Our Journey To Foster Care

 

Back in May, during my quiet time one morning the Lord kept pressing foster care into my heart over and over. This is not the first time this has happened.

When Chris and I first got married we had already started the process to become foster parents but when I became pregnant with Rhett and was crippled by severe nausea and exhaustion, we stopped.

Children who are without love, protection, or a safe place ALWAYS weigh on my heart…especially since having my own. Feeling the movement and kicks in my belly and giving life to a precious human being created a permanent soft spot in my heart. Abortion keeps me awake at night, orphans make me catch my breath and swallow hard.

I am a doer. This is what Jesus commands of us as Christians.

“But prove yourselves doer of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23, 25

Because abortion weighs on me, I am a counselor at my local crisis pregnancy center to be there for women in their moments of fear. I don’t want to just say “Oh that’s so sad that there are so many children in foster care.” And never actually DO something about it. But at the same time, I have a 4, 3, and 2 year old at home and at that time we lived in 1,490 square foot home. I felt like I had legitimate excuses for not now.

That is, until the Lord told me that day back in May, “Stop making excuses and just do what I ask you to do.” *gulp* Well alrighty then.

So I googled foster care agencies in Columbus and called two of them.

One never returned my call, and the other called me back almost immediately.

Enter Hope Foster care. This faith based agency was brand new to our city. They had been in Macon, GA for awhile and decided to open a branch here in Columbus. I can’t remember the exact timing but I feel like it had only been up and running for a month or two before we called.

We went to an orientation meeting to have all of our questions answered and at the bottom of a sheet of paper they handed us at the end of the meeting it said “If you are ready to move forward and go through our 10 week training, sign here.” Wait….make a decision now? I figured we’d go home and talk in depth about it and analyze everything to death on why this probably wouldn’t work right now, etc etc etc.

I looked at Chris and he looked at me…and we both signed it.

We went through the training, and it was 3 hours once a week for 10 weeks. There were supposed to be three groups going through it, us, another lady, and another couple. But by week three it was just Chris and I.

We absolutely loved our trainer, Alyssa, and we had a blast with her. She brought us snacks and candy each week to help us make it through the training and even tacos several times (I think those were a peace offering for the nights we had to go over sexual abuse and neglect cases haha). We learned soooo much in those weeks. Practical things and some very heart heavy things about what these kids go through.

We were always reminded that if at any point we didn’t feel like this was a good fit, we could walk away, no hard feelings. That helped take the pressure off a ton, because honestly the more we learned the more I felt “I DON’T KNOW IF I’M THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THIS.”

In the middle of our training, we bought our current house and moved and that was SUPER fun for Alyssa to have to do two home studies (still sorry about that girl haha). So our certification took a couple of months longer due to that and due to the fact that I’m forgetful and slow when it comes to paperwork.

But we had prayed that the Lord would bring us a bigger home for a while. We wanted more space for ourselves, but mainly to have guests more often and to have room for foster kids. It was an answer to prayer, just weird timing.

So right before we moved into the new house, we got a huge curve ball thrown at us. My Krav Maga instructor approached me about becoming a business partner with him and another guy. I had wanted to become an instructor for awhile now and I would be in charge of the women’s program and teaching other women to defend themselves really appealed to me.

But there was NO way we could do this and foster.

We spent a week asking the Lord what He would have us do. And He opened doors and gave us peace about buying into the Krav Maga school. So in my mind foster care was something we would do later. Our tentative plans were to try it around February or March on 2019, so not terribly far off, but would give us the time we needed for me to settle into my new role at work. I still had some last minute paperwork to wrap up before we were certified anyways.

Then about two weeks ago I get a call from Alyssa.

“I have some exciting news! Your home is now officially open and in the time I was waiting for you to call me, DFCS has already called with a two year old boy. Talk to Chris and y’all decide if you want more info or if you want to pass on this placement.”

I think my text to Chris went something like this “GKUHIFHWRRGKJEBFTJWHWRKFJWK CALL ME.” haha

We prayed and asked the Lord for direction and honestly I felt a lot of conviction because I think in the stress of me starting this new job, I just made my own decision about the timing of foster care out of logic. And the Lord just made what He wanted to happen happen in HIS timing in HIS way.

