17 February 2017

foster care needs

"The prospect of having sex with strangers for money scared Jean. But returning to foster care sounded even worse. “I was willing to do whatever I needed to stay away,” she said."

That is a quote from an article I read a couple days ago and I cannot stop thinking about it. Foster care should not sound like a worse option than selling yourself for money.  This girl was 15 years old.  She had been abused by her father since she was 9, and was impregnated by him when she was 13. 

{You can read the full article here.  Its long but worth reading, in my opinion.}

This is a story out of Texas, but I can say that some of the same struggles happen in our local foster care offices as well.  I will admit that there are problems and challenges aplenty. We could spend a good long time discussing all the issues with our foster care system.  It is broken.  

Church, we hold the only answer that can fix this kind of brokenness - its Jesus.  I honestly believe that one of the critical answers to this brokenness is believing families that are willing to bravely say yes. I am not saying this is easy, but do we walk away because its hard?  We shake our head that a 15-yr old thinks prostitution is a better option than foster care, but we ourselves are unwilling to even consider it - in a way, we agree with her. Lord, help us all. 

"If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your strength!
Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?"
Proverbs 24:10-12

I know not everyone is able to foster a child.  But every single one of us should be praying for these children.  And we better be praying for the folks that are currently fostering.  

I am going to be real honest here, we are not currently foster parents nor are we pursuing it.  We are broken over it though, and we are praying hard. I am volunteering weekly at Buttons + Butterflies -- the boutique that serves local foster families. Its wrecking me all over again.  And while it feels small, I know it matters.  

This week I put out a call for some shoes and socks and underwear for a foster momma with four kiddos. There are plenty of clothes for the sizes that she needs but these items were lacking.  

My neighbor sent me a pic of her cart and said she had bought some things for the boutique.  This sort of thing always makes me want to cry -and for a billion different reasons it feels like.  1 - Grateful for the generosity of friends.  2 - Grateful that I get to connect the need to others that can provide for it.  And if I am being honest the other reasons aren't quite so fun to talk about.  Because I see the sweet little items and my heart breaks for the kiddos and what they may have experienced in their young lives.  There are days that I might wish I could just shrug it all off, but God keeps this place in my heart so tender.

I know some of you reading this are puzzled about what you are to do.  Its OK. Take those puzzled questions to God, He will provide answers. 

If right now your heart is beating out of your chest and your hands are sweaty and you think this might just be the time to start the process to foster, don't run from it.  Lean into it.  Faithful God will meet you there.  I know Muscogee County has an orientation coming up next week. I can get you the specifics. If you are on this side of the river, I can track down information for you too.  

If you would like to know more about meeting some of the needs of kids in care, let me know. I know baby items in good, used condition {or brand new of course!} are almost always in need - carseats, cribs, changing tables, etc.  

If you are interested in helping at the boutique I would be happy to chat with you about that. The boutique currently serves Russell County foster parents, they are able to "shop" for the children in their home and they do not have to pay for anything.  If you would like to donate to the boutique, please keep this in mind -- the goal is for this to feel like a boutique for foster families.  We do accept like-new used-clothing, but we do not want this to feel like they are shopping at a thrift store.  When I sort donations -- I don't play, I have a trash-pile, a donate-pile and a keep-pile.  We also accept donations of new underwear, bras, + socks. 

Finally, if you have questions, please ask.  No questions are off the table. This is too dear to my heart to be offended by things people don't know.  

13 February 2017


Y'all this past year had some big growth opportunities!
 Early on in your days of being 5 y'all navigated the loss of a great grandparent.  We saw again how deeply empathetic you are, and the questions you asked about life and death revealed how much you think about things that are hard.  While I was in Michigan and daddy explained about hospice care, Lincoln, you were convinced that we should take grandpa to a different doctor so he could get better.  You couldn't begin to imagine why we weren't trying.  I hope you always have a determined spirit that wants to fight to make things better.
Over the last year, there were many headlines with a phrase that caught your attention - "black lives matter."  We don't shy away from conversations about our different skin colors, so innocently when you heard the newscaster say "black lives matter," Franklin you said, "I am a black life."  And we agreed that you are.  For the next few days you would casually categorize the people around you as a "black life" or a "white life" and as awkward as that felt, it was good for all of us to enter into the conversation.  We talked about the things that make us the same and the things that make us different.  We talked about how sometimes people treat people differently because they are not the same.  You looked at us like that was a crazy thing to do. We hope you'll always be aware of the beauty of the people around you, whether you are the same or not, that you'll recognize the uniqueness of each soul God puts in your path.
You completed pre-K like rock stars, and it feels like so long ago! You did so well in your first "school" environment!
And although it was quite hard on momma's heart you headed off to Kindergarten like you have been ready your whole lives. 
We are so proud of you as you go to school each day - to your separate classes.  While you seem glad to be together at home, you haven't once asked to be in the same class.  You seem to enjoy having space and getting to be your own person.  We are so grateful that you have teachers that love you both so well - and that send the same homework home each week!

Its a joy to hear about how you are doing in your school work, but also as you socialize with your classmates. Now that you are in Kindergarten, you have practiced tornado drills, and fire drills, and even lockdown/intruder drills.  Each of these drills have had follow up conversations at home, and as much as it feels like you are too young for some of these talks, it is also a gift that you come home and want to ask us the hard questions.  We pray that we will always be a safe place for hard questions.

This turning six, it feels like a weird milestone for a momma.  So big, but still so small.  There is a little more letting go, sending you off to grow, and welcoming you home to refresh.  Little increments now, that will continue to ask for more letting go as you grow older.  I sense it now, especially on the days when you try something new.  Like how you were afraid of the ocean at first, but then couldn't stay out of it.  Or when you did the Spartan Race and I worried that it might be too hard, or you might get hurt.  You just go out there with all you have and do your best. We are so proud of you!  We are so glad God made us family.  We pray that you will always seek Him in your life, listening for His voice and following where He leads! Happy happy happy (belated) birthday!  I know SIX is going to be great!