Book Review: The Assault

The Assault

As an author, I appreciate when someone is willing to review my book, so I enjoy sharing what I am reading with all of you! Some books have been a let-down, but most of the time, I find authors who have a real talent at this writing gig.

The latest book I’ve been reading is the second cycle in the Harbinger series by Christian suspense writers, Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky. “The Assault” is their second novel that reads almost as a television series. Each author is given a character and writes a short novella from that character’s perspective. Together, they create a team of four unlikely characters, who join together to fight against the darkness in this world.

In “The Revealing,” Bill Myers writes from Brenda’s perspective. The rough-edged tattoo artist has an uncanny ability to draw the future. She doesn’t interpret the drawings; she just draws what she sees. When the team is asked to help an old acquaintance of the professor’s in Rome, Brenda begins to draw things that she hopes will not happen. Within minutes of arriving in Rome, the team already begins to feel that things are not as they seem. In fact, everything (including the very house they walk into) seems to change from one scene to another. Will the team be able to find reality and hold together as a team? And who is their benefactor?

In Frank Peretti’s “Infestation,” an unknown disease seems to be taking over the world. The professor knows what science says, but his doubts in supernatural beings is shaken to its core when he begins to see people losing their eyes and suddenly exploding. Will the team be able to find the source of the infestation before it takes one of their own?

In Angela Hunt’s “Infiltration,” Andi is in need of a vacation after the harrowing events she and the team had just experienced. But as the team begins to plan their next move at a beach house in her hometown, Andi begins to hear voices and struggles with nightmares. When she seeks help from a psychiatrist, he recommends hypnosis, but the results could be deadly. Will Andi ever regain her sanity, or will she literally lose her mind?

In Alton Gansky’s “The Fog,” Tank finds himself out of his league when the team is requested by an unknown benefactor to attend a high-profile party at a high-rise downtown. But the party is abruptly interrupted when what feels like an earthquake rocks the building. When Tank looks out the over the city to see the destruction, he instead sees a fog that is quickly rising and covering the city. But this fog is unlike any he has seen before, as are the creatures that seem to be swimming in it. When Tank realizes that the creatures have death on their minds, he realizes that he must make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. Will the team be able to help him in time?

While each of these stories could stand alone, together they make a unique series that draws on the strengths of each of these beloved authors. If you’re looking for a good Christian suspense, I highly recommend you try out this series!

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Eclipse of 2017

IMG_1637

If you were in the path of totality for the eclipse today, then you had a chance to see what I saw–God’s amazing creation at work. It was awe-inspiring to watch as the moon slowly passed in front of the sun, almost completely blocking it out from the earth. There were rumors that there would be chaos and that this could be the end of the world. Yet, all I saw was God’s majesty on display, and it made me contemplate this God Who set the sun in the sky and the moon and the stars and the planets. Who is this God Who created these amazing things, yet loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me?

Lately, I have posted my concern over the darkness that is sweeping across our country, and I have searched for scriptures to reassure me of God’s goodness and purpose in all of these things. But today, I saw God in the eclipse, and I couldn’t help but compare what I saw to Who God is.

We were standing in the brightness of the sun, when darkness fell upon us. The darkness only lasted for about a minute and a half, but we were overcome by it. It overwhelmed us and amazed us and even scared us a little bit. But even in the darkness, there was light. The light was never truly extinguished (which is why we had to wear special glasses), and we could even see it shining around the edges of the darkness. Then, just like that, the sun was revealed again, and night became day once more.

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up–Matt. 4:16.

IMG_1638

This world we are living in seems lost in darkness right now. And because we live in this moment, we are consumed by the darkness, overwhelmed by its power, and scared of its ability to swallow us. But the truth is that the Light hasn’t gone out. It’s seeping through and around the darkness, pushing away the darkness to shine its Light so brightly that we can’t even look upon it. Not yet anyway. But the darkness is just for a moment. Some day, we will be able to take off our “glasses” and look straight into the Light. And oh, what a glorious day that will be!

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known–I Cor. 13:12.

If what I’m saying here seems strange or confusing to you, please feel free to message me! I know the One Who created the heavens, and I would love to introduce you to Him!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In a World of Fear: Think on These Things

IMG_1528

Glimpses of God’s love in our world

I don’t know about you, but this world is starting to get me down a little bit. As a mom of littles, it’s hard to not let my imagination run wild with fear for their future. Social media feeds on hate and violence, and the stories that fill my inbox allow darkness to seep into my heart and shatter my peace.

