Easter, Family Life, love, Miracles, The Cross, God’s Faithfulness, wedding

A Miracle


It’s a few days before Easter.
  And as I reflect on the cross and the miracle of Jesus rising from death, I am awed once again.  That the Son of God would die for me and you, is miraculous in itself.  But it didn’t end there, he conquered death and our sin, so we can live victoriously now and forever!! This causes me to reflect on the miracles God has performed in my life .  And really, there are many. Some are big and some are seemingly insignificant to anyone but me.  I have a story that I want to tell that reminds me that to the God who overcame death, NOTHING is too small for him.  I call this story The Miracle Mixer. It’s all because of God’s faithfulness that this story is possible.  I love this scripture, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:19.

 

This story begins in 2009, when I became reacquainted with a friend whom I had not seen in 17 years. Cathy had two little boys back then.  I remember her boys being cute and well mannered and Cathy as a smart mama who sewed and made beautiful things.   The last time I saw her, her oldest son, Witt was 10 and my second daughter, Claire was 5.  I have a picture of our homeschool co-op group sitting on a wall dressed in Medieval costumes and Witt brandishing a sword and looking brave and Claire sitting with her sisters and friends, just past the toddler age herself.  Fast forward 17 years, now Cathy and I each had two more daughters.  My daughter, Nan, and Cathy’s daughter, Rose, became  fast friends in the Bible Study we attended that year.  This was Cathy’s first and only year attending this particular Bible study. I had been going for years, but had decided not to attend this year because I had young teenagers that I was homeschooling and I felt I needed more time at home to accomplish that.  But God impressed upon my heart that I should attend, so I signed up at the last minute.  I’m so glad I did because we spent each Thursday after Bible study, together, eating lunch, becoming fast friends again.  And as you might have guessed we re-introduced Witt and Claire and they fell in love and married a year later.  We could not be more in love with this godly, caring and handsome man and we are so blessed to call him our son.  Nan loves to take credit for bringing Witt into Claire’s life.  

 

And now here is the mixer story. The  circumstances and timing of these previous and next events, that I’m about to tell you, can only have come from our good Father, who sees all and knows all.  I think of the story of Esther in the Bible.  She saw God work on her and her people’s behalf through what seemed like random circumstances. God used her for big things, to save her people.  We might never be called to do anything big like she did, but we are called to be faithful and to bring all our requests and needs before God.  Have you ever seen God work on your behalf?  What seems so random to us, is all a part of Gods plan for our lives. 

 

I told you Claire and Witt fell in love and wanted to get married. Before this, Claire had been a nanny for a missionary family in Paris, France .  While there she took French lessons and applied to culinary school, as her time as a nanny was drawing to a close for she loved Paris.  And she already loved to cook.  She was accepted to the school, but due to many reasons, some financial and some logistical , she disappointedly decided to come home, not sure what God was doing in her life. She finished up her college education at a local University, with a degree in creative writing. It was during this time she met Witt, fell in love and became engaged. 

 

Weddings are exciting and this was our second one with three more weddings to plan one day. We had college educations to pay for, braces, contacts and just the general expense of a large family living on one income.  Someone was giving Claire a kitchen shower and she had on her registry many wonderful things, but one thing she wanted more than anything was a Kitchen Aid Standup Mixer.  The one she had chosen was cream colored, Almond they called it.  It was out of my price range at that time in my life.  I remember praying that God would show me what I should get Claire.  I wanted to get a very special gift for her, one that would be useful but something she really wanted.  