We were terrified and said yes, having no clue what we were in for. We had very few details about the little boy who was about to enter our lives for an unknown amount of time.

But when the Lord says “Yes” so do we.

Momma of a Strong Willed Toddler: Don’t Give Up

 

You knew having a toddler would be hard.

You were warned incessantly by family members, friends, and even well meaning strangers about the terrible twos, trying threes, oh and basically just having kids in general. All of it was going to be REALLY hard.

But now you find yourself sitting in the floor of your laundry room, sobbing uncontrollably while your toddler also cries uncontrollably from behind the baby gate at the top of the stairs.

This is way harder than I ever imagined.

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When did my sweet baby who only wanted to be held and snuggled by mommy become a chubby cheeked rebel who seems to enjoy making mommy lose her mind? How quickly our days went from singing songs, playing patty-cake, and reading books, to continual battle of wills and stare downs. To discipline and tears and fits on the floor.

I knew that my child would be rebellious. I knew that deep down inside there was a sin nature and he was in need of a Savior. I knew that Chris and I would have to discipline and train him up in the ways of the Lord. But I guess I just wasn’t prepared for this battle to rage all day, every day. Sometimes every hour.

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Yesterday morning Rhett had to be disciplined twice…before we even left his room. In literally 3 minutes he had already disobeyed TWICE. That’s when I knew it was shaping up to be a FABULOUS day.

I guess it wouldn’t be so discouraging if I was seeing progress. Or at least progress at a much quicker pace. But I feel like every day we fight the same battles. He touches the tv, he grabs my glass of water, pours Eli’s bottle all over his toys, or throws a fit because he can’t have blueberries (yesterday it was grapes…I wasn’t trying to be mean but we didn’t have any!), and he ignores me when I say no and doesn’t respond until I get up to discipline him.

It’s exhausting and discouraging to my heart.

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I wish I could tell you it is all worth it and paid off, but I’m not there yet. I’m not on the other side with grown children to give you a pep talk and tell you it’s working. No, I’m in the thick of it right now and all I have are the promises of God to cling to.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭22:6‬)

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
(‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬)

What I love about these verses is that they are promises. He WILL NOT depart from it. We WILL REAP in due time if we don’t grow weary. What hope this gives my weary heart! God, who cannot lie, is telling me and He’s telling you, little momma, that the work we are doing, day in and day out, is growing obedience in our children’s hearts. It will pay off. We just can’t lose heart and grow weary.

Can I get a HALLELUJAH?! Oh how my heart needed to hear that.

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“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
(‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:24‬)

It doesn’t feel like it (GOODNESS GRACIOUS) but the constant discipline going on in our house these days is still showing love to my children. I love (and hate) that word diligently in there. That is for sure the hardest part for me right now. I’m. So. Tired. Of. Discipline.

But as parents God calls us to be faithful. The only reason I am training and disciplining my children is because I want to be obedient to my Heavenly Father. I absolutely hate doing it in my flesh. On the days where it is so much easier physically and emotionally to just tune out and ignore the disobedience, I have to push through and be diligent in guiding my son’s heart towards obedience.

“Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.”
(‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:13-14‬)

There is so much more at stake here than just having a child who listens to you when you say “No.” How our children learn to respond to our authority and deal with rebellion will shape how they eventually relate to the Lord’s authority and commands. That verse in Proverbs isn’t pretty and honestly I don’t like the way it sounds very much. But according to these verses obeying the Lord in disciplining my children will save their souls from hell. By learning obedience now as little ones, their hearts will be tender and ready to hear the gospel. The soil of their souls will be tilled up and ready for the planting of the seed of the saving power of Christ.

Now THAT makes all of this toil worth it.

My only hope for my children is to see them love God and be surrendered to His will. And by being faithful to train their hearts in the daily battles of obedience will definitely shift them in the right direction.

So to you, weary and tired momma of a toddler, I hope this encourages your heart. I am right there with you. This is hard hard hard. I am speaking these truths to my soul because I NEED the reminder on a daily basis. I so easily forget what is at stake.

Let’s keep pursuing and laboring for our children’s hearts. This is a battle worth fighting.