Our Daughters and our Sons | Patty

fostering hope image

I recently went on a hike to take some time to be alone with the Lord. It was beautiful, the weather had not yet turned ridiculously hot, and so I hiked up the mountain, just me and Jesus. And while walking, I was listening to a song by Audio Adrenaline called “Kings and Queens“. If you haven’t heard it, you need to – it is powerful! And I was suddenly struck by a thought.  Foster kids aren’t just “someone else’s kids”.  They are the son or daughter to a foster or adoptive parent they may have never met.

Can you imagine how different things would be if we thought of foster children as our own, instead of someone else’s child? We would walk through fire for our biological children, but for a foster child, we are held back by our fear of the unknown. What if they were exposed to drugs? What if they have behavioral problems? What if they were abused? What if, what if, what if? If someone had told you not to have biological children because they could have challenges, would that have stopped you from having kids?

Since fostering and eventually adopting our daughter, my heart has been burdened for children in the foster care system. Foster children are not often seen (meaning we don’t know they are foster kids), and their stories not often heard (we don’t want to hear what they have been through- it’s too painful). It was only when I walked through the path of foster care toward adoption, that I could finally see and understand the complexity of this system. If you have never experienced the state foster care system, let me enlighten you. Currently, there are over 400,000 children in foster care at any given time. Their stories are heartbreaking, their wounds are deep, and they need you.  My daughter entered foster care at birth, but she still feels the pain of not growing up with her birth parents and siblings.

Foster kids are strong, brave and yet scared at the same time, and they want permanency – the safety and security that comes from having someone to call mom and dad, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a place to call home. They are not drug babies, problem children, or a hopeless cause. They are not the circumstances they were born into; they are not responsible for the choices of their birth parents. They have the same potential as you and me, and were created for divine purpose, just like you and me.

Psalm 139:13-16 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

They could be your daughters and your sons. They are waiting for you. I don’t say that flippantly, or romantically. Taking in a child from foster care can be challenging. But as a Christian, I believe that we are called to stand in the gap for these children.  We are not meant to be their savior- Jesus is their savior.  But we are called to step forward and love them like Jesus would. It is time for true believers to step forward, to be the light in the darkness, to show them the transformational and unconditional love of Christ.

So what can you do?

  1. Become a foster parent or foster-to-adopt parent. It is not easy and there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt a child that is placed with you. In fact approximately half of the children that enter foster care each year, return to their biological parents. But there are children who are languishing in the foster care system with no plan for permanency (aka no one willing to adopt them). So if you have thought about it, and don’t know the next steps to take, think that you can’t afford it, or that you would never be approved as a foster parent, please reach out, and we will put you in touch with people that can walk you through the process.
  2. Become a respite care provider. For anyone who is not ready to foster or adopt, but wants to help care for a foster child on a short term basis, respite care is a great option. Respite providers care for foster kids on a short term basis – a few hours or possibly a few days at a time to give foster parents a much needed break. If this is an option for you, please reach out.
  3. Meet a need. Foster families often find themselves in need of the most basic items. It is not uncommon for a foster parent to receive a call that children need to be picked up, and find that the child(ren) needs clothes, shoes, diapers, or even a car seat or crib.  If you cannot volunteer your time, but can meet a tangible need, please reach out.  Your gift will meet a need and be a HUGE blessing.
  4. Be a friend, extended family, and prayer partner for a foster child or foster family. Aside from the tangible needs, one of the most valuable thing you can give a foster family is your love, friendship and prayers. It takes a village to raise a child, and for many foster children, they have been uprooted from and lost contact with their community. So helping to build relationships encourages healthy attachment, emotional security, and a sense of normalcy that these children need.

There are several organizations that are helping foster families in your community. Here are a few that we recommend:

  1. ChildShare
  2. AdoptUSKids
  3. Rays of Light Philanthropic
  4. Families Like Ours (FLO)
  5. Olivecrest

Everyone can do something. If you are ready to take the first step, and learn more about how you can help, please reach out to one of these great organizations.

Blessings,

Patty

Online Wellness Event: Tomorrow Only

Hi Friends,

I am excited to tell you about an online wellness event that is happening tomorrow, Saturday, February 26th at 11 am PST via Zoom.  The event is focused on helping families with special needs children learn how to use nutrition to give your kids the best life possible.  You will hear testimonies from real parents and the differences they have seen in the health of their children because of this incredible program.