 

I remember going to lunch with my husband on a Tuesday , we usually went on Fridays .  Hart worked from home then, so we had made this our special treat. But I grabbed him from his office on Tuesday and said let’s go get some thing to eat so we can talk. We went to our favorite, but inexpensive, hibachi restaurant in our small town.  I remember telling Hart about the kitchen shower for Claire.  He said he wished we could afford the mixer but it was not in our budget.  After our Friday lunches we usually browse Goodwill where Hart likes to look at the books and I wander the store.  So on this Tuesday he asks me if I still  want to go to Goodwill. Sure, I said and headed over to the appliance section. And what did I see on the very bottom shelf, covered in dirt , but a Kitchen Aid Mixer!!  Excidely I pulled it out and called to Hart, we plugged it in.  It worked!   I looked in the mixing bowl and there were all three accessories! We couldn’t believe it!  We took it to checkout and paid 25.00 for it. I remember getting it home and washing it with just hot water and soap.  How surprised and taken aback I was as I looked at it.  This mixer was in perfect condition , not a scratch on it and it was the prized Almond color!!  The only thing missing was the original box!  How did I get Claire’s dream mixer for 25.00 when on the registry it was listed for 399.00! All I could do was to exclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness . When I took my gift to the shower and told the story of God’s blessing  and provision there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

 

I love the many stories of George Mueller, a man of God who prays about everything .  He once said if you receive a parcel and it is tied up in string and you can’t open it because you don’t have a knife or scissors, pray about it and ask God to help you untie the knot.  How I love that illustration about how nothing is too small or insignificant to God .  God knew Claire would need to be in the US so she could meet the man we had been praying for since her birth, that both Cathy and I should attend the Bible study that year and that God would arrange it so I would be at that Goodwill  store, on that particular day, that someone had decided to get rid of a perfectally good mixer.  It’s times like this, that I can always go back to when my days seem hard and I feel like can’t see what God is doing in my life right now. These memories strengthen my faith and I know that God cares about the seemingly insignificant things in my life.  I can be sure he is working on my behalf, my family’s and yours as well. 

 

What are some ways you’ve seen God working on your behalf or your family’s?  I’d love to hear about them, for it gives God the glory and strengthens the faith of those reading it.

 

Have a very blessed and wonderful Easter!  For Christ is Risen, Risen indeed! 

Love, Nancy

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dance, freedom, Life, life and the pursuit of happiness, vulnerability

A little piece of me

Feeling a little vulnerable about posting this. But according to Brene Brown vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. So here I am. I hope you connect with this in some way.

I remember feeling this pull inside of me. I needed to meet with him. I was sitting on the pew in Chapel, at Aylen Lake, Canada. I was probably thirteen. This chapel is a wooden shelter sitting on top of a hill in the woods overlooking the beautiful lake. As I sat there not truly listening to the sermon, I felt a need to leave and meet with God. So I told my mom I had a stomach ache and I walked the pine needle covered path back to our cottage and down to the dock. It was a sunny day. The sun made the lake look like it was dancing with crystals on its surface. The world was silent. I remember talking to God and crying and understanding him so perfectly clear in that moment. He wanted freedom for me.

I remember when my family got back from the chapel and I told them I wasn’t really sick they were kind of upset with me for leaving the service. I immediately felt silly and too emotional and dramatic. And so I don’t think I ever left again. I think I’ve been sitting in the pews listening to the same sermon again and again everyday.

You see, I’ve always been too much. Too loud. Too crazy. Too emotional. Too eccentric. Too odd. Too intense.

This world conditions us to hide these traits. Because god forbid we sacrifice normality for freedom.

I have so many examples of this…

In middle school I carried my school books on my head during lunch making funny faces and laughing with my dorky friends only to find the cool kids that were in their usual circle staring and laughing. So I stifled my humor.

In elementary school I was listening to a song outside and I felt the urge to jump in the lake with my clothes on just to feel the cold cool water. I just wanted to feel freedom and happiness and being wild. But I got talked out of it by a friend and felt silly again. So I stifled my joy.

I got told skinny was beautiful so I stifled my hunger.

I got told guys like girls with tighter clothes and bleached hair so I stifled my dignity.

I got the vibe from others discomfort that going that deep into ones own soul was too much, so I stifled my heart.

