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Monday, October 29, 2012

Make a Difference Monday: God's perfect timing, wheel chair ramp story continued....

Remember how God is providing for the family needing a wheel chair ramp?  What an amazing goosebump story!  If you didn't catch the beginning of the story this is definitely one you will want to read.  Click here to catch up: Part One: God's Perfect Timing!

One thing I am sure about is that God is in control and continuing to guide this project!  Here is the current update:

I got an email last week from the volunteer that agreed to lead the project (Jeremey).  In the email Jeremey explained that the project is a much bigger task than what he originally thought. He asked me to pray and help with putting the need out because this was going to take a lot of money and resources to accomplish and he couldn't do it alone.

Jeremey told me of how he had met with the family and learned that the foster father was an unbeliever prior to the accident, but through everything that he had been through he had come to know the Lord!  Hearing this, I can only dream of what this project could do for this new bliever in showing him the Body of Christ.  Praise God for such a great opprotunity!

Jeremey went on to say that he has made progress with getting the building permits and is in the process of making a list of all of the materials needed.  His estimated amount that we will need is $1700 to complete the project.  He asked me to pray and get the word out about the need.  But at the end of the email, there was another BIG request:   

"We need a volunteer with excavating equipment." 

Now, being a girl and not having any experience with this sort of thing, I went to my knees in prayer asking for God to bring the right person for the job.  This whole project just seems so much bigger than all of us.  How in the world was God going to arrange all of these details?

On Wednesday of last week, I carpooled with a friend to work and was telling her about this need.  To my great joy, she offerred to help.  Later that day she called her son and her son provided us with a name of a good friend that owned an excavating business.   

I prayed.  I made a phone call.  And guess what?  This Tuesday.....tomorrow.....the owner of the excavating business is meeting Jeremey at the home to look over the job and create a plan to donate his equipment and services for FREE!! 

God is so good.  Great things are happening!  What will God do next?  Are you part of the plan? 

We still have funds to raise in order to purchase the supplies and would love your help! Just mark your donation "Project Sunshine Peoria!"   Click Here to Donate    


Thrilled to be serving with you,

Jessi

Jessi and her husband Zach have two sons and are also foster parents. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the former Director of Foster Care at the Children’s Home Association of Illinois, Jessi has worked in the foster care arena since 2003 where she experienced the overwhelming needs of this community. Jessi began volunteering for The Forgotten Initiative soon after its founding and in December 2012, she became the full-time Director of Operations.

To Find Other Current Needs in Bloomington/Peoria, Il: Click Here

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Advocate Wednesday: The Needs Are There...

Effective ministry begins and ends with service.  Jami's post from Monday couldn't be more true.

The needs are there.  They vary from city to city, from agency to agency, but they are there.  As we have formed relationships here in Birmingham, the needs have been more clearly outlined for us.  There is a rhythm to them as the seasons change and different needs get highlighted.  But they are always there.

It can be overwhelming...over 500 teens needing Christmas gifts, 1000+ kids needing school supplies and uniforms, agencies being totally out of diapers, visitation rooms needing cleaning and organizing... and on and on.

And yet, as the needs are related to us, we put them out there to our friends.  And consistently needs get met.  And not only are physical needs met, agency workers are encouraged.  They feel less overwhelmed with the needs and more confident that they will be met.  Foster parents know they are not alone as they begin the journey and are provided with some clothing or a bed for the child now in their care.  Children start school on time, maybe for the first time in their life, because they have the proper clothing and supplies.

Sometimes it is a small gift, pajamas for a toddler, and sometimes it is larger, bringing a child into your home, but every time it is a comfort to others, an encouragement to others, and most importantly, an act of service and obedience to our God who tells us over and over to take care of children in need.

If each of us will continue to be in tune with the needs and willing to take steps to meet the needs that are presented, we will consistently make a difference in the foster care community and the significance of this should never be underestimated!

Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

--- 
Kristin

Kristin is married to Shane and the homeschooling mom of two boys. God gave her a passion for “the fatherless” as she read His word. For two years she prayed and waited for God to show her what her next steps were and when she learned about The Forgotten Initiative, she felt God was leading her to action.

Find current needs and updates in Birmingham, AL!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Make a Difference Mondays: effective ministry begins and ends with ___________

I remember when the Lord was putting the puzzle pieces together that ultimately created the vision for The Forgotten Initiative.  I had just completed a diaper drive and dropped off over 30 boxes of diapers - from the Body of Christ - to a local foster care agency.  We had also recently completed the makeovers of two visit rooms in local agencies and relationships with workers in these agencies were growing.  There was one agency I had yet to meet and so, feeling a little too confident, I walked into the final agency with only a business card in hand.

