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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: There is No Plan B

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Orphan Sunday is November 3rd. I’m so thankful for these events that remind us of the tragic reality that millions of children are living their childhood years without the love and support of family.

Scripture makes it crystal clear that this was never OK with God. It’s still not OK with Him. Orphans are never supposed to GROW UP as orphans. It’s not God’s plan for even one 18 year old to “age out” of the foster care system without someone they can call Mom or Dad.

So why do we have so many orphans in the world today, when there are more Christians than at any other time in history?  Maybe the problem is so big that it overwhelms and paralyzes us. Maybe we have become so absorbed in enjoying the good things God has blessed us with that we forget to focus on the things that He has asked us to care about. Or maybe we have forgotten that being a follower of Christ means we should care about the things that He is passionate about. 

God has always had a plan to rescue every child who does not have a family. It is a very simple plan – WE, his people, are to be the answer. If we call ourselves Christians, we simply do not have the option of ignoring God’s plan. This is His only plan. There is no 
plan B.

Will you join me in praying every day during the month of November for these specific things?
  • That God will burden the hearts of our pastors and church leaders to make caring for orphans and foster children a CORE VALUE in our churches. 
  • That God will open the eyes and hearts of His people to say yes to adoption and foster care.
  • That God will break YOUR heart with the things that break His.
“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. ....” Matthew  9:37 

Ladonna Wolfes
Forgotten Advocate, Oklahoma
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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 anguish faced by children in foster care. She has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer 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 our responsibility to defend and care for foster children.

“He will save them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.” Psalm 72:14

Friday, October 25, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Surprise, It's a Boy!

Ooohhhh my goodness, when was the last time you held a newborn?  I mean, like a 3 days old newborn??  I love babies – they just remind me of all the good there is in the world.  Babies are a new start, sort of like New Year’s Day or the first day of school.
Now, I understand that some folks don’t like the screaming or the night feedings or the poopy diapers.  In my opinion, the fresh start and yummy baby smell completely triumph over all the possible negatives!
As I picked him up from the hospital, the nurse and the social worker gave me all the information that I needed to take care of this sweet baby boy, Baby J.  They told me his name, that his mom had taken a drug while she was pregnant, and that he should have no side effects from the drug.  The social worker walked us to the car and said Happy Thanksgiving, you’re on your own until next Tuesday.  Ha!
I worried that the birth parents might be lurking in the hospital parking lot, so I decided to take the long way home, by way of 3 friends’ houses.  I mean, it’s not every day that you
find out you’re having a baby and then pick it up the next day, right?  And one of those stops was to a new mom who had offered supplies that I really needed – clothes and baby bed sheets!
We spent the weekend holding Baby J and showing him off.    It was surreal!  Every one I spoke to asked the same questions.  Why was he taken from his parents?  Where do they live? How long do you get to keep him?  Will you be able to adopt him?  Would you adopt?  Are you crazy?  Why on earth would you take care of someone else’s baby?  Why would you want to be foster parents??
I did not have answers to most of the questions, but yes, we are a little crazy because we became foster parents to live out our faith.  Seems to me that the Bible is pretty clear about taking care of orphans and people who can’t take care of themselves.  Baby J fits into either category, as will any of our future foster kids.  Really, what better way to show others our love for Jesus that to do what He says??  
I am certainly not suggesting that we all become foster parents or adopt a gaggle of kids, but if you love Jesus and you listen to Him (by reading your Bible, people!), you will find your way to do what He calls you to do.  This is my calling, and I’m so glad I finally figured it out.
Jesus said, “anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me.”  ~Matthew 18:5

Fostering Joy 
David & Jenni live with their 12 year old son in northern Mississippi.  After many years of secondary infertility, they were drawn to foster young children, to care for those who cannot care for themselves.  Two years in, they are busy with placement number four - three siblings under the age of three!  The family seeks to live like Jesus commands:  love God, love people (Matthew 22:37-39) and love the leasts like Jesus (Matthew 25:40)! Read Jenni's personal blog at  http://fosteringjoy.com

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: God Alone

As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, 
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. 
 In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper, 
Either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Seeds, seeds, seeds............ 
           Farmers eagerly await the crisp fall days for harvesting their crops that were planted in the spring. They hope for the best, yet really cannot know what the harvest will bring to them until later on.  They work diligently and do what they can, to help the crops along the way.  They can control certain variables of the growing process and others are left to nature.
           I was reading in Ecclesiastes the other morning and this verse (11:5-6) stuck out to me.  God pulled at my heart strings, in reminding me of the spiritual seeds I am planting daily in the lives of my own family and those lives around me.  Every seed I attempt to plant is not in vain. Nor am I to worry or focus on the end results.  God is God and he will take every experience he puts into my life, and use it for his glory.  Good or bad, he's got the world in his hands. My call in obedience to him, is to remain faithful to him and "do" what he prompts my spirit to accomplish.
As I look at each child God has put into my life, I see a biblical responsibility to "plant seeds" of Godly hope, love, and joy. The task of sharing Christ and his love should be shared with "all".  
May we be opened to every opportunity that God gives us to "share" and be "light" to the children in our midst.

