This is What I’m Fighting For

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Today was our eighth goodbye. We love them for just a short time, and then they are gone–perhaps never to remember us, but always to leave an imprint on our hearts.

The kid who left our house today has a difficult road ahead of him. He didn’t want to leave us, and we didn’t really want him to leave either. But we couldn’t provide him everything he needed, and so he had to move on.

Each time one of our children leaves, my heart breaks a little. Today’s cloudy weather seemed to match the mood of the day. It was a gloomy day, and the other children felt the gloom as well. My oldest, especially, takes it hard when the children leave–even though she has done nothing but complain about them while they’re with us! There were a lot of tears today.

So why do we do this? When the children are with us, we are exhausted with emotional outbursts, family visits, doctor appointments, social worker appointments, school assignments, etc. But when they leave, there is an emptiness in our home, one that could only be filled with the laughter of that child.

We do this because the child who came to us broken and resistant to loving us cried when he had to leave us. He loves us now, and he knows he is loved.

We do this because we have room for one more at our table, and there will always be room for one more. And God will supply the food to fill that plate.

We do it because our cup overflows with blessing, and we want to spill it over into someone else’s cup.

We do it because this is what God has called us to do–to love the children of the world as He does. (This is the call for everyone, by the way!)

We do this because God first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).

 

Today, my friend left with a team of other like-minded women to spend a week in Ethiopia, helping the orphans there. She is a mom to five (one of whom is adopted). Her children have a lot of extracurriculars. They’re in school. They’re in the process of moving to a new home. So why would she go to Ethiopia?

She goes because she is willing to step out in faith.

She goes because she desires to see one less orphan.

She goes because she doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer need and wants to share her blessings with those who only know need.

She goes because she knows the One Who loved her first, therefore she knows she can love others well (1 Jn. 4:19).

 

This week alone, twenty-five children were brought into foster care in our area. One child I know (not from the twenty-five) spent two days at the Department of Social Services office because they couldn’t find a home that would take him. He’s three. The need is so great, yet no one wants to be the one to step out on faith. No one wants to step out of their comfort zone and help the helpless. We complain about the system and how there needs to be more help, but then we aren’t willing to be the ones to help.

We can start an argument about government problems, and some of them are valid. But we also need to start taking matters into our own hands. The community needs to get involved.

We need to advocate for these children–many of whom are getting lost in continued cases that should have been closed months ago.

We need more guardian ad litems, who will stand up in court and speak up for these kids.

We need more social workers who will make these children a priority instead of seeing them just as a job.

We need more teachers who are trained well to deal with the issues that come from a child being removed from their home.

We need more families to agree to take in just one more child–even if it’s inconvenient for your other children.

We need more people willing to fly halfway across the world to love children they don’t know.

Everyone seems to be using their voice lately to scream at each other about politics or racial divides or whether or not to take a knee. But my newsfeed has been silent when it comes to people screaming for the ones who have no voice. I haven’t seen people fighting over the injustices of children who don’t know where they will sleep tonight or where their next meal will come from.

Don’t get me wrong–political debates are important to how our country is run. Racial injustices need to be made right. But I wonder if we adults are losing sight of the ones who need us to take them by the hand and lead them to a safe and loving place. I wonder if we have allowed our “issues” to blind us to the ones who can’t stand up for themselves. And I fear that we are at risk of losing our children.

So here I am, humbly asking for your help. Won’t you please consider how you can help these kids? If you could just take them for a night while DSS finds a long-term placement for them, that would be a huge help! If you can mentor just one child, that would be such a blessing. If you can donate items to a local foster care group or send funds to an orphanage, then please share!

We CAN fight, and we MUST fight! But let’s fight for what really matters. And let’s stand united in the fight.

 

 

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Just a Foster Mom’s POV

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It’s been awhile since I posted–mostly because we have taken in two extremely needy foster children, and our lives have been so intense lately! From therapy appointments to school schedules and homework, our lives have been turned upside down! These are the first two placements we have agreed to take on for a longer time period. Imagine waking up five children (four of whom aren’t used to early mornings) just to take one child to school! (We’re waiting to get on the bus route!)

The night before we thought we were heading to school (that’s another long story), we headed to WalMart to get some lunch-type foods for our school child. Being a homeschool family, we are just used to heating up last night’s supper, or I might make something from scratch. We had no idea what we were allowed to pack for school, so we made a special trip out. I know that she didn’t mean to be thoughtless, but the cashier looked at us wrangling five different-colored children (none of whom look like us!) and said, “I could never do what you do. I’d get too attached to them.” *Sigh* It’s that line that we foster parents get tired of hearing–even from well-meaning people.