I told the lady behind the desk what we had done for other agencies in town and that we would like to help and support them in the same way.  Surprisingly to me, she just kind of stared at me and took my card. 

And that was it.

I left realizing that I had NOT made the connection I wanted to make and so I decided that the next time would be different.  Not long after, I pulled back into that agency with 15 boxes of diapers in my car!  This time, with boxes in hand, I walked up to the lady behind the desk and told her that we, the Body of Christ are here to support them.  Her eyes lit up and grew bigger after I told her I had 13 more boxes in my van for them!  She opened up the locked door and allowed me to walk back and start stacking boxes.

Connection made!

I always say, "Once they let me behind the locked door, I know I'm in!"

I learned a profound lesson that day.   Effective ministry begins and ends with service.  Talk is, as they say, cheap.  The fact that I had a lovely business card and some experiences to share did not really mean much to this agency because we did not have a relationship.  She had no idea if I was "for real" or not but as soon as I brought in diapers and met tangible, felt needs - they saw me differently. 

If you want to make a difference in the foster care community, my friend, don't come in as the expert.  Don't tell them what you think they need.  Come in as a servant.  Listen to them.  Understand their situation.  Be committed and continue to serve.

Effective ministry begins and ends with service.

----
Jami
 
Jami is married to Clint and is mommy to six, three of whom they adopted from foster care. It was through a difficult season of waiting that the Lord drew Jami’s heart to those who feel forgotten and in April of 2011, she founded The Forgotten Initiative.


To visit her personal blog visit: www.lifewithapersonalgod.blogspot.com



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Advocate Wednesdays: Jen in Champaign!

You know those days where you feel like you are drowning in despair? For me, it’s usually the times where I lose sight of the big picture. It amazes me how quickly I can take my focus off of Christ and sink in those feelings of despair!

God’s Word says “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments... Let not steadfast love & faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart... Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths... Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” (Proverbs 3:1,3,5-7, ESV)

What would life look like if I prayed those verses?

I know that daily (and several times daily) I need to be reminded that I don’t have to have it all together.  I don’t need to know how everything will work out or what the future will hold. I just need to keep choosing God. God, alone, IS the strong one!

Isn’t it something how the Lord doesn’t change. He has always been/will always be and IS good (Psalm 34:8).  When life is hard or it seems “the world around us is crumbling,” He is still the same; the one constant in our life. I’ve been challenged this past week by these verses in Proverbs and by Psalm 34:1-2, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth... my soul makes its boast in the Lord.”

I don’t know where each of you are at or if you can relate- but I was encouraged this past week by letting go, giving it to God, praying these verses, and singing this song! It’s my prayer that each of us would know, understand, and accept that HE alone is our Rock and strength when the world around us crumbles... never underestimate our Jesus!!


                                

---
Jen 

Jen Young has a passion to share with others the hope and joy she has found in Christ. Jen worked as a Helping Coordinator for a non-profit organization that offered different resources to the local poor but when her daughter was born, she left her job to become a stay-at-home mom. Through her own journey of parenting and a close friend’s foster care experiences, God began showing her His heart for the foster care community and now Jen serves as a Forgotten Advocate. She and her husband Matt have two children.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Make a Difference Monday: God's Perfect Timing!

Some days I get goosebumps because of God's perfect timing, and this was just one of those days....

I got a phone call from a dear foster mom who was hurting and needed some help.  A couple of years ago she and her husband had taken in three foster children.  They had fallen in love with these children and were planning on being a permanent place for them because these children were not going to be able to be reunified with their birth family. 

And then it happened.......

Her husband was in a terrible car accident leaving him permanently paralyzed!  

Despite this hardship, a year later, this amazing couple decided to take guardianship of all three kids and become their forever family. 

Despite this hardship, this beautiful foster mom is continuing to parent these three kids....ALONE while her husband remains in a nursing home!

Her request was simple, yet large.  "Can you find someone to help me build a ramp to my house so that my husband can get his wheel chair into our home?" 

We prayed.  I promised to get the word out about this need.  She cried. 

I hung up the phone wondering how I was going to pull this off.  I was so desperate to help her. 

I opened up my email and read the following: 

Jessi, take a look at the request below and see if you know of a need for something like this.....

"Hey Jami!  Jeremy wants to serve the foster community so if you come to a family that needs paint, drywall, wheelchair ramp, etc please call him. He was really moved sitting in PRIDE with all the needs that people have when it comes to their homes."
 
