Foster Care is Fun. 

Yes! Foster care is fun! We write a lot about the weight that it carries. But looking at our day-to-day life, fostering can be so much fun! We get to watch kids grow up and experience life with all their commentary along the way.

We get to help kids experience new things all the time. And while that can be scary for some, most of the time it brings some hilarious reactions. Kids have no filter. So whether it’s a new food or new place, kids say the darnedest things!

We get to do things like arts and crafts, building things, coloring, playing outside – those are just simply FUN to do with kids. Seeing their creativity and abilities brings us joy and laughter.

Nehemiah 8:10b says “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

We have the privilege to raise some of God’s most precious creation. They truly are the joy of the Lord. We find strength in our laughter with children.

Example: A child saying my name over and over while I’m trying to pack the cottage for camp. I’m obviously getting frustrated in hearing them call me continuously. It’s the typical “mom. Mom. Moooommmmm. Mom mom. Mom.” To which I finally reply ‘yes. What do you need?’ Child: should I tell the boys that we need to shave our beards before we go camping?

Bahahaha! I almost instantly think  “This will work. We can do this.” The trip we packed for and planned for. It’s stressful, but it will be ok. We can get through it. Similarly, when we get more than 1 admission at once, and I’m well aware that we are causing a tornado at the doctor’s office for physicals. Then one of the children licks the patient bed in the room. All you can do is laugh. Like, what in the world is he thinking?!

These times normally come in between being scared and asking a million questions about what a doctor does and screaming because there is a strange lady (nurse) wanting to check their blood pressure. So it seems like there’s hope when they decide to show a very child-like weirdness of licking benches.

Children are such an example of the roller coaster of life and the hope that Christ brings. In the middle of  stress and chaos and tantrums comes a sweet kiss on the cheek or a small hand that wants to hold mine. God uses them to show us that He really is in our midst, especially when we don’t always feel it.

So, Foster care is fun! It’s not a deep, profound thought, but it’s a unique way that God strengthens us for the dark days. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to weep and a time for laughter. We are so grateful to work in a ministry that is so full of laughter!

I’ll leave you with my current favorite song from a 5 year old: ‘Hallelujah. Praise the Lordt. Come Jesus, don’t tell me what to do. Don’t you tell me what to do. Hallelujah.”

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Foster Care is Hope

Unleash Your kingdoms power
Reaching the near and far
No force of Hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ

We are Your church
We are the hope on earth

(Rend Collective – Build your Kingdom Here)

We had a high schooler in our cottage who didn’t want to be here (to be fair, none of our kids want to be in foster care). He had lived on his own before after running away from his last foster home, and would rather be anywhere than in a group home cottage with 7 other boys, all at least 6 years younger than him. This all was after 10 years in the foster care system with 15 different foster families, a boarding school, inpatient treatment, and a potential adoption that was disrupted due to a medical emergency in the family. We had many conversations with him about living independently and we worked with him to develop his independent living skills, find a job, and get his learners permit. One day we were having a conversation about the future and he said something to the effect of “when I leave here I’ll live in some sort of slum, because that’s what happens to foster kids.”

Many foster kids feel this way, especially high school kids who are close to aging out of the system. They don’t have much hope for their future, and unfortunately, many current statistics support that. Kids that are aging out of the Foster Care system are much less likely to graduate high school or get a stable job. They are more likely to be homeless or incarcerated. Teen pregnancy is much higher among foster kids. Those are just a few statistics to tell you what you should already know: growing up in the foster care system is not an ideal situation for kids. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

We are the church. We are the hope on earth. When bad things happen, people always ask where God was and why he allowed it to happen. I don’t have an answer to the second question, but I believe that when bad things happen, God is in the church. God is in the men and women responding to the situation with a loving and helping heart. Rend Collective says here: “Jesus wants to set the church on fire, so the world can warm themselves around us and find life and safety.” We, the church, are called to be the light of the world so that when disaster happens, and all seems dark, there is a light that represents hope and warmth to all.

