Love like Jesus

There is something about fostering that I’m learning and have wanted to share. It’s something that I’m not sure gets talked about openly, because it’s a sensitive subject. I imagine it’s very hard to understand if you haven’t fostered or adopted, but I’m guessing it’s not unique to me. :-/

Before we stepped into fostering, the idea of caring for children in need just pulled at my heartstrings. For the most part, I thought that loving someone else’s child the way I love my own would come naturally. Especially since, for now, we have chosen to foster babies and toddlers. I just couldn’t imagine it being difficult to love a baby. Additionally, knowing that these children are coming from such broken places, I assumed the compassion I had would further fuel my love and affection.

I thought too highly of myself.

There are days when my affection does not flow naturally. My love feels forced and fake. I get irritated by behaviors that I didn’t contribute to. I forget about their trauma and being compassionate.

I am selfish and self serving.

Honestly, the thing that confronted me most (and God has been dealing with me ever so gently) is all the selfishness and pride that is bound up in my parenting. My kids aren’t perfect, but they are healthy, generally happy, mostly obedient, smart, funny, and beautiful. And though I KNOW that is all because of God’s sovereign grace and mercy, there are moments when I’m tempted to think, “Jason and I did such a good job. We are such good parents.”

Children in foster care come with so much hurt and brokenness and it manifests itself differently in each child. It takes awhile sometimes to see the unique God given beauty and wonderful characteristics that He has placed in them. They come dealing with trauma. They come with quirks. Right now we have a screamer. My point is, I have been enjoying my children and parenting out of the overflow of GOOD things. We haven’t had to walk through anything really tough yet with our children and so, for the most part, loving them, liking them, it’s been pretty easy. In foster parenting you are brought a child that has been hurt, had no structure, and no loving discipline. They exhibit odd and even frustrating behaviors that are not their fault, at that point you are confronted with your true motives in parenting. I’ll be honest, I like when our children make us look good. It is an “I will invest in you and you will yield a profit,” mentality, with the “profit” being you respond in a way that makes me feel and look good. I know, it is worldly and consumer oriented. I know that’s not what parenting is about. Children are not our accessories though often we treat them that way.

Here to serve, not be served.

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God has revealed to me that if we are to be effective in fostering (AND parenting), we have to accept the good and the bad, the beautiful and the broken, just like he does.

Katie Davis makes a compelling observation in her book, Kisses from Katie:

It’s just different when it’s your own child who’s suffering. But should it be?…..I believe that this is a normal human reaction. I also believe it is wrong. I believe that every human being on this planet is God’s child, perfectly made and beloved and cherished by Him. I believe that His heart hurts, even more than mine when my baby is hurting, for each and every one of the hurting, dying, starving, crying children in our world. So I have to believe that if my heart was truly seeking to be aligned with the heart of God, that I would hurt for each of these children as well. But sometimes, I forget. Sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes hurting for my very own children feels like enough. I believe the world says this is okay. I believe it is wrong.

This was so very convicting for me to read. But I believe she is right! Not only have I thought it was okay to love or hurt more for my children but more selfish than that, I have been all about what is good, beautiful and easy, and when faced with the uncomfortable, bad and broken I realized how shallow my love is. Thankfully God has placed His Holy Spirit in me and THAT is what makes it possible for me to truly love. I pray my heart would continue to align with His so I can love like He loves. We are here to serve and especially in the hard, broken places. It’s our job to show our children and other people’s children and ALL PEOPLE how Jesus loves.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Advertisements

Freeeeedoooom ;-)

The girls started school! What a big change that has brought in our normal day. I’m so excited for them and confident this was the right thing to do for our family. Homeschooling Micaila last year was a good thing and fit that time in our life, but we needed to do things differently this year. With fostering and the age Caleb is at, I feel like I can be more effective in my roles while they get taught during the day. I feel this amount of time will enable me to focus on serving. Serving our family, foster children, friends, and whoever the Lord places in my life. I’m excited about the freedom but I want to use the time wisely.

Did I put this in a previous blog, a visiting pastor a few weeks ago said “You are never more like Jesus then when you are serving.” How I long to be like Jesus. 🙂 Jesus loved others and was completely filled with peace, joy, contentment, among other things. What more could we want? Love, joy, peace,…. I know it’s all true because in the throws of serving I am not preoccupied with self which is what tends to rob me of all those good things like love and peace.

Speaking of serving I have been blessed to BE served. My cousin Nicole, who is so thoughtful and I admire that about her so much, orchestrated friends to bring us a few meals. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Can I announce that the honeymoon is over? Not that it’s horrible now but we definitely have a 2 year old in the house. Things that alerted me of this: I feel an urge to carry a paint brush and magic eraser around at all times. Hiney wiping is back at a high for me. 😉

So we have been blessed this week and last with some yummy meals and I am beyond grateful and feel quite spoiled. Isn’t that amazing? How one meal can seriously change your life that day. And that is something I want to strive for during the day when the girls are at school. Who could use that life changing meal today? It may be someone who recently brought me one! Or it may be a total stranger.