I instantly had goosebumps all over!  I didn't need to pull this off, God already had it done!  I just love God's perfect timing.  I just love people that want to serve and make a difference in the lives of others!  Praise Jesus!

To read the continued story:  Click Here
 
---
Jessi


Jessi and her husband Zach have two sons and are also foster parents. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the former Director of Foster Care at the Children’s Home Association of Illinois, Jessi has worked in the foster care arena since 2003 where she experienced the overwhelming needs of this community. Jessi began volunteering for The Forgotten Initiative soon after its founding and in December 2012, she became the full-time Director of Operations.
 
To Find Current Needs in Bloomington/Peoria, Il: Click Here 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Forgotten Fridays: From the heart of a caseworker


Today, I held the most precious 2 day old baby boy. As I held him in my arms, and I looked into his eyes, I couldn’t help but think of his innocence.  Just two short days of being brought into this world, he is under the custody of the state because his mom was doing hard drugs during her pregnancy.  He is sent home with a family that are not his parents. His mom fled the hospital within the same day that she gave birth, because she didn’t want to deal with the reality of what was taking place.  None of this is because of anything he did, but because he was a victim of his mother and father’s choices. Poor choices. 

It is times like this that I find myself angry.  Angry at a mothers’ poor choices.  How can you just leave your baby at the hospital after giving birth? Leaving him with absolutely nothing.  When I received this case late this afternoon, I found myself digging through the pile of donated clothes trying to find ONE outfit that would fit, because he had nothing.  He left the hospital with ragged donated clothes that the hospital scrounged up for him.  I grabbed some donated wipes and diapers, so that I could send the foster parents home with something.  It is not fair for this precious little boy.  After 2 days of being brought into this world….

It is also at times like this that I am grateful.  Even though the situation is horrific, I am so grateful where God has put me. By God’s grace, I will be able to show this hurting mom (and dad) the love of Jesus.  I will get to be the voice for this precious boy who doesn’t have his parents fighting for him.  Thank you, Lord.

----
Jenna Rieker 

Jenna graduated from Bradley University in December 2010 with a Bachelor in Social Work. Jenna has been working at a local social service agency as a child welfare specialist since she graduated. Jenna feels God's calling to continue her education in the field and work towards her Masters in Social Work, in hopes to learn how to better serve the forgotten in the community. To read more on Jenna's experiences working in foster care, you can follow her blog at walkinglifewithchrist.wordpress.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Make a Difference Mondays: she is worth more...

I recently heard about a 6 year old girl - in my community - who had been transitioned from one foster home to another.  All of her belongings had been placed into a garbage bag for her move...this fact alone makes me sick...  After putting away her things, her foster dad picked up her empty garbage bag and started to throw it away.

With panic in her voice, this precious 6 year old said, "Please don't throw away my garbage bag.  I'll need it when I move again."

My friends, I don't know what to do with this.  6 year olds were NEVER meant to have to worry about their next move!  Children are precious and yet this little girl had little more then a garbage bag to call her own.  This.is.not.okay!

What are we going to do about it?  We, as Christians are His hands and feet. 

What is your role?

Will you pray?  Will you put together Journey Bags?  Will you be the foster parent who opens your arms to these children?  They are worth so much more then their circumstances tell them, how is He calling you to make a difference?

Oh my friends, please seek the Lord on this. 


---
Jami
 
Jami Kaeb
Jami is married to Clint and is mommy to six, three of whom they adopted from foster care. It was through a difficult season of waiting that the Lord drew Jami’s heart to those who feel forgotten and in April of 2011, she founded The Forgotten Initiative.
 
To visit her personal blog visit: www.lifewithapersonalgod.blogspot.com
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Forgotten Fridays: From the Intern


As an intern you do a lot of observing.  You have the opportunity to sit back and watch as every piece of the puzzle is laid out.  Yesterday was my first day in juvenile court.  I have read many different stories about court experiences and each one has made me tear up and my heart ache.  The tears, the pain, the broken hearts that come from those court rooms are just a lot to take in.

Recently I have been introduced to a young teenage boy in foster care who has a number of other siblings also in foster care.  There is a difference between this one child and his siblings.  All of them are in the process of being adopted, except him.  He has been moved around a lot, seven different placements to be exact.  At one point he was even on the track to be adopted by a set of his foster parents who were also adopting two of his siblings.  Their birth mother had directly surrendered her rights to the foster family.  Earlier this year, the placement was disrupted for him and through all the confusion, the boy was once again moved to another placement.  Because of the disrupted placement, the foster family no longer had rights to this child and the rights went back to the birth mother. 

