foster care, marriage, parenting resources

Battlefield

Marriage & Parenting

I have said it before and I will say it again; marriage is sanctifying, as is parenthood. Now combine marriage and parenthood, which makes for an extremely poignant tool of sanctification. Gabe and I have been married since July 2010. We have walked through many seasons of life together and Lord willingly we will journey through many more. Marriage in ministry could be a blog post in and of itself. But, for now I want to speak specifically about marriage and parenting.

I know that many of you could express the pains and joys of marriage and parenting more eloquently than myself. After all, even though we are no longer considered “newlyweds,” I think it’s safe to label ourselves as “parental newbies.” I am speaking from spending about three weeks on the battlefield; so, please forgive me if my perspective is not yet complete. Despite the freshness of our parenting roles, we have both learned so much about the way we interact simultaneously as spouses and parents.

The biggest lesson we have learned is that we must be on the same team. As parents, we all know how selfless and sacrificially we love our kids (often without even a nod of acknowledgement.) I believe with all the demands of parenting there are two perspectives we can choose to view our responsibility: a blessing or oppression. Of course, the former is the design that the Lord intended. In marriage, there is so much give and take. Parenting amplifies this “neediness” ten fold. If we are not on the same team, then who will be? If I am not actively encouraging my husband and affirming his gifts as a parent/spouse, then who else will do this? I learned very quickly that we must be 100% for and not against each other, because sometimes, due to adolescent ignorance, our children will not be for us (especially when we deny their earnest, heartfelt plea to watch “Frozen” for the fourteenth night in a row- true story).

It has also become apparent to me how much the comparison game can destroy a team. There is a temptation to compare my percentage of effort with his and vice versa. Arguments can begin to center around whose turn it is to change the dirty diaper or who gets to rock the crying baby at 3:30am based on who did more or less that day. I must admit that the Lord has blessed me enormously with a husband who possesses such a servant’s heart. If you know Gabe, then you know how much he pours himself into ministry, marriage, and parenting. I cannot praise him enough for striving to give 100% effort towards caring for us as a family. But, we are far from perfect. There are times when we allow our selfishness to win out. I am learning that if we both settle by giving only 50% and seek to hold a measuring stick to our spouse’s efforts frustrations will occur. We are most effective and joyful when we are both fully devoted to our calling as parents. When we invest 100% of our spiritual gifts into our family, our day flows much more smoothly. It requires much patience, trial and error, and devotion but I would not want to be on anyone else’s team. Encouragement and affirmation immensely impact our ability to work together as a unified force for the Gospel.

Parenting is a battle for the soul of your child. We pray we will steward well this beautiful blessing God has given us. If we are constantly fighting each other, we will lose influence in our children’s’ hearts. What better way to overcome marital arguments than by fighting for and with our spouse? Unified we embrace the battlefield each day, arm in arm, side by side, focused on the same mission and purpose: making much of Jesus in our lives. Jesus becomes our measuring stick and together we become a team that He will use to our fullest potential. Yes, marriage and parenting are sanctifying, but if the battle scars make us look more like our cross-scarred Savior, together we will boldly embrace the fight.

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foster care, orphancare, parenting resources

Small Victories

If I could describe this week in one word it would be: small victories. Okay, that’s actually two words. Thursday was officially one week since the day we took two little ones into our care. Because of confidentiality, I will call our kids K (3 year old girl) and B (11 month old boy). K and B were brought into our home by the DEFACS social worker. In the foster care process, most of the time you receive a call about a situation, agree or decline to care for the children, and the child(ren) are brought to your home that day. Yes, that day!! Two hours after we received the call to be exact. We were nervous, excited, and overwhelmed by the thought of entering parenthood. I will never forget the memory of throwing baby items into our buggy one hour prior to their arrival without any clue of how our world would be rocked.

Gabe is a natural dad (I can’t brag on this man enough!!)  B immediately reached for Gabe at our first meeting. K was much more hesitant, which is understandable considering she is older and more aware of what was happening. We listened to their story, showed them to “their” rooms, and played with the one toy we had managed to purchase at the store. K warmed up within about 30 minutes. The first night was one of exhaustion (for all of us). Actually, let me rephrase this; the first week was one of exhaustion. We kept asking each other, “Will we ever sleep again?” (Of course the answer is yes, but this was a serious question at the time.)

