I Double Dog Dare You

I feel like Clint and I are in a slightly new phase of life.

We have almost reached our initial goal for our 5-year plan. Granted, it did not all go as anticipated. I think we had kind of hoped that while we faithfully followed the heart God gave us for foster care he would, within that time span, begin building our forever family. But it is not our job to determine our future, it is simply our job to obey the calling God places on our lives.

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And so we have. And it has been a roller coaster, but we have been thankful for the opportunities placed in front of us. We have had a total of 2 placements, 4 kids in our home. It has been quite an adventure.

This being said, we also know that we are only human, and when life throws you more than you can handle you have to lean on Christ to provide. So right now he has provided us a time of rest. A break from the hard parts of fostering, a time of renewal so that we may follow what He has in store for us next faithfully and without hesitation.

While I know this time is essential, I must admit I am not very good at it. I long to keep my heart open to what is next, and I pray that God is working to put all the pieces in place while I rest. The song playing through my mind is that of Bethany Dillon “You can do more in my waiting, than in my doing I can do.”
That being said, I spend a lot of time online hunting through different websites that could be important for our next steps when rest time is over. I have combed through websites like International Justice Mission, The International Mission Board, A21 Campaign, Noonday Collection, Countless seminaries, and many different masters programs to get an idea of what is out there.

Out of all the websites I have combed through God has placed one on my heart to specifically share with you.
As a foster mom there is a website that I am ever aware of, and regularly perusing.
Every state has a website full of children in foster care whose parents rights have been terminated. This means they are officially in custody of the state, they have no mom and no dad. No parents to ever show up in court for them, no parents to schedule visits with. They are in limbo. These are the kids who end up turning 18 and aging out of the system with no family ties to walk with them through their adult years, no parents to teach them about taxes, jobs, relationships, or parenting.

And it is for these kids that I would ask DARE you to pray for an open heart.

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to allow your heart to be opened to the scary things God might call you to if only you would let Him.

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to sit down with your spouse tonight and pray for God to break your heart for what breaks His, pray that He would give you His eyes, and pray that He would give you faith like you have never had before.

and then

I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to click the link below and not fall in love with at least one of these kids who desperately need The Church to take Christ’s commands seriously, and step up.

http://www.adoptuskids.org/_app/child/searchpResults.aspx

It would be easy to put one verse here from James, but because the whole chapter ~book in fact~ is so clear to speak about how we, as Christians, are to respond to our broken world full of broken people in need of an incredibly grace-filled, healing Savior, I will put the entire chapter to give the verse context.

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no on say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts on one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
   But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 
   If anyone things he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. “

James 1 (ESV)

I really want to add James 2 as well, but you get the picture, and if you’d like you can go on and read the rest of the book. Actually, please read the rest of the book.

So. Good.

~Kels~

An End and a New Beginning

I am typing this now because in a week I may not be able to get it all out.

We have a court date next week. Our last court date. If everything goes as expected in court next week the girls will go back home with their mom that night. This is a good thing. We are thrilled to have been a part of a case that has turned out so well.

I am including numbers for Texas and Oklahoma because that is where I believe most of my readers are from.

According to Adopt Us Kids there are 8,362 (over 1,000 of this number are kids who are legally eligible for adoption) kids in foster care in the state of Oklahoma and 28,883 kids in foster care in the state of Texas. Of the 28,883 kids in Texas there are over 10,000 kids who are legally eligible for adoption and waiting for their forever families.

You hear stories all the time about the foster system. You hear about abusive foster families, delinquent foster kids, crazy biological families, and a broken imperfect system.
I want to tell you about our very first experience with the Texas Foster system

(while simultaneously bombarding you with pictures of my amazing kids.)
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(At Disney World)

In February we got a call about two little girls who needed a temporary home. We were told that we would be their first official foster home (it’s complicated).We were also told that their mom was doing really well and was on track to get them back when her case ended in a little under a year. The plan was for the girls to live with us until December.

When the girls came they were little balls of energy. They giggled nonstop and they never once cried. They came with a carload full of clothes and toys and a Chihuahua, and they took to us almost immediately. It was the complete opposite of what I expected to encounter. Eventually the tears did come, and months down the road they admitted to me how scared they really were. They said they were afraid that we would be mean.