Yesterday was the court date to decide whether or not this mother’s rights would be terminated.  She was given a second chance to put effort into her relationship with her son.  I was told that this court date was not going to be like any other.  There were conflicting ideas of what everyone’s thoughts were about what should happen.  Some thought the rights should be terminated to save the boy from having hope only to be let down in the future.  Others thought he is not currently stable enough to have another let down and family member taken away from him.  Also, those against terminating believed the mother could change, they wanted to give her the second chance that had been hanging in front of her face. 

I watched as the mother was told that the caseworker was against terminating her rights.  Tears of joy immediately began falling from her eyes.  Someone was on her side, someone believed in her.  Don’t we all need this?  To be reminded that someone is on our side, someone believes in us.  Jesus shows this to us daily.  I was reminded this morning about Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” (NIV).  The Lord knew exactly who we were going to be even before He began knitting us together.  His hands did it all, each and every one of us made differently.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Through His creation of us, He knew what His special plans were for each one of us.  All very different, yet we come together with a commonality of Jesus Christ. 
A lot of times we focus on the children in foster care.  Today I want to focus on this mother, this beautiful woman who the Lord has created and knit with His very own two hands.  She needs our love, our prayers, our encouragement  just as much as each one of the children do.  I do not want to minimize the children at all, after all I had been so focused on this boy for the last month and half.  I cry for him often, cry out to the Lord for him, but His sweet Mama needs the same, she is just as lost as he is. 

So I challenge you, it is easy to blame the birth parents for the hurt and pain these children go through, but I’m often reminded to stop seeking blame and just start loving.  Hurt and pain has to begin somewhere and these birth parents have a lot of it as well.  

---
Jillian 
Jillian is currently studying social work at Illinois State University and will graduate with a Bachelor’s in Social Work in the spring.  About a year ago Jillian found out about TFI through Facebook and immediately felt a tug on her heart to do more for those who feel forgotten.  As she started volunteering for us, the Lord began changing her heart for the fatherless as well as “the forgotten” children in foster care.  Jillian has a passion to serve hurting and oppressed individuals by showing them Jesus’ amazing love.  She is now our very first intern and we are thankful she has joined our team!  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Advocate Wednesdays: Melisha from Columbia, SC

In the process of applying for adoption and a foster care license through the SC Department of Social Services, I felt God challenging me. I knew that caring for orphans was pleasing to God, but He challenged my motives and my ideas of how that “caring” should look.  I have always pictured myself with a cute little multiracial, multicultural family.  That’s what I was trying to accomplish.  As I prayed about our foster and adoption journey, I asked questions like: Am I still doing the right thing?  Is there anything else You want us to do?  God clearly spoke to my heart, asking me to give up my idea of what helping orphans should look like and do whatever I could to serve these precious children.

Blog hopping from one adoption blog to the next, I came across The Forgotten Initiative several times.  I was amazed at the vision, heart, and ministry.  In March 2012, I knew God was tugging at my heart to get involved, but nothing was going here in Columbia so I let it go.  Just a few months later, I learned that there was a new Advocate for TFI in Columbia, and I began to pursue it again.  After just getting to know about what was currently happening in our city, that wonderful advocate shared that she was going to have to move to a different city and asked me to consider taking over her role.  My husband and I decided it was something God was leading us to, so we said, “Yes!”  God’s plan and timing is always perfect.  With help from this ministry’s leadership team, the transition into the Advocate role has been wonderful and so much smoother than I expected.


I am still waiting for a foster care license and for news on adoption.  But I am not waiting to care for orphans!  In just a few short months, I have been able to meet so many great people, take part in a school supply drive, collect clothing, and distribute journey bags.  Great opportunities that I would have missed out on if I hadn’t surrendered my plans to God. I am loving it!
I would like to extend the challenge to you.  Have you surrendered your plans and ideas to God?  Is God asking you to serve in a way you had never thought of before?  Maybe God is asking you to become a TFI Advocate in your city or head up a much-needed initiative!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10  NIV


---
Melisha

After having two biological children, Melisha and her husband Ryan, began the domestic adoption process and through this experience, God moved them to also pursue foster parenting. They serve full time in campus and family ministry through GraceLife Church. As a homeschooling mom, Melisha’s motto is “Make disciples!” She is excited to do this in her family and in every opportunity God gives her.

Find needs in the Columbia, SC Advocate Area