Whenever a child is abused or neglected, it’s a disaster. It’s the darkest times of that child’s life. It’s often something they’ve never experienced before and it’s completely overwhelming in the worst way. Foster Care brings light to the child so they can feel the warm love and acceptance of  a family. They can feel the hope that things don’t always have to be as they had been. Psalm 10:17-18 says 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. Mere people can no longer terrify them. That’s a hard thing to say in foster care, because sadly there’s always the chance that they will be sent back in to a situation where they may be terrified again. But we trust that God knows what he’s doing, even when it doesn’t make sense to us. 

God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. (Hebrews 6:18-19)

Foster care is a lot of things. It’s hard, frustrating, fun, messy, and so many other things all at the same time. Ultimately though, foster care is hope. Hope for children who have never experienced it. Hope for a future that may not have been possible. There is hope for foster kids. There is hope for the foster care system. That hope is the church, and the people that strive to love like Christ loved. You have the chance to be an embodiment of the hope of Christ. You can be a strong and trustworthy anchor for a child who has never experienced a secure attachment. You can become a foster parent. You can support foster parents. If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the contact us section to send us a message.

Foster Care is Frustrating

Google tells me that frustrating means to cause someone to feel upset or annoyed, typically as a result of being unable to change or achieve something. Sounds like foster care! From the application process to the actual foster parenting to the reunification of children with their families, there are many points at which you feel upset or annoyed that you can’t change or achieve something. Happens all the time, sometimes for days at a time. It’s important at those points to remember the big picture when everything else is frustrating you. Remember that the God who has the whole world in his hands, including the foster care system. An important phrase to remember is from Zechariah 4:10: Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin. Every step forward is an important step.

The process of becoming a foster parent can be very frustrating. So many forms and requirements. So little communication. So much waiting and inefficiency. It’s easy to become discouraged. You have a lot of time to wait and overthink your calling and decisions. It’s easy to give up and say “maybe this isn’t for us.” But remember do not despise these small beginnings. Every form, every class, every inspection is one step closer to providing a home for a child who doesn’t have one. The LORD rejoices to see the work begin. God wants you to become a foster parent. God has a plan for you, and he has a plan for the child or children who will be placed in your home. He rejoices in every step, however small, that you take in faith and obedience to that plan.

Parenting is hard. Foster parenting is harder. I guess I can’t say that for sure, because my only parenting experience is foster parenting (8 kids at a time), but I’m sticking with it. Kids come in to foster care with a lot of behaviors, good and bad. Working with kids to unlearn negative behaviors and teach appropriate alternative behaviors can be very frustrating. They have been doing those things for a number of years without any negative consequence, so they don’t understand why they shouldn’t be doing them. No matter what you do to try and correct those behaviors, they don’t seem to get it. Sometimes you see some progress followed by significant regression. Super frustrating. They experience your consistent love and safety for weeks and months, but are still terrified to take a shower or go to bed because they’ve been so scarred by their pasts. It can make you wonder what you’re doing wrong. It can even make you start to resent the child, or wonder why you’re even trying. You get frustrated with yourself and with them until it starts to become unhealthy. (I’m not just writing, I’m confessing. This has happened to me) Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin. Look for any positives, and rejoice in them. Even if it’s a seemingly small beginning, do not despise it. Progress is progress. Potty training is a great example. If they can go pee in the potty, you celebrate like they won an olympic gold medal. If a child who refuses to try any new foods nibbles a carrot, let them have whatever they want for dessert. If a child sees and believes that you care about their progress, it will motivate for them to continue improving.