But then one day I met God down at the dock of our old lake cottage. I was listening to a song in the cottage, crying over a breakup where I had spent the entirety of it stuffing my personality and wishes deeper inside of myself until I didn’t recognize what they were anymore. And he told me to dance. It was pouring rain. I had done my makeup nicely. Straightened my wavy hair perfectly. Was wearing nice, put together clothes. But all I could hear was “dance, Nan.” So this time I shut the door behind me and I danced in the pouring rain. I felt my mascara run down my face, I felt my straight hair curling again, I felt my chest rising and falling with every breath of life I sucked in like I hadn’t had air for the longest time and I saw her for the first time since meeting with God on that dock. It was Nan. And he was begging her into freedom again.

Since that day I have been trying more and more to walk out of the chapel. To find my place next to God and to find the place where I allow myself to be seen, to be vulnerable, to be known. And I have come to the realization…I am too much! And I am ok with that. Because God is ok with that. And when I’m with him…I’m just enough. So take off your shoes. Take your hair out of it’s perfect spiral curl that you perfected. Wipe that makeup off. Look God in the eyes and say, “I am here.” And let yourself fully be who you are. And don’t you dare let anyone stifle the spirit you have inside of you. Because we’re all too good at being perfect, so let’s be good at being free.

divorce, self love, relationships, Uncategorized

Divorce is a dirty word

When mom asked me to write for the blog, I couldn’t think of anything to write about for the longest time. I thought about writing on fitness and the new 6am workout classes I have been killing myself with. Or nutrition and the 1,300 calories I consume daily in order to maintain my 175 lb body. But then it hit me… write about the one thing that’s had the biggest impact on my life…My divorce.

 Divorce.

 It’s a dirty word. It’s a word happily married people shudder at and push out of their head, like they can’t even fathom the idea. I know this, because I used to do it.

Here’s the thing about divorce… rarely does one get married thinking it will end in divorce… its never a planned event that will happen in X amount of years. Divorce sneaks up on you. Sometimes for years, sometimes it only takes weeks. But let’s be honest, we never plan for divorce. That’s why its so tragic. There’s no preparation. No time to figure everything out. It just happens and you react.

[The following story is a one-sided journey. This is my story. My journey. My words. Its also only a very small portion of the full story.]

I got married when I was 23 years old. In my family, that was pretty normal. My mom and dad got married young and have had a beautiful marriage. All my sisters got married young and have also had successful marriages. So, when 23-year-old me walked down the aisle to say “I do” to forever… I didn’t think anything of it. But here’s the thing about being 23 and in love. You are blind. You think you have it all figured out. Well you’re probably wrong. So, there I was. A pretty idiot, standing in front of everyone I knew and loved, committing to something I knew nothing about.

At 23 years old I did not know who I was. I was insecure, afraid to be on my own and too scared to find the independence I yearned for. I was a lost little seedling looking for guidance and I rooted myself into the closest thing I could find to security. A man.

I threw myself into my marriage. I was determined to be a perfect wife. Determined to have a home cooked meal on the table every night. A clean house every day. Determined to keep my body tight and healthy so that my husband found me attractive. Every breath I breathed was for the approval of someone else. I lost myself completely. I lost my identity. At social gatherings, I would stand in a room full of strangers, being introduced as his Wife. That was what I had become, his. Wife.

 In same cases this works for couples, a woman can find total fulfillment in being a housewife. But it takes appreciation from the spouse to find that fulfillment.

So, there I was… 5 years into a marriage where I felt lost and under- valued. I begged for attention, for praise, for my value to be seen. But the truth was… I didn’t see my own value, how could I possibly expect another human to see it? I was a shell of the woman that I had wanted to be. Growing up, I envisioned myself as a CEO of a fashion label or a successful marine biologist. I wanted to be powerful and strong and independent and a boss. And here I was, a sad and lonely housewife working part time as a personal trainer, married to a very successful and powerful man. I felt like nothing.

I will never forget the night when it all changed. It was the day after Valentines day (that we didn’t celebrate). We were sitting in his car, in the driveway of the beautiful home we had bought together. I turned to him and asked “Do you think your life is better because I am in it? Do you think I add value to your life?” He thought about it for a while… and then the earth-shattering answer that forged a will of iron in my heart… “No. Everything we have is because I have worked for it”.