That’s what Satan wants. He wants us to sink into the darkness and forget about the Light. He wants us to be so overwhelmed with fear that we push away Love. He wants us to fear man, so we forget about the One Who made man.

So in these times when my heart is fearful and my thoughts are running wild, I turn to the One Who holds me in the palm of His hand, and I reflect on His Word.

Today, I want to point my thoughts there and maybe encourage some of you other moms as well by thinking on what God has to say in light of these troubling times.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things–Phil. 4:8.

1. Whatever is true…We know that there is evil in this world and that there has been evil since the world was created. But we also know the One Who created this world, and we need to set our sights on Who God is.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand–Is. 41:10.

The truth is that God allows suffering in this world because this world is not our home. While evil may prevail for a time, we know that God has the victory in the end.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ–I Cor. 15:57.

When we start getting too comfortable with our lives, we begin to forget that we have a job to do here on earth–to glorify God. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routines of going to work, dropping the kids off at school, going to the gym, attending ballgames or whatever extracurriculars your children are involved in, grocery shopping, paying bills… We forget that all of these things are just distractions from focusing our hearts on God. I’m guilty of it. In fact, if I’m honest with you, I have been praying lately that God would give me a passion for Him, a passion to dive deeper into His Word, a passion to be involved with the body of believers, a passion to step outside of my comfort zone and tell others about Him. Perhaps all of the chaos in the world is meant to drive us to that desire, to give us an urgency to reach the lost with the power of His Word, to show the world that the love of Christ is more powerful than any hate that can be shared. That’s the truth we need to remember.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”–Jn. 8:31-32.

2. Whatever is honorable…Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines honorable as “deserving of respect or high regard.” Currently, one of the main issues being fought over in our country is what is honorable–which group of people deserves honor, which monuments deserve honor, which government officials deserve honor. Who or what deserves “respect or high regard”? Who gets to decide the answer to that question? What was considered “honorable” when certain monuments were erected is now considered dishonorable by many. And one group of people feels they deserve honor over another, while a third group believes they should be honored. The back and forth between so many different groups of people makes me think of an exchange that Jesus had with two of His disciples–the brothers, James and John.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Him and said to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”–Mk. 10:35-45.

The very One Who deserved honor, Jesus Christ, set aside His own glory to be a servant to all of us. That is what honor looks like. This is Someone Who deserves honor and glory. Yet, He came into this world as a baby, born to an unknown carpenter and his young, innocent bride, to grow up and be hated by his own siblings and rejected by the people in His own hometown.

He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not–Isa. 53:3.

When we find ourselves fearful of the events surrounding us, we can still turn our eyes to Jesus, Who loved us this much–to enter this world full of evil to give His life for you and me. Stop and think on that for awhile.

3. Whatever is just…Ah, justice. The war cry of the masses. “We want justice for how we have suffered.” “We deserve justice of the sins of your fathers.” “We want justice for all.” While the cry for justice sounds like a call to arms, we need to be careful about what we are calling just. Do I believe that there should be justice for people who have suffered? Absolutely! But before you accept the call, make sure that you are certain about what is just and fair. What is the right thing to do? Sometimes, it may not be what we want; but if it is right, then that’s what we should be fighting for.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause–Isa. 1:17.

The problem with rallies is that they are not truly action. Like-minded people joining together to march and yell about what they consider just does not usually amount to much change. The first part of the verse in Isaiah says to “learn to do good.” If we truly want change to come about, if we truly want justice to happen, then we need to put action to our words. We need to get into our communities. We need to cross over to the other side of the street and shake hands with those who oppose our views. We need to build houses in our communities; we need to feed the homeless; we need to get involved with our youth; we need to foster; we need to adopt; we need to love more and yell less.

Rather than seeking revenge for what has happened to us, we need to seek to do good and to let God handle the rest.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”–Rom. 12:19.

God has been patient with us. He loves us and allows us to do as we want, even though we often turn away from Him. But there will be a day when He will exact justice for the evil in the world, and that is the day that we need to be preparing for. We can either turn back to Him, or we can continue to turn away. But one day, we will all stand before Him, either way.

4. Whatever is pure…None of us is pure. We all have sin in our lives that marks us for life as sinners. We can do nothing to get to heaven because everything we do is marred by our sin.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away–Isa. 64:6.