The end. Saying goodbye. One of the most frustrating parts of foster care is saying goodbye to a kid you know shouldn’t be leaving. The foster care system, at least in South Carolina, pushes for family reunification or kinship care even if that seems to be against what is best for the child.  That’s just my opinion. I’ve seen it enough times to start to become bitter. I hope for the best, but I expect the worst. Of course I have seen many more times that reunification or kinship care is the best thing for the child. But it only takes one kid who was placed with a relative only to come back into care because the relative preferred drugs to kids. Just one time will make you question the system. It’s frustrating, but it’s out of your control. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin. That child might be going into a very uncertain situation, but have faith that you have begun the work in them, and the impact you made with be with them forever. One of my favorite examples of this is an old physics problem. If you shoot a rocket at the moon, changing the trajectory by just 1 degree will cause the rocket to miss it’s target by thousands of miles. Any affect you can have in the life of a child can result in big changes as they grow up. It’s not just you though. It’s not fair to that pressure on yourself. God has a plan for those kids, and he will keep working in them long after they’ve left you. If you don’t believe me, Philippians 1:6 tells us I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Every part of foster care can be incredibly frustrating, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an incredible opportunity to change a life for the better. If you’re on the journey of foster care, whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end do not lose heart. You’re not on the journey alone. You are surrounded by a community of foster carers who wants to help you succeed. You’re supported by an ever present God who can move mountains to help you. Earlier in Zechariah 4, we’re told that It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! (Zechariah 4:6-7a) Replace Zerubbabel’s name with yours (unless your name is Zerubbabel) and have faith that your work is not in vain. Foster Care is the right thing to do.

 

Foster Care is Messy

How He Loves is one of my favorite worship songs. I love the imagery of “Love’s like a hurricane I am a tree” and “If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking.” God’s love is an overpowering love. His grace is an all-consuming grace. But often times, especially in foster care, that grace and love manifest themselves in pretty messy ways. John Mark McMillan, writer of the song, says this about it’s most controversial lyric:

HEAVEN meets EARTH like a sloppy wet kiss

The idea behind the lyric is that the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth converge in a way that is both beautiful and awkwardly messy. Think about the birth of a child, or even the death of Jesus himself. These miracles are both incredibly beautiful and incredibly sloppy (“gory” may be more realistic, but “Heaven meets earth like a gory mess” didn’t seem to have the same ring). Why does the church have such a problem with things being sloppy? Do we really think we’re fooling anyone on Sunday morning, especially God? Are we going to offend him? I mean, he’s seen us naked in the shower all week and knows our worst thoughts, and still thinks we’re awesome. What if we took all the energy we spent faking and used that energy to enjoy the Lord instead? That could be revolutionary!

Foster care is messy. It’s a hand and feet, in the trenches ministry that looks sin and brokenness in the face and stands tall with the confidence that If God is for us,who can be against us? (Romans 8:31b). The foster care system is a mess. Working with kids from hard places can be a mess (literally and figuratively. This picture was taken after a 3 year old got so mad playing with moon sand that he took all his clothes off, underwear included) Foster care is hard and frustrating and messy, but through it all, God is present and working miracles in the lives of our children.

As messy as it is, and as dramatic as that last paragraph was, foster care really is a beautiful mess. It’s also a pretty fun one. Jon Acuff said “Messy is a lot more fun than perfect.” It’s such a privilege to provide a secure and loving family for a boy or girl who has spent their childhood  living in uncertainty and fear. We have so much fun with our boys, especially when it’s messy, and it’s always amazing to see a group of strangers turn into a big (mostly) happy family, if only for a short time. The opportunity to serve kids in foster care has changed our lives for the better, and it will be forever changed. Once you enter the messy world of hurting and needy children, It’s impossible for things to remain the same.

We see and hear an unfortunate amount of stories about how children are mistreated, neglected, and abused. These little kids have experienced lifetimes of traumas that would give adults nightmares. It’s our job to find the beauty in the mess. To show them God in the middle of the darkness and teach them that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 emphasis added) 

Our kids come with baggage from past hurts and experiences that is incredibly complicated, but the changes that we see in kids over days, weeks, and months of showing them consistent love and support is remarkable, and there’s only one answer for it. We like to think that it’s our systems and our love, but in reality it’s much more like the song. Heaven is meeting earth like a sloppy wet kiss. Except in our case it’s more like a 2 year old eating spaghetti or multiple conversations about why flushing the toilet is important. Messy and dirty and sometimes pretty gross, but beautiful and redeemed.