Lesson #1: Think before you speak–especially in front of the foster children.

On Thursday night, we went to a foster training meeting with our family of seven. A church in our area hosts the event and provides free childcare and dinner for foster families. We were exhausted from the new changes in our household, and we were looking forward to just sitting quietly. When we arrived, we immediately found a table and soon had full plates for the children. As we sat there, the speaker came over and said, “I have to compliment you on how well-behaved your children are! You’re doing a great job!” That was all this weary mama needed to hear!

Lesson #2: Words of encouragement are like a balm to a foster parent’s soul.

On our first day at our new school, the children were great! They walked hand-in-hand as they marched quietly across the crosswalk. I was so proud of them! But two rude parents were walking behind me and decided to make some comments on how many children there were as they walked without any children. It was disheartening to hear unkind words about my kids–especially when they were being so well-behaved (which never happens all at the same time!).

Lesson #3: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

Since we have had our new kids, we have had several opportunities to be out and about as a family. One of our children is extremely whiny and has tantrums All. Day. Long. The counselor says that the boundaries and tough love are appropriate. But she’s cute and little, and she’ll go to anyone who will sympathize with her. So when I’m not looking, she gets whatever she wants, which leads to meltdowns later when she can’t get her way again. People mean well, but the boundaries are there for a reason.

Lesson #4: Respect the boundaries foster parents set. We know things that we can’t tell you, and we have to put strict boundaries in place for the well-being of our child.

There are a hundred times a day that I question this call to be a foster parent. The days are long; the nights are short; the therapies are never-ending. But just when I think it’s time to throw in the towel, one of the children will throw their arms around me and say, “I love you, Mommy Katie.” And that moment–when I see that they feel safe and loved and connected to me–I am reminded anew why we do this hard thing and why we desperately plead with others to join us.

  

 

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The Truth About Foster Care

 

 

 

Foster care is lonely. I won’t lie to you about that. When you come home from the hospital with a brand new baby, everyone wants to stop by with meals and new outfits, so they can hold the baby. But in foster care, no one knows how to reach out. No one knows that the days are long, and the nights are, in some ways, more difficult than they are with a newborn baby.

No one wants to come by and meet the child who has been abused. No one wants their children to play with a child who may have to have lice treatments in the beginning days at your house. No one wants their kids to be around a child who may know all the four-letter words because that’s all they’ve heard all their lives. I have even seen people shy away from my family because they don’t want their kids to “catch” whatever unknown disease the foster children might have

You see, bringing a child who is hurting into your home means that you have to get up several times in the night because that’s when the nightmares start. It means that you have to constantly be vigilant on watching them during the day because they don’t know to not leave with a stranger at Chick-Fil-A. Strangers are a part of their everyday life, and they’ll go with anyone who speaks kindly to them. Their love tank is running low, so they will hug anyone that will hug them back–even that strange man sitting on the bench outside of the gym. It’s about giving them a lot of love but not neglecting your own kids. It’s about having your kids share their toys but also not letting the foster child take advantage of their generosity.

One minute, you are in a normal routine with your own kids, and the next minute, your world is turned upside down as you try to figure out how to help a child, who desperately needs your love, fit into that routine. Suddenly, you have to throw your routine out the window and just strive at making it through the day. Some days are really, really good. And some days are really, really bad.

Currently, I have one who is having a full-blown meltdown. I don’t know why. This child can’t communicate well, so I am left floundering around to figure out what triggers are causing the temper tantrums. Is it sin, or is it insecurity, or is it misunderstanding, or is it fear, or is it anger? So many possibilities, and I feel like a new parent, who is struggling to understand the cries of this strange little person who has entered our home.

Foster care is messy, and it’s hard. But when I want to throw in the towel, I think about how Jesus rolled up His holy sleeves and dug right into the mess. He sat and ate with the worst of society (Mk. 2:15-17). He touched the unclean and healed them (Matt. 8:1-4). He opened His arms to the little children (Matt. 19:13-15).

In church last night, we heard from a team who traveled all the way to South Africa to help the children in the orphanage there. Our church is adopting that orphanage and partnering to help raise these children, who are losing their parents to AIDS. I cried as I saw the church helping the orphan, just as God commands us to do all throughout scripture (Deut. 14:28-29; Acts 20:35; Jer. 7:6; Job 29:12; Jas. 1:27). But there’s still work to be done.

We don’t need to go to the other side of the world to help the orphan. We need the church to get into the community and help the orphans who are here at home. We need to see people willing to foster. We need people willing to adopt. We need guardian ad litems, who will represent these children in court. We need social workers, who will stand with these children as they bring them out of terrible situations. We need families who will bring meals to the foster families, who will offer to babysit, who will drop off diapers and formula and car seats and clothing. We need churches to offer free child care and training for foster families. We need people who are willing to donate backpacks filled with necessities for these children who are pulled from their beds in the middle of the night.

Did you know that most of these kids enter foster care with only a garbage bag of clothes? Two little girls we had only came with one outfit between the two of them and one diaper. That’s it. Thankfully, Walmart is open 24 hours and has diapers and formula at 2 a.m.!

I have said this once, and I will say it over and over again until this number is zero. THERE ARE OVER 130 MILLION ORPHANS IN THE WORLD!!! They each have a name. They each have a story to share. If you know me personally, then you have met eleven of them (including my three adopted children). They have come and gone from our home, and I hope that we have filled up their love tanks while they were with us. I hope they will always hold in their hearts that they are loved–even if they can’t remember our names.

Please, won’t you pray with me about how you can get involved with caring for the orphan? If the Church continues to ignore their cries, I am afraid we will lose these children forever.

If you want to know more information about what you can do to obey God’s command to help the orphan, please feel free to reach out to me. There are so many ways to get involved! I’m happy to talk to you about what you can do!

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Out of the Storm

 

Photo courtesy of The Florida Times-Union

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice”–I Kings 19:11-13.

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture; and with all the natural disasters that have been hitting our country and other countries around the world, I have found this verse rolling around in my head over and over again. We certainly can imagine strong winds that break mountains as we watch the devastation caused by hurricanes. And we know the havoc that earthquakes can wreak, demolishing entire cities. And the West Coast certainly can attest to the destruction left behind by fire. It seems there is some sort of catastrophe happening everywhere!

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In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was dealing with his own catastrophes. He had fled from Jezebel and was seeking shelter in the desert. Frankly, he was hiding out. He was afraid of the queen, and he had taken his eyes off of his God. He was so depressed that he just wanted to die. But God was with him in his storm. He was with him in the desert, and He refused to let Elijah die.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God–I Kings 19:4-8.

Elijah was in the middle of an emotional storm. Anger, fear, sadness, and despair were swirling around inside of him. He felt alone. He felt that there was no one else like him. He would rather die. When God asked him what he was doing in the desert, this was Elijah’s reply:

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away”–I Kings 19:14.

Have you ever felt that kind of despair? Have you ever felt that you are the only one? God loves you and will take care of you in your desert!

Maybe you are in the middle of a storm right now. Perhaps your spouse has left you, or your children are rebelling. Perhaps money issues are weighing you down, or your health is poor. Maybe you are being attacked by a friend or family member, and you don’t know why. So your emotions begin to whip around inside of you. They overtake you, drowning out all other voices, especially God’s.

The fire burns, and the winds howl, and the earth shakes. And then all is still. And when you are done with the storm, then God is waiting to answer you in “a still, small voice.” He is whispering your name and waiting for you, longing for you to tune out all other noise and listen to Him. For truly, He is with you.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you–Isa. 43:2.

For those in the paths of the fires or hurricanes right now, my family has been uplifting you in prayer each and every day. And if anyone has a prayer request to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments, so we can all be praying for you!

 

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Children’s Book Review of Bella Gets Rescued

Bella Gets Rescued

If you’re looking for a sweet book about animals to read to your children, then I want to recommend Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a cat named Bella, who desperately needs to be rescued. However, Bella is unaware that she is even lost! As a loving family brings her home to love her, Bella struggles to accept her new environment and distrusts the family who cares for her and feeds her.

As Bella recalls her journey to finding her forever home, she sees realizes how she gradually grew to trust and love the family who was willing to rescue her and make her their own.

Ellie Wakeman based the story on her own beloved cat, Bella, whom she rescued. Using her pet’s story, Wakeman uses the imagery of being lost and then found to show how God the Father rescues us, even when we are so lost that we don’t even know we need to be found. The story can also be used to talk to kids about adoption, which you all know is very near and dear to my heart!

My kids loved the illustrations and enjoyed the story–even my nine-year-old! The illustrations are rich and beautiful and do an excellent job of carrying the story along. I would definitely recommend this book.

*This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

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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.

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The Great Eclipse of 2017

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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.

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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!

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