 The good news is that God sent Someone Who is pure, Someone Who can save us from our sins–Jesus Christ.

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you–I Pet. 1:18-20.

So while we can’t look on anything on this earth as pure, we can turn our eyes to look at Jesus, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6).

5. Whatever is lovely…We are a generation that likes gruesome things. We love horror movies (not me personally, but most people do). The zombie, vampire, and werewolf industries are booming. Our children love to be scared. Most of the hit television shows are dark, sinister shows that focus on evil. We can even be caught up in the darkness that is spouted on our news channels. We have lost the ability to look for the things in this world that are lovely.

But God created this world (Gen. 1), and He created it to be good. There is loveliness in a baby’s laughter. There is loveliness in the change in seasons. There is loveliness in a solar eclipse that shows us the awesomeness of the universe our God created. There is loveliness when a sinner accepts Christ. There is loveliness in two people joining together in marriage. There is loveliness to be found in every place if we just learn to look for it.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord–Ps. 33:5.

6. Whatever is commendable…There is nothing to commend when people turn to each other with their fists raised and and their hearts filled with hate. There is nothing to commend when one group of people thinks of themselves as better than another. There is nothing to commend when crimes are committed–even in the name of “justice.” There is nothing to commend when the world is allowed to get out of control.

What is commendable?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God–Micah 6:8.

There it is again. God wants us to do justice, but we are also to love kindness and walk with God. The point isn’t for us to seek revenge on one another. The point is to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32) and to walk humbly with God. When we walk humbly with God, we suddenly find ourselves less important and the welfare of others to be more important. We are suddenly able to let our own injustices go and to seek the good of others. Only then can we love well–as Christ has loved us.

7. If there is any excellence…We live in a competitive world, where we seek to excel at everything we do. We want to be the best athlete, the best homemaker, the best executive, the best cook, the best mother, etc. And we want our kids to be the best speller, the best athlete, the best student, the best child, etc. We compete to be the best, but we are setting our sights on the wrong prize.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God–Heb. 12:1-2.

God wants us to excel at the race He has set before us, so He provided a way for us to do that–His Son, Jesus Christ. We need to do our best in all things, but we need to excel at running the race of this life. When we set our eyes on the prize of an eternity in heaven, all the other non-essentials fall to the wayside.

8. If there is anything worthy of praise…Truly, there is only One Who is worthy of our praise–our Lord God. He is the One Who deserves glory and honor for all that He has done for us. We praise athletes, scientists, actors, artists, etc. But one day, we will know Who is worthy of praise, and we will all bow down before Him.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable–Ps. 145:3.

I know this world is a scary place. It’s hard to not know what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s difficult to try to love and protect our children in a world where hate abounds. But that’s when we need to focus on the One Who fulfills all of the above–One Who is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. When we fix our thoughts on Him, we can cast our fear aside because “no one will snatch [us] out of [His] hand (Jn. 10:28b).

So rest in peace tonight, Mama. The same God Who created this world has our future and our children’s futures already planned, and it is good to be loved by Him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Love Wins

 

I wish that I could say that I am surprised by the hateful events of this weekend. But to be quite honest, this is becoming an all-too-common part of our American life. I am disgusted by it, yet it exists in the very fabric of our culture. Adults no longer know how to civilly disagree with one another. Instead, they attack–unleashing fury on complete strangers who may just not agree with them.

Yesterday’s events were about race. But let’s be honest–hate is showing up in all shapes and sizes these days. Somehow, we have forgotten that we can disagree and still love one another.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen–I Jn. 4:20.

Honestly, in this day of social media, it’s easy to hide behind our computers and spew out hate against people we don’t even know. It may be about race or sexuality or religion or politics or breastfeeding or baby-wearing or organic eating or school choice or… What starts out as a simple point of view, preference, or belief becomes fodder for someone’s hateful and disgusting comments. We may not take action in events like the one this weekend that hurt a lot of people, but we aren’t afraid to bite, slap, and slander from the confines of our own home. We are outraged by events that spread hate but then create our own diatribe online.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear–Eph. 4:29.

We may sit in our pews on Sunday but spend the rest of the time proclaiming how right we are and how wrong someone else is. I see it every day in my newsfeed, and, sadly, many times, the hate is coming from the very Christians who were worshipping together earlier that day. It has to stop, and it starts with you. And it starts with me.

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so–Jas. 3:8-10.

