Learn More

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Advocate Wednesday's: Foster Parents let your needs be known!

Are you a foster parent?  If you are....

We want to learn your needs. We want to share your needs.  We want to equip people to meet your needs. 

All too often foster parents are left feeling heartbroken, alone, discouraged.

But it doesn't have to be this way.... 

How can the Body of Christ serve you? 

Meals?  Encouraging notes?  Prayer?  Respite Care?  Babysitting? 


Our Advocates are committed to sharing your needs with the Body of Christ.  Leave a comment below or Click Here to find an advocate near you!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: Worker Appreciation

We received this from a foster care ministry leader this week!  So exciting to see the Body of Christ supporting foster care workers!


 
 














"Just wanted to let you know about our efforts to love on foster care workers. We made up baskets with breakfast goodies (complete with Gobena coffee!) and delivered them to DCFS and CYFS here in Lincoln. It was such a pleasure to watch the receptionists' expressions go from wary to delighted after they realized I came bearing gifts!  
As one worker put it: "This is so nice - to get goodies - instead of being yelled at. Most people are not usually very happy to talk to us."
We have resolved to try to do a little something for these offices every month. Flowers and candy for the break room slated for February, coupons for free haircuts (generously donated by a local beautician), a picnic in the summer.... It was such a blessing to see how happy and grateful the folks in the office were - I'm hooked!
 
Thanks for drawing attention to this very under-appreciated segment of the foster care community!"
 
 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: A broken system full of brokenness

Today I want to deal with the call to foster care and adoption (international, domestic, and any other way it can happen).  This is a ministry I feel many are called to, yet few answer the call. 

Often times we think or say "It is a broken system full of corruption, how can I make a difference?"  Well you can be the one that isn't corrupt.  If it is international adoption you can make sure that your child isn't a trafficked child.  You can do this by making sure your agency is upstanding and does due diligence some people even hire their own personal private investigator.  If you are going to adopt domestically through the foster care system you can be that safe family.  You can be the one that stands up for what is right.  The LORD never promised that when he called us into ministry it would be safe.  In fact it is just the opposite.  We are living a life devoted to the LORD.  It isn't comfortable or safe when you love with your whole heart, but it is full of purpose and blessings.  In Roman times unwanted children were left to die in fields and on the side of roads, Christians adopted these children and at the risk of death.  I think that the risks we are taking are far smaller then some of our ancestors. 

In response to fear we should turn to God's word for answers.

Isaiah 41:10  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 hand.

Isaiah 41:13  For I am the LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you Do Not Fear; I will  help you.

Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, this is what the LORD says he who created you, O Jacob, he formed you, O Israel: "Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters , I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you.  when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Do you believe these promises?  If you do then the call should not bring up fear, but anticipation for what the LORD will do through you.

International or domestic you are dealing with a broken system because this is a broken world.  Don't run the other way because the system is broken.  The children in the system need you. They need love, they need hope, they need healing.  Brokenness should draw you in because the answer to brokenness lives in you and through you.

I could put all the verses that talk about defending the fatherless and taking care of the orphan but you already know that list is endless.  So I will just put one verse up that I think sums it all up.

James 1:27a  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...

I was at an adoption prayer group the other day and two ladies shared what their husbands said about adopting "Our lives are too easy, our lives are not meant to be easy."  I thought this was such a neat way to look at life.  Why are we always looking to make our lives easier?  The LORD did not call us to an easy life. He did not call us to a life free from hurts. What He did promise was to redeem and bring beauty from ashes.  He also promised to be with us as we walked through trials.

The orphan issue can be overwhelming when we look at the numbers, so don't look at the numbers anymore just resolve to make a difference in just one orphans life.  I challenge you to just take in one orphan if you are feeling called.  Maybe it will be through foster care, or maybe you will travel to Ethiopia or Russia.  It may be a baby or a teenager.  Maybe you know a teenager who may not be up for "adoption" in the legal sense but you know they are lacking a family.  There are so many ways this can look.

I hope this song will encourage you to not let fear overcome.  You can adopt not because you have the ability or the time but because the LORD will equip you.  "The God of angel armies is always by your side."





