Sunday, February 2, 2014

I could NEVER do THAT! But now we ARE!

So often I hear the words, "Oh, I could never do THAT?"

Usually those words come from moms who think that they could never stay home all day with their kids AND be responsible for educating them at the same time.

I try not to be sassy with these ladies or show too much disdain, because I used to be one of them.  When you are a licensed teacher who chooses to stay home with her kids and then has a child who struggles in school it is only natural for others to ask if you had ever considered educating him yourself.

I was asked that often 10 or so years ago.  My answer was always the same, "Heck no!  I'll kill him and be on the evening news by Friday!"  Why would I want to stay home with so challenging a kiddo and NOT be paid for it?! Of course, now I wish I had considered it many years sooner! :O)

I get the answer.  I answered it myself many times. 

I could never do THAT!   

I am at a place once again where moms are telling me "I could NEVER do THAT!"  We have recently announced to our friends and family that we plan to begin fostering kids in our area.  What I sense at times is that some people are actually thinking "Why would you WANT to do that?"  It's a good an honest question and one I have been pondering myself for over a year.  And to some extent the answer is who would WANT to do that?  I mean who would want to disrupt their own family dynamics to bring in a child who may come with more baggage than we already deal with?  Why would we want to stretch our finances any tighter than they already are?  Why would we want to tax our schedule any more than it is already is?  Why would we want to expose our kids to worldly issues they have not been exposed to?  Why would we want to have to go to court on the behalf of someone else's mistakes and bad choices?  Why? Why? Why?  The questions are endless.  

At our first Foster Care training meeting we were asked to tell the group why we plan to foster children.  I hate to admit that I was a bit flustered and unprepared to answer.  They wanted a 2 minute answer.  I have been processing this for so long that the answer is so much more than that.  Yes, there are more kids in need of a place to call home than there are willing homes available in Wells County, but that's only a small piece of a much larger puzzle.  

As I have spent much time in prayer and thinking through the answer to this question. I have also been amazed and blessed to see God's hand at work through every step of this process!

Sometimes we pray a prayer and have no idea how or when God will fulfill it!  

17 years ago when we bought our house, we thought it was SO large and only hoped we could fill it!  As we thanked God for this old house and property, we asked him to bless it not only as our home but that He would use it for his glory and purposes.  That is probably one of the first steps in our Foster journey. Back then, we had no idea how God planned to use our home!

Sometimes we live through a situation that we have no idea how God can ever use for his good purposes.

When I was a kid myself I had no idea that the dysfunction around me could ever be used for any good purpose. If my own childhood helps me relate to and love child in our home better than I could otherwise then I praise God for it.  

When I was asked to resign from my job a few years ago, I saw no good future purpose in it. I felt only betrayal and sadness over what I lost.  Months passed before I saw it as God's sovereign way of preparing me for this season.

Sometimes we pray desperate "What NOW?" prayers.

When I grew up I prayed all the time for a different family. 

When two of our babies went to heaven before taking their first breath on Earth, I prayed in desperation for God to give us children. What Now?

When I lost my job over something I didn't say or do I prayed in anguish.  Why did God take that from me? Wasn't teaching my mission from him?  What Now?

When our son became suicidal a few years ago I prayed fervently for protection.  What Now?

As I look back I can see God's hands not only lifting me and carrying me through all of these turbulent times but I see them hovering over me as well.  He not only carried me through the fires, he had refining purposes IN the fires.  I'm sure there will be future fires in our life, but we are presently in a season of rest that only God could bring.

The last 3 years have been such a season of restoration.  My son's health has been restored.  My "career" has been restored to more than it ever was before.  My family is all that I could have ever hoped or asked for!  

Now I am in a new season if "What Now?" prayer.  This new season has been one of expectation!  What's next God?  Why have you brought us to a time as this?  Why all the rest and restoration?  There's no way God is going to let a prayer like that go unanswered!

Early last year, God started answering some of my expectant "What Now?" prayers in ways I didn't see coming!

By mid year, His answers made me know he was asking for action! 

After returning from Africa in June,  I had to ask myself, "What Now?"  Why would God have me go to the third world and not ask that question? So, God, Now that you showed me African poverty, what do I do about it?"  The answer didn't come right away.

Over the fall our local paper ran a series of articles about the meth problem in our area. One article in particular grabbed me!  It stated that there are not enough homes in our area for all of the misplaced children who have to be removed from these meth homes.  God reminded me of the prayer to use our house. He asked me if the offer was still good.  

Without spilling too many family skeletons out into my blog, God also used my mom's testimony to grow a love for someone else's children in me.  Last fall I heard my mom's whole testimony for the first time.  I knew bits and pieces of her life but not all.  Before she shared her whole story with others she had to share it with me first.  When she did I realized that my childhood was even worse than I ever thought.  It hit me that there were times when I could very well have become a child in need of foster care myself.  That was daunting to ponder over!  At the same time that God freed my mom from carrying this burden all by herself for many years, he laid it at my feet and asked, "What Now?"

I knew right away what all of these experiences had in common.  God has a new purpose for me and my family.  I knew I was at the point where I had to share my heart.

I wondered if God was laying this purpose and hunger on my husband and kids.  How do you just tell your husband what you think God wants the WHOLE family to do?  I prayed for 2 months before sharing this with him.  I actually got to the point where I had thought through so many What If situations that could make this a very bad idea that I secretly hoped he would balk at the idea and I could just keep praying about it!  :O)  Praying is safe!  Fostering could get messy.

But God's hand was all over and under this idea of "mine."  Within 24 hours of telling him what was on my heart, we had a social worker at the house and a mortgage size stack of paperwork to begin filling out!  The kids reacted just like I thought they would!  They were beyond excited!  Within a few days, my daughter had her 2nd dresser cleaned out so her new sisters would have room for their things!  My middle son told me to put the bottom bunk back on his bed so boys could have a home to learn about Jesus in as well!  

Is the moral of the story, "Be careful what you pray for! God might answer!"  or "When you pray with expectation, God WILL answer!"  

I think the moral is something more like, "If you pray, when God answers, He will provide!" 

All the What Ifs that my friends are thinking of when they tell me they couldn't Do THAT are the sames ones I am processing every day.  All of their concerns are God's as well.  God wouldn't give us a love for children we don't know without making a way for us to show it. He wouldn't give us a desire without making it possible for us to do this!  

It's true we couldn't do THIS on our own.  He will be there with his hands over, under and around us all the way!  

So what is the answer to the question, "Why did you decide to Foster?"

God wants us to!  

We prayed to be used.  

We are trying to be obedient.  

God will make a way!

If you have taken the time to read this post all the way through, you must be pretty interested in our journey!  We covet your prayers!  We are blessed that you will be part of the force that makes a way for us to love. 

1 comment:

  1. Shelley, so excited to have stumbled on your blog! (from Aaron and Jill's blog). I love this post and learning more about your heart :) Excited to watch what God does to and with your family