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Friday, April 26, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Lines in the Sand

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc
photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc
There are two meanings for drawing a line in the sand. One is that you make a decision not to cross a certain point. No more movement forward, not one more step past it.
The other meaning is that a firm decision has been made and you cross that line and never go back.
Isn’t that interesting?
One line. You either stop right before it or go full-force through it.
We’re staring at that line right now. Actually, we’re staring at a lot of lines.
Lines in the sand, drawn by God. Our toes are inching their way forward–not out of stubbornness or fear–but just out of the sheer fact that some things take time. Some lines are closer than others. Some are on the horizon. But they’re there.
This weekend we are training to become foster parents. Come Sunday afternoon, a line will have been crossed.
Then we will do paperwork. And have background checks. And a home study. Physicals. These are other lines to cross in a few weeks. And we’ll cross them.
At some point in the near future, there will be another one. A bigger one. A major event like getting married or having a child or becoming a believer. The kind that divides the “before” and the “after”. This line is the one that holds the heart of a little one, who is hurting and scared and needing us.
I’m not sure how we will cross that line but we’ll do it. We may be on our knees crawling over it. And clasping hands with others who will help us through it. And raising palms to the only One who will be before it, in it, and after it.
What it looks like on the other side, only God knows. That’s an interesting phenomenon that comes when you decide to step over these types of lines. You can’t totally see over it and past it or through it. But I’m guessing that it’s beautiful. And hard. And messy. And undoubtedly worth crossing over.
We all have our own lines that we draw in the sand. Are you about to cross over one? 
Katie Phillips 

Katie Kenny Phillips lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jeff, and their three hilarious boys (Bigs, Middles and Littles). Their home is made up of two parts Legos, one part dirt/sticks/rocks/acorns and all parts “whose underwear is this and why is it in the middle of the family room?” She and her husband just started an orphan/foster care ministry called (1) Family at Dunwoody Baptist Church and are excited to become foster parents themselves in the next few months. Katie writes at Operation: Leap of Faith and you can visit her at www.operationleapoffaith.com.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: What Is Happening with TFI in Northumberland County PA

And Christ, he names you friend, and God, He calls you redeemed and forgiven, and in Christ, the Three in One, he christens you free of condemnation and accepted and God’s workmanship.  Your identity is not in making a name for yourself but in the name he makes for you out of the shaved off love bits of His very heart.     ~ Ann Voskamp

Wow! Tonight I am writing with a deep sense of joy and gratitude towards our amazing Lord and Savior , Jesus Christ.  I love being reminded daily of how much I am in need of his grace and mercy, and how without him I am nothing.  Our energies have been flowing full force in Northumberland County with TFI.  God is leading and opening doors for the churches to hear the needs of our local foster care community and the response to serve has been great!

We seem to have many areas of need and help in our county, but one project that came to us immediately, was a community garden for a few different groups within children and youth, juvenile probation, and human services.  We felt led to help meet the needs of this spring/summer/fall project.  The Northumberland County Dirt Diggers is a group that will work together in the months to come to build, plant, grow, and create a community garden.  This garden will provide many people in the program with safe chemical free vegetables to eat.  There will also be teaching times on how to grow, cook, and prepare what is being grown.  This educational experience will help the families and children involved and is a positive step in being light in the community.

The commitment to this project was without question. Last year, the project came to a quick hault after the boxes were built because the funds were gone .  The soil could not be paid for nor delivered. As I stood at the family center with a family center supervisor,in November, she told me the story and the disappointment this caused. We trusted God would continue to make the path clear for us as we are taking our beginning steps with TFI in Northumberland County.  We knew two things, the Northumberland County Dirt Diggers needed lumber and dirt to get this project rolling!

Due to the newness of TFI in our area we have not had a chance to raise funds or collect many donations in the past month. We have been focused on prayer and word of mouth.  In faith, my husband and I decided to help to” get this ball rolling” and to play our part as salt and light to the community. My husband is a local contractor in our area.  Through our business we were able to make a quick connection with YBC a local lumber store in our area and purchase the lumber.  As we are making these contacts we are seeing God open the doors for conversation about TFI and what we would love to see the body of Christ do, to get involved.  Through a donation by Michael S. Snyder Construction, the lumber to build the garden boxes was provided and the first steps moved forward.