John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

What is the LORD calling you to do?

---
Anastasia Stone

Hi My name is Anastasia Stone I am a wife and mother of 3 beautiful
children. Two are tummy babies and one was born in my heart and
became part of our family through the foster care system. After
almost 8 years of marriage we are enjoying our crazy ride with the
LORD navigating the foster care system and loving little ones! We
currently live in northern California. 


Visit Anastasia's blog at http://familystoneadventures.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: Thank you

I love to deliver things to agencies.  I look forward to the opportunities of walking into an agency.  I am so blessed every single time I say, "Hi, I'm with The Forgotten Initiative...."  I'm always ready to explain why I'm there but right away, I receive huge smiles from the individuals I'm talking to and they immediately tell me why they love what TFI is doing.  The agencies love TFI and it's all because of YOU.  The Body of Christ. The volunteers.  Those who serve whole heartily for the Lord alone.  So, I wanted to thank all of you who make this ministry possible.  God is so full of grace and has blessed us with giving-individuals every single time we are in need.  


Blessing an agency with Journey Bags.  

---

Jillian Kellenberger 
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, January 16, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: It's Exhausting!

Let's be honest here....the process to become foster parents is exhausting! My husband Rodney and I started this process 9 months ago, and the last email from our licensing worker the day after Christmas to check the status of our license was.... “still pending”.

Carbon monoxide detector – check.

Water well tested – check.

Home inspection – check.

3 home study visits – check.

But it is coming closer, and I can't help but think “are we ready?” We have talked with our 3 girls about this and prayed for the child that will come into our home and family. But it's easy to feel fear begin to build in my heart, and the continuous list of “what ifs”.

But when we fear, we forget. We forget that God is with us, in every part of our lives, guiding us, supporting us, sustaining us, leading us down His chosen path. How can we have fear when we have the strength of God behind us and His Holy Spirit within us?

The answer is, we can't.

We need to draw on the strength of God and recall that He is in complete control.

When we give in to fear, we cease to think clearly. We may even give up, overwhelmed by the momentous task before us. Fear can cripple us from doing what we need to do.

The world needs us to be the salt and light.

I have been blessed by reading through the Jesus Calling every day. I would like to share Day 4 with you as if this is Jesus speaking to you:

“I want you to learn a new habit. Try saying, “I trust You, Jesus” in response to whatever happens to you. If there is time, think about who I am in all My Power and Glory; ponder also the depth and breadth of My Love for you.

This simple practice will help you see Me in every situation, acknowledging My sovereign control over the universe. When you view events from this perspective-through the Light of My universal Presence – fear loses its grip on you. Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your trust in Me no matter what. You receive blessings gratefully, realizing they flow directly from My hand of grace. Your continual assertion of trusting Me will strengthen our relationship and keep you close to Me.”

Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:10-11

And so by God's grace, I'm learning this new habit in 2013, saying “I trust You, Jesus.” When I feel panic creeping in, step back and envelop myself in the calm sense of confidence that comes from knowing that God is in control.
 
---
Denise

 


Rodney & Denise have 3 daughters and after attending the Focus on the Family “Wait No More Conference” their eyes were opened to the great needs in the foster care community. They are so thankful to be a part of the TFI family - to share these needs with the body of Christ and to play a role in making a difference for this community.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: How can you brighten a typical day in the life of a Foster Care Worker?




As we celebrate foster care worker appreciation month in January, we thought it would be interesting to ask some workers what their typical day might look like.  Here is one answer we got:

"It often is a long day and many days we are on call days and our work is 24 hours straight. We truly never know what that day is going to bring so while we may plan to stay in our office and work on piles of paperwork , our emergency’s that day will wipe out that plan in seconds. In this job not only are we working with a child in need, we are working within Court timelines for paperwork and state demands of this to happen within 5 days or 10 or 30 etc. Often times you will see workers failing to use up leave time because everything is very time sensitive in this job."

The picture above is some foster care workers that we were able to bless last summer when we hosted a picnic in their honor.  We want to continue to honor all of the work that goes into helping children in foster care and we want to pray for these workers.  Will you join us? 