You can also request to join the Private Facebook Page created for this event: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1680646048855437/

I hope you can join us!

-Patty

P.S. Here is the login information for the event:

Healthy Living for Children and Families
This Saturday, February 27 at 11 AM PST, 1 PM CT, 2 PM EST.

Click the link to join: https://zoom.us/j/935703237

Child and Family Wellness

 

God Intended it for Good | by Patty

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“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 NIV

For those of you that don’t know, my daughter is adopted. We fostered her for two years before her adoption became final. In those two years, my eyes were opened, and my heart was broken as I witnessed first-hand, the trauma that ensues just before the beautiful gift that adoption is. My daughter asks me about her birth mom, and her birth brothers and sisters, and wonders why we have to live so far away from them. She loves them so much. The feelings of abandonment, the pain of knowing that there is a family out there that she doesn’t get to grow up with, is hard for her to understand. My daughter’s story is a story of rescue, and redemption. We can see the Lord looking out for her before she was even born. His hand was over her life from the very beginning.

When I read the story of Joseph, I see the story of an abused child, mistreated, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, and yet, the Lord’s hand was over his life and through all of the hardship that he endured, all of the wrong that was done to him, all of the things that the enemy intended for harm, the Lord allowed for good. It’s hard to understand why bad things happen to good people, to innocent children, why He doesn’t swoop in and rescue us. But then, at some point, like Joseph, we can look back and see how the Lord turned that ugliness into something great, something beautiful.

In the story of Genesis, when Joseph sees his brothers after so many years, and they are coming to him asking for help because of the Famine, he had two choices: 1) to repay them for all the terrible things that they had done to him, to let them starve, and to call it justice. After all, they were the ones that had abused him, beaten him, and sold him into slavery. And as a result, he was thrown into jail for many years for a crime that he didn’t commit. They were the cause of all of his heartache and pain. 2) he could show them mercy. He could offer forgiveness, and choose to see how God moved in spite of that horrible situation. After all, if he had not been sold into slavery, he would never been a servant in Potiphar’s house, he would have never been thrown in jail, and never would have been elevated in rank to Pharaoh’s right hand man. And because Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man, he was able to advise Pharaoh to store up grain in preparation for the Famine…the Famine that brought Joseph’s family knocking at his door.

When face to face with his brothers, all Joseph wanted was reconciliation with his father, and his brothers. Genesis 45:1-11 says,” Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.[a]

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’”

Wow. In spite of all the wrong that had been done to him, God was in the midst of all of it. He never left Joseph, but instead went with him, to jail and eventually to the palace. Because God was with Joseph, Israel (and all his son’s, which became the twelve tribes of Israel) were saved; and not only saved, but were given the most fertile land in all of Egypt. Wow. Look what God did!

The story continues, in Genesis 50:15-21, after Israel has been buried and Joseph’s brothers are wondering what will happen to them now. It says, “15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Can you imagine what Joseph must have been thinking? I get teary eyed every time I read this. This is grace at its fullest. I will be honest that I have been struggling with forgiveness of a certain person in my life. And when I think of Joseph and how he was mistreated, I can’t help but he humbled by his overwhelming forgiveness and grace. He didn’t want justice, he only wanted reconciliation.  Perhaps we can’t truly understand the height, the width, the length and the depth of God’s grace unless we are broken.

I’ll leave you with this reminder, that whatever you are going through, the enemy intends this to harm you, but God in his infinite wisdom and grace, intends is for good. He is faithful and He will deliver you through this trial. Romans 8:28 confirms this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

When the Going Gets Tough

Romans 12:2

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

I grew up with a saying etched in my values: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” So, when the going gets tough, I make a plan, set my goals, and blaze ahead to make the tough go away. The problem is, in this season of life, my usual tactics of self-dependence just leaves me sitting on the floor, exhausted, overwhelmed, and crying.

You see, some seasons in life are tougher than even the toughest can handle. Whatever your situation, whether family issues, work, finances, or health challenges, there is hope to have the strength enough to handle the blows. Here are a few key practices to turn to when the going gets tough.