Boxes were built and we moved on to phase two.  We continued to share our vision as to what God had asked us to do, in helping with this project.  Already a few hundred dollars was invested and we were moving on.  I contacted a local landscaping business and asked for advice on getting the best possible soil for the boxes.  The woman I spoke with was so wonderful in educating me on the best way to grow a raised bed garden.  We decided to move on in using safe and organic material that would harvest good quality vegetables.  She calculated how much soil we would need and the cost.  The Landscaping company would be able to give us our soil for a total of $356.98.  Okay, I know things don’t come for free and everyone needs to make a living.  Our TFI need was new and for this time it seemed like God was asking Mike and I to trust and go through with this project that would help within the foster care community and beyond.  Trust and obey were the best words that I could hear in the back of my head.  We agreed to make the arrangements to go to the business and make the purchase along with delivering it in my husbands dump trailer.  Easy enough for a family who owns a construction business and many tools to help get the job done, right?

Well, nothing is easy, and after making this commitment as our first big TFI project things just started to happen.  Our water heater split into half in our water closet at the house, and left us without water on Good Friday and water was all over our kitchen floor.  We had to repair it and the cost was an extra in the budget.  Our well pump blew out three weeks later, and left us w/o water for two days, and the cost was a big extra.  Our funds were being soaked up by extra unplanned frustrations and this family of nine was growing weary in the middle of it all.  As a mommy of seven young kids, you can quickly lose your joy, when you are without water for a couple of days and the laundry is piling high as you bustle around feeling like “little house on the prairie in sweatpants“.  I tried to stay focused on what God was asking of us to do.  My prayer was “God, show me you are in this.”

And he answered.  Days before the purchase of the soil, step two of the project, stepping out in faith because this is something that I believe in with all my heart and soul, a check was handed to my husband.  The check was written by a man I have never met.  He lives out of our area.  He was blessed with an abundance and he felt the Lord tell him to give some away.  He was led to give it specifically to us.  A check for $300.00.  A check to pay for the soil that was needed. 

We drove to the Landscaping business on Monday morning with the cash in hand.  As I talked with the owner, who is a Christian, he agreed to deliver the soil for free to the Family Center.  Our total was discounted and the amount came to $256.77. Paid in full!

Thank you God for stirring in our hearts the desire to step out in faith and serve.  Thank you for providing the resources we need at the right times!


Krista is a wife and mother to seven children ages 9 to 15 months. Her and her husband are passionate about adoption and helping the "fatherless".Their eight year-old-daughter is their "belly" baby, and their six other children were adopted through the state foster care system. They have adopted three sibling groups on their journey. Krista and her husband have seen the need and importance in keeping children together. The last six years of their lives have been filled with compassion and a "burn" inside to help. Stepping out to hold, love, and touch a child who has been orphaned due to circumstances beyond their control, allows for an opportunity to see a "soul" and "value" given by God. Krista and her husband have seen the needs of their community and it's foster care system and it is "much". Their desire is to see God move in their area
as He leads us to help and love on the least of these.

See local needs in Northumberland, PA 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Kids like David

4 year old David had known true neglect in his young life.  One evening shortly after transitioning into a new but very loving foster home, his foster mama shared with him that she was going out with some friends but "Daddy Jon would be with him and she would be back soon."

With fear in his eyes, David looked up and asked "but will Daddy Jon forget to feed me?"

My friends, this absolutely breaks my heart.  Kids like David have faced rejection, neglect, abuse, and so much more over the course of their lives.   Kids like David need you and me.

What are we going to do about it?

Please watch this video - specifically the first minute and pray.  Pray for the child in your neighborhood who has been taken away from everything she knows.  Pray for the little guy in your son's school who acts out rudely and roughly but inside is so confused, hurt, and alone.  Pray for God to break your heart with what breaks His and be available. 

