Tuesday, June 30, 2009

meet spot

IMG_4667The kids and I are officially a part of the HCTRU:  Harford County Turtle Rescue Unit.  Matt is not a member and did not wish to become a member when our Honda Odyssey was headed straight for a very speedy box turtle this morning on the way to church.   Poor Matt - God gave him a wife that loves snakes, lizards, reptiles, and all sorts of other creepy crawlies.  It was unusual that I was driving instead of Matt but I suppose because I was dropping him off, I ended up behind the wheel.  I'm so happy because as a member of HCTRU, I could make the executive decision to stop and rescue our friend.

Slamming on the breaks, I put the van in park, and the kids watched me through the windows with anticipation as I picked up the little guy and brought him into the van with us.  Matt was worried about the thing peeing and pooping on our seats, so we put him in a plastic bag and Abs held him till we could get to church and put him in a nice big box.

We are only going to keep "Spots" till Sunday.  Stephen hopes to enter him in the Fourth of July Turtle Race in Bel Air.  In watching him, I think he's got a shot at winning!  He's alert and speedy, that's for sure.  In just a bit we are going to prepare a wonderful salad for him:  fresh greens, tomato, topped with a juicy worm!

kids meet reilly

IMG_4653Over the last few years, Matt and I have been looking for a concert to take the kids to as special treat.   It seemed that whenever a band or artist came to our city or close by, we were out of town ourselves or we had other plans.

We were thrilled to find that Reilly was doing a concert at Covenant Fellowship Church.  Since I returned home from the Next Conference with their latest cd, "Let June Decide",  my kids have been loving their music.  Within a week, Abbie had every song memorized and Stephen uploaded the music on his iPod and it was playing constantly in our home.  I had several excellent conversations as I sought to explain the lyrics to some of the songs to the kids.

IMG_4664So...this past Saturday we made the short drive to PA and enjoyed being with our kids for their first concert experience.  Reilly is an extremely talented bunch of musicians that love Jesus Christ and His church.  The concert was entertaining without being "showy" and they mixed a few worship songs in with their own original tunes.  They all had such joy and it was clear that they really enjoy what they are doing!


Friday, June 26, 2009

the cutest little face i know

IMG_4609Yesterday was my Abbie-girl's first official haircut.  We went to our trusty friend, Marcia, at Creative Design in Bel Air.

Here's the end result.

I could just eat her.  Yes, eat her!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

13 months ago, part II

IMG_4133So...13 months ago we added two little people to our family.   We don't know how long they will be with us but we are grateful for each and every moment that we get to love them and demonstrate the love of Jesus to their little hearts.

To continue where I left off, here is my continuing list of lessons I am learning as a result of being a foster parent.

5- Fostering has opened up a window for our family to get a glimpse of how others in different social/economic circles/lifestyles live life. We're not seeing it in a movie or reading about it in a book; we are seeing it up close.  Previous to fostering, I think my family lived in a relatively safe, protective, bubble of sorts.  If we want to reach out to the birth mom and grandmom, we must leave the bubble.  I love that my children, alongside of us, can see another aspect of life, very different than our own.  I've seen them respond compassionately at times and on other occasions, we've driven away from visitations with hearts full of self-righteousness.  I didn't expect that my 10 year old and 7 year old would be asking me questions like, "Mom - what is cocaine and pot?"  "Why does the baby need a paternity test and what is a paternity test?"  "Why does the mom dress like that and act like that?"  Stephen and Abbie have seen firsthand the serious consequences that are a result of foolish decisions made by parents.  I think it has sparked great conversations among our family and more than anything, I see a deeper thankfulness in their hearts for their life, family, church, and friends.  Most importantly, it's a reminder to me that before God, we are all sinners.   It doesn't matter what social class we belong to, what economic bracket we find ourselves in, what zip code is on our address, or how "good" we think we are.  According to God's Word, we have all fallen short of His glory.  The good news is that Jesus came and died for sinners.   Jesus says it this way in Matthew 9:12-13:
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'  For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

The gospel tells us that God came for sinners.  Like so many of us - like me - Jesus did not avoid interacting with sinners.  In fact, He made it His purpose, that He might display His mercy.  So, in a small but serious way, our family is stepping out of our bubble of safety in hopes of showing the love of God to people that apart from fostering, we probably would not cross paths with.

6- Fostering has helped me to better relate to moms with young children.  Lack of sleep is not something I ever had to deal with until we had a 3 day old baby in our home.  Stephen was 13 months when we adopted him and 3 years later , when we adopted Abbie, she was 11 months - so I only ever had a 4 year old and almost 1 year old in the house at one time.  They both slept well and took naps and I missed the entire newborn experience - which IS an experience in and of itself! Getting dinner on the table and keeping things rolling along in our home suddenly became a challenge.  When I see moms of several young children at church, I look at them with different eyes.  Eyes of understanding and a heart that knows now how difficult it is on a Sunday morning to get everyone up, fed, dressed, loaded in the van, and dispersed to Sunday school classes all before the service begins.  By the time the sermon starts, I am exhausted because I've been up and on the go for four hours.  I look at moms in the eye and try to encourage them by reminding them of the grace it took to get to church!  I pray for them and my respect for them has only increased.