  1. Be joyful in hope. Nothing makes the hard situation harder than a sucky attitude. I am the best at building up my home with love and encouragement… and the best at becoming a dark vortex of lifelessness. There is always hope when we turn to the Lord in our touch places. Always. God can do anything.
  2. Be patient in affliction. Patience is not my virtue… just ask my mom, lol. But, patience is something required of a daughter of the Most High God when we encounter situations more than we can bear. God works in His timeframe that accomplishes His purposes in the way that brings Him the most glory. For me, that usually means He does not work on my time clock and often in the way I think He should. As we endure and suffer, we must lean in and trust His plan with patience. Impatience can turn us inward towards bitterness, anger, hatred, and even rejecting God altogether.
  3. Be faithful in prayer. Read Ephesians 6 when you have a moment. Prayer is the offensive strategy of God’s kingdom. When we pray, we advance against the enemy and we invite God’s power, strength, and goodness into our tough places. The awesome thing about prayer too: you can do it anywhere at any time. So pray and then pray some more. You can pray with your eyes open, or on your knees, or walking the dog, or driving your car, or lying in bed. Pray through your tough place, and watch it transform into a place of beauty and unity with our Heavenly Father.

This sounds a bit like pious platitudes, I know. Because I am in a tough place right now and I am writing this post for me.

You might say, “But, you don’t know…. Fill in the blank.”

No, I don’t. But I do know hard… and broken… and hopeless… and fearful… and grief… and doubt. I do know being at the end of all my toughness and needing God’s strength. He is ready to meet each of us here, in the dark places and take us to where His glory dwells.

Will you join me?

-Seana Scott (find her at http://www.SeanaSScott.com or www.facebook.com/seana.s.scott)

From Law to Liberty |by Jenn

happy-woman-freedom

It’s 8am and I’m *just* waking up! My kids are at that glorious age where they are sleeping in a little and know how to get to the Disney channel. Instead of celebrating this small victory of extra sleep, I immediately feel guilty. I SHOULD have gotten up earlier! I SHOULD have taken the extra time to exercise. I SHOULD have already finished my Bible reading. I SHOULD have gotten my emails out of the way for the day. I SHOULD be getting the homeschool day underway. A dear friend once told me, “we have to stop ‘shoulding’ on ourselves and ‘shoulding’ on others”. As if the “shoulding” weren’t enough, my internal voice begins to justify my terrible actions of sleeping in. “Well you need that extra sleep, you stayed up working past midnight.” “I’ll just start my structured schedule tomorrow.” And so on…

One of my favorite authors, Tullian Tchividijan (grandson of Billy Graham), talks about the big ‘L’ law and the little ‘l’ law in his book “One Way Love.” The big L law is God’s law and the little l laws are the laws we impose on ourselves every day. He also refers to these as self-salvation projects. As I was reflecting on the guilt and condemnation I was feeling just by simply sleeping in, I realized I was imposing a whole host of little l laws (not to mention many cultural laws) on myself! This is not the freedom Christ has set me free for! I’m all for structure and actually thrive in it. However, when that structure runs my life and breaking it brings an overwhelming sense of guilt and condemnation, that is not good. What it showed me was that I do from time to time use that structure as a means of self-salvation. It gives me a sense of worth and value to have all my boxes checked off neatly. To know that what I’m doing matters, that I myself matter. Even if no one sees it. I’m accomplishing things and therefore I am winning…a race that is really only against myself.

In God’s marvelous love for me He reminds me, that all the value, worth, acceptance and position I crave. I already have in Jesus! Isn’t that amazing?!?! I’m killing myself everyday striving for something that Jesus already died to give me! Sonship with God Almighty! (Romans 8:5) I am an heir of God!!! (Romans 8:17) I have inherited GOD HIMSELF! Therefore my identity can stand firm in WHOSE I am, not who I am! I can now enter a rest that is supernatural. Not because of what I do but because of what Jesus did! As Tullian says, “The internal voice that says do more, try harder. Do this and live! Gets drowned out by the external voice that says, “IT IS FINISHED”! Now *THAT* is good news!!!

I can hear the questions coming. Well what do I do now? I still have that long list of things to do: homeschool, Bible study, clean the house, meals, work and on and on. Are you suggesting that I just DO NOTHING and rest??? Neglecting my family? Absolutely not! We are now free to work out of our identity in Jesus, not FOR our identity! We have freedom to do those things as a labor of love, instead of a way to justify ourselves. Free to break the rules and tell that inner voice to be quiet. Our evenings have been so busy lately! I had done some meal planning and had meat already thawed. I realized there was no way I would be able to cook dinner at dinner time. All the sudden it dawned on me, I can make dinner for lunch! Who made the rules that this meal is only for dinner? And WHY am I following it?