I don’t think we were what they expected either. 

We expected it to take some time for them to settle in and get used to a new structure and new rules. It did. We endured crying, screaming, and guilt-tripping. In the moment if felt impossible,

but what we eventually realized was that these kids just needed someone who was going to be there for them no matter what, and, much thanks to the overflowing love that Christ gives us when we least deserve it, that was something we could do.

Even more than the bad times though, we had so so much fun with giggling, traveling, first experiences, and silly phrases;

(for example I was cleaning out a drawer in their room yesterday and I found a notecard that my oldest had written on, it said “When I die I hope I go to Google.”)
What does that even mean?

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(In the airport on the way to Disney World, sorry it’s blurry)

Along with kids comes the joy of many many appointments and meetings. The first two months we had to schedule doctors appointments, get shots, go to the dentist (3 times), enroll in school, find a daycare, schedule counseling, and meet with our CPS caseworker, CASA worker, and Buckner worker once a month. We also started doing visits with their mom every other week. All of this was, of course, on top of our normal schedule. I know what you’re thinking right now,
“I just wouldn’t have time for that”
I thought that too, but we had an incredible team. Our CPS worker was always willing to provide transportation for the girls when needed, our CASA worker worked around our schedule and ALWAYS made our visits so much fun. Really, the girls LOVED meeting with her. Our Buckner workers not only worked with us, but they were always for us. They provided advice, trainings tailored to our situation, and they connected us to all the dr.’s we needed to see.

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(I promise I did not tell them to do this and they did not know I was taking a picture.)

I realize that this is probably not what you would expect, but the girls biological family soon became part of our team as well. One of the things I was completely lost about was how to do my youngest one’s hair. It was wild. Her mom sat down with me and explained how she usually did it and even brought me the gel she normally used, and that’s just one example of our teamwork through this process.

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(this was at one of our dates with our CASA worker. The girls rode horses, fed catfish, and picked berries. My oldest informed me that she was in fact a country girl. Don’t let her fool you though, she’s a total diva)

We also have an amazing church family who has since began a ministry at church providing clothes to foster families and is about to train some new substitute caregivers for when we need a break (praise Jesus for community, I would be so lost without it, but more on that another day.)

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(Meet the teacher. The child loves her boots.)

We have had tough days, but we now go through life on a fairly smooth schedule. We rarely deal with the screaming and fighting anymore. It’s amazing what can happen in just a matter of months when you are consistent.

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(In Galveston, ready to play in the sand)

My heart breaks when I think about the amount of time we have left with them in our home, but it swells when I think about the possibilities for their future with their mom. My continued prayer for every family we come across on our Foster Care journey is restoration of family and reconciliation with Christ

I hope this gave you a new perspective.

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(Really though, so precious)

Whatever state (or country) you are visiting from please take the time to consider those who need something as simple as a loving home. If you click on your state below the link will take you to your Heart Galleries with photos of kids in need of exactly that. If you are not in Texas or Oklahoma, all you have to do is google “your state heart gallery”. These are kids in your state who are ready and waiting to find their forever families.

Texas

Oklahoma

As always, thanks for reading. You are all amazing.

Kels

5 Common Question Answered =).

For those of you out there who have seen Clint and I recently with two small children and are confused about our situation I will give you a basic run down:

We are foster parents. Right now we have 2 awesome little girls. They are not ours forever. 

Questions we get all the time that I will attempt to answer gracefully:

1) How long do you have them?

Well, we have had them since February and if everything goes as anticipated they will be with us for less than a month more. Yes that is hard, yes we will probably cry after they leave, and yes if we had known how hard it was before hand we still would have done it because it was totally worth it. 

2) Will you do it again?

 We have every intention of taking another placement. That is what we signed up for, and the best part about our first placement is that we got to do more than just love on some kids for awhile. We got to love on an entire family and ultimately see a family restored. As christians, seeing lives restored is kind of what we are all about right? Our prayer as we continue in this process is that we can continue to show the love of Jesus to this family as well as the families to come. 