I left the next day.

Walking away from my marriage is the best decision I have ever made. It is my proudest moment. It is my greatest accomplishment.

I saved myself.

I took every ounce of courage I had, every ounce of faith I had, and I blindly stepped into a different life. A better life. The moment I walked away, it felt like the weight of mount Everest had been lifted from my chest. There has not been a single moment of regret. I have taken every single thing I learned from this experience and applied it to my life. I learned about myself, about other people, about how to love, about how to be a good person, friend and daughter. I have learned SO MUCH and therefor I simply cannot regret anything. That does not mean this has all been easy and great. There have been many, many, MANY nights crying and mourning for the life that I thought I was going to have. Many days where fear crept in and I didn’t know if I could do this on my own. To start over completely at almost 30 years old seemed like the scariest thing in the world. And it was. It hasn’t been easy.  My road has been long and winding and full of drop offs and twists and hills. But it is MY journey. And the greatest thing to come out of this journey is my self-acceptance. My self-love. I know 100% without a shadow of a doubt, who I am. I am rooted in love for and by my family. I am a child of God. I am strong. I am a boss. I am beautiful. I am a feminist. I am fearless. I am a friend. I am kind. I am powerful. I am independent. I am tenacious. I am spiritual. I am forgiven. And I am loved. And because I know these things to be true in my heart, it allows me to be the best possible version of myself. And isn’t that what we all need? Just a little more love for ourselves?

I challenge you to take a bold step, to find your independence, your voice. I challenge you to stare at yourself in the mirror for 5 WHOLE MINUTES and say everything you love about yourself. I challenge you to affirm yourself sincerely. I challenge you to talk to someone about your pain, your frustrations, your fears. I challenge you to walk away from the toxic relationship that is hurting you. I challenge you to take at least 20 minutes out of your day for yourself. I challenge you to evaluate your life and make sure you are living as the best possible version of you… Why?? Because you. Are. So. Worth. It. And no one, can define your value except yourself.

-Mary

Family Life, gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, love, military, Thanksgiving

Blisters and Bliss

BListers and Breezes

My husband Gabe just left for a five week training in the beautiful state of Texas. Most training missions require a full packing list of items required for the training. Gabe is super good at ensuring he’s got all he needs. He’s pretty particular and organized when it comes to work. He also likes to be on time or early for certain things pertaining to work so he usually gives himself an extra forty minutes. Gabe asked a friend if he would pick him up early in the morning to take him to the airport. He was going to be at the airport 1.5 hours early. His friend persuaded him to arrive only 30 minutes early since this was such a tiny airport and most likely there would only be about 30 people going through security. He didn’t want Gabe to be miserable sitting there for an extra hour. So Gabe agreed and told himself he probably needed to just relax a little. 

So Gabe gets picked up and starts telling this brother in Christ how he needs to put anxiety away. Just then they hear a strange noise and feel something strange beneath the car. A tire blew out. That’s okay! His friend had a spare and the stuff to fix it. They get out the spare and his friend is having some trouble with the pliers. They’re stuck. Gabe gives it a shot and breaks them in half. At this point, Gabe’s time to make his flight is running out. His friend leaves to grab another tool and soon a cop appears. That’s when I got a call from Gabe. “Hey babe! Can you wake up the kids and get over here as fast as you can?” He was only 5 minutes down the road. The cop stayed with his friend’s car and I took Gabe to the airport. On our way, we watched as we saw his plane in the sky, just having taken off. “Gabe, God doesn’t want you on that flight.” Gabe looked at me and he agreed but he didn’t look very comforted by this. He sure wanted to be on that flight. It took about an hour to get the right people on the phone but finally Gabe had another flight scheduled. He called his friend to find out how things turned out for him. His friend was laughing. “So, I finally got the right tool and the spare tire on and then quickly realized this one was almost out of air. So then I went to start my car and it was dead.” Gabe said, “Okay, yeah. God did not want me on that flight this morning.” We had a good laugh about this. I was serious but smiling and laughing still as I told Gabe “Babe, all I can say is you better share the gospel with whoever sits next to you on that plane!” 

