Can You Help a Foster Child?

My husband and I recently hosted an event in our home with the State Department of Children and Families. We invited couples who had expressed an interest in adopting or fostering, as well as couples experienced with the system who could offer their advice and perspective.

We were happy to do this. And while we viewed the event as important, we did not expect it to make front-page news.  But it did.

Why?

For one, it was the first event of its kind in Connecticut. I can honestly say, I had no idea no one had ever offered to open their home to bring awareness to the need for foster families and the needs of foster children. It seemed like the natural thing to do.

I initially made contact with DCF to inquire about hosting foster children for Thanksgiving. Through this contact, my awareness of the need grew.

Unfortunately, for many of us, fostering is something other people do–for no other reason than it just hasn’t broken through as the norm. It hasn’t been demystified.

As a result, foster children and families tend to be a marginalized population that rarely gets the notice or attention they need.

But that’s precisely why Scripture advises us to help orphans in their distress like these foster children (James 1:17).

A reporter stopped by our small event to inquire as to why we would do such a thing. He asked the questions that many in the community might ask: “Why do we care?” and “What is a foster child?” and “Where are they now?”

Here’s The Lowdown

We care because God tells us to care. We were orphans once too. God adopted us into His family through the death and resurrection of His very own Son, Jesus. When we accept Jesus, we are reconciled with our Creator for eternity.

Foster children are either neglected or abused by their biological parents and must be removed for their welfare, most often at a moment’s notice. These precious children can range in age from days old to teenagers. Many are hoping to find forever families who will adopt them and provide care and love they just did not receive from their own mothers and fathers.

Foster families provide temporary homes for these at-risk children. Our state, as well as yours, needs many more families who will provide safe, stable and loving abodes for these most vulnerable kids. The need is so dire, some children move from foster home to foster home, feeling the sting of rejection and instability each time.

How You Can Help

As a result of our experience, we want to encourage others to host in-home awareness events. You can do so by contacting the government department that runs the foster care program in your state. Feel free to reference this article.

In addition, Fruits of Faith has begun a ministry called “Operation Love Pack.” We seek to provide each foster child entering the foster system with a rolling suitcase in which they can put their belongings. Most children are removed from the only home they have ever known without time to prepare. Many enter their temporary home with only a plastic garbage bag in which to transport their things.

We can help care for these precious children in their distress by giving them a respectable suitcase to pack their most important items. In so doing, we let them know God cares about them; God loves them, and is sending His agents to provide for their needs.

Please read more about what we provide in each Love Pack: http://fruitsoffaithministries.com/operation-love-packs/

Also, if you are moved to contribute, please consider giving to our Go Fund Me campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/operation-love-pack/

Confessions of a Not-So-Perfect [Christian] Mother

shutterstock_400379908It happened. If you knew me, you may have noticed something a little different. A dreamy look in my eye. A little lighter in my step. A cheesy smile on my face.

My son was complimented, unprovoked, on social media. Someone even gave me the credit in the comments. The mother graciously noted on my Facebook page how my son had returned the extra change inadvertently given him at the school store. “What a good kid” and “Great parenting” were two of the compliments included. Whoo-hoo.

If they only knew..

It couldn’t have been more than two days prior that an emotionally-charged me stormed off an email stating “I don’t want to do this anymore!” after a less-than enjoyable volunteering experience at our elementary school.

If they only knew….

Maybe five days prior, this same son who acted so nobly returning the money had broken a Christmas ornament in a store. I watched inconspicuously as he carefully placed it back on the shelf, putting the pieces back together as if nothing had ever happened—all the while looking over his shoulder to make sure no one noticed.

If they only knew…

Every day my one year old goes down for a nap–my precious, loving, adorable one-year old—I do a little happy dance and whisper “freedom!”

If they only knew…

(And this is really embarrassing) In the span of a month, I had to explain myself to the police—twice—for my bad parenting. First, my dog jumped into the minivan unbeknownst to me, so I didn’t know to roll the windows down. Only a few minutes passed, but when we returned to our car, the police were writing my license plate number down and a concerned citizen stood nearby on her phone. All in front of my kids. (The dog is totally fine thank goodness).

Then, my daughter and I were playing in the backyard, she in the playhouse, me in the garden when someone came and asked if I had a toddler. In a matter of seconds, she had snuck out of the playhouse and wandered out of our yard onto the sidewalk. Another wonderful and concerned citizen thankfully grabbed her–and called the police.

Both times the police responded with compassion, and thankfully nothing truly bad happened. But seriously, the guilt and shame of bad parenting and the “what could have happened” overwhelmed me.

Those are the most recent. The list could go on and on with the criticisms, solicited and unsolicited; warranted and unwarranted, I’ve gotten for my parenting.