7- Fostering has given me a fresh and vivid picture of how beautiful the body of Christ really is. Love and support has come to me in the most unexpected places and from the most unexpected people.  Folks I barely know have reached out and opened  up their hearts to Diamonte and Azariyah.  These precious little children have been welcomed in as if they were our own.  There is just a flood of encouragement and interest from so many people and not just adults, but other children.  Each week, there are two children in particular who find me for the sole purpose of hugging and playing with our foster children.  They always ask me how things are going with them and they have such a heart to show them genuine love.  I tear up every week because of these kids.  Then there are those dear singles  who have come alongside of our family and helped us with the kids from day one.  It's no wonder why Diamonte, when I am tucking him in at night, whispers the names "Miss. Owl, Aunt Becky, and Mr. Bat" as we pray for our families.

IMG_43108- Fostering has revealed to me what a great sinner I am but what a greater Savior Jesus Christ is. Don't misunderstand me.  I didn't need to be a foster parent to know that I was a sinner.  But - in stepping out in faith in this area of service, God has been very kind in revealing to me things I just hadn't been aware of before.  I would not have thought of myself as a prejudice person.  My parents were a part of a group that was birthed in the 70's called "Prejudice Anonymous".  They fought for rights for African Americans.  I was raised in a house where racial slurs were worse than cuss words.  I've had friends through the years that have represented all different races and never thought anything of it.  I love foreign countries and meeting people from foreign lands.  I don't think of myself as ethnocentric.  But, early on in our experience of fostering, I could feel in my heart a real battle raging.  Thoughts like:  "We would be better parents for these kids" and "These kids will have no hope if they go back home" and "How could she do this or that when she is supposed to want her children back?"  Yep, these are just some of the questions that rage in my heart.  This is nothing short of self-righteousness and pride and a lack of trust in God and His wisdom.  Sinclair Ferguson said:
"For this gospel of grace involves us in the ongoing discovery that there is still much in our lives that has not yielded to the demolition power of grace; and much remains yet to be built by grace."

I am so thankful that I have a great Savior who loves me enough to show me my sin so that by the power of His grace, He might demolish my self-righteousness, pride, and lack of trust in God.  And in demolishing my sin, His glory is revealed and I have the opportunity to see new acts of love, humility, and trust in the Lord being built.

...to be continued...

13 months ago

IMG_420413 months ago we were a foster family in the waiting.

...waiting for the first call that would come requesting our help in caring for a little boy or girl.

I didn't think our first placement would be two kids at once and I certainly didn't think they would be so little.  It came as no surprise to Matt, but somehow I dreamed up that we'd get one elementary school aged child to start.  I thought they'd break us "newbees" in slowly.

Well they didn't!

Diamonte who is now 2 years and 3 months old came to us at 14 months.  Azariyah, who just celebrated her first birthday on May 16th, was only 3 days old when I picked her up from the hospital.  We've had these precious children for over a year now and I can hardly believe it.

How would I describe this past year?  Challenging and rewarding, in that order.

It's been a full year and God is teaching me so many things through what I would now call, my "how to biblically love others who are vastly different than you boot camp."

Here are the first 4  lessons I am learning through the fostering experience.  To keep my blog entries short, I'll add the next 4 on another day.

1- I am really not in control of anything.  The future of these children is not in my hands.  Of course this can be said of all of our children but when you are fostering, just about every three months there is a chance that they may leave your family.  There is no concern for this regarding my children Stephen and Abbie.  They are here to stay.  While this has been very emotionally challenging, it has helped me to love the sovereignty of God all the more as I know that I have a solid foundation on which to rest my anxious soul.

2- Sacrifice is difficult, especially when you're in a new season of life and you feel you are moving backwards.  Going from life with a 10 year old and 7 year old and then adding a newborn and toddler is challenging - especially when they are not "yours" and you cannot discipline them the same way you discipline your children.  Diapers, baby food, bottles, naps, tantrums, tons of laundry, sleepless nights - I was out of this stage and had been for years and years!  I have moments when I question if this is the best thing for my own family because of the sacrifices they are required to make as well:  sharing their rooms and their toys, sharing their time with us and the ability to do the things we used to just pick up and do.  While it is hard to explain at times to my children why we can't do certain things, and even more difficult when they are disappointed, I am resolved that the lessons we are learning about serving, love and sacrifice are far more valuable.

3- Matt is a great father and loves children.  This is one of the very first things I remember noticing about Matt when we first met...only second to his really short shorts and tube socks pulled up to his knees.  Matt has a heart for children to know Jesus and that is one attractive quality in a man!  Not only does he help with the daily stuff of life but he has blessed me with special days out and even a trip to Minnesota for a Desiring God Conference.  Diamonte and Azariyah love Matt and their faces light up when he walks through the front door.  I'm so grateful to God that we are partners in this!

4- You feel, through fostering, that you are willingly asking for your heart to be broken again and again. So quickly, these children have become a part of the fabric of our family.  They call us Mommy and Daddy, we kiss their boo boos, we care for their needs, they love to "nuggle" with us, we tuck them in each night and pray over them and for them, all the while, with the realization that they are not our children and that they could be taken from us and returned home.  To love, to truly love, is to lay down your life for another.  Loving like Jesus loves is an open door for heartache and pain.

...to be continued...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

it's finally here....

My dear friend Greg Dutcher's first (of I hope many) book is out!  I just received my long awaited copy from amazon this morning.  Woohoo!

You can read a review by Tim Challies here.