Krista Snyder

Forgotten Advocate: Northumberland County, PA
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Krista is wife to Michael and mother to seven children 9 and under! The Snyders’ passion for adoption and helping the "fatherless" is evident by their family. They had one “belly” baby and their other six were adopted through their state’s foster care system. Seeing the needs in their foster care community, has only grown the compassion and “burn” they feel to love on the least of these and see God moving in their community.
“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.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Make a Difference Monday: Orphan Sunday is Near

What is Orphan Sunday?

"On Orphan Sunday (November 3rd, 2013), Christians stand for the orphan. We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress.
Each event is locally-led. Sermons and small groups, concerts and prayer gatherings, shared meals and youth activities—each rousing believers with God’s call to care for the orphan, and what we can do in response.
From many sources, one voice. On November 3rd, 2013, thousands of events will echo across America and around the globe, all sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will find echo in our lives as well.
Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan." - Taken from the Orphan Sunday's Website, you can also find more information and resources there. 

What is TFI doing for Orphan Sunday?

Join is in.... 

SIGN UP (http://www.signupgenius.com/go/409084AA4A82DA31-orphan) to choose a time to pray. Our goal is to get a 24 hour prayer covering on Orphan Sunday. Let's PRAY these kids into their forever family!

Watch our National Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/forgotteninitiative) to see photos of Waiting Children posted EVERY HOUR! PRAY & SHARE these pictures with your friends! Maybe you know their family!

Orphan Sunday 2013 Video: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Advocate Wednesdays: Why did I hesitate?

My story is a little different than some of the other TFI advocates. I don’t have the foster parent perspective or a degree in social work. Many times I’ve thrown my hands in the air and asked God if there was some mistake. Maybe I misunderstood and only thought He whispered foster care into my heart. I’ve written before about us “Outsiders”. We’re the ones God has whispered to, but not really called us as foster parents. He’s burdened us, but hasn’t revealed how or where to go with this burden. Outsiders are the ones on the sidelines sheepishly trying to live in obedience and yet overwhelmed trying to understand the foster care system. We’re uncertain of what to do and afraid to do something wrong. Being an outsider can be really intimidating and I began to wonder where this hesitation is rooted...
I had been discouraged and overwhelmed because of the many needs within our foster community, to the point of being almost paralyzed by doubt and fear. I was frustrated with myself for not doing, giving, and praying more. I began to believe the voice that mocked my efforts of encouraging agency workers and loving on foster parents. The voice taunted me and insisted that these things weren't enough to do any good, much less share the love of Christ. The voice insisted that warmed DIY essential oil neck wraps on a chilly and gray Monday morning was stupid.

He was wrong.

I could hear those ladies oohing and aahhhing even as I left the agency. They felt loved and appreciated. Maybe, just maybe, they experienced a little bit of Christ’s love that morning.
When a stretched-too-thin foster mom expressed her frustrations about getting the cat vaccinated for a home study while potty training a 2 year old, helping a senior with college tours, and raising a few other kiddos, the lying voice told me there was nothing I could do to help. He said not only would I be rejected, I would insult her if I tried.

He was wrong.

I wasn't able to help with the cat (although I think she might have let me if he wasn't so old) but I was able to get her in touch with the fire department and pass on my experience with the fire inspection. She emailed me stating that I had no idea how much this meant to her.
In these situations I could have believed the lies and not acted. Why did I hesitate to act on simple, everyday, things that shouldn’t take much faith?

Well, we know the enemy hates us and our work. As followers of Jesus, our goal is to share His love with others. The enemy’s work is to keep us out of the agencies, homes, and lives of The Forgotten. After all, he's worked awfully hard to ensure they are forgotten. His lies tell us our acts of kindness aren’t good enough, so we’re paralyzed by fear of failure and rejection. Instead of believing God’s whispers and acting in faith, we run in fear of being inconvenienced or ineffective. We believe the lying voice that tells us baking brownies for case workers couldn't possibly lead someone to Christ. We believe the lie that becoming a respite care provider is too much of a commitment. We begin to doubt that God can and will be glorified through our measly attempts to love others.

It appears that my (our?) hesitation is rooted in lies.

This was such a freeing realization! Because Jesus is our truth, we’re free to take a meal to a foster family without fear of rejection. We’re free to host a Journey Bag drive without fear of failure. We’re free to build relationship with that birth mother. We’re free to love, serve, and give, however He prompts us to!

So Outsiders, how has God whispered to your heart? Will you choose to hear the lies or act in faith? Imagine how His name will be made great in the lives of The Forgotten if we all act on those whispers this week!

Lacy Watson
Forgotten Advocate, Cincinnati, OH
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Find LOCAL Current Needs/Upcoming Events
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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Be Part of a Miracle

Sixteen years ago we adopted our first two children from DSS.  Eight years ago, we adopted the third through international adoption.  So much of my adult life I have had some interest in adoption, orphans, etc.  Once in a while I will sign up for an email newsletter or Facebook group for waiting children.  Sometimes I am only thinking that I need to pray for each child but other times. . .hum.  I dream of what it would be like to give another child a home.  Since we are down to one child at home, it didn’t surprise me too much when that thought occurred again as I signed up for a new group of waiting Chinese children.  But then quickly I thought, will I have to leave the group? Will it be too much? Can I bear to see their faces and not do something?  Sadly, these are all familiar thoughts.  It is easy to say, “ We are too old” , “We can’t afford it”, or hundreds of other reasons we don’t help the orphans. 

