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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: What is your role?

It was almost four years ago that I prayed a “dangerous” prayer - Break my heart with what breaks Yours. It didn’t take long for God to answer that prayer. 

Within months, God opened my eyes to a gut-wrenching crisis happening in my own community. It affects people in my city, in my neighborhood, and in my church. It’s huge, and it’s getting bigger every year. It’s like a fast-moving, destructive fire that is raging out-of-control, yet it’s amazingly invisible.  Somehow, I didn’t even know about it. Most of my friends and family also knew little or nothing about it. My eyes were opened to what I now call America’s Social Orphan Crisis. And my heart was totally wrecked by what I learned. 

“Social orphan” is a term that refers to a child who may have living parents, but who is not currently living under the care of those parents. In America, social orphans are usually called “foster kids”.

I was stunned to learn that there are approximately 500,000 foster kids in America. In Oklahoma, my home state, there are around 10,000. 

The reasons children are taken into protective foster care are complicated. Their situations are often so heart-breaking that many good people prefer to shield their eyes and ears from the ugly details. The Child Welfare system is equally complicated, and thousands of people are involved: 
  • Overworked, underpaid professionals, who often endure merciless criticism
  • Adults accused of making unbelievably foolish choices, or worse, committing unspeakable acts of violence against their own children
  •  Judges who must make life-altering decisions after being presented with pathetically little information
  • And the helpless victims of this crisis – children, who through no fault of their own, have become “foster kids”.

For these child victims, “normal” often includes things that would cause most adults to crumble: living with fear, constant chaos, hunger, lack of nurturing or protection, violence, substance dependencies, and sexual abuse. They are hurting, afraid, defenseless, powerless, and often unloved. 

There’s no question that the whole thing is so messy, ugly, and so overwhelming that it can be paralyzing. But paralysis is not an option for those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.

Scripture makes it clear that God’s heart is broken by the suffering of the orphan. His plan to defend and protect them is clearly spelled out – He will do it through us, His people. “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” (Psalm 83:3 NIV)

Once God opened my eyes, I had to make a choice. What would I do now? I had no idea what to do, but knew that I had to do something. I chose to pray earnestly for God to show me what role He had for me. And He did.

God doesn’t lead everyone to the same role in caring for orphans. He leads many to foster or adopt. In my opinion, there is no higher calling. With their arms He comforts little broken hearts, and with their hands He wipes away many tears. 

There is a desperate need for more foster and adoptive families in most states. The shortage of loving foster homes makes it almost impossible for the children to have what they need. But there are other roles too. God led me to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and He has blessed me with amazing opportunities to bring awareness to the Social Orphan Crisis in my state.  

And now you must make a choice. I hope you will ask God to show you what your role will be. Commit to praying earnestly for His direction. He will answer!

A great way to learn more about God’s heart for foster children is by reading Fostering Hope, a 30-day devotional written by Dr. Deb Shropshire. Dr. Deb is a Christian pediatrician who provides medical care for foster children in Oklahoma. It can be downloaded for free at this link:
http://www.fosteringhopeproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Fostering-Hope-A-30-Day-Devotional-Guide.pdf


----
Ladonna Wolfes 
Ladonna and her husband Chuck have 5 grown children and 3 grandchildren. After asking God to break her heart with what breaks his, God opened her eyes to the unimaginable suffering faced by children in foster care. She has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer for over 2 years, and has led several foster care awareness initiatives in the Oklahoma City area. She is passionate about helping Christians learn about our opportunity and responsibility to defend and care for children in foster care.
“God has made a way to heal and protect children who have been victims of abuse and neglect - it is his people.“  


Friday, February 22, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: It Happened Today...

For the first time I wept over them.

Little Sis' class was passing me at school, and I turned to look for her. Her best friend took my hand and said, "Where is she?"

I squeezed her hand, escaped to my car, and I wept.

I wept over the regrets, and the failures, and the successes, and the birthdays, and the smiles, and the moments.

Then, I wailed.

Afterwards, I threw myself a full fledged pity party. It was more beautiful than anything you have ever attended, complete with a coke, chocolate, and a new pair of cowboy boots (which I did get an extra 30% off of because I said I was a foster parent).