Something else I was struck by when receiving these wonderful gifts of food. I have a very difficult time accepting service. It just feels weird to me for some reason. Like I feel so undeserving or that maybe it’s too much trouble for the server. (This is all part of my melancholy over thinking temperament) I want to just gladly and guiltlessly accept the blessing. Why do we feel this way? (I’m not the only one who feels this way, right?) This is why we HAVE the body of Christ, so we can support and encourage each other. My own struggle of being served reminds me (a well as my mother reminding me) of the attitude I should ALWAYS have as a servant.
2 Corinthians 9:7b God loves a cheerful giver.
I admit that there have been times when I have given, wether it was time, money, food, ect. and I just want someone, anyone, to know it was sacrificial on my part and “please just pat me on the back, and tell me I am doing a good thing.” I know this comes from my own insecurity and desire to equate my worth from humans. Instead I need to be confident and content with my worth coming from Him alone.

I pray that during the day not only will I be aware and seek opportunities to serve but that I will do so with a pure heart, pure motives, and purely for my Father in Heaven. I know this will come from spending time with him, so I just pray I will be careful with my days and spend each moment wisely.

So, time to get off this blog and be intentional with the rest of my day HIS day.

Interactive question time. Don’t all the good bloggers do this?

What’s a good way for stay at home moms to minister to others? Give me all you got! 😉

S-U-R-G-E, Lets go Surge!

Let’s try this again.

You may have noticed that I “posted” a blog and it was super short and quickly disappeared. Total accident. I don’t know how I ended up “publishing” it before I was done but I did.

A few blogs ago I posted about serving others, being available, and how God was giving me opportunities to become more like him in the area of servant-hood. This has continued and intensified. But in a good way. 🙂 After watching the boys for over a week and flying home to be with family after Grandmother passed away, I had the privilege of jumping into Surge, our churches version of VBS. It is a week-long evening sports and arts camp. Some how, without dropping names 😉 I was convinced to help with Cheer-leading. I assumed that I’d just be a little helper, not really needing to have personal experience with cheering.

What a ridiculous assumption.

Upon arriving at Surge Nicole and I were made aware that the “coach” for chants and cheers was unable to participate for the week and they needed us to lead the girls.

Umm what?

We literally had no plan. None. Nunzo plan-o.  And there wasn’t like a “master plan”  to speak of.

We’re finished. These poor girls.

I started to sweat and freak out a little in my head. Lets face it. 6 year olds are intimidating. As are 7,8,9,10, and 11 year olds.  Girls. Girls are intimidating y’all, I don’t care what age. You’re 6 I’m 26, whatever, you still make me feel like I’m back in school wanting approval and admiration.

Did I mention yet that I have absolutely NO cheer-leading in my background except when I DIDN’T make the squad in middle school. Talk about bitter feelings rising. Poor Nicole had to show me how to bounce, clap, and smile all at the same time. Not only did she have to teach a bunch of elementary girls but she had to instruct her partner as well. Sorry Nikki. You are the bomb.

So we had 15 minutes to come up with something.

Google, YouTube, y’all rock.

Nicole pulled a couple chants out of her pocket because thankfully she DID make the squad and had cheered in high school. But lets face it, even as youthful as Nicole is it’s still been a little awhile 😉 We don’t know all the “new” stuff. Whatever, we’re at a disadvantage here.

We really were slightly amused by this whole scenario. I mean it is definitely hysterical to think that they put someone like me in charge of teaching girls how to cheer. Thank goodness I had Nicole.

Let me speed this story up though otherwise we’ll be here all night. To give you an idea of how things were going, by Wednesday we had cheer-leading bows in our hair….. you know, compensating the lack of cheering ability with spirit. The girls LOVED it. There are few compliments quite at awesome as an eight year old telling you “I like your hair!” We got spirit yes we do! Not only that but the lady who heads up the whole Cheer-leading division of Surge was just ecstatic over how WELL we were doing with the girls. I mean, she just thought we were amazing. She couldn’t believe I had never cheered (guess it was hidden deep within. Darn you Pine View for never allowing me to spread my cheer wings!) and she was amazed that we came up with all our material in a matter of hours. She wants it printed out! That is if she can’t have us next year. What a compliment! And I can not tell you how faithful God was to reveal himself at work. Those girls,…. 😉  they were a delight to work with. I saw one at Chickfila and she was thrilled to see me (and I her!) I mean it’s just so sweet to know you are making little eternal deposits in lives of our young ones. That is where it’s at y’all. I don’t care how frantic or nervous or unplanned it was, we trusted and HE prevailed! It was totally worth every minute!

I also got asked if I went to High School where we were holding Surge. Thank you my sweet little cheer ladies!

Okay so, obviously Surge was awesome. I share that story to encourage y’all to just get in anywhere you can serve. It really does bless you. The more I serve the more I WANT to. I have found myself just thinking about it all the time. Thinking about “What can I do for someone else?” Whether it’s my husband, family, friends, or strangers, serving others is gratifying in a way that serving yourself never will be. It’s true that the more I sew to the Spirit the more I desire the things of the Spirit.