3) Will you take a break?

Yes. I don’t know for how long, but we are going to take a break. We think it will be healthy for us to take a little bit of time to recuperate emotionally and spiritually. 

4) Doesn’t their situation just make you mad at the parents?

Short answer: No. Every situation is different and this specific situation gave no reason for me to be mad at or upset with the parents. The fact is that these kids have a mom who loves them so so much and overcame a lot of obstacles to get her family back. We rejoice in that. We are thrilled that they have such an amazing mom who loves them so much. 

5) Well, it takes a special person

*I know that wasn’t a question, but it’s a phrase we hear a lot* 
Please read this in a gentle loving tone. 
Thank you for thinking that we are special but kindly hear me when I say that we are not. The only thing we have that makes us special is Jesus. The fact of the matter is without Him we couldn’t do it either. We as christians are called to care for the widowed and fatherless. There are many ways to do this; Compassion, Fostering, Adoption, Respite Care, Big Brothers Big Sisters, PRAYER etc.. Each one comes with challenges and will be hard at times if your heart is in it, but ultimately as christians we are not called to love just when it is easy. We are called to love when it is hard and rips our hearts out because we have The One who can put it all back together again. When you let those hard moments and challenges come in between you and the God-given calling to care for these individuals you are robbing yourself of a more intimate relationship with Christ, and these kids of a loving home, or money for and education, or someone to look up to in their lives. 
If you haven’t found a way to love on or care for the widowed and fatherless please pray about how God would have you to do that today. Again, there are many many possibilities but please don’t choose one just because it looks like the easiest. Please choose on that God has placed on your heart. 

Thank you for reading and please understand that everything I write I write in love. 
Please be in prayer for our family as we get ready to transition in to a new phase. 

Thank you again

Kels

Mother’s Day

I know that this should probably be a post about my mother

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and how amazing she is (because really, she is) but I have found my heart heavy today for the kids in the world who do not have a mother to celebrate.

As we have been going through the foster care process I have been getting more and more anxious to have a child in our home. I believe that as a Christian I was adopted into Christ’s family, and He commands us to care for orphans and widows, and I long to fill that command with my whole heart. 

Quick story, and a little background on one of the many reasons fostering is so important to me. 
I used to know this beautiful little girl and she had a sad and long story that I will not tell on here for confidentiality reasons, but I fell head over heels in love with her the day she asked me to be her mommy. 

I cried.

I don’t cry. 

And out of a heavy heart I wrote, as I often do when my heart is heavy:

There’s a little girl holding brothers hand
She lifts a weary arm to wipe the tears away again.
She has a heavy heart and a lonely soul
And she’s only 4 but she’s lived enough to know

That she’s living in a fallen world full of broken dreams
A world so weak that it’s ripping at the seams.
She wishes things would change and that someone would see
She just wants to be loved,
She’s so tired of being lonely.

She’s been tossed from home to home
a burden to those around her
she’s dying to leave this place.
It’s a place of fear and of doubt
She’s begging for someone to figure love out.

She needs a strong hand to hold and a place to call home.

She needs to feel safe and secure and certain that there is hope

But she’s living in a fallen world full of broken dreams
A world so weak that it’s ripping at the seams
She wishes things would change and that someone would see
She just wants to be loved,
She’s so tired of being lonely.

Oh little girl of simple faith Jesus has already taken your place.
He knows your name and your beautiful face
And in his arms you are always safe

God can fix your world and he can fix your dreams
And he will always tighten every lose seam
And little girl you will never be lonely again
Because Jesus has already taken you in.

 

I was way too young to be a mommy, and she had a family, however nontraditional it may have been, and they truly did care for her. I would have taken her in a heartbeat had the opportunity presented itself, and the law not prohibited it due to my age :). I still pray for her on a regular basis, that God will intervene in her life and let her understand just how precious she is. 

She is one of the many situations I believe God placed in my life to mold my heart toward foster care.

If foster care or adoption is something you have thought about I would genuinely encourage you to pray about it long and hard. If it is not, I would still genuinely encourage you to pray about it long and hard, you never know how God will change your life from one day to the next.

 

~Kels