Foster

May was National Foster Care Month, so this post is a few days late, but we just got back from vacation and have been quickly reacquainted with cottage life. In my last post I talked about some of the whys and hows of foster and orphan care. I talked about some of the more simple things that you can do and I referenced some other ways you can help. What are those other things? What are some of the practical things that we can do to benefit kids in foster care?

The first thing you could do is become a foster parent. Take the courageous risk to open your home to children who have never experienced appropriate love and affection. Dare to get too attached. Some of you have thought about it. Maybe had some serious conversations. Usually it’s the wife’s idea and she has to convince the husband. Jason Johnson (one of my favorite foster care bloggers. Read all his stuff here) says “If you keep thinking, talking and praying about it you’d probably be great at it, and just need to do it.” You’re the type of people who would be incredible foster parents. You’re the couple who understands the weight of the decision and the vulnerability and humility that it takes. Praying is awesome, and it’s the right thing to do especially when you’re unsure about a big decision. But sometimes you have to stop praying and just do it. Actions speak louder than words.

What are the next steps if you are considering becoming foster parents? Do some research into foster care in your area. Google [your state] foster care to see what the system is like in your area. Read blogs or books about foster care. Find foster parents in your church and talk to them about their experience. Talk about it with friends and family. Pray about it. Get information from your local foster care association. Fill out an application and attend an orientation class.

What if you can’t become a foster parent? You can support a foster parent. If you know a foster family in your church or in the community, find out what they need and do you best to provide that for them. It might be babysitting, making frozen meals, mentoring, academic support, or any number of things. The key is to go to them and ask how you can be of service. Speaking from personal experience, foster parents are very reluctant to ask for help, but they will usually accept help if it is offered. Foster kids often arrive with very few clothes. Hand-me-downs and gift cards for random late night Walmart trips are huge. It’s very helpful to have a freezer meal ready for those nights when the schedule is crazy or you get a new foster placement unexpectedly. Gift cards for restaurants are great because with some extra mouths to feed it can get pricey, and nobody is in foster care for the money. Respite care is another way to support foster parents. You’ll go through the same process and get the same training as foster parents, but you can use that training to help assist foster families by providing a place for their foster kids to go if they need a few nights off. It could be a couple hours for date night or a weekend getaway. For foster parents, breaks like that are essential to longevity and effectiveness. In order to be the most successful, foster parents need support just as much as the children they are caring for. The old adage ‘It takes a village’ rings just as true in foster care as it does in so many other areas.

I’ll end with a guilt trip question. Why not? If you’re not doing something to help kids in need, what is stopping you? Some of you may have very valid reasons, but I’m sure there are some of you who have been thinking and praying about it, but have been fearful to take the leap. I’m here to encourage you. Do it. You don’t have to jump right into high level therapeutic foster care, but you can learn about the foster care system in your area. It won’t always be easy, but it’s worth it to be a part of something with such eternal implications.

And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

You Can Do It Too 

There are many aspects of working with foster kids that stretch us, encourage us, overwhelm us, and stress us out. Many people have told us that they could never do this job or bring foster kids into their private home. I understand that residential group homes or even private foster care isn’t for every family. (Although it pains me to say that because it’s AWESOME)

But. I firmly believe that the way we handle people, emotions, conflict, and a million other things  within our foster care job is how everyone should be treating everyone!

(With this focus on Foster Care Awareness month for May, we have thought of many topics to recruit all/any of you to become advocates and active Foster care families. And I will add that yes, there are many ways to support foster and adoption, but nothing can replace an actual home and family for a child. You can give all of your money and investments to a child who needs a home, and they’ll still need a family. Just saying.)

But seriously, I was thinking about all the attributes and skills Jonathon and I have needed to learn in order to live with kids from hard places. And I don’t think it’s a valid excuse to say ‘I could never do that’ or ‘that would be too difficult’. Because if you try, you can!

Do you think I’m a patient person? (I’m not) Do you think I naturally give grace to people? (I don’t) Do you think I even enjoy cleaning up the literal and figurative messes of people’s lives? Let me help you out here. I don’t!

