Always

Okay, so God’s goodness is tough sometimes. In my opinion, it’s because it’s not a feeling. It’s a fact. It’s who He is. God is Good.  And, in case we needed to revisit this issue, I’m all about the feelings.

Feelings are sometimes (a lot of times) what makes foster care so difficult. You cannot interact, let alone live, with children and not have emotions involved. They’re cute, they’re funny, they’re annoying, they’re so lovable, and they hurt.

So. We have the fact (eyeroll) of God’s goodness, and we have many, many, many hurting, broken children that have lived in a reality of hell.

 Needless to say, I need something to connect the dots. How does the empathy, and #allthefeels, match up with the goodness of God? It looks pretty dim some days. It’s hard to admit as a Christian but it feels like most days I have to say “God, I know You’re good. but when will I FEEL it? When will my kids feel it? When will my grief stricken friends and family feel it?”

And then God does His thing.

He reminds me that it’s not a feeling. It may rarely ever be a positive emotional fact. But it’s still a fact. He holds the world in His hands. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows it all. He makes it all happen.

He tells me in a variety of ways that He equipped me to love His people – practical or impractical. My job is to do the loving -regardless of the feeling of His goodness. Because while His goodness is constant, so is His love. This is my favorite part. Because you can FEEL His love. 

FEELINGS! 

So there may not be a connection between His goodness: the fact and His love: the feeling. But will that affect MY love? 

I will love, love, love with this heart You’ve made for You’ve been good always.”

Always.

Helping Yourself

I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on myself. Some phases of life I feel like I just have to ride out and learn from later, but this current phase, it’s different. I have to figure myself out as I move forward, in order to move forward. I’ve been resisting it. But the time has come to realize exactly the work I have to do for myself.

While these are more personal things, it greatly affects my work and passion as a foster parent. I was driving back from a number of appointments this week in Greenville, and it gave me some very needed alone time – just me and music and God. (thumbs up emoji)

I have felt so rushed recently. There are many changes on the horizon for Jonathon and I, but none of them are coming very quickly. Everything seem to be dragging on, no conclusions, not ever really an end in sight for all of these potential future plans we have. I don’t do well with that. I need things to happen. I can MAKE things happen. I’m good at that. But God is slowing me down. He is giving me His peace when I didn’t even ask for it. He’s helping me breathe when I didn’t know I needed to. He’s showing me His glorious attribute of being wise, when I didn’t remember I should be looking to His guidance. For it’s He who made me think the way I do, and this last month I have so easily forgotten to turn to my Maker for the things I need.

So today, while I drive for hours when I’d rather be sleeping because I have a sinus infection, one of my favorite songs came on. And God showed me subtly, not tauntingly, that I’m missing the point. That He is refocusing me on how to break through my pride and put in the hard work to make myself a better person – a more diligent student of His Word, a more responsible steward of His Temple, a more humble servant to His People, a more secure Daughter of an Almighty God.

So let this song (with some minor commentary) sink into your soul like it did mine today. 

The Actual Version:
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

The Heidi Version:

I’m doing okay in life. I think I got this. Some days are tough, but things work out. Jesus knows I want to love Him, and I give Him the glory for our ministry and success.

I know I have some flaws. I know I should be a better wife, a more patient person, and take better care of myself. I’m doing okay.

BUT YOU HAVE CALLED ME HIGHER. DEEPER. YOU HAVE CALLED ME TO THIS.

Okay, so maybe I should work on some stuff.

Buuttt Jesus, You’re taking care of me just as I am. You love me in any shape I’m in. You created me like this, God. You know that I am a good person and a hard worker. I’m working hard on many things.

BUT YOU HAVE CALLED ME HIGHER. DEEPER. YOU HAVE CALLED ME TO THIS.

but. but. but. but.

(insert all excuses) BUT, God, YOU have CALLED (insert name) to something HIGHER and BIGGER and DEEPER and MORE IMPOSSIBLE than I could ever think of. Lead me, Lord.

 

So my excuses, and even my feelings are invalid at this point. They don’t hold up to anything. Because when the God of the stinking universe calls you to put in the money, time, effort, work, pain – whatever – YOU DO IT, PEOPLE.

God, You have called me to a high calling. You have equipped me. You have secured me. You LOVE me. I don’t want anything less than to have YOU, Creator of the World, to call me, a lame, incapable person to something for Your Kingdom. Can I do something for You?

His answer is yes. It always is Yes!

That’s when God uses you. That’s when big things happen. That’s when lives are changed.

So help yourself. Help yourself by seeing, searching, listening, and living God’s call to something Higher and Deeper than you think. I promise you won’t regret it.

Foster Care is a Family

That title might seem obvious. The point of foster care is to provide a family for a child who needs one. That is true, but entering the world of foster care means a family of foster care providers that you are now a part of. A family that knows what you’re going through and can give you advice and encouragement to navigate the troubled waters of foster care. Like most other things in life, foster care is much more doable if you have a supportive community around you.

It’s not completely fair to say that foster care is providing a family to a child who doesn’t have one. Most foster kids have families, albeit insufficient ones, and they love them. Regardless of what was done to them, children are loyal (sometimes illogically) to their parents and families. They are in a stable, safe place for the first time in their life and they kick and scream because they want to go home. It’s all they’ve ever known. In his book The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, psychiatrist Bruce Perry says that people, children included, often prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty. Foster care could be better described as filling in the gaps of what a family should be. Ideally, foster care should be a group effort between the foster family, birth family, caseworker, and court system to ensure the best possible outcome for the child’s future. Nobody can do it alone, each piece of the puzzle needs to rely on the other to do their part.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to be a successful foster family. The parents and families that invite children into their home are definitely an important piece, but equally important are the people that surround that family with love and help to make their difficult job a little easier. Preparing meals, babysitting, home maintenance, and prayer support are all important skills that will ultimately benefit the life of the child. Jason Johnson says “We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all certainly capable of doing something.” Not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help foster kids.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NLT)

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. That means you have a spiritual gift and you should use it to help others. No excuses. If you think you have nothing to offer, you’re wrong. You have things that you’re good at and you enjoy doing. Find a way to use those hobbies and skills to help foster families. Spiritual gifts aren’t something that just pastors and ministry leaders have. You don’t have to take a test to figure out what your spiritual gifts are. You just have to think about what you already do, and how that can be adapted to help.

Family Matters. Karl Winslow said so. Earthly families matter, and so does the family of God. We’re called to live life together and encourage one another daily. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT) So it’s not enough to just meet together and live life together, we need to get creative. We need to come up with new ways to encourage and motivate those around us to do good and make the world, foster care system included, a better place.