over the last 2 years. Maybe you have a hunch at what little face I’m talking about. It’s been just over two years now since we said goodbye to our first and only child we cared for through fostering. I will never forget that day when we had to make one of the most difficult and humbling choices to have her placed with another family. Overwhelmed just doesn’t seem to encompass my state but at that point I felt I wasn’t serving her or my family well. I wanted to hang in there but I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t know what the “right thing” to do was. Hang on or let go. I was unraveling. In the days, weeks, and months to follow I have asked God all sorts of questions.
“Were we not ready?”
“Why that way?”
“What was the purpose?”
“Did we do the right thing?”
“Did we damage her fragile situation more by having her moved?”
“Will we step back into that ministry?”
I have also continued to pray for that little girl. I pray that wherever we failed her, wherever any person has failed her, that God would reveal Himself to her and be her source of hope, healing, and strength.
Being foster parents was hard. Harder than we imagined, in ways we didn’t see coming.
So for a while now, I’ve looked back on those photos and it’s just been a big fat reminder of my inadequacy. Because toward the end, I struggled to even have affectionate feelings for her. That’s hard for me to admit here because that is a wretched feeling. I mean I’ll be honest, there are days I don’t particularly “feel” like being all lovey on my kids but they are my kids. I gave birth to them and because of Gods marvelous design it is natural for me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt I love them, even if I do feel crummy at the moment that I don’t want to hug all over them. With someone else’s child you question yourself. You think “what’s wrong with you, don’t you have a heart?!” And yet you are void of those feelings that make it easier to hug and hold this little child. I cried and prayed and reminded myself over and over that love is a choice, not a feeling. And I would hug her and hold her and sit her in my lap and just trust God would fill the gap. Today, for the first time, I looked at those photos and saw her sweet face and by her smile was reminded that she was a happy little girl and I remembered good times. I was having a moment when I didn’t feel like a complete and utter failure and it was sweet. And then it happened…..regret snuck in again. I thought “What if we had hung in there?” But as I sat there I knew deep down that God was in control, still is, and even through what is difficult He is sovereign.
Wondering “What if?” is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s good. If applied positively to the future you can dream and aspire and accomplish wonderful things. But sometimes “What if?” leads us to fear, resentment or for me today regret. Regret isn’t all bad, we learn from mistakes right? And a synonym for regret is repentant which is Biblical. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalms 51:17 But regret that is condemning and guilt producing is not where God wants us to stay. Repent, yes. But as you repent and turn don’t forget to move forward. Satan wants regret to steal your joy and the future God longs for you to have in Christ. Don’t let him.
I don’t know what your “What if?” is. I don’t know if it’s inspiring or paralyzing, if it instills fear, anger or regret. The fact is we can not change our past. We can learn from it and we must trust God with both it and the future. Our choices do matter…. and I pray my choices today, (including how I choose to use my past) and tomorrow would reflect greater dependence and trust in a mighty, powerful, all knowing, and loving God. I pray that for you, too.
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.
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? 😉
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.