Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Up the Hill

A few weeks ago, Robbie and I spent a beautiful afternoon at the park with our three girls. The park we were playing is at the base of a bridge with a dock that goes around under the bridge. And on the embankment is concrete. We took the girls to walk on the dock and of course when they saw the "hill" they wanted to climb. And of course daddy said yes! I stood at the base of the embankment yelling, "Hold Daddy's hand! Don't let go!" You know, the stuff mommy's say. The embankment was steep and they had a hard time climbing but they kept on. It was a beautiful picture of a daddy's love and protection and also of a daddy's desire for his children to push themselves and experience more out of life.

I did not think of that much until I read this devotion a few days later:

"You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent. Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand. I am pleased with your desire to stay close to me..." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

After reading this, the picture of Robbie on the hill came to my mind. If one of the girls had faltered on their climb, would he have turned to them and punished them? If they had mis-stepped, would he have left them there to fend for themselves? No!! He would have bent down and scooped them up. He would have directed their step to a better footing.

Jesus said "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." (Luke 11:13)
Our Heavenly Father loves us more than anything we know. He wants us to climb higher. He wants us to stretch further. AND He wants to hold our hand as we do these things, knowing that we could never reach and stretch without the safety of those loving hands. And when we get out of step or fall we only need to reach for His Hand to guide us to the right step.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I must get back to writing...

I absolutley love writing. It is therapy for my soul. It clears the thoughts in my mind. But, alas, I have not been writing. There has been so much going on that has preoccupied my mind, the last thing I have energy for is to clear my mind. Kind of funny how life is sometimes...The very thing that I need is the very thing that is so elusive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Become a Foster Parent

Florida is in desperate need of Christian foster parents. There are so many in the system, the children become numbers. As Christians, we can stand up for the voiceless and participate in rescuing children from a life of abuse and/or neglect.

I recommend getting involved with FUMCH-Florida United Methodist Children's Home. They are a faith based organization and understand the power of prayer. Their number is 386-668-4774. When you call them ask for Foster Care and then tell them you want to become a foster parent. It really is that easy to get started.
In order to become a foster parent, it is required that you have a 30 hour parenting class called MAPP-Method Approach to partnership in Parenting. They are offered in various different places and are all generally the same class. If you take a MAPP class with one agency it does not mean you have to be licensed with that agency.
During this class,you will be fingerprinted and background checked. They will also do a homestudy, which is required for ALL adoptions, domestic and international.

It costs NOTHING!

Navigating the foster care system can be very difficult because of the acronyms and inside lingo, as well as the agencies that are involved. Here is a brief summary.
The state agency for foster care is Department of Children and Families (DCF). They are the state covering, responsible for all children in foster care in the State of Florida. There are then two divisions to the responsibilities of foster care. The first is what is locally know as Community Partnership for Children (CPC). This organization is the one that comes in and investigates or removes children from their homes. Community Partnership for Children manages protective services, foster care and adoption services for Volusia, Flagler and Putnam Counties. There are currently 1,200 local abused and neglected children, in these three counties alone. The second arm of foster care are the licensing agencies. These are private agencies that are responsible for providing foster families. They train and educate the foster families. We are licensed by Florida United Methodist Children's Home (FUMCH), because they are the only faith based organization and they see foster care as a mission, not just a job!!

When someone is licensed, what happens then? They are considered a professional parent by the state of Florida and are then able to foster or adopt

Where do kids come from? Kids are brought into the system by the investigating agency (CPC), after there have been specific reasons for removal. they then put a call into ALL of the licensing agencies in the area (I think there are 4 in our area). Whoever calls them with the first available home is placed with that family.

How do they get to you? The licensing agency, in our case FUMCH, calls you and tells you as much as they know and/or you want to know about the child(ren). They will then bring them to you or you can pick them up.

Can you just get licensed and then wait a while before accepting a placement, or must (should?) you accept the first? This is a question that pertains to whatever licensing agency you are with. We received a call and were asked to pray about it before we accepted it. We were given two days to pray about it. Some other foster families I know, who work with other licensing agents, have said that they were told they must take every child that they were called to get. That is not the case with us. Also during the homestudy process, you can be VERY specific about what fits best with your family. We requested only preschool aged girls.