Please be available.  I'm not saying you are called to be a foster parent.  But you and I are called to reach out and care for the fatherless in some form or another.  To love the broken hearted.  To be Jesus to the hurting, the broken, and the forgotten. 

Will you answer the C.A.L.L.? from The C.A.L.L. in Arkansas on Vimeo.

Did you know?

More than 250,000 children in the US enter the foster care system every year. 

More then 20,000 children age out of foster care without being adopted.

Today there are 104,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted ranging in age from less than a year to 21.
Life here is short.  We don't have time to waste.  Please pray.  Please be available.  And if you don't know where to start.  Contact us.  We exist to help you serve!
On this journey with you,
Jami Kaeb is a dreamer and a coffee lover!  She is married to Clint and the mother of six – soon to be seven through a Ugandan adoption.  It was through a difficult season of multiple rejections in their pursuit of a domestic adoption that opened Clint and Jami’s eyes to the foster care community.  They became foster parents to three siblings and eventually adopted them and in April of 2011, Jami founded The Forgotten Initiative.  Jami views life as a great adventure with Jesus and desires simply to know Him more and share His love with those who feel forgotten.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: Hear from Cincinnati, Ohio!

As one of the new guys, I can honestly say that serving with TFI has been more of a blessing than I  imagined. When my husband and I began our international adoption process in August of 2012, we had no idea God would lead us to the local foster care system. We really shouldn’t have been so surprised. Our God works in awesome ways, doesn’t He?
As a surgery resident, my husband began coming home saddened by  children who couldn’t be discharged from the hospital because a family hadn’t been found for them. They had possibly suffered some sort of abuse and couldn’t go back home but didn’t have a foster family either. So they stayed there, abandoned and imprisoned to the care of the (awesome) hospital staff. This was our awakening to the local orphan. This orphan wasn't dying of starvation or malaria thousands of miles away in a 3rd world country. This orphan was starving of nurture and love right under our own noses.

When developing our support network for our adoption home study, we realized that our church had limited opportunities to care for orphans…globally or locally. We began to wonder if people even realized the local orphans were there. It turns out they didn’t. So with absolutely no foster care knowledge or experience, we prayed for wisdom and discernment concerning the opportunity set before us. Now that our eyes were opened, we felt a sense of obligation to do something. God granted us the privilege to serve the foster care community and we can't wait to see what He does through TFI Cincinnati.

-- Lacy

Lacy and her husband Carey, are parents of two children and began the process of international adoption in the summer of 2012. During the adoption process God opened their eyes not only to the needs of the foster care community, but also to ways The Body could meet those needs.

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Find Current/Local Needs here

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: Desperation

I took a 12 year old girl to school one morning. She was staying at a foster home temporarily while a more permanent home was located. On the way to school she asked me some pretty tough questions that left me with a sense of desperation
"Where am I going to go next?"
Gulp. My response: "I don't know, they are trying to find a foster home for you."  
"Am I going to be adopted or am I going to be able to go home?"
 Gulp. My response: "I don't know."  
Her father left, her mother met a new boyfriend. They abandoned her. Signed away their rights and sent her away into the foster care system.

"I would like to be adopted, but I don't know anyone that I want to adopt me."
My question: "If you could live anywhere where would you live?"
"At home. I don't remember where exactly, but I remember the name of the street. I remember what my mothers car looked like. It was sort of by.......(and then the tears began to flow)."

I wished so badly that I could tell her she is going to be alright. I wished I could tell her that I know a bunch of lovely families, and surely one of them would be willing to take her in.
But I couldn't make her any promises because I too struggled with the question, would she be alright?  I prayed desperately that God would use my presence as a mentor in this child's life to encourage her, even as I struggled to find the words to give her hope. 
Please keep this little girl in your prayers. She is real. She is hurting.  And there are thousands of children just like her in our nations foster care system, desperately waiting.   
Will you be a mentor? 
Will you be a foster parent? 
There are so many ways to serve and we would love to help you get started!
Dr. John Sowers
Jessi Esterling picture of kids standing
Director of Operations
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 2011, she became the full-time Director of Operations.