As Christians, we must call sin by its name. But in calling out sin, I think we have forgotten that we can hate the sin while still loving the sinner, which is who we are as well! Christ condemned the sin of the Pharisees and the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He called men to be his disciples who were some of the most despised of society. He redeemed them, just as He does you and me! And He loved them well.

 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them”–Lk. 15:2.

We don’t have to agree on everything to break bread together. We can be adults and agree to disagree. There is no shame in loving others well. But there is shame to be had when we allow our disagreements to fester into hate and violence.

Let’s be honest–we do notice the outward appearance of one another. We notice the things that make us different–whether it’s skin color, hair color, piercings, tattoos, clothing, weight, height, etc. To say that we don’t notice those things would be a lie. What we need to say is that we aren’t going to concern ourselves with those things. We need to worry about the heart, specifically our own hearts. How are we treating one another?

When violence erupts from hateful rallies, what can we say? We feed the hate by our own response. We egg the hate on when we don’t respond with love.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law–Rom. 13:8-10.

I am stunned and sickened by the events of this weekend, just as I am stunned and sickened by the hate that causes wars around the world that leave children as orphans or that makes profit from sex trading young girls and boys or that allows the raping of women. I am stunned and sickened by the hate that allows us to stop seeing each other as people and helps us to act like animals instead.

So what can we do? If we truly want love to win, then we need to do all we can to promote love. We need to allow diversity around our dining room table. We need to listen to people of all walks of life and actually hear their story. We need to guard our tongues and “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). We need to stop worrying about being right and start worrying about defeating hate. Together.

My church’s motto is “the Gospel changes everything.” The Gospel can change hearts filled with hate and fill them with love instead. The Gospel can take a worthless sinner like me and fulfill God’s purpose for the world. The Gospel can take what man means for evil and turn it around for good.

As we process the acts of violence that happened in our country this weekend, let’s follow God’s example for us:

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another–I Jn. 4:11.

P.S. Love wins in the end.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love–I Cor. 13:13.

 

   

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May the Name of the LORD be Praised

20597339_10156459715528662_4344214237486873409_n

My husband and I were gifted the chance to get away this weekend. We desperately needed to reconnect as both of our schedules have been so full this summer, it is hard to get time to just talk to each other!

As we enjoyed our time together, I realized, again, just how blessed I truly am. Here’s why:

1. My husband still wants to spend time with me after almost 15 years. Truly, it is simply amazing to me that we are still together. As I watch marriages–Christian and non-Christian–crumble all around me, I am in awe that our marriage has lasted. I’ll be honest with you–there have been a few times throughout our marriage that I just wanted to call it quits. His sin, my sin, life in general just make marriage seem like an insurmountable task sometimes, which is evident by the number of divorced couples I know. And a large number of couples I know who are still married simply don’t want to be alone with one another. To find someone who will stick with me and who wants to go away for the weekend with me is truly a blessing from God.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken–Eccl. 4:9-12.

2. I have people I can trust with my children.  I know a lot of people who struggle to be able to go out on a date, let alone away for the weekend, because there are no safe places for them to send their children. I was blessed this weekend to have options of where to send my kids. I have friends and family who love them and will make sure that they are well cared-for. I have people in my life who will not only feed them and keep them safe, but who will also make sure they have a wonderful time while Mom and Dad are away. For these people, I am truly thankful.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another–Prov. 27:17.

3. We have the opportunity to “get away.” As we were walking around our downtown, we came across a woman who was simply trying to get some sleep on a park bench. A security guard was standing near her, keeping his eye on her while he called the police. She wasn’t causing any trouble. She just wanted a place to sleep. I, on the other hand, had a beautiful hotel bed to rest my head on, and I have a very comfortable bed to come home to. Although my husband and I live on a tight budget, we always get to have at least one vacation a year with our kids. We go out to eat. We occasionally have the chance to see a movie. These are things that we are so used to that we completely forget that there are places all around the world where the idea of “getting away” is a completely foreign idea. My best friend and some of our church family are on their way home from an orphanage in South Africa as I type this. I am sure that these children are very unfamiliar with a vacation! It’s humbling to see how blessed we actually are here.

4. I have a home and family to come home to. After struggling with infertility for over five years, I know how blessed I am to be a mom. I also know how blessed I am to be able to offer a safe place to sleep for children who need to be placed in foster care because they don’t have that same luxury. Each time we open our door to one of these in need, I realize anew that not everyone is going to bed feeling safe tonight. That is a luxury that I have taken for granted all my life.