Here are some ideas on how you can bless a foster care worker this month:


All donations/gifts SHOULD BE given to the agency (indicate they are for foster care workers) rather than DIRECTLY to the workers.

·         Donate gift card for groceries, gas, or restaurants

·         Donate gift Card to a local spa

·         Wash/detail workers’ cars

·         Write encouraging cards

·         Bring in potted plants or offer to plant flowers outside of the office

·         Bring in lunch for their team

·         Donate gift card to Starbucks/coffee

·         Clean restrooms in office

         Wash office windows

·         Bring in treats

·         Bring in coffee (a name brand like Duncan Donuts, Starbucks, or Folgers) to the office so they can brew it for the employees, instead of the generic coffee they usually brew

·         PRAY for strength and wisdom for workers to do their jobs well

·         Find out the name of ONE worker in your community and commit to praying for him or her for at least one week

·         PRAY for foster care workers - that they will sleep well and feel refreshed each week and for wisdom and strength to deal with unexpected crisis that often arise.

·         Fill the employee fridge with Soda

·         Fill the employee freezer with popsicles or Ice cream bars

·         Donate a date night package of gift cards (a dinner and a movie)

·         Have a worker appreciation picnic

·         Purchase swim passes and/ or movie passes

·         PRAY that they will find good quality daycare for their  kids or respite

·         Mini golf passes, zoo passes

·         Donate case worker car kits

·         Donate museum passes for caseworkers own kids as well as the children on their caseload

 

For more information or questions, email info@theforgotteninitiative.org

Friday, January 11, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: What is God's calling for you?


My internship with The Forgotten Initiative gives me a lot of different opportunities that I am so blessed and thankful for.  The Lord is constantly challenging me through my duties with TFI.  We are a ministry with a mission, with a passion for the foster care community and that means the entire community, not just the children.  But today, I am going to focus on a dear child that I have the honor of tutoring and mentoring. 

This boy we will call Timothy.  He is in 5th grade.  I have been tutoring him once a week for about a month and a half.  The first few weeks were a breeze, he did everything I asked him to work on without questions.  When I had to miss a week of tutoring due to a small family emergency, I felt the guilt of having to call and say I could not be there for him.  I felt the pain of being another person in his life to make a commitment to him, yet I missed a tutoring session with him.  A lot of people may think, “So what?  It’s just tutoring.”  Let me tell you something, it’s not just tutoring.  It is a short hour each week that I get to share Jesus with this boy, love on this boy. 


After I missed that one-hour tutoring session, he became very difficult to work with.  He would not focus on anything, he would smart off to me and overall became very defiant.   You may be thinking, well that’s kind of normal for a kid that age.  But at this point in my relationship with Timothy, it was not normal.  I had broken his trust, he was testing me, he wanted to know if he made it hard for me to be there, then would I stay?  There have been multiple times where this child has literally refused to get in my car and attempted to walk home in the cold.  This hurts me, but it’s because I hurt him first. 


About a week before Christmas, my last week with Timothy before Christmas break, he began to open up to me.  His birthday was that week and he was hurt that his foster parents treat him differently than they do their own children.  He wanted gifts equal to the gifts their biological children received.  He stated that he only had one present under the Christmas tree and the foster family’s kids had a numerous amount.  Is this fair?  A child who gets taken from his home and has been in five different foster home placements still has to fight for what is fair?  I was a mess after this meeting with Timothy.  He is SO tough, but I’ve seen him vulnerable, I’ve seen his tears.  God wants him to be loved for who he is, not as a foster child, not as a random addition to a family who doesn’t see him as their own.  A boy in 5th grade should not have to say, “Now that I’m 12, I can choose if I want to be adopted.  And I do not want to be, I want to stand strong for my mom.”

Recently I was challenged with James 4:14-15, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you out to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”   Are we all doing what the Lord has challenged or called us to do.  There are so many children in need of Jesus loving, selfless seeking foster homes.  I do not want to disrespect the foster home Timothy is currently in, because I know they are much better foster parents then so many others out there.  But what is our life if we are not seeking to help God’s children, “to loose the bonds of wickedness…. to let the oppressed go free… to share bread to the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house.” (Isaiah 58:6-8 ESV). 