It is hard work on a personal level to see other people’s point of view. It takes a conscious effort for  me to think of someone else before myself. I have an attitude when someone else’s choices change my plans. I get mentally and physically tired caring for others. It’s not fun to cry with people.

But every day I’m learning that is what it means to be a wife, a mother, a Foster mom, a friend, a Christ follower. That is what it takes to be who God called me to be. Not just within the world of foster care. Not just within God’s specific call for me and my family. He wants me to do that for every person I meet! God wants me to strive to be better whether I’m working with my children or a stranger. We always want to strongly encourage families to look into foster care and adoption. But above all of that, we want others to see that when you say ‘Oh that would be too much for me to handle’ or  ‘That’s a wonderful calling for your family’ or ‘I could never do that’, you’re wrong! The things we do everyday and every night for our kids, everyone needs that! The people you work with, the people you worship with, the person in line with you at the grocery store, or the crabby receptionist at the doctor’s office. They need you to be gracious, to start up a conversation, to listen, to think of them first, to move your schedule around for them.

Yes, it’s hard to do those things, and yes, it’s much easier to say ‘I can’t’.  But you won’t know unless you try. Sometimes, you try and people don’t receive it. Do you think the first time I talk with kids they open up or accept my help or don’t think I’m crazy when I cry with them? Let me give you a hint again, they don’t!

The cranky cashier won’t thank you for being gentle and gracious. A coworker might not return a favor for you. Your children won’t be grateful for the daily structure and consistency you bring. Your spouse may not recognize your sacrifices.

God doesn’t call us to act Christ-like only if we think it fits or if it’s not awkward or if someone will appreciate it. It stretches, changes, hurts you most days.

So I don’t care if you never foster or adopt. I don’t care if you never support the cause of the orphan. But please, oh please remember that being a nice, kind,Christian person takes work. Our kids don’t feel safe and comforted because we get frustrated with them and say ‘that’s too much’ or ‘I’m not changing my attitude’. Every day, every hour we are choosing to get up, put up, listen, answer, and work hard for those we serve. It’s as exhausting as it sounds. I’d much rather be laying on my couch with my beautiful puppy or watching Netflix. Trust me.

If you ask God to change you, He will. If you need something, God provides it. If you try to serve someone, it is worth your time. And you CAN do it.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

Practically Spiritual

Working with children and teens in foster care has changed my view of spirituality. More specifically, it has altered the way that I approach sharing my faith. I have learned traditional evangelism. I know and have shared the Gospel with people by way of “you’ve sinned, Jesus died, repent, be saved”. I believe God’s Word when it says that when you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord He will forgive your sins. It seems that in my current job there would be many opportunities to share this Gospel with those who do not know, and I deeply desire for all of our children to come to know the Christ I serve.

But it’s not that simple.

As I always do, looking through the eyes of our kids, it suddenly makes spirituality seem a bit different than I’m used to. A lot of times when I would be otherwise blatantly speaking glory to God, I catch myself short. At first I was bothered by this. I am not ashamed of my relationship with Christ, and I never plan to be. I normally have no problem pausing to pray or speaking with Scripture and Truth. Why is it then that when I am living amongst those that can be called nothing more than “the least of these” is it the hardest to be bold and courageous?

I am beginning to figure it out though. When I speak about my faith, it is with God’s promises. When I share my most treasured attributes of Him, it is of His love, comfort, and protection. It is easy for me to believe those qualities and have faith in the things that God has promised His children.

But I’ve always been safe. I’ve never been abused or left alone or threatened. I have experienced scary things, but I had an underlying foundation of security and trust. I knew where to get help and who could help me. My brain developed in a healthy environment with mostly proper nurturing, food, and education. Words like love, family, comfort, father, home, kindness, discipline, care, safety, and compassion hold good or neutral memories and feelings. I quickly relate all those things to my Heavenly Father. It comes easy to me.