Pure Religion

The orphans from Haiti are arriving in the United States these next few weeks. Some have already been in the adoption process, only waiting for paperwork to be united with their forever family. While others will be coming with no one to call home. They will be in group homes or foster homes. In Florida, there is already a desperate need for foster homes, so the influx of more children will be a strain on the already strained system.

And this is where God's people step in. It is very clear in scripture that this is pure religion in the sight of God, taking care of the widows and orphans, James1:27. If we, who are called by His name, do not step in the gap to help the afflicted and orphaned, who will?

I hear people say, but I am not qualified or I am afraid or how will it affect our lives or our children...
I struggled with this idea myself as I tried to discern the desire to adopt. We had three beautiful boys and we were very content with our life. Yet there was a nagging pressure that I could not get rid of. The desire was ever before me. I wrestled with God, questioning His, dare I say, wisdom. I wondered how it would affect my children, how it would affect my marriage, how it would effect our general way of life. And then, in my limited thinking, I thought that this had to be some desire that was caused from some abstract hole in my life. But I soon realized this was from God. I asked Him, Is it wrong to want to help these orphans? And the answer came to me, How could it be wrong? How can something pure and undefiled be wrong in God's eyes. It can't!

It changed our life, but sometimes that is a good thing. It affected our children, in many ways. Now they know the plight of the orphans. They understand child abuse can change a child's life forever. They understand that patience is needed with people because one never knows another's story until they lived it. They have a deeper understanding of how prayer changes things. They understand teamwork. They are also learning a few parenting skills along the way.

In our marriage, we have learned that we are a great team when we work together. We have learned to be patient with each other. I have learned to love my husband more. When I watch him sit down and read a book to them or when he fixes Summer's hair with tenderness, I fall in love him all over again.

With me personally, I have learned to rely on God. My faith has grown deeper because I have seen His hand work in my children's lives.

I hear people say, but I am not qualified or I am afraid or how will it affect our lives or our children...
God does not require perfection only obedience. He knows we will mess up and yet He still loves us. AND he loves our children even more than we could!!

Being a foster/adoptive parent is the hardest thing I have ever done. But most things worth doing are! We have questioned our sanity at times, but then realized we would not be sane without our children!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pursuit of Perfection

The pursuit of perfection is all around us. Everywhere you turn, the TV or magazine ads promise perfection if you buy their product, or do this. Our American dream is saturated with this idea of perfection. We pursue it, often at great detriment to our own well-being and health. How many times have we uttered the phrase, "I could have done that better", never delighting in the accomplishment for what it is worth.

I have come to this realization, pursuing perfection is a trap. We have bought into the lie. Hook, line and sinker. Not only have we bought, there are some who will defend this as the right thing. Claiming it as a christian virtue.

In my opinion, pursuing perfection is a form of idolatry. The bible is clear, if we pursue something other than God, we are pursuing a false god. And how clever of the enemy to dangle this idea of perfection, as if it were even attainable. And when we fail, we beat ourselves up because we have somehow let God down. Throughout scripture God makes it very clear, we are not saved or made whole by our own might and strength, but only through the grace of God. It is only when we acknowledge our human condition of fallibility, that we become free to be the creature God designed us to be, which is closer to perfection that we could ever do on our own accord. God is wonderful like that!

With perfection there is no room for grace, but only frustration and tension. We will always mess up, but when we turn to God and allow him to work through us and in us, we begin to to see his perfection of design!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here I sit in the dark on Thanksgiving eve, nursing my brand new gift from God. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving. I gaze down at this precious child and tears well up in my eyes. For some reason, God has blessed me again. I am so thankful for being a woman. I get to have a new life develop inside my body and then I get to give birth to this new life and then I get to sustain this life at my bosom. How utterly amazing is that! And that is only the beggining of this great journey of motherhood!