Anyway, let me give you a quick update on where we’re at in our Faithbridge process. We had 2 home visits with 1 to go. We will have this last 1 when we return from our restful vacation that we are on right now. Truly we are abundantly blessed and don’t deserve it but oh Lord how we thank you for these awesome gifts.

Love all of you! And now I am going to enjoy my family and this opportunity to be at the beach God has provided us.

Thankful to the Giver of all things.

 

 

3, no 5, no 7….. s.e.v.e.n.

Who started the trend of putting periods in between letters of words to emphasize the word?

I love it!

Jason has a really sweet girl that works for him. She was the 2nd gal he ever hired. She is a very hard worker. Which anyone who owns a business knows how difficult it can be to find solid, good, honest, hard working employees. We love her. She happens to be a single mom and is doing all she can to love and support her family. I really admire her.

Usually her sister helps watch her boys after school or during the summer. Her sister though just had a baby. Due to complications they had to take the baby 5 weeks early. Not only was this a frightening situation for her sister and the baby but obviously our gal was worried about her kiddos and their care while she works to provide. When something like this happens I am compelled to help. Seriously, God has blessed me beyond measure, often through OTHER PEOPLE. My desire to do things for others legitimately comes from my love for Christ, because he has so lavishly loved me.

But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:6 NLT)

Yes he does!

It’s like you want others to experience that.

So I told her not to worry, we would help as long as she needed. We knew Gods hand was in this. Jason and I discussed how she only needs someone through June and we had told Faithbridge we’d be ready (assuming approval) to start accepting children in July.

Interesting? Coincidence?

Y’all that is God.

He was working on our hearts and schedule and creating availability for us to meet this need with obedience, willingness, and love.

From 3 kiddos to 5.

Well then I start thinking. Her sister has 2 other boys. And obviously her husband needs to be with her and the baby while they are in the hospital. Who is watching their boys? So I asked…..

And 5 becomes 7.

S.E.V.E.N.

I mean I used to say I wanted 7 children, here’s my chance. 🙂 But 7 would definitely require a plan. An itinerary. So I ran to the dollar general, loaded up on bubbles, chalk, water balloons, puzzles, ect. On my drive I prayed, “Lord, being available and willing is half the battle. (Actually….less than half!) I need power from your Spirit to enable me not just to babysit, (babysit ie: ensure everyone’s survival.) but God I want to care for these kids with love that points towards You! Make me slow to anger and abounding in love as You are. Help me to invest in these kids while I have them with all the grace and love that comes from You.” Then, I whipped up several PB&J’s just to have on hand. And I also wrote up a schedule.

“A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”

20130602-215907.jpg

It is 10pm Sunday night. I will write this is segments. 🙂

1:51pm Monday. This is no joke the first time I have sat down. Not sure how long it will last. Our day has gone something like this.

8:00 the kids arrive. We finished up breakfast and I set them up with UNO and coloring books till it was time for Caleb to take his morning nap at 10. At that point I had “scheduled” our water balloon and sprinkler time. It was key to play games with the water balloons. Allowing a free-for-all makes the effort of getting the balloons and filling them up pretty much pointless. Google “water balloon games”and it will ensure your time and dollar goes further.

We did a water balloon toss, “hot potato”, a musical chairs spin on water balloons, and my personal favorite, the balloon hunt where I hid several balloons and whatever they found they then could bomb each other with. Here’s a glimpse into the situation. Obviously there is not much time to capture photos. Get the evidence and go. 😉

20130603-140118.jpg
We took a break at 11 and had lunch. Making all the sandwiches the night before was key! After lunch we played a few more games and then I let them loose to have their balloon fight. Within 27 seconds they were all exploded.

6:50pm (finally sitting again, the boys went home at 4:00 but of course immediate damage control was necessary for this girl. I just like order. I also like dinner, as does the rest of my family haha!)

The rest of our day consisted of indoor activities.

Then to wrap up the last hour the kids had a water gun fight and filled the few remaining balloons we had. Which I thought “Wow, would have made them occupy some of the time filling balloons had I known they were so good at it.”
😉

All in all the day went quite smoothly. Spent a lot of time trying to explain why rules and boundaries are so important for safe fun. I could probably write numerous blogs addressing many different aspects and issues we ran across through out the day but ultimately here is what I really want my focus to be:

Being available to be a servant.
(Which mind you, some people are actually gifted in serving. Like its their spiritual gift. Well, it’s not mine)

I ran across this quote and liked this take on serving.

When Jesus came in the form of a servant, He was not disguising who God is. He was revealing who God is. Jesus calls us to servanthood not because other people need our service, it is because of what happens to us when we serve.

John Ortberg

Oh I pray that my availability and obedience to what God brings in my life would not only bless others and draw them closer to Christ but that it would change me. Every day I pray I would look a little more like Jesus. I know I am not perfect and inevitably I’ll make mistakes, but I get really excited thinking about being more like Jesus.

This song just came to mind.
Chris Tomlins version Take My Life

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love, my Lord I pour at Your feet, it’s treasure store
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee