Thursday, July 26, 2012

He's a Keeper.

The last few weeks the news has been filled with some really heavy, and frankly, really heartbreaking stuff.  From reading yesterday that China has prevented 400 million births over the last three decades to horrific stories of American teens being trafficked into the sex trade, my mind has been inundated with thoughts that range from frustration to sadness to helplessness.

It is harsh realities such as these that make me want to crawl into bed and never come out.

But alas, every morning I have a little one babbling from his crib at around 7am.

So one must get up.

When I need a bit of encouragement that all is not in shambles in this world and that redemption starts with one person at a time, I have to look no further than the man who gets up with me each morning to feed the dogs, make the coffee, and give our little one his bottle.

In a world where Jerry Sandusky and certain Catholic priests have tarnished America's view on men that care for children and teenagers, my husband has steadfastly continued to invest in the lives of young men and women.

As I heard TD, our "son" explain to someone the other day- "I had been going to the youth group before Brian ever got there and people would say nice things to us.  When Brian got there, he said some of the same stuff, but then.....he actually followed through with it, and we started to realize he meant it and that he actually listened to us and cared about us.  Brian was different. We knew he meant what he said." 

Brian has invested in countless lives of the teens around us.  For some kids, it's just a handshake and asking how football practice is going.  That's all they need.  For others, it's walking through the rough parts of life with them as they navigate through parents divorcing, the death of a friend, and school issues.

And some young men, he has to play the role of Dad, because they have never had one or lost their own too early.

What he teaches them is invaluable.  It takes time and it takes patience.

*How to respect adults and to respect themselves.

*How to look someone in the eye when speaking to them.

*How to fill out a job application.

*How to treat a woman.

He has had countless conversations with teens about dreaming and having a passion in life.  About choosing to not live in their past, but use their story to impact their future for the better.

There are no immediate rewards in this ministry.  Brian tirelessly fights for these kids.  He's taken three of them to get their driver's license.  He's taken some to medical clinics because there is no one else to take them.  He's well aware that sometimes people think it's sketchy to see a young, married man taking a teenage boy to the health clinic.

He is compassionate and caring, but at the same time, he demands better from them, because he knows it is in them.

Brian does not do this because it's his job.  He doesn't do it for accolades.  It's a way of life for him.

He is intentionally raising up men in our community.  Helping them understand what being a man is and what character and integrity mean in life.  He wants these guys to comprehend the true definition of what it means to be a husband and a father.

My husband is a constant encouragement to me that there is good in the world and that change doesn't happen often in mass quantities.

By watching him, I've learned that change and growth happens in the everyday decisions we make to care about other people.

Now, I'm not saying this man is a saint.  He drinks the milk straight from the carton (gag), he still hasn't cooked me dinner from losing a bet three years ago, and when he shaves his beard, the scruff never quite makes it into the trash can.

Aside from that, he's a keeper.

I am so proud to call him my husband and proud of the choices he makes every day.

I waited 31 years for this man and they were well worth the wait.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thankful for the Village

Some of the families from our training class are in the process of transitioning their foster children back to biological families.  

And it is hard

These families have done exactly what these children needed.  They loved them, snuggled them, fed them, kissed them goodnight, and read them stories. 

They have bonded to them.  Those children have become intertwined as a part of their family. 

They have sacrificed their own feelings and put aside their fear of loss in order so that these small ones could learn what it means to have a healthy attachment to a caregiver.

This is where foster care is heartbreaking. 

This is the reason many people say no to foster care.  

This is the reason we said no to fostering for so long.  

For me, that changed a year ago because of one, simple sentence.  You can read about it here.  

But in the midst of the hard times, I am constantly reminded that we are not alone. 

I am so humbled and thankful for the folks around us that have offered in so many ways to CARE for the foster families in our church.  

A few months ago, two professional photographers who go to our church offered to start taking pictures of the foster children and their families.  We had the first photo shoot a few weeks ago and eight families were photographed.  Though I can't show you our foster kids photos, I'll share the photo of the young man that Brian and I call our son, though it's not legal or by birth. :) 

Photo by Suzanne Williams Photography and Lori Mercer Photography.  All rights reserved. 

Isn't he handsome? God has some great things in store for this young man.   

And isn't this an amazing picture?  Suzanne Williams and Lori Mercer have so graciously and sacrificially given their time and talents to photograph our sweet foster kiddos.  They have spent hours photographing and editing, expecting nothing in return.  

What they have provided is such an incredible gift- a lasting memory for the foster family and a treasure for that child to take with them to document their past, which in all likelihood, they wouldn't otherwise have been given. 

If you are a local family and looking for a photographer, either one of these ladies would do a phenomenal job!!! 

If you are reading this and have even an ounce of photographic ability, please consider this opportunity to minister to the foster families around you! 

And what about the rest of you? Can't take a picture that's actually in focus? No worries- there are plenty of other ways! 

*Provide a meal for a family that just took in a foster child.  (Can't cook? Order them a pizza!)

*Babysit a foster child for a few hours for free so the parents can have a date night.  (Don't babysit? Then offer to hire one for them for a few hours.) 

*Donate your used baby/children's items to a foster family.  (Already got rid of your kid's stuff? Then donate some baby wipes or diapers!)

*Don't have the resources to do all this?  Then commit to praying daily for a foster family.  What a GIFT that is to them.  

There are so many ways that you can play a small role that has a LARGE impact in the lives of foster families.  

Fostering a child takes a village.  These children NEED to know they are valued and wanted.  It takes time, effort, patience, and stability.  

Helping a foster family will give you a renewed perspective on your family, your life, and what you have been given.  

It WILL open your eyes, it will break your heart, and I pray that it will encourage you to jump in even further.  

Those of us swimming in the deep end would welcome you with open arms. :) 

*If you are a family that is interested in becoming a foster or respite care family and live in the Montgomery Area, please join us August 1st at 6pm at Frazer UMC for Foster Care Q&A night.  Learn more about the process and gain insight from families that are currently fostering.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The latest.

In hindsight, I maybe most definitely should have informed my husband that I wrote a blog post that would result in a barrage of phone calls, texts, and emails of friends checking in on us.  

We are ok, I puh-romise. 

Actually, we are good! Really good. 

Here's what I can tell you: 

We do not have a new foster child.  Still have our little guy- and it's been eight months since he entered our lives! We have loved every minute of it and are cherishing each day we have with him.  

We also did not get a referral for our DRC adoption. 

I know.  It's a bummer. 

We are still very happy with our agency and know that they are doing everything they can do to make sure adoptions are done ethically and in the best interests of the children in the DRC.  

But there is no end in sight.  And that can be a little wearing on us at times. 

Thanks for the facebook messages, emails, texts, and calls making sure we are okay.  

We're good.  We've got a peace about our recent decision.  

And life is crazy as usual.  :) 


Monday, July 9, 2012

And then I received a swift kick to my rear end

Our ONEfamily ministry at our church has an email group of over two hundreds people that are involved in orphan care through fostering, adoption, or supporting families that are currently doing so. 

Last week, I sent out an email to those families encouraging them to consider taking the next Foster Care Training class this coming fall.  

I challenged each of them think about whether it was time for their family to take the step and consider fostering or respite care. 

In fact, here's my exact quote in the email....

"Please prayerfully consider this opportunity.  Foster care isn't always comfortable or smooth-sailing, but it is a tangible and immediate way to care for the orphan in our own city. 

And as I am gently reminded on a regular basis.....God hasn't called us to a life of comfort, he's called us to a life that glorifies Him. 

Is He calling you and your family to glorify Him through fostering? 

I have a feeling there are some of you out there who know it's your turn.  

It's time to take that step of faith."

Bold words.  

One should be careful when sending emails like that. 

Because there's a good chance one may have to live out those words. 


Not even a few HOURS after sending out that email, we had a situation come up for us that was a big, potentially life-changing decision for our family. 

And as Brian and I prayed about that decision, without reading the email I had sent out, he basically prayed the same words for us that I had just written to other families. 

Swift kick to my rear. 

Because honestly? This situation is hard and uncomfortable. 

Not in a fearing for my personal safety and security kind of way...

More in a "this is going to change the way you do everyday life from here on out" kind of way. 

It may will make things inconvenient.  

It may will change the way we budget and spend our money. 

It may will change our schedule.  

It may will change the dynamic of our house. 

It is out of my comfort zone. 

And in that tension- in the space between the part of me that craves comfort and resists change and the part of me that knows that ultimately God's plan for our family is so much greater than I can a glimpse of what this decision could mean. 

When I push aside the discomfort and the inconvenience, I see the potential for healing and hope and dreams to be answered that had long been given up. 

I can't share the specifics at this point.  (you can email me and maybe I'll share. :) 

But I can officially say my rear end has been kicked. 

The email I wrote trying to challenge other families to step outside their comfort zone was apparently meant just for me.

I hate it when that happens.