I allowed myself to wallow over the fact that I sometimes feel that I'm not chasing anything. There's not a certain child's face I'm pursuing or a name I've chosen. There's no a paper trail I'm following.

It's just a big ball of tangled mess, that I continually find myself in the midst of, and if I look down the road 30 years, I only see a web even more dense.

So, I wailed some more.

Tears fell over the children we've had this last week, that I stayed up through the night with listening to stories of their momma, wiping their tears, and rocking them to sleep.

I wailed over the fact that they won't remember my name in a year.

I cried over the fact that I'm the one at parents' beckoned call for visits, rather than the other way around. I dwelt on the fact that I will never, ever remotely be known as her momma again, even though there were days I wanted it to pass quickly.

We say yes, to love fully, grieve, say yes, love and grieve again.

It's the cycle of our lives as foster parents.

Perhaps there are moments where the cycle is broken, and one stays a little longer than we could have dreamed, but the anticipation of a season ending is always before us.

You blink, and the season is over, and you wonder if your touch, your voice, your prayers will ever be remembered.

And in my moment of pity, my phone rang.

It was J's grandmother.

I couldn't answer, so I listened to the message.

Catie, J and I miss you all so. I've been praying for you and the new kids every single day, and especially Cinderella. You're our family. We miss you. Please call us. J wants to see his Mama and Daddy.

And I wept again. But this time I cried because...

I remembered how deeply I am loved, and because I am deeply loved, I can love without any guarantee of return or gain. Though that child may never remember, my prayers will never forget, as they are uttered before the throne because of the grace I know.


I am not the rescuer, but I am a slave to the Lover of my Soul, the Great Rescuer, Restorer and Redeemer.
I wept because I was reminded that I am only called to rest, and from that rest flows abundant love, of which He is the only source.

---
Catie 
Jamie and I have been foster parents for 18 months and have cared for
13 children in that time period. Five of these have been long term. In addition to our three spunky biological sons (8, 6, and 4), we currently have two daughters who have lived with us for over a year, and a son who has lived with us for nine months. Our hearts in foster parenting are to be present and engage with our children's families, so that the gospel can seep through our wretchedness, allowing them to see grace and to know it is not the end of their stories. My own blog is www.thishighcalling.blogspot.com.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Advocate Wednesdays: follow You into the homes of the broken...

I've been thinking a lot about the parents of our first foster placement. They were a young, unmarried couple. They looked a little rough, but they were not what we were told to expect. In all of our trainings we were told to be prepared for angry parents, absent parents, parents who were under the influence, or parents who were just kids themselves. We were encouraged to be kind and respectful. We were reminded of the opportunity we had to be Jesus to these parents. In theory it all sounded good, but I wasn't sure what it would look like in reality.


Two days after picking our little guy up at the hospital, I walked into the visitation center - alone. I was shaking and clinging to the little one asleep on my shoulder, under a blanket to keep him out of the rain. My stomach was in knots. I worried that they would want me to give them their baby before a social worker was there to supervise. I worried that I wouldn't be strong enough to tell them no. I worried that they would be angry and hostile towards me. Instead, I was met by two grieving and broken parents. His mom approached me with tears in her eyes and said, "Is that him?" as she gently pulled the blanket back. The moment she saw his face she began to weep. My heart broke and I instantly felt love and compassion for her. We sat in the waiting area for 15 minutes before a social worker showed up. They stroked the baby's head as we talked - but never once did they ask to hold him. I appreciated their respect for the situation. They asked me how he was sleeping and eating. They cried as they told me how their children came into care. It was then that I knew that we were going to walk the journey of reunification with this family.


When I came back two hours later to pick him up from the visit, his dad shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and thanked me. He hung his head as he apologized for not rinsing out the baby's bottle when he was done eating. At following visits they brought me clothes, diapers, and a toothbrush for their daughter. They came to the visits with toys and books in a backpack. They showed up early for every visit. And when the visit was done, they would walk me to my car and we'd stand in the parking lot chatting. I was not afraid of them. They were not angry. They did everything they had to to get their kids back. They were not what I expected.


Their children were in foster care a total of 11 months. But, they are home now. They have since had a third child. Three babies in under 4 years. And yet, they are doing it. They are parenting their children - and doing it well.