When Gabe called me later that night after having arrived and gotten settled in his hotel I found out he definitely did share the gospel with his seat mate who was Nigerian. I thought about all of the persecution the christian nigerians are facing right now. Being killed for their faith. I prayed this seed would take root in this man and grow.

Life gives you punches, right? Jabs, pinches and blisters. Things just happen. Annoying things. We may get a little beat up by life and sadly often we get deep and painful wounds.

If anyone has lived longer than an hour they already know that life is just not a gentle breeze. 

Yet we just know in the midst of this that God is there. If you find yourself in a plane, experiencing turbulence at first and then find yourself spiraling to the ground, your thought isn’t “everything is going wrong so therefore nobody made this plane.” No, that would be illogical. You would probably be thinking “Something went terribly wrong.” In the same way, we know in our heart of hearts that even though we live in a fallen world, God exists and He made us. 

What if I told you that all of the turbulence is part of His plan? His amazing redemption plan?

God wants us to be one with Him. He loves us. It’s a mercy that an infinite, perfect, spotless and holy God loves us and makes Himself a father to us. Yet we cannot be one with Him or know Him as our father unless we are washed clean. Every one of us is dirty because of sin. Sin is something all of us inherit at birth because our first parents (Adam and Eve) were the first to commit a sin. Nobody teaches a child to lie. It is our instinct. So God’s amazing redemption plan is to bring us home with Him. To make us one with Him once and for all. He sent His son Jesus to live in this sinful world, overcome sin (and death) once and for all in our place. We could never do it. We could never be able to pay the fine that it cost for even one stain, one little white lie, one lustful thought before a holy God who is just. Do you see that? God is holy. One lie is a blemish that prevents us from being one with Him. He cannot partner with sin. He is also a good judge. A good judge does not let the guilty go free, no matter how regretful they are. Yet He is also a compassionate God so He sent His only Son to pay the fine in our place. Jesus took on our flesh and He lived the perfect life (the only one to be able to do this) and He was the last and final sacrificial lamb and He conquered death by rising from the grave. Can you believe that! Jesus stepped away from His glory in Heaven with the Father and took on the humble form of a man who would be tempted, accused and finally beaten and tortured to death. What love!! Jesus said referring to the prostitute who washed his feet with her hair, “whoever is forgiven much loves much.” When we realize there is nothing good in us, when we realize our wretched state, our sin that makes us God’s enemy and repent of this and trust in Jesus, trust that He has taken away our guilt once and for all then we will be one with God and saved from eternal damnation. God made a way! He loves us so mercifully!

And so in Christ life is still not a gentle breeze. Life is actually…WAY harder. And yet…it’s way sweeter. I’ll explain in just a minute.

When we are living as one with Christ and coming under submission to Him, we will be wrongly accused just as He was. We will be attacked by dark spiritual forces just as He was. We will be called to do uncomfortable things for the sake of loving others. 

Evangelism is NOT comfortable. 

Dying to the willing flesh is NOT comfortable.

Giving not only out of abundance but also deprivation is NOT comfortable.

Loving our enemy is NOT comfortable.

Living by the inspired Word of God instead of the world is NOT comfortable.

But these things are just the natural outcome of living as One with Christ. We grow up into these things as we mature in Christ. The more we do, in the most slight of ways in comparison we identify with Christ’ suffering. The more we identify with Christ, the sweeter the fellowship with Him. He becomes our everything. The only thing that really…matters. We’re able to let all of OUR purposes sift through our fingers as sand, like the foundation they are built upon. God’s purposes outlined in His word are our only sure foundation for anything. We long for gentle breezes in our life and yet our time here is so short. We will have gentle breezes for eternity. So what is the purpose for these short years on earth? We must realize that it’s not about us gaining a smooth life here on earth (though we most certainly experience blessings here on earth that are sweet gifts from God). The Bible shows our life hidden in Christ may actually look like what an athlete goes through.