So when another mother took the time to note with appreciation something good; something that reflected on all the hard lessons we spend 99% of our time trying to teach our children; the fruit of the repetitive chiseling of Godly values we painfully etch into our children’s hearts, I can’t help but rejoice.

Maybe that’s why God says to “Honor Thy Mother and Father.” He knows how flawed we parents are. We try and try and still come up short on occasion. But the parent who takes the time to instill the “way they should go” and use even these shameful, embarrassing moments as teaching moments, may occasionally get the “atta-girl”. Just maybe.

When my son tried to get away with breaking the ornament, I knew how he felt. If I could have snuck away from any of the situations described above and acted like they never happened, believe me—I would have!

But like God who disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6), I love my children too much to let that become apart of their character. I made my son go back, get the broken ornament, and confess to the clerk what had happened. He cried, embarrassed and ashamed.

Nevertheless, the responsibility for molding a child’s heart falls on the parent. So, I tried to explain that it’s better to get in trouble for being honest than get away with something for being sneaky—whether it was intentional or not.

The clerk was compassionate. I believe that‘s why my son returned the money a week later. He learned it’s not so bad to fess up and it feels a lot better on one’s conscience to confess and take the rap (if necessary) than live with the guilt of trying to get away with something.

Bottom line for me—I love the Lord and I love my children. I give thanks and pray everyday for the supernatural protection God provides when He stands in the gap of my parenting blunders.

At the end of the day, I pray that our efforts to mold the hearts of our children, albeit painful, will transcend our mistakes. And I pray in the end, our children will honor us, their parents, and glorify God by living lives obedient to Christ; serving as lights in the dark world.

Faith and Hope

“Make a wish!”How often have we advised our children and others to do this as they blow out the candles on their birthday cake, or as they toss pennies into the fountain, or as they gaze upon a star. I don’t know about you, but I really thought hard as a child to choose the thing I wanted most to come true. I didn’t want to waste this special privilege on just a whim.

Yet, did we really expect our wishes to come true?

Perhaps. And maybe they did materialize in one form or another. But were they guarantees? Unfortunately, no. And most of us could testify to the disappointment of many of those wishes left unfulfilled.

So, what keeps us going back every year and making another wish? I can tell you: hope. We are slow to give up hope. Hope is the carrot that keeps us going. But hope based on wishes is empty. Empty wishes have nothing to back them up, to provide the guarantee or the surety that they will come true. Such futility will ultimately end in our disappointment.

And isn’t that the issue with life? Disappointment? After so many, we become jaded. We stop trusting. We definitely stop wishing. Experience has taught us, don’t waste your breath. The hope is gone.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen.”

Here’s the good news: the hope that Jesus offers is a guarantee. The mission is already accomplished. Victory is already ours. We experience this now in part through faith, and we will experience this hope fully in eternity.

The substance of all our hopes and dreams is set forth in this description of Heaven: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The substance of the guarantee we all truly hope for is reconciliation God. We all long for a relationship with our heavenly Father. Faith satisfies this need now; the hope of such satisfaction keeps us going. We cannot see this faith, but there’s evidence of it in the fulfillment we experience through the living hope, Jesus Christ, abiding in our hearts.

Next time you’re tempted to make a wish, say a prayer instead thanking God for giving us the living hope of His Son, which is guaranateed to satisfy the longing of our human hearts.

Belief

img_8985What are the blessings of believing? Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” James 1:6 corroborates this by stating “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

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To Smile or Not to Smile

shutterstock_134915318I love to smile. After all, smiling actually requires less muscle than frowning (call me lazy). 🙂

But have you ever smiled at someone just to have them look away? I have lived in a couple different areas of the United States and I have to admit, this happens everywhere.

There are many reasons someone may “diss” a smile. Whatever their reason, it can have the affect of making us regret the effort.

I agree, not every situation is appropriate to expect a smile. But what about the cases when a smile is not out of line, not awkward, and even arguably appropriate?

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Trust

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What’s keeping you from living the abundant life Jesus promises? Most often, it’s failure to trust the One offering such a profound gift. We love God, but like the elephant in the room, we don’t want to admit that we cling to something else for our security.

Trust is the action that evidences our belief. First sign we trust God is letting go of what we are currently holding on to that is preventing us from receiving His promises.

And you might not realize what you’re holding onto. Here’s some examples: money, power, prestige, popularity, tradition, possessions, worldly reputation, bitterness, regret, martyrdom, shame, condemnation, and guilt.

The Bible says the things of this world are like a vapor; vanity. Like a mirage, they will disappear as soon as we try to grasp them. In that way, worldly pursuits provide us no lasting support or comfort (Ecclesiastes 1:2). And Jesus acknowledges that the weight of this world is heavy, but He wants to take that weight and exchange it for a lighter load (Matthew 11:28-29). Let Him.

Only when we let go of what we cling to in lieu of God will we have our hands free to receive all that God has planned for us. Take that step of faith today.