Our kids rarely have a positive view of safety, family, and trust. And that is so very justified.But I dare not introduce them to Jesus through ways that have hurt my kids. I don’t want them to associate their bad memories with their relationship with God. With the deep hurts, scars, and trauma that foster kids experience, I want them to know deep within their being that God was and is right there with them. They can have a relationship with God and have the struggles that they do. But it is so difficult to explain to a child and a victim, that God was still with them in the midst of their pain and abuse. It seems that in this society, the history and labels of kids with anxiety and trauma could somehow make them less of a person or less of a Christian. When, in fact, it almost makes them more. It has been more effective to cry with a child and to tell them that God is crying with us, that He is so sad about their situation too than it has been to have our kids memorize scripture and recite it.

So, I have to find a different way to tell that about Christ. And I’ve figured it out: Action. Living out what I promise. Showing what Love is. Being practical. Not being overly spiritual with them. Not discussing their feelings about their relationship with God.Before I can say 1 word about God, these kids need to see days and weeks of practical steps of love, care, and safety. THAT is sharing my faith. THAT is a Gospel in which they can find healing and hope. Jonathon and I make it clear to all of our kids that we love and serve Jesus. We will often tell them that we take care of them because God takes care of us. But then that’s it. We let them lead with their own questions and wonderings after that. We let them experience a loving God in a safe environment. No pushing. 

Sharing our faith and our God is easy and difficult all in the same moment. 

Foster Care is hard

For my Family Teacher colleagues and anyone else involved in the foster care world, that title is an understatement. Especially today, especially in our cottage. There are many parts of foster care that could win the title of worst part, but saying goodbye is very near the top of the list. Often when we are talking to people about our jobs we hear things like “I could never do what you do. I would get too attached. It would be too hard to say goodbye.” Guess what folks, we get attached to the kids in our care. I don’t think it’s possible to become ‘too attached’ but if it is, we get too attached. It’s hard to say goodbye. Really hard. Too hard sometimes. But we do it.

Foster care is such a bittersweet ministry. Ideally, foster care would never be needed. In a perfect world, all children would be able to experience a safe, consistent, unconditionally loving family. Kids should always have adequate food, water, and shelter. They deserve the opportunity to get an education and have access to appropriate entertainment and recreation. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. Children experience things they never should, and need systems and people in place to provide what they need when their family can’t or won’t. We love being those people and we are happy to be part of that system. It doesn’t mean we are glad when a child is abused or neglected, but we are glad to be there when they are. I would tell patients on the ambulance that I’m not happy that they got sick or injured, but I’m happy I could be the one to help them. I tell kids the same thing. I’m not happy that you got taken away from your family, but I’m happy that you are here with us now.

Foster care is hard. All Heidi and I know is foster care in a group setting. I’m sure there are a lot of differences between what we do and private foster families, but there’s also many commonalities. We take care of good kids going through really hard stuff. In our house, we have of 8 kids going through 8 different traumas. That means 8 different reactions and opinions, 8 different parenting styles and attachments. It’s hard to manage. Each child is so different and it requires so much time and energy to develop and maintain positive relationships with each of them. We’re lucky to have 24/7 support if needed and scheduled time off, which is something foster families don’t always get. That has to be hard. Foster care is exhausting.

Saying goodbye is the worst. Especially when you’re ‘too attached’ to them. Especially when you’re not sure what they’re going back to. When people say “It would be too hard for me to say goodbye to them” they imply that it’s easy for us. Nope. Not even close. We had to say goodbye today to a boy who cried inconsolably when he first moved in with us because he wanted so badly to go home. Last night when he was told that he was going home he cried because he didn’t want to leave all of his friends. To quote our teammate who was charged with telling him the plan: “What do you say to a little guy being discharged tomorrow who is crying in his bed because he may never see everyone here again?” There’s no good answer. You tell him how much you love him and that you won’t stop loving him even after he’s gone. You fake excitement that he’s being reunited with his family, even when you’re screaming on the inside because you know it’s a bad idea. You sit and cry with him, telling him how thankful you are for your time together and for the impact he’s had on your life. You pray with him and ask God to protect him and for him to feel God’s love. You give him your contact information and tell him to call you whenever he needs something. You don’t know what to say or what to think. You want to be optimistic and hope that everything works out for the family. Sometimes though, horrible and selfish as it is, you secretly hope that something else happens and they come back into foster care so they can live with you again. You feel like that’s their only chance to be properly loved and provided for. Then that actually happens, and all over again you don’t know what to say or how to feel.