Elyse Fitzpatrick has this to say in her book, “Good News for Weary Women.” “So what’s the takeaway for women in our context? Recycle if you like. But recycling doesn’t justify you. Eat organic foods and give birth to eight babies in your bathtub if you like. But whole grains and natural births don’t justify you. Walk for whatever cause you like: be pink, be green or dress in camo print. God isn’t impressed. None of those things justifies you. Homeschool or don’t homeschool; be married or don’t be married.Live in the city, live on the prairie; love highbrow classical music, groove to Lecrae or bow humbly before ‘And Can It Be That I Should Gain?’ None of it justifies you; none of it is enough to make you righteous before the Lord. But don’t worry- the position of justifier has been filled. His name is Jesus. You don’t need to audition anymore. Rejoice!”

When you feel the overwhelming sense to justify yourself remember, Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Swear I Didn’t Teach My Kids THAT | by Julie

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My son clobbered his brother because something or other went awry during a game of Minecraft. My other boy flipped the game board in a move to rival the Real Housewives of New Jersey’s infamous table flip because he was losing. Then there was that LOUD argument at the grocery store over what flavor Pringles to buy, an Academy Award winning meltdown at a friend’s house because one kid was bored, kids streaking across the house naked after showers, and the always shocking faux pas of a four-letter word slip. And that was just this week!

Screaming, mayhem and the chaos of a 3-ring circus are hallmarks of my household in spite of the effort I put forth to be a good parent. I take my kids to church every Sunday; teach them Christian values. I’m present and involved in their lives; aware of what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. They have rules and boundaries and lots of love. And yet they still behave badly, make poor choices and deliberately challenge me.

Unfortunately, when this behavior occurs in front of onlookers the door of judgment swings wide open. Truthfully, when my children are at school or other people’s homes, I’m often told how well-behaved they are, but they’ve definitely had their share of cringe-worthy moments. So when I hear people weighing in on the unflattering behavior of other’s children and parenting, I tend to shrink back a bit and internalize the condemnation.

And while as mothers I think we’ve learned to tune out the gossip, ignore the stares and stay the course, there is one remark that will always cut to the core. As a mom struggling, doing her best to raise two beautiful, but rambunctious boys, the wind is always knocked out of my sails when I hear somebody automatically assume that a child is behaving poorly because a parent isn’t doing their job or something terrible is going on at home.

If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? Every mother has uttered this cliché statement in hopes of driving a point home, and invariably the answer is a resounding “NO” complete with eye roll and sassy tone. Likewise, if your mother told you not to do something, does that mean you’re definitely not going to do it? And again, the answer is a big resounding “NO.”

Truth is, young and old, while we take in what we’re taught, what behavior is modeled to us and resulting consequences, we are not controlled by it. Our decisions are still our own, and if we’re set on doing something or ruled by emotion, nothing is going to derail that train . . . not even being grounded from your iPhone for two weeks.

As much as I may wish I could control my children with a remote control, it’s simply not reality.

God has created us all, especially teenagers, to be individuals and make our own choices . . . good, bad and ugly. And while there are adults who are blatantly, even criminally, falling short of their parental responsibilities, many of us are truly trying to do the best we can with the resources we have and the results are mixed to say the least.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Did you catch that, “when he is old,” not necessarily tomorrow or next week. Like many things in life, you might not see the fruits of good parenting until your child is old. Now if that ain’t sobering. . .

And to complicate matters of parenting even more, we live in a world where we are not the only “teachers” our children have, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Children don’t always learn inappropriate behavior at home. They are exposed to a host of negative behavior and language via television, the internet and schoolyard friends.

As Christians, we need to stop judging and start supporting other parents. We need to stop commentating from afar on how we’d do things differently and take a step closer to lend a caring hand. We need to be a friend, a helper, a support system. We need to reserve judgment and invest in the lives of those God has placed in our path; go deeper to reveal the true story, not just the sensationalized headlines.

We need to remind ourselves that we too often disobey our Father in Heaven, and I’m confident it’s not because he’s doing something wrong as a parent.

All children are not created equal. While some are naturally agreeable and “easy” to parent, others naturally test boundaries. Some have learning or physical disabilities, some are subject to bullies, some have mental health disorders and others still struggle with self-esteem issues and the list goes on and on.