Currently, I am studying Job, who was a very wealthy, blessed, godly man. He had ten children, unimaginable wealth, a happy marriage, good health, and the respect of everyone he knew. Still, the entire book of Job is about a man who suffered immensely at the hand of Satan. Yet, he continued to thank God for everything in his life.

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised–Job 1:20. 

In the midst of utter loss, Job “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:22).

It is easy to get caught up in the mundane routine of life and to forget the blessing that just getting up in the morning is. Yet when truly difficult times come, it is so easy to shake our fists at God and blame Him for the Curse. This weekend, I was reminded that I have a lot to be thankful for, and the mundane routine that I have the opportunity to return to is just as much a blessing to me as staying in a nice hotel and eating out in nice restaurants.

Thank You, Jesus, for this life!

What are you thankful for? We all have troubles in our lives. That is a part of the Curse.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world–Jn. 16:33.

We can find things to grumble about every day. But just as we all have troubles, we also all have blessings. And while we may not understand why some have so much and some so little, why some suffer with sickness and others enjoy great health, why fertility is easy for some and difficult for others, why “bad” people prosper and “good” people suffer, we know that God is good all the time. His way is perfect.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me–Phil. 2:14-18.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As You Did It To One of the Least of These

IMG_1480

In the past month and a half, we have had seven different children come and go from our home. We have loved them, and we have had to say goodbye as they go on to a long-term placement. It has been extremely hard to watch these kids, and it has been extremely rewarding.

But every time we invite one of them into our home, we are reminded of the evil that lurks in the shadows, just down the street from our own front door. These children come with baggage–even the babies. They come in need of baths, food, and love. They have no boundaries and wander around our home in awe of all of the toys that we have. Some have brought a few items of their own, and some don’t even have a diaper to spare.

In some ways, we are finding that emergency and respite care is a lot more difficult than if we decided to keep them long-term. These children are not given time to acclimate to our routine before they are whisked away. They attach to us quickly but don’t understand common courtesy and sharing. We love them, but they leave and forget us. Two of the children were with us for less than 24 hours. Did I even make a difference in their little lives?

One of our respite kids lives with some friends of ours. We saw how this little one responded to her environment and to her foster family when she first arrived–almost a year ago. She suffered from anxiety, over-stimulation, drugs, and a myriad of other problems. She refused to leave the confines of her foster mom’s lap. She was terrified of new people and hated going to daycare. But they have loved her well. They have given her all they possibly have to give. And now that little girl is an entirely different person. She has more confidence. She actually interacts with other people. She will leave her foster mom’s side to go and play. She did wonderfully while she stayed with us. Her meltdowns are fewer; her sleep patterns are better; and she actually plays in groups now.

What made the difference for her? She was loved well.

This weekend, we had the privilege to attend an adoption party for a little girl who has been in foster care for three years–pretty much since she was born. She has had the opportunity to live with the same family for most of those years, and they were finally able to make her legally theirs. They saw a baby in need of security and love, and they took a chance on her. They risked “getting attached” and decided to be the safe haven she needed–regardless of how long she would stay with them. And now, that little girl is so confident, loved, and wanted. She doesn’t even remember being taken into custody. She only knows that she is loved well.

What if these families had said that they would love to foster but were worried they would get attached? What if there were no safe homes for these kids to go to? Can you imagine that there is a chance that neither one of these beautiful children would be alive today? Or, if they were to live, do you think their existence would be a happy one?

Some of the reactions I have noticed as we do short-term care include people pulling their kids away from the foster children, hiding their purses, and sharing with me that they had nightmares that our foster children would give their kids lice. These kids did not ask for this life, but they don’t know anything different. They don’t know that it’s not okay to have bugs in your bed or that sleeping in a car is bad. They don’t know that their parents are making illegal choices in exchange for the health and well-being of their children. They don’t know that it’s bad to take things that don’t belong to them. How do you think they’ve been surviving?

Just like we nurture and develop babies into human beings who know boundaries and manners and healthy sleeping patterns, we need to help these children learn these things as well. No one has taught them, and no one will if more foster families don’t step up to risk “becoming attached.”

I am here to advocate for them. I am here to ask you, to plead with you, to start praying about becoming a foster family. Maybe you can only do it short-term like we have chosen for our family right now. That’s okay. The need is great for emergency homes, and foster families really appreciate respite help.