 “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrew 12:1. 

“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. (Emphasis, mine).

“Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly. I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26.

I ran cross country in highschool for a short time. Cross Country races are 3.1 miles. It’s not a fast sprint. Some races flew by and others felt 10 miles long and I wondered if the race would ever end. I had to really play mind games during these races to keep myself going. In a race, you are always pushing yourself to go faster. It’s not a gentle jog. To keep up a certain pace, I would find comfort in the uncomfortable. I would focus on my breathing, or focus on my feet hitting the ground seconds apart. A gentle breeze would occasionally come and dry some of the sweat off my forehead. But you know what really made me happy and run with endurance? When my sister Nan would run with me. I love my sister! It was a joy to run along side her. She would not only would encourage me but she literally was acquainted with my current pain and guess what..I knew she would win. She always won. She always always always won! If she was running with me I knew I could make it.

In the same way, as we endure this broken world and live as missionaries here, we have the blissful and amazing comfort of Jesus’ presence! He personally knows our pain and He has won! He gave us victory! So we keep running to the end of our lives, cheering our brothers and sisters on, warning anybody and everybody of the danger at the end of life if they do not have Christ and giving Jesus the glory that we are able to run and run with endurance and inherit the kingdom! Jesus is bliss. Jesus is sweet. Jesus is with us. Far too often than I want, I just mess up. I want to give in to desires that are not Godly. I want my OWN way. Yet the giver of gentle breezes is worth far more than the breeze itself.

Family Life, foster care

How You Can Support Foster Families

One night this week I was overcome with anxiety. Getting in my car seemed a little dramatic so I left the baby with my husband and ran downstairs to the garage. A room I particularly loathe due to the abundance of camel crickets and lawn equipment.

I crouched down and held onto the side of the old stroller and sobbed. At times my breath came in gasps and I wondered if I was having a panic attack. I remembered how last year I would gag with nausea when things got particularly stressful as a foster parent. We were going through a difficult time with a teenage foster son.

I hadn’t felt nauseous in a while but I did that day after court for our foster baby. And as I sat on my ankles in that damp room, with the stacks of Bob Dylan CD’s and the rows of paint cans, I cried out. God. Don’t forsake me. Don’t hide your face from me. I cried until there were no more tears left.

Then I went back upstairs, got the baby ready for bed and read books with my daughter. I had felt like I couldnt breath but I took the next breath. And so the night went on.

I wrote the above last summer on my blog when we were going through a particularly difficult season as foster parents and I never published it. Maybe I didn’t want anyone to think I was losing my mind, though those closest to me knew how greatly the court case was affecting me. How much I cared for this little baby and what happened to him. I wanted him to be safe and I didn’t have that control. It’s a hard place to be and it can feel all-consuming.

As I write this today our foster baby is still with us and his case has greatly improved. So it feels like we are in a much better place. But for the past few years it’s been tough trying to fulfill this calling to help children in need.

Maybe you’ve thought about being a foster parent but you aren’t in that place right now. You might know how great the need is and want to help but aren’t sure how you can. I wanted to share three ways you can support foster families. Hopefully these ideas will give you a little insight into what a family in your group of friends, church or community might need.

1) Throw A Shower

Often foster families are licensed for more than one child or have decided they are open to receiving placements of different ages. So it’s nearly impossible to plan for every child who may come into your home. Often children arrive with nothing but a trash bag of clothes and sometimes they come without anything. We picked up our baby from the hospital and went home with only the outfit he was wearing and a bag full of blankets hospital volunteers had donated. We spent over $1000 that first week just getting basic things we needed. I was SO grateful for friends who gave me bags of baby clothes from their attics or sweet relatives who sent clothes or dropped by with an outfit or bottle warmer. We had less than 6 hours from the time we got the call to the time we brought baby home. So that’s not a lot of time to prepare.