This story I told you is not as terrible as they come.  I’m sure caseworkers and foster parents can tell you more painful stories.  Can we come together and help the Lord heal the pain that these children are feeling?  How can you make a difference?  Is it by becoming a foster parent or maybe just supporting a foster family or the foster care community?  Your calling may not even be to foster care, God has created you the way you are for reason, what is your passion?  How can you serve the Lord and step out of your comfort zone into full trust and faith in our Lord?  

--- 
Jillian Kellenberger 
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, January 9, 2013

Advocate Wednesdays: From Advocate to Foster Mom!


This role, as an Advocate, has become much more real to me in the past month.  Three weeks before Christmas, we received our first foster child placement!  In the midst of savoring and celebrating the gift of Jesus, the Father places another gift in our lives.  A precious child in need of our loving family and home, at least for a while.  We’ve been waiting and a child is finally here!

I am learning so much!  On a practical level, being a ‘real’ foster mom has given me so much more insight into what the needs, the struggles, and the hard choices are like for so many foster families.  As I am falling in love with this child, I am discovering more and more of the precious qualities that God has designed into this little one.  Which causes me to think more tenderly towards all the other children facing similar circumstances.

I have re-evaluated my role as an Advocate.  It is easy to be a voice for this child that has a daily presence in my life.  But isn’t that what every child deserves?  Every child deserves a dedicated, sold-out, loving advocate!  And I want to give each child the same kind of love that a child in my home would receive.  I know I have a specific responsibility to mother the children in my home, but love can’t stop at the threshold of our homes.  The call of Christ isn’t inward facing, but rather outward facing.  Jesus has given us the privilege of sharing His glory, hope and love in a very messy and needy world. Loving like Jesus will require a great deal of sacrifice on our part, but nothing else will do!
 

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 16:25
 
Melisha Meredith
 
 
 
Melisha Meredith
Forgotten Advocate: Columbia, SC

Find Current Needs in Columbia, SC
 
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.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: January is Foster Care Worker Appreciation Month!




This month we are celebrating Foster Care Workers all month! Today hear from Molly a DCFS worker in Illinois as she shares how one Christian church made a huge impact on some teenagers this Christmas!


"I just wanted to share with you what got delivered today from a local Christian church. When I first connected with them back in November they asked what we needed for Christmas. After speaking with some foster care workers we decided this year we would do an "Adopt a Teen" program. We wanted our teen wards to get gifts like other teens such as name brand shoes, electronics and so on. Your typical teen requests. I asked each worker to get with their teens and come up with a wish list of five items that they would like for Christmas. I got back a total of 15 teens with some pretty cool and expensive wish lists!! I sent the request to the church thinking maybe each of these kids would get one maybe two of the gifts. Today three gentlemen delivered the gifts and they got EVERY SINGLE GIFT on the list. Seriously!! EVERY SINGLE GIFT was wrapped and ready to be delivered. Our kids will be getting gifts they likely have been wanting for a very long time. Gifts just like their friends at school are getting. Gifts that make them feel more like a typical teen and not a teen in foster care. Can you believe this? I am so thankful, our staff are so thankful and our kids are going to be ecstatic. Just wanted to share the AWESOME work you are doing in linking individuals and churches within our community to the child welfare system. Thanks for all you do and Happy Holidays!!" - Molly


If you have worked with a teen, you know that there is nothing that says "I love you" more than elcetronics and name brand clothing! Not only did this church say "I love you" to these 15 teens but they also encouraged the foster care workers and said "you are not alone." We as the Body of Christ can make a huge impact in the foster care community. We want this month to be a month where these foster care workers know that we are behind them. We want to meet their clients needs so that they can be successful in the hard work that they are doing. We want them to know that we care! Will you join us?

Email info@theforgotteninitiative.org for ideas on how you can bless a foster care worker this month and how you can get involved in serving children in foster care.



Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 4, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: "Our Family Tree"


There it stood; the culmination of at least two day's toil.  Illuminate, light reflecting from countless metallic and glass surfaces.  Home-made ornaments nested throughout and store bought ornaments hovering from invisible hooks.  Before us was our family Christmas Tree.  We all stood back and gazed upon our handiwork...and it was ugly.