Last week I ran into their mom at the store. We talked about the kids while my oldest played in the aisles with their oldest. Their newest little guy is just a year old - he is chronically sick with allergies. His mom shared with me how nervous she is every time she takes him to the doctor. She's afraid they'll be accused of wrongdoing again. She's afraid to take him to children's hospital because it was there that they were turned in for abuse  (which was never substantiated - and all charges were eventually dropped). But, she sets her fears aside and for the good of her baby, she takes him in again to get the treatment he needs. Her life is forever altered by their experience with social services. Her heart and mind are forever scarred by being accused of abusing her newborn baby.

When I think about the forgotten in the foster care community its easy to forget about the biological parents. Certainly not every parent is like these parents - but every parent needs to know the unconditional love of Jesus. Every parent needs to be treated with kindness and respect. Here in Bakersfield, The Forgotten Initiative has been asked to recruit and train mentors for biological parents who have been reunified with their children. What an amazing opportunity to be light in the darkness. What an amazing way to live out the words of the song by Leeland -  "Follow You".




"Use my hands, use my feet to make Your kingdom come!" 
"On the cross Your blood was shed, so how could we not give it away so freely?" 
"I'll follow You into the homes of the broken, follow You into the world."
"I give all myself to You..."

---

Becky 

Becky and her husband Dominic have five children and are foster parents. When their hearts were burdened by the enormity of needs in the foster care system, they desired to be a voice for the fatherless. As an Advocate, Becky has a front row seat in watching the Body of Christ use their gifts and talents to share the love of Jesus with the foster care community. 

See what's happening in Bakersfield!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: A Journey Bag Story!

From a foster parent in Augusta County, Virginia:
"I just wanted to let you know that we received a new foster care placement yesterday – a 2 1/2 yr old girl. She came to us with a small bag of summer clothes and a journey bag. She didn’t say much all day and looked pretty scared/withdrawn whenever we tried to talk with her. At one point we decided to check out the journey bag and see what was in it. Well, the pink and purple bracelets and sock monkey overwhelmed her! She smiled from ear to ear and just kept asking if they were really for her. She LOVED them! What a joy for us to see that gift bring her so much happiness on such a scary day. We just wanted to thank you and your team of volunteers for their thoughtfulness and let you all know that it is so appreciated."
If you are interested in doing a journey bag project with your church or small group, we would love to get you connected to the need! 
To find an advocate near you: Click Here

Friday, February 15, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Unexpected Feelings

 Today is little man's b-day.  We were ready to celebrate.  We had a party planned and lots of people were coming.  It was joyous to wake up with our Big 1 year old.  But there was one thing I didn't expect as the day went on.  I began to feel sad.  I felt sad that I knew his parents probably wouldn't call or write or send a card.  I tried not to get choked up but I really was sad.  Even now at 8pm even with little man fast asleep I wish they would call. 

   I wish they knew we prayed for them every night.  That what we really wish is that they would become healthy and that little man could know them.  I wish they knew that we loved them too.

  My feelings of sadness are mixed with so much gratefulness for the fact that so much of his bio family

is in his life.  That we have pictures from the day he was born.  That his Aunt and I are so close and that we have all become like family.  Little man will definitely always know he is loved and by ALOT of people.  You should have seen the group picture.  Well soon soon I will be able to post it.  And it only shows a small portion of all the love he has in his life.

----
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/

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: Refreshment

Do you ever feel so alone and tired to your soul? bone dry?  spiritually, physically, and emotionally?

That’s how I had been feeling the past several months.

My dad was welcomed home to Heaven right before Christmas (after a very long battle with cancer), my grandmother was having heart issues and in the hospital during his services, it was the anniversary of my mother in law’s passing from cancer the year before, and all of the craziness was igniting insecurity in my adopted children’s heart and causing them to act out.

221375_4521464521746_1074181550_o (2)

(dad and I)

And I was tired. so tired.

Way back when I had signed up for a Created For Care retreat in Atlanta for the end of January not knowing at the time how much I would need it.

I was ready to go.  I think the family was ready for me to go as well! :)

I made the trip down feeling burnt out, exhausted and overwhelmed.

I went seeking refreshment.

Greg even sent me this note once I made it there.