One night, I remember leaving K’s room as Gabe was leaving B’s room. Somehow, by God’s grace, we had managed to put them both to sleep at the same time. As we walked out into the hallway, we did a little victory dance. That is the moment the words “small victories” popped into my mind. “Can we do this?” “Will this ever be normal?” “Are we capable of being loving and equipped parents to these sweet little strangers?” Honestly, there were moments I would have answered no. Now, I can confidently answer yes; but, I realize we will not become equipped and acquainted all in one night. It will not even seem manageable and normal to us within one week. It will be a process of becoming a family. It will be one small victory after another.

As I write this blog a week later, I can tell you that by God’s grace and the unbelievable blessings of our family and friends, we are in a much better condition than the “shock” we experienced the first couple of days. So, today we celebrate! We celebrate the opportunity we have been given to minister to these sweet children and their family. We also celebrate the Gospel and how darkness will be restored to light. We choose to celebrate the moments of pain, exhaustion, and insecurity, because we know that as we lay those moments of weakness before the Lord, He will be faithful. He will be our strength. He will be our wisdom. As we take one step of obedience at a time, He provides the grace we need for that moment alone. We continue step after step. Then one day, we look back at the road we have traveled and see the journey was one of pain and beauty. Through the moments of weakness, we are molded and shaped into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus. The fight is hard, but as we endure, small victories become our song of celebration.


Here are a few of the small victories we are celebrating today. (Please mentally picture Gabe and I doing the most silly, awkward celebration dance. It will make for a better read!)

-I was called Effie, Jessie, Chelsea, and Calvin; now, I am referred to as “Mrs. Callie.”

–The 11:00p.m. bedtime has now become 8:30p.m.

— K went from sleeping with all the lights on to now using only a night-light.

— B has shown much more personality and vocalizations.

— We went from a 45 minute “getting dressed” frenzy down to 20 minutes (still a frenzy).

— K and B are developing a taste for fruits and veggies.

— I can now change a diaper in 2 minutes instead of 8 minutes.

— K went from pull-ups to potty training.

— K and B enjoy daycare/nursery with minimal tears.

— Our house is now baby proofed with plenty of toys.

–Tantrums have decreased drastically as laughs have filled our home.

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foster care, orphancare, parenting resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s their story?

Unfortunately, we are not allowed to say what happened in their past that resulted in them being brought into our care. We can tell you that whenever a child is brought into the foster care system their situation has become a very tough and unhealthy circumstance. Their background information is confidential, as well as, their names and faces on media outlets. If you take a picture with any of our children or know their names, we ask that you please do not post it to social media. This is ultimately for their safety.

Are you adopting?

The answer to this question is unknown. Every placement is different. Depending on the court’s order, in some circumstances the birth parent(s) are allowed visitation rights. These rights are set by the judge (1x a week, phone call, mail, or no rights). If a situation arises when the birth parents rights are “terminated” the child(ren) will be up for adoption. The court system will do everything possible to keep the children with their birth parents or family members. Birth parents are required to complete certain “steps” (classes, screenings, etc.) to be able to receive custody again. We are truly content with whatever the Lord has planned. We know adoption is something we want to pursue, but right now we feel that we have been called to “stand in the gap” through the temporariness of foster care.

Are you going to be brokenhearted if/when they leave?

It will be bittersweet I’m sure. The love that we have for these children is a sacrificial love that is only found in Jesus. I will be honest, the first couple of days were tough because we were all strangers. The more we get acquainted with each other the more our love grows. We are constantly reminded that our role is most likely a temporary one; there is still a part of our hearts that we are guarding. What has surprised me the most about the reality of parting with the children one day is that the temporariness actually fuels me. It is not very different than caring for a biological child. Life is short and its timeframe is unknown for all of us. The “temporary mindset” helps me stay focused and intentional with pouring my love into their lives. Every day could be our last. With this mindset, when times are super challenging, I cling to the reality that this is only a season. In this season, I want to invest everything I have. Ultimately, the pain that we may endure from parting with the children in the future will not be comparable to the pain of their current situation: being torn from everything they love – everything they are accustomed to and being left alone to fend for themselves. When I start to worry about my future pain, I think of their current pain and the healing that Jesus can bring to the children through my willingness to suffer in the future.