Perhaps "ugly" is too strong a word.  Gaudy?  Unshapely.  Certainly it had none of the "splendor" of the trees of years past.  It was shorter, for one.  And the lights? For some reason the lights never did seem to lay on the branches in the evenly spaced concentric patterns that we preferred despite my best efforts in placement.  The ornaments seemed mis-matched.  It simply looked a hodgepodge of illumination, crafts, and ceramics - messy.  And this was par for the course with this particular tree.

Our story in obtaining our less than perfect tree was one for the books.  Our family of seven donned winter gear in preparation of a trek to a countryside tree farm.  Our foster children had never been to a tree farm, never even been permitted to get a tree before - so this was a very special occasion.  Bundled like miniature Stay-Puffs all of our children bounded through an evergreen forest laughing the day away.  Photo ops were golden as they took turns with the saw, cutting down our prize possession.  The only problem was that dad forgot the rope and bungee cords for tying the tree to the top of the van. 

A bundled family of seven, all straddling a tree inside the van like a pine-people clown car.  The only way our human-lumber Jenga puzzle was possible was for my bride to ride in the back seat in the middle at the point of the tree like a blond angel.  Pine needles encroached every seat and with every stop the trunk of the tree slid forward tapping the radio "seek" button changing the channel for us to random musical selections.  Our laughter was near non-stop and our memories were priceless.  

In putting up our tree, I misplaced the lights on the tree and my bride rearranged my blunders - a nearly annual occurrence, children danced and jumped around excitedly.  Again, our foster children had never partaken of this tradition of decorating the tree and this was only our adopted son's third Christmas excursion so this was a special occasion.  Ornaments were hung, clustered too close together, and splayed all over the tree, and within minutes most fell off and had to be rehung by my bride - her previous work and efforts undone by the over exuberance of our children.  When we were all done, my bride and I were less than thrilled with the outcome.  Something was still not right.  As I mentioned before - messy.  

None-the-less the kids were dancing in front of it and each of them donned a smile larger than their own faces as the spirit of the moment was full upon them.  We darkened the house so they could marvel at the spectacle of the illuminated tree and silhouetted in front of it they all held hands and began to sing:

Fah who For-aze, Dah who dor-aze
Welcome Christmas, Come this way!

After my laughter subsided it hit me - it was right in front of me in the scene of my dancing children; this tree was the perfect picture of our family, a picture of adoption and foster care - messy, pieced together, not always perfect, but full of love, joy, and God's presence.  

There are sure to be giftings in the opening and healing of damaged hearts.  There are also sure to be disappointments as we cope with failed solutions and institutions that have been brought about outside of the Body of Christ and apart from God's heart for the orphan and the defenseless.  It is a difficult and challenging road to embark upon and expectations have a way of forcibly changing in the journey but the reward of rescuing hearts and seeing a future brought to life in small eyes where only dull "survival-ism" previously existed far out-ways the risk.  

This is but a picture of God's work in our own lives and the lengths Jesus was willing to go to redeem us to adoption as sons and daughters.

"For He foreordained us, destined us, planned in love for us to be adopted, revealed as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will because it pleased Him and was His kind intent"
Ephesians 1:5  AMP

I'm looking at my family tree a little differently this year.  I'm thankful for what it represents, for small hands of various skin tones and with various last names that have decorated it.  It's not a perfect tree, it's not even the tallest tree, but it's our tree, it's my bride's tree and it's my tree, my children's tree and together I know that God has placed it in our home for a reason and we will cherish it as we celebrate the Savior who brought us all into His family tree.

---

Joshua Mikeworth 

Joshua and his wife Tonya have two biological children, one child adopted through foster care, and are currently foster parents to two additional children. In experiencing the joys and challenges of foster care, they are continually discovering the heart of the Father for all of us as He is the ultimate model of love and adoption. They believe that the Lord has called each of us to minister to the fatherless as exemplified throughout His word as in James 1:27. They further seek to share their heart for orphan care and adoption and are happy to engage with any who need information or assistance. Joshua shares from his heart and their lives on his blog at http://joshua-asforme.blogspot.com/ .