Yes, maybe it feels strange to throw a shower for a child who could leave at any time. But foster parents are required to send anything bought for the child with the child if they leave- so not only are you helping a foster family but you are also helping a biological family in need. And, the stipend for foster care is low. Many assume it covers everything and foster families are set. Families who want to truly provide for the child in their home end up spending A LOT of their own money. As you do with your kids. And when kids are coming and going this can really tax a budget.

And isn’t every child worth celebrating? Hosting a quick get together is such a sweet and supportive way to show you care and are ready to embrace this new child. Don’t know the family well enough to give a party? Handing them a gift card is also a wonderful way to show your support. And is so appreciated.

2. Treat a New Placement like a New Baby

When your sister had a new baby you probably brought over a meal. Or maybe offered to babysit her other kids so she could get some rest. No matter what the age of the new foster child coming into the home, foster parents could use some help. Between trauma the child has experienced and getting no sleep because a child is scared of their new bed to signing up for new schools, going to new doctor appointments and navigating home visits, bio parent visits, shared parenting- all in the span of the first week- foster parents are exhausted. We had a couple from our church that we didn’t know well drop off a pot of soup and salad one night after we brought our foster baby home. We so appreciated the effort and thought. Can you become a respite babysitter? Often it just takes a background check and you are approved to babysit so the foster parents can take an evening off.

A call or text means so much and instead of saying, let me know how I can help (we’ll never let you know – it’s too awkward!) just say, I’m thinking of dropping off a pizza tonight in case ya’ll could use a break, is that ok? And this is also appreciated even when the child has been in our home for months. Sometimes that’s when a lot of foster parents can get burnt out trying to care for children from hard places. It often gets better- children get more settled, routines get established- but sometimes it gets worse.

Kids who are now in a safe place step out of survival mode and then the difficult behaviors start up. We’ve all navigated the tantrums in the store- but magnify that by 100 when trauma is involved. It can be hard and we need to know we are doing a good job. Once my sister mailed me a care package with the essential oil Valor in it. Just that name made me tear up. I wasn’t feeling brave- I was scared that foster care was becoming too hard. And her sending that made all the difference.

3) Watch Your Words

This one is hard, because I have had so many well-meaning people say hurtful things. And I know they didn’t mean to be hurtful! So I wanted to tread lightly- but still let you know what’s important to hear and not hear as a foster parent. First, we can’t share details of the bio families. So asking if the baby was born on drugs – or where the parents are- or what they did- it’s best just to avoid these questions. Especially in front of the kids. Even young kids can understand that it’s not normal to not be with their birth families. And questioning the details in front of them makes them feel like THEY aren’t normal. I had someone ask a previous teenage foster son how he liked his “new” parents. Actually, he would much rather have been with his “old” parent, his bio mom, and again- the question made him feel like there was something wrong with him.

I always introduce my foster kids as my sons or daughters. Because at that moment, that’s what they are. So when you are speaking to them or about them, treat them the same way. And let’s avoid the horror stories. The ones about friends who fostered or foster kids you read about in the news. Foster care is nuanced and every case is different. Just because you saw on CNN that a teenage foster child burned down the foster families house does not mean every teenager in foster care would do that.

Another question I get asked all the time is, are you going to adopt so- and- so? The reality of foster care is we often don’t know. And some families are fostering just to foster and not to adopt. Again- saying this in front of the child is a definite no. They know deep down that their futures are up in the air. Some want to be reunited with their birth families and some would like to adopted. But they don’t have a say in the matter and neither do we. So a better question would be, how can I pray for you?

And that leaves me with the last point, which I’ll just leave under this one. Pray! I cannot tell you how thankful I am for ALL the prayer warriors who pray with us and for us. Even people we don’t know well will let us know they are praying for us. It means more than you can know.

Support for foster parents can make all the difference in whether these families continue to foster or give up because it gets too hard. You play such an important role as supporter. I often think of my extended family as a foster family too- because they are helping and encouraging us and that’s a ministry in and of itself.

So thank you!

-Claire