Was foster care Plan-B?

We want to make it clear that we have chosen foster care because we felt called by the Lord to pursue it. This was not a secondary option to pregnancy. We believed that whatever the Lord wanted to take place (pregnancy, adoption, foster care) would be in His perfect timing. I feel as though foster care can sometimes have a negative connotation in today’s culture. It is not everyone’s calling, but for those who God is preparing for foster care or adoption, please know that it is truly a beautiful portrait of God’s love for His children. We want to encourage families of all colors, sizes, and backgrounds to display the Gospel own your unique way!

How’s parenthood?

SACRIFICAL. Wow, I have a new appreciation for my mom and dad! Most of you know the feeling of pain-staking love… death to self. I thought marriage was sanctifying, but parenthood reveals my selfishness in a whole new light. The biggest shock of the first couple of days as new parents (of two children!!) was the exhaustion. At the end of the day, as I laid in bed I thought, “I am just too tired to think about myself right now.” It was a tough start! However, I already see the endless joys that result from loving your children sacrificially even if they do not understand it now.

How can we help?

We are overwhelmed with gratitude by all of the love, encouragement, and support that we have received over the past few days. I don’t know how we could have made it without everyone surrounding us. We understand that while everyone is not called foster children in their home, as believers, we are all called to orphancare. Your participation in this journey, whether through a hug, a meal, or a bag of clothes/toys, has been an answer to this calling. We are so thankful for friends and family who care about the broken families in this world and fight with us to restore hope.

One of the biggest ways that you can minister to families of adoptive/foster parents is through encouraging messages of understanding concerning the difficulty of this adjustment. Also, the meal train has been a huge blessing, as we have been very focused on getting adjusted to a totally new nightly routine and learning how to expand our meal plans. Gift cards are a great way to provide a variety of resources for foster families. Offering to become a “certified” babysitter is a helpful ministry to the foster parents. All couples love a date night every now and then!  Showers are fun to host for adoptive/foster mothers! However, if the placement has already been made, the children can sometimes be overwhelmed and even scared of people constantly entering the house (never knowing if he/she will be taken away again). One of my sweet friends offered to throw me a “mail-in” shower. This was such a thoughtful and wonderful idea! Since this has been such a busy time for everyone, we have been receiving shower gifts in the mail. I could not have asked for a more warm welcome into parenthood than we have received by our family, friends, and neighbors!! Our lives have been deeply impacted by your generosity.

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foster care

WHY Foster Care?

I am writing the answer to this question to share our hearts with you, but more importantly to serve as a reminder to myself on days that seem very bleak and challenging. So here it goes:

1. The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ.
You and I were orphaned. We were lost. We were separated from our loving Father.
We were without hope. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our place in death – defeating death for us.
(Romans 5:8,Eph. 1:4-14,Gal. 4:6-7)

NOW, we are His chosen, precious, and holy children. Set apart for His work.
The theology of our adoption into the family of God overwhelms us AND compels us to action.

2. The restoration of HOPE.
One of the biggest motives behind foster care, specifically, is to see the love and grace of Jesus restore not only hopeless children, but an entire family unit. We have been asked many times, “Will you adopt?” Our heart is truly content with whatever the Lord allows to happen. We would love to adopt but in foster care our primary goal is to see an entire family unit restored to the design that God intended when He created us. We look forward to ministering to the children in addition to being a model and resource for the birth parent(s). We believe no matter how dark the circumstance may seem, Jesus is the light of HOPE.

3. The benefit of our COMMUNITY.
There is a “national foster care crisis.” There are many statistics that show that
>40-50% of children in foster care will never complete high school
>66% of them will be homeless, go to jail, or die within one year of leaving the system
>80% of the prison population once was in foster care
>girls in foster care are 600% more likely to become pregnant before the age of 21

Who better to change these statistics than the ones who are empowered with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?! Jesus is the change. Through His church, the future of our community can look much different than the dismal predictions of these statistics. “It is about creating an entire culture within the local church, a culture that sees adoption and foster care as part of the Great Commission mandate.” This is our desire. We want to be willing and obedient vessels for God to do immeasurably more than we could ask or think. He sees. He knows. He cares. We want to follow His lead.

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