I am praying you will be blessed, refreshed, and energized so you can serve more effectively with greater joy!

Refreshed I was.

Worshipping with friends who were very dear to me, having heartfelt conversations late into the night about the hard things of adoption and fostering and being spiritually fed by women who understood what I was going through in so many ways and had been there themselves.

At the retreat there was a session called “A Date with God”

My friend  and I signed up for the 8am session. (note to self.. 8 am is not the best time for a cry fest.)

We walked downstairs and  into the room and the first thing I  saw was this tent up with the sign “Tent of Refreshment” Yep. tears started.

We sat down and were waiting for others to arrive. The gal who was hosting this was explaining about each station and I had tears flowing the whole time and we hadn’t even started yet!! A station to sit at a cross and soak up the Word, a tent to sit under and be refreshed and hear from God, a huge map to lay hands on a country God called you to pray for, a wall to leave sticky note prayer requests and to stand and pray for others, 2 ladies to go to for intercessory prayer, a place to draw, a place to sculpt, a place to paint.

And then-- A place to go and be prayed a blessing over and to receive a scripture. Now..as I sat on my knees, I knew the lady I was to receive a blessing from. I went to her (yes, weeping as I went) and she started to pray. Just. right. what. I. needed. She prayed I would feel His love. She prayed for the burdens I felt. She prayed that I would feel His arms and proceeded to give me a huge bear hug (yes, I was sobbing at this point)

And then.

She prayed for the child we hadn’t met yet. in earnest. WHAT?? STOP THE TAPE. I have NO IDEA what that was about. I hugged her (there’s no talking in A Date with God) picked my Scripture  and our session was over.

and I was still going “WHAT??” Asked my friend who also was with her if she had that in her blessing. No. Asked others the same question. No. UNLESS they had a child waiting. Hmmm.  We’ll wait and see what happens there! :)

I then read my Scripture that God had to have handpicked for me.

Isaiah 44:3-5

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
5This one will say, 'I am the Lord's,'
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,'
and name himself by the name of Israel."

Pouring water on a thirsty and dry ground. Yes. exactly how I felt. dry. thirsty. needing refreshing.

Thanking God that He is faithful to pour that water out and bring dry bones back to life.

I encourage you mommas to make sure to get refreshment yourself. I know that it is hard to carve out time and we tend to feel guilty doing it but it is so worth it and so needed so that we can continue to care for our children..especially our children that are in hard places emotionally right now. We need people that will pour into us and speak Jesus’s life giving words into is when we are spent.

Created For Care is making a way for people to do mini retreats for moms in their own towns and I hope to do that here in our area because I think it is so needed!

Stay tuned on that!

In the meantime..Here are some of the websites of my favorite speakers/encouragers at Created For Care.

http://carissawoodwyk.wordpress.com/

http://hopeathome.org/

http://empoweredtoconnect.org/?contributors=amy-monroe

 

~Charisa


Forgotten Advocate: Augusta County, VA Charissa Knight Family picture
Charisa and her husband Greg have 5 children (two of whom they adopted from Ethiopia). Charisa’s was first introduced to foster care as a 6th grader, when she became best friends with her neighbor who was a foster child. Her heart for the orphaned and oppressed compelled her to become a Justice Advocate for IJM and to do more for the foster care community but she wasn’t sure how. When she stumbled upon The Forgotten Initiative, she knew that this was her answer. She blogs over at www.forsuchasthese.blogspot.com

Find LOCAL Current Needs/Upcoming Events in Augusta County

Saturday, February 9, 2013

TFI VISION VIDEO: Just Launched!!

Hey friends - we have been working over at TFI - tightening up our vision - our method - etc. We want to make sure we are clearly communicating our heart and vision so we can most effectively mobilize the Body of Christ. Our website is not yet up to date on some of this but change is coming soon!

We would love to hear your thoughts on the new video!


 
TFI Vision Video from The Forgotten Initiative on Vimeo.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: The Weight of Saying "No"

Today, I am a foster mom who is overwhelmed; brought to tears and on my knees in prayer. 

I have spit-up on my sweater; I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in 7 months, and I'm holding a crying baby as I type.  But these things aren't the reason for my tears; they do not play a role in my broken heart.


