Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Foster Care: One Month Later

Today marks one month that we have had our two little ones in our home. It has been one of the most (if not the most) challenging months of my whole life. Sleep has become somewhat of a luxury, as has significant relationship time with my wife. The stress and demand of being constantly needed, wanted, and called upon can sometimes be overwhelming. However, the little things that happen along the way seem to overcome all of the strife and hardship. The little blessings from God that come in the form of these two little children have helped sustain me. Listening to my wife sing the baby to sleep, ministering to his little ears about the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Being sick recently, and having our 3 year old give me a big hug and say, "I'm gonna make daddy feel better." Seeing a transformation and an attachment grow in both of them in one month's time. Seeing my mom and dad instantly and simply slide into the role of "Gram Gram and Pop Pop (hope my Arrested Development loving friends appreciate what we did there)". Hearing our sweet girl pray to get to go to the zoo again (which funnily enough is progress for prayer time). I could continue on, but I'm tired and am ready to spend time with my wife.

Most of all, after one month of being a full-time foster dad to a three year old and nearly one year old, I see my own sin and depravity and God's lavish love poured out on me in spite of it all. Whether I am kind, caring, and loving to the kids, or impatient, sarcastic, and angry with them, God loves me just the same and gives me exactly what I need regardless. I love these kids and do whatever I can to give them what I believe they need as their father, yet I am sinful and make mistakes and fall short of glorifying God in my parenting daily. But this promise from Jesus in Luke 11:11-13 floors me every time. "11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Wow. Our Heavenly Father is so amazing and "all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory." (1 Corinthians 1:20).

Amen Father. Glory to the name above all names, Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Foster Care and the Glory of God

Hello blogging world. It's been a while. 2.5 years to be (almost) exact. I started this blog a long time ago, when I was a completely different person. I just read back through my posts from 2010 and can clearly remember the struggles, trials, triumphs and comforts of the time, but I see it all as though almost reading a biography, instead of an autobiography. God has changed me so much and revealed himself to me in so many different ways that while my driver's license and (hopefully) physical appearance haven't changed much since my senior year of college, I feel like a changed man. I am married, have a full-time job, a member of a new church, and a foster dad. I have seen my perceptions of who God is and what He is all about change and have had my theology turned upside down and shaken around. God has used men and women along the way to sharpen me, as well as to challenge almost everything I have ever believed or known to be true. It is absolutely amazing, yet also terrifying, to see how much God has shown me of Himself through His Word. Not that I have it all figured out. Not. Even. Close. To quote Paul "Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." (Philippians 3:12) God is so much infinitely grander, greater, and more glorious than I could ever imagine. 

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here is my purpose for restarting this blog. Many of you know that Jennica and I have been foster parents for a couple of months now. It has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences of my life. So, while mopping the kitchen tonight, I decided that it was time to step back in the blogging world to proclaim God's glory in foster care. This blog will not be a regular, set thing; more like just a natural outflowing of the build-up of life. I do not want this to be perceived in any way as a testament to my personal achievement, strength, courage, bravery, boldness, love, sacrifice, passion, etc... That is the last thing I'm going for here, because frankly, without Christ those are impossible things for me to display and only in Christ can they be fully expressed and enjoyed, for His glory. John the Baptist (who Christ describes in Matthew 11:11 as the greatest of those born of women) says it well, "He must increase, but I must decrease." It's all about Christ. He is the one who is eternally increased, enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and when confronted with this beautiful, powerful, awe-inspiring truth I have no choice but to decrease. Which is why any time I believe this blog is getting to much about me, I will (hopefully) have the foresight and humility to step away and refocus on the one thing that is truly worthy of all focus: the glory of God in Christ. 

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of the darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6)

That is my life. 

Foster care is the ministry God has called my family to, but not because I believe we are special or different or called differently than many other Christian families. I don't see this as a unique calling, nor is it one that was given in a dream or vision. It is a calling that is given to all believers, everywhere, all the time. It is the beautiful truth of God, explicitly stated over the pages of the whole Scriptures. God loves the fatherless and the orphan. God, through Christ, took us who were spiritual orphans, with no true Father, only the false father of lies as our "father", and adopted us in a Spirit of sonship. The Father, through the death and resurrection of the Christ the Son and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, has made us children of God, co-heirs with Christ. God did this for us when we had sin and depravity staring Him in the face. Our certain damnation outside of Christ was ours fully and outside of Him we chased and embraced it. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ - by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

In foster care, these children are temporary (and sometimes permanent) orphans through no fault of their own. That is a claim that no man, because of our sinful hearts, can make before God the Father.  Yet even with our sinful hearts He chose to love us anyway and to love us enough to not leave us in our damnable state.

Therefore, when we see the widow, the orphan, the homeless, the alien, etc... we are called to love them with the same sacrificial love with which He loved us. In James 1:27, God calls us to live out the purest and most undefiled form of religion. Part of his description of that is taking care of widows and orphans.

But why be a foster parent? Surface level, we say we do it for the children. Which is true. We have had a 5-year old son in our home for a while and now we have sibling group of a 10 month old boy and 3 year old girl. I love all these kids as if they were my own flesh and blood. But many days, they have been so hard to handle that if I was in it simply for the kids, I would have quit. Pretty terrible thing to say, I know, but I think it's vital to see that even the most moral and upstanding temporal reason will collapse, crash, and burn under enough stress and frustration. On those days, when I've been running on little to no sleep and there seems to be no end in sight to the struggle but definitely an end to how much I can handle, the truth begins to grow more clear. It is those times, when the pain of having a child taken out of your home is tearing your heart out, or the struggle of adapting to new children is crushing you, that the true motivator, underneath all things, keeps you going. The glory of God in Christ our Lord. Jesus Christ, His glory, is beautiful, powerful, real, and at the end of the day all that I can boast or claim. 

This is not a truth that is always easily remembered or lived out, but one that is generally drawn out of me when I am at my weakest "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' "(2 Corinthians 12:9a) 

I pray that the Church will come together and see this great need in our cities, counties, states, country, and world for a renewed passion for the orphans. Yes, I pray that we do it for the children, to give them life and love and an opportunity to have a family. But most importantly of all, for the glory of the God who loves and redeems us. 

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the GLORY OF GOD."
-1 Corinthians 10:31