Foster care is hard. I’ve used 755 words to scratch the surface of the difficulty and unfairness of the foster care system. So why do we do it? Why do people like us choose to be a part of a system that often ends up harming the ones they long to protect? Why would anyone willingly enter the brokenness, frustration, and exhaustion that comes with caring for foster kids? Because that’s what Jesus did. “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).” We can do hard things (like foster care) because Jesus did hard things. We choose brokenness, frustration, and exhaustion because that’s what Jesus chose. We love because we are loved.

It’s very easy to get burned out working in foster care. It’s a calling that’s incredibly physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing. But, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9). Sometimes that harvest is a kid knowing what it means to be safe. When a kid says yes when you ask ‘do you know that I love you’, that’s the harvest. It’s easy to become weary, but a random hug from a kid who’s had a bad day gives you hope that your work is not in vain. Foster care really is a beautiful ministry. It’s a system that both meets a short term need and has long term benefits. It’s the hands and feet of Jesus in the trenches of an eternal battle. It’s not glamorous or popular, but it’s needed and rewarding.

I’ll end on an upbeat note. 1 John 4:19 says that we love because He first loved us. We are so loved, beyond anything we can comprehend. Know that you are loved, and there is nothing quite like the love of God. Listen to this song and be happy because of how loved you are.

Hanging Out on Friday

I’d say my favorite holiday is Easter. Yes, my family was pretty heavy on the traditions for Easter, and that has made it top the charts for celebrating. But also, I love singing, saying, and proclaiming that my Redeemer lives. If I had to pick a favorite part of Jesus, it would be that He is alive. It allows for the true message of Hope and Trust. I am able to put my whole faith in One who is very much alive. I don’t search after or put my trust in a myth or a legend or a person who no longer exists. I serve a living God!

Even knowing the end of the Resurrection story, the redemption, the risen Savior, the defeating of death, it’s hard to move past the devastation of Friday. Our work in foster care has brought me to this place. The despair felt on that weekend of the very first Easter is sometimes similar to how I imagine the depth of grief in our children. Seeing something you put your hope and trust in be put to death and taken away. People didn’t know that Jesus was going to rise again, they thought He was dead. Our kids trust (or have trusted) their parents, teachers, families because that’s all they know. But then. Then there is abuse, degradation, lies, and more abuse. Then there’s no one to help, no resources, no food. Love has ceased, darkness has descended, people have come and taken them away to a stranger’s home to stay for an indefinite amount of time. It’s Friday.

The past 2 years we have felt grief, deeper than we ever have, I think. We know that we were called to this place and this work, but the extent of empathy and love required to be the hands and feet of Christ is more than I anticipated. Stories and faces make it all the more difficult to see that there is a day of redemption. It feels like we’ve been called to hang out with people on Friday, and move with them into the uncertainty yet forward progress of Saturday. Because I know Jesus and His story, I know there is a day when He rises again. I hope that within 6 months to a year a child’s family will be able to take them back or a new family will take them in as their own. But we know it’s coming, we just don’t know when, and we proclaim it. We attempt to be their cheerleader in the darkness of their current reality.

We are His disciples, who have heard Him say that He will be back when no one else is sure what will happen. I feel like most of my posts are about acknowledging the grief, the sadness, the reality of people’s lives. But that’s where foster care happens. Grieving with friends, family, and our children sure does feel like that Friday night. Listening to difficult questions about the future feels a lot like that Saturday. Some days it is tough to remember that on Sunday Jesus wins. I know He does. It’s my favorite part. I just get jealous that on that first Easter, the people only had to wait for 3 days. It is a bit harder to accept when a child, a grieving family, or a sick friend must wait a year or 10 or not until Heaven to feel the ‘win’. But I have something that those people never had, the knowledge that He will indeed come. Until then, you’ll find us hanging out on a Friday.