Why the sadness?  Why the heavy heart when all in my life appears to be going so well?


Because two weeks ago I said "no".  No to the phone call asking us if we'd like to adopt two more boys.  Two boys, ready to be part of a forever family.  Two boys, ages 17 months and 7 months.  Two boys who deserve a loving, caring home.  Two boys who need know the security and comfort of a family.  Two boys who need Christ's love poured out to them on a daily basis.


I cannot stop thinking about those boys.  Can't stop praying for them, or wondering if we made the right decision.  If we need to change our decision.


We've prayed so long for God to grow our family through adoption.  And, God has graciously answered our prayers--we have just begun the adoption process for our foster son.  He is 8 months old.


And, as my husband gently pointed out, "LeAnne, that's 3 boys ages one and under.  We would need to buy a new car. We have a small house, and that is a huge undertaking.  I'm not sure you could handle it alone everyday when I'm at work and the older kids are at school."


I know Mike is right.  One thing that is so difficult as a foster parent is the balance of being in continual prayer for whatever God calls you to and flying by the seat of your pants.  Through our various "yes" and "no" responses over the past 3 years, Mike and I have balanced in a way that lets me know God's leading is playing a role in our decisions.


I called our licensing worker today to check on the boys.  After all, it's been 2 whole weeks.  They should have a home now, right?


No.  No home for these two boys.  They will soon go on the Waiting Child list for the state of IL.  I told our licensing worker I had been praying for the boys. 


Her response? "PLEASE keep praying.  And if you know of anyone who may want to be a foster parent, PLEASE encourage them to take those steps."


WOW.  It was all I could do to not begin sobbing before the phone call ended.


So, I will continue to pray.  I will become more bold in my response when people make the off-hand comment, "oh, maybe we'll foster when our life is a little more calm".  


I will not stop praying for these boys.


And, I am grateful that while saying "no" to the 2 boys, it caused Mike and I to realize we would not have hesitated in saying "yes" to either one of them.


Maybe God is preparing us for something after all.


---
LeAnne 

Visit LeAnne's personal blog at http://www.ldklop.blogspot.com/ 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Advocate Wednesdays: The Ripple Effect


Awhile back I had the opportunity to partner with 6 adoptive families and several other Foster Care Ministries at an event highlighting foster care and adoption. The Forgotten Initiative, along with CASA, The Kern County Heart Gallery, two foster family agencies, and Covenant Coffee (a local coffee shop that mentors and employs foster youth with the revenue from selling their coffee) were all invited to be part of "Foster Care/Adoption Sunday" at Olive Knolls Church. Pastor Kent turned his pulpit over to us for an entire Sunday morning service with the hope of bringing awareness to the need and inspiring the congregation to be His hands and feet to our community. We shared share the joys of fostering and adopting and other tangible ways to be part of caring for the fatherless in our community.

It was an emotional time as the six families shared their testimonies. All six of these families are forever linked as each has adopted one (or more) of a sibling set of eleven. Yes, you read that right - e.l.e.v.e.n.

It all started with one couple, Jay and Kristell. One mom and dad taking the first step of obedience. They had no idea how this act would change the course of their lives and their friends' lives, too. They waited nearly a year for a placement - a 6 year old girl, who unbeknownst to them, had many older siblings. When the older siblings came into foster care, Jay and Kristell went to work finding friends and family members to open their homes so the kids could stay together. A friend, a sister, a fellow teacher - all said yes to these children in need. All six families' stories are different - a single mom, an infertile couple, a family content with one boy and one girl. Each forever changed by saying "yes" to the Lord.

As I listened, it struck me - the act of obedience by one family has had a tremendous ripple effect -

Six families who will never be the same.
Eleven children's lives forever changed.
Eleven children raised to know the love of a family and a Savior.
Hope for a different future.
The cycle broken.

I am certain Jay and Kristell had no idea this is where their obedience would lead them. Which makes it even more precious.
No dreams of standing in front of their church family proclaiming God's faithfulness and goodness to them through their adoption journey. Five years ago they thought they were adopting one little girl. Today, they are being used to share God's heart for the fatherless - with passion and conviction. Amazing.

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church
by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21

It all leads me to ask - Lord, how do you want to use me?
How does He want to use you?
What step of obedience today will have a ripple effect, one I can't even dream of, tomorrow?

It's exciting when I think about God's big plan. I want to serve each day with the knowledge that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Lord, may each of us be available and obedient to you today - knowing that Your plans are so much bigger than we can even imagine!  




---
Becky 

Becky and her husband Dominic have five children and are foster parents. When their hearts were burdened by the enormity of needs in the foster care system, they desired to be a voice for the fatherless. As an Advocate, Becky has a front row seat in watching the Body of Christ use their gifts and talents to share the love of Jesus with the foster care community. 

See what's happening in Bakersfield!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Words from a foster mama


I'm breathing deeply.
 
Right now, I was suppose to be on a surprise getaway with Sweet Man James for my Christmas present, coordinated to the detail by him and some of my precious foster family friends and my family.
Enter Cinderella with cough, throw up, fever and the most pitiful puffy eyes I've ever seen.
So instead of a fancy dinner rendezvous at Taco Casa, I'm cuddling with our newest Little Bit for the fourth day in a row. I know every Little Pony's name, and I can do a pretty smooth samba to the Bubble Guppies theme song.
 
When we first realized it wasn't going to happen, I had a fleeting thought, I'm giving up my precious time away of rest for a child who isn't really mine, a child who will break my heart in the end. Is this even worth it?
 
I remembered the verse Lifeline director Herbie Newell shared at our foster parent Christmas dinner, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." - Mark 9:37
 
It's not the way we planned this weekend, but it's exactly what our Father had planned for us. Instead of whispering sweet nothings in my man's ear, I'm hearing, "Momma, I love you," while I wipe a nose and clean up throw up that was meant for only me to clean in this season of my life...of her life, because I'm not sure how long I'll have the honor of doing that for Cinderella, and it is an honor.
 
It's been a few weeks since I've blogged because this was perhaps the most insane season we've lived in all our days. There's busy, and then there's insanity. We passed the psychosis state right past insanity. But, as I look back, every moment was orchestrated by my Father's hands. Time after time, we saw a child enter care, and we received an anonymous gift in the mail for the exact amount needed to cover that child's Christmas.
 
We witnessed one of our children's parents need an exact amount to cover an unexpected bill; the cash was in our mailbox with her name on it by the end of the day, without our telling anyone...You were the hand of God whoever you were.
 
I had to give myself time to open each of these Holy treasures before I set them on display for all to see for HIS glory. I'm still processing. I never thought I (we) would be the ones who would have a chance to live this kind of life, dependent on God's provision, interdependent with our covenant family. And now, I can't go back.
 
I can't wait to introduce you to radical children who chose to pursue justice this Christmas, rather than selfish gain, or families who opted to "do the season" in a new way, as they poured themselves and their resources out for the least of these when it wasn't comfortable.
 
I'm giddy for you to meet the new children in our lives, children who've entered the safety of our home on a regular basis, not through the system, but through doors only the Father could open.
 
And then there's Cinderella...
 
And our girls and their momma... 
 
And our Baby J, isn't a baby anymore...
 
There was one Sunday this month when I looked down our church pew: there were the girls and their momma, Baby M's family, my boys, Jamie, Cinderella, and J's family had asked if we could have him for the weekend. He sat in my lap, and I breathed the Holy, set apart, moment in deeply.
 
Never in my life would I have dreamed...
 
However, as it is written: no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived, the things God has prepared for those who love Him. - I Corinthians 2:9
 
Maybe, just maybe those things He's planned aren't about our appeasement or comfort, but about His ministry of reconciliation through us, His love poured through our broken vessels, and His glory being proclaimed through our splintered lives.

I'll take that over a weekend away any day, even if it is with my favorite man on earth.

---
Catie 

Jamie and I have been foster parents for 18 months and have cared for
13 children in that time period. Five of these have been long term. In addition to our three spunky biological sons (8, 6, and 4), we currently
have two daughters who have lived with us for over a year, and a son who has lived with us for nine months. Our hearts in foster parenting are to be present and engage with our children's families, so that the gospel can seep through our wretchedness, allowing them to see grace and to know it is not the end of their stories. My own blog is 
www.thishighcalling.blogspot.com.