But just perhaps that guilt we feel is conviction by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we are not only saying no to the children but also to God. Perhaps those children are dear to Him and He thinks you are just precious enough to be entrusted with the responsibility. Perhaps through you He will teach that child about Himself and bring them to salvation? Would you turn down a gift from the very hand of God? 

There are many ways we can help children and they do not all include adoption. They do all include a willingness to open your heart. You must be willing to share of your time and resources. There are so many children who need the help of a loving Christian. What the Lord can do with that little life is nothing short of a miracle.  Would you be part of a miracle today?

Wendy Pace
Forgotten Advocate: Greenville, SC
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Wendy and her husband Jim have long had a passion for orphan care. Life, homeschooling and raising their three children has kept them busy. Yet God has continually drawn them back to some form of orphan care over the years. While attending the Wait No More conference, again the Lord called. With the support and help of dear friends, Wendy stepped forward answering the call. She believes the Lord is moving strongly in the hearts of His people to take care of those who have been forgotten in the past.

“When we have a heart for what matters to Christ, a natural response is orphan care.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Advocate Wednesdays: Blowing the Doors Open & Asking for Help

The last post that I wrote for Advocate Wednesday forced me to humble myself and be real with the world about the struggle in the waiting time.  God had kept doors closed in Charleston despite my best effort to advocate for the foster care community and share the needs with our local churches.  My life was hectic up until that point (moving, having a baby, getting a new job, etc.)  When I expressed my frustrations with Jami, TFI’s Founder, she encourage me that God may have been keeping the doors closed because He knew I wasn’t prepared for what would happen if He opened them. 

So I kept praying and began resting in the fact that He is in control and that He would soften hearts and start a movement when the time was right.  Apparently, that time has now come. 

Today, I’m praising God for literally blowing the doors open in September and showing me just how in control and powerful He really is.  We’ve been able to have an audience with multiple churches in the Charleston area about getting involved.  God has led two amazing women to come alongside me to help set up Families Serving Families and Mentoring in our area.  There is a small Project Sunshine and possibly a huge Journey Bags project that are taking shape.  In the process, I’ve met countless amazing families who have a love for this community.

But out of all the things that God has done so far, there is one thing in particular that has stuck out in my mind these last couple of days.  A current foster family contacted me about becoming a Support Family for other foster families.  I was delighted that she would want to show Christ’s love to other families, but also encouraged her that her family may also need support.  A couple of days later, she told me of a heartbreaking situation that occurred in her home and sadly said that she didn’t feel that she could be of encouragement to other families right now.  Friends, this is the time that her family needs to be supported! 

Just because you are a foster family who already knows Jesus, doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be loved on as well.  This is what Families Serving Families is set up to do.  God doesn’t categorize us as “Saved or Unsaved” and then require “Saved” families to always be the supporter and never the supported.  We all need a little love sometimes, and being a Christian doesn’t exempt us from this. 

If you need help, or just some encouragement, PLEASE speak up.  There are so many people who love you and want to be there for you when times are tough.  

Anna Shumpert
Charleston, SC Advocate

Anna and her husband Ryan are parents to two little ladies. They adopted their oldest daughter as an infant.  God put orphan care on Anna’s heart early in her Christian walk and after adopting their daughter, He opened Anna’s eyes to the immense need for foster and adoptive parents in her own community. As her heart grew for those children, she wanted to do more but had no idea how just one person could tackle the huge needs of the foster care community.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Advocate Wednesday: Foster Parenting

We are new on this foster care journey....

We have had our first placement, a precious 3 year old girl for 6 months.

Recently her case plan was changed from reunification with her father to severance and adoption.

Extended family came out of the woodwork.

Home studies were ordered on each of them.

One has been approved and visits have started.

Last week, she had 2 visits, and both of those nights she had nightmares and bed-wetting....again.

I had the privilege of sitting with a seasoned foster mom last week, and she was describing the difference between the physical pain of giving birth to a child and the emotional pain associated with a foster child.

It's so difficult to be able to wrestle through what has happened in her three short years of life.

Last week, after our Child Family Team meeting, I cried the whole 30 minute drive to go pick up my kiddos. I can't share all the details of why that was, but in that drive, I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to remember...and to surrender...“I love her more than you do.”

Our family has been reading through Job's life, and the thing that has stood out to me the most is that through all of his suffering, he continually remembers God's character. Isn't that our greatest comfort in suffering?

By God's grace, I am purposing in my heart to remember and focus on 3 things:
  1. God is good always
  2. God is sovereign
  3. God loves her more than I do

Would you please pray for our family?

“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

Denise Steidinger
Forgotten Advocate: Prescott, AZ

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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.

“The best place to start is on our knees, crying out to a Holy God on behalf of these children, their birth families, their foster families and their social workers.”