Not all parents are created equal either. While some are blessed with picture-perfect marriages and abundant finances, others struggle to make ends meet. Some battle health problems and depression, some are lonely, some are overwhelmed and others are single parents.

Think of parenting like a video game. While some of us are on level one, parenting with ideal circumstances, some of us are navigating the obstacles of the advanced level, pitfalls and challenges at every turn.

Seriously, in my household asking my children to brush their teeth is met with the resistance of a request to scrub a public restroom with a toothbrush. And my boys’ reaction to losing their video game for a day is akin to missing their senior prom. Some days their displeasure with household boundaries and consequences result in stubborn, hour long standoffs. I assure you I’ve read all the parenting books and attempt to impose the proper discipline, and believe it or not, they still don’t always comply.

So if you see me or any other parent losing their marbles in Target or taking a tear-filled, self-imposed timeout in the bathroom while their children run amuck for a few minutes, please try not to judge and make us feel like even bigger failures than we already do. Instead, offer us a kind word, a gallon of ice cream and the assurance that we’re not the only ones raising miniature hellions. And don’t forget to remind us that God promises everything will turn out ok in the end.

How to Spiritually Survive a Difficult Season | by Seana

Life happens. Family sickness. Job loss. Rebellious children. Difficult diagnoses. Marriage strain. A deep loss. Our families consistently encounter seasons that test our limits and even drag us over the line.

I am in such a season right now. I see God moving in miraculous ways, yet there is trial that still leaves me heavy hearted, broken, and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Been there? If not, something will happen that takes the carpet out from under you. How do we spiritually survive these seasons? Not just survive, how do we thrive? Is it possible?

Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us some tangible Biblical truth to help equip us through these seasons. I will share 3 of these truths and 4 ways you can practically spiritually thrive in difficult seasons.

Truths:

  1. It is God’s strength that carries us. Eph. 6:10.
  2. We have a real enemy, the Father of Lies. Eph. 6:11-16
  3. We can stand firm with God’s supplied armor, but we need to put it on. Eph. 6:11-17

How?:

  1. How to depend on God’s strength? Go to Him in prayer (Eph. 6:18) and tell Him you need His strength. Then, in every moment consciously setting your mind on Him and not your own wisdom and resources. For example, when my sick son is complaining for the 100th time about the food that I spent all day in the kitchen to cook, I breathe… pray… and (usually) am then able to respond in encouragement and kindness. In actuality I want to scream (and sometimes do when I don’t breath and pray). Learning to depend on God’s strength is a process.
  2. Recognize the lies and replace them with truth. When I am in a difficult season the enemy is right there to point out my shortcomings and failures. These may be true or not, but what is even more true is who we are in Christ. So, when I am feeling overwhelmed by inadequacy or condemnation, I write out what I am hearing. For example: “You are not a good mom.” And then I pray for God to replace it with a Biblical truth such as “Only God is good. (Mark 10:18) In Christ I can be a good mom if I remain in the Vine.” (John 15:5) WRITE DOWN THE TRUTH and post it somewhere to remind you. Those pesky lies are like weeds that keep popping up until completely destroyed.
  3. Use your spiritual resources first. It is so easy for me to depend on my skills and abilities in difficult seasons, but that only leaves me empty. Ephesians 6:10-18 teaches us the spiritual resources to arm ourselves with for the spiritual battle we face daily, especially during difficult seasons. Read through Ephesians 6:10-18. What are the things we are to dress with for battle? Truth, righteousness, the gospel (good news), faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer. If we choose to dress our minds and hearts with these daily (and sometimes multiple times a day), we will see God at move and have victory over the darkness that threatens to steal, kill, and destroy our joy and our very lives. Choose to use your spiritual clothes first.
  4. Implement the “First 30”. In difficult seasons we often don’t have enough time to go to the Well of Living Water and find refreshment for our souls. During this time, I have implemented the “First 30.” It is the first 30 minutes in your day where there is not something urgent important that has to be done. Often times, it is during afternoon naptime for me. Housework can wait. Chores can wait. Find a quiet place and for 30 minutes connect with Jesus and read the truth (Bible). For me, the only quiet place I have in this season is my closet. Amongst the clothes, I find my solitude. Find your place. Find your first 30… and connect.

What are some truths and practices that spiritually sustain you in difficult seasons? Please leave a comment.

Find more from Seana Scott at her blog: http://www.SeanaSScott.com