Maybe you can’t bring foster children into your home right now, but you can still advocate for them. Can you volunteer as a guardian ad litem? The need for volunteers to advocate for these kids in court is just as needed.

Or perhaps you can work as a mentor for at-risk youth. Maybe you can’t take them into your home, but do you have some time that you can devote to them? Children’s homes especially need people who are willing to take time with these kids. They need someone who cares.

Sometimes, I feel like I am just yelling at the wind. There are so many hurting kids, and the need seems so great at times. But seven kids came and went from my home this month, and I love them so much and need to know that they are being taken care of. I need you to let down your guard and open your home before it’s too late for them.

One less…one less…one less.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, 36 I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?39 And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”–Matt. 25:31-46.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Foster Care: When Your Family Can’t Meet the Need

It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here, which is why I haven’t had time to write a new post in a while. We have had a number of respites coming and going, and we are exhausted from the constant activity!

Unfortunately, we had one particular child who was just not a good fit for our family. This child needs the care of a family who only has one child or no children. Some kids are like that, and that’s okay. But in this home, where there are often five children vying for my attention, I just cannot possibly single out one child for several hours a day. I strive to have one-on-one with each child, but a high-needs child needs a lot more than that.

I have to be honest with you, since that’s what I strive to do on this blog. Foster care is messy. These kids are broken. They have no boundaries. They have no control over their emotions. They act out. They break things (on accident or on purpose). When you’re dealing with a toddler, you can more easily forgive these things as most toddlers need constant watching.

But when they are five, six, seven years old, it’s easy to forget that they are like infants in many ways. They have never been taught that crying is not the only way to get attention or to have their needs met. They don’t understand what you mean when you tell them they can’t have something. Many of them don’t realize that they are constantly putting themselves in danger because they aren’t following basic rules (don’t run into the street; don’t put things into the light socket; don’t pull the dog’s tail).

Perhaps one of the scariest factors about foster children is that they don’t know not to talk to strangers or to walk off with them. How could they possibly know this when strangers came to their home and took them away from their biological family, only to place them in the home of some other strangers, who want to be Mom and Dad? Often, they are put into an emergency home until a long-term placement can be found. So once they begin feeling comfortable with the first set of strangers, they are taken to another home of strangers, who want to be Mom and Dad. Then, they eventually may be up for adoption, where they will meet more strangers, who also want to be Mom and Dad. They are told to go with strangers (their caseworkers) for visits with their family. And each time they meet a stranger, they wonder if they should call them Mom and Dad, too.

I battled with guilt over the past couple of weeks because we were struggling as a family with one particular placement. To say that we were over the whining and crying would be an understatement. But this child was hurting, so we did our best to love the child, despite the behavior. But at the end of the day, we just had to realize that our home was not the home for this child. And guess what I learned?

That’s okay!

You see, I’ve been wrestling with God because there are so many–so very many–children in need of a safe home and a loving family. We need a bigger house for our own family of five, and we are stretched to the limits when we have foster children here. But we want them all. We want to help every single one of them, and we can’t.

The only One who is capable of caring for these children is God. They are His, and He wants us to love them well and to know when He is telling us that we need to let a child go. That’s the hard part–saying goodbye. They cry when they leave, and so do we. But God is there with them, and He has a better plan for them than I could ever imagine!

We are only emergency and respite foster parents right now, so we expect the children to come and go from our home. They come here to be calmed and loved, and then they go to a long-term placement. Or they come here to give their foster family a break. They are ours for just a short while, and then they are gone, and we may never see them again.

Foster care is ugly. It comes from a place of brokenness and loss. It is a reminder of the deep-rooted sin that has taken over our world. And it’s a bunch of sinful people who are trying to help as well. It’s just a mess. But God has a plan, and He wants His people to be a part of the plan. He wants us to love the fatherless well.

If you are a foster parent, I want to tell you that it’s okay if every child that comes to your home is not a perfect fit. It’s okay if your family needs a break. It’s okay to say no to every placement. God wants you to keep on serving Him in love, and He will take care of the rest.

If you aren’t participating in some way in orphan care, why not? The child who wasn’t a good fit for our family may be just the one that God has for you. Each family is unique, and each child is unique, and God wants to fit the two together!

There are so many children hurting and in need. They need you to step up and take their hand. They aren’t a number. They have a name. And some day, Jesus may ask you why you didn’t help “John Smith” or “Jane Doe” when He asked you to. What will your answer be?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment