Friday, November 13, 2015

Foster Parenting: Living in an IF World

Kids say things like "if I'm here when......."  Or if I go home then...."  If I'm here for my birthday can I...."  IF.  IF.  IF.  Our day and our conversations are filled with that little word.  I can only provide so many answers and so many certainties.  I can say things like "well when we have court next time we will know more."  or "there won't be any changes until....."  The truth is this is a very uncertain time in the life of a foster child and the foster family.

We can make plans several months out, but things can change.   A family member may step forward to take custody.  A judge can decide a child is staying in custody.  There is a standard timeline cases usually follow.  There is an initial 5 day hearing, a 30 day hearing, a 60 day and then a 6 month hearing and a 12 month hearing.  So to the child they have their eyes set on each of those dates.  The plans are as follows until that next date then the great big IF reappears.  At each of those markers something could change.   Around 9 months an evaluation of the long term plan is addressed.  Is a return home still the most likely situation?  Is this case moving in the direction of termination of rights?  Does an adoptive family need to be found?  For the sake of the child a huge push has come to shorten the length of time the birth family has to get on their feet and be ready to assume parenting responsibilities again.  This is meant not to totally severe the ties with family or to punish anyone, but to provide more permanence and a lot less IF World living for the child.

With our current set of children we are between the 60 day and the 6month hearing.  We hear a lot less IF talk these days, but it still surfaces almost everyday.  I would encourage you to pray for the children in your community who live in this IF World.  Here are a few ideas to get you going:

*healing from past abuse and neglect
*a sense of self worth
*courage to tell their story
*support at school
*birth families to find stable jobs/housing
*freedom from addiction
*support for foster families
*knowledgeable foster families as they deal with difficult behavior
*healthy attachments
*a belief that they are loved

With love,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fine Tuning Our Spiritual Perception

Jesus had just fed 4,000 men with 7 loaves of bread.  Many people followed after him in search of a cure for their afflictions and found precisely that.  Demons were called out of people, chains broken both physically and spiritually and countless healed.  Even nature obeyed the commands of Jesus.  The disciples themselves were not only front row witnesses to all of this, but participants being sent out in twos with the power and authority of Jesus.

And yet they still didn't get it.

In Mark Chapter 8 the disciples found themselves on a boat again hungry and tired from the days work.  Imagine with me this scene of grumpy gruff fisherman complaining about not having enough bread for dinner.  Then enters Jesus the scene.

"Aware of this, He said to them, "Why are you discussing that you don't have any bread?  Don't you understand or comprehend?  Is your heart hardened?  Do you have eyes, and not see, and do you have ears, and not hear?  And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of pieces of bread did you collect?" Mark 8: 17-19a

And yet they still didn't get it.

We can look at them and wonder how on earth did they NOT get it?!  They witnessed miracle after miracle.  

And yet they still didn't get it.
But neither do we.

Just as Jesus questions them, he says to us, "Do you remember?"  Though remembering may not help us if we never understood in the first place.  It is important for us as believers to be aware of the work God is doing in and through us.  We need to fine tune our spiritual perception.  I believe we do this by not just being focused on earthly or bodily concerns.  Especially as parents we can get caught up in the what's for dinner, who is taking Susie to soccer and what are we going to do about little Johnny's grades kind of thought patterns.  I am guilty of this too!  What's for dinner is a huge question around here EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I often fret about what I am teaching my kids.  Am I doing enough as a homeschool mom?  Add foster parenting to my list of earthly concerns and I am drowning in thoughts not set on God or my spiritual life.
Unless we have the discipline of setting our minds on what is above and not on what is on the earth (Col. 3:2) then we are totally going to miss some cool stuff!  What may have seemed like a random thought or occurrence was actually the God of the Universe directing your day.  That promotion at work may not have been your boss finally noticing all your hard work, but  God expanding your sphere of influence for his glory and meeting your financial needs as well.  This list could go on.  God is at work in every area of our lives if we would only perceive it.

The other issue at hand is the remembering of such events.  How often do we  like the disciples see the amazing work of God in our very own lives then so quickly forget the next time a crisis arises or a need surfaces?  Over and over again we forget.  I have been focusing on this discipline with my kids in our study of the Old Testament.  The children of Israel were told to remember.  They had feasts to help them remember.  They set up stones in honor of God to help them remember.  The take away should be for us that remembering the work of God in our lives is vital to our spiritual growth and our faith overall.

"Be careful that your heart doesn't become proud and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery."  Deuteronomy 8:14

When I was a girl my dad would tease me when I was having a moment struggling to trust by saying, "Oh ye of little faith."  I always thought that was something he made up to teach me.  Little did I know that those were not my father's words.  Imagine my surprise when I was reading my Bible one day and saw in bright red letters Jesus saying those words!  Needless to say my dad had a big chuckle when I called him to share my revelation.  Looking back helps us fine tune our spiritual perception.  Though we may not have realized it at the time, we can learn now from what God has done in our past.  Many lessons learned in life come as a process rather than a radical change.  It was said many times in the gospels that the disciples didn't get it, but a time came when they did.

"So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. 
 And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made."  John 2:22
 "His disciples did not understand these things at first.  However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him ."  John 12:16a

And we too can share in that legacy of faith that at one time we didn't get it, but I hope one day it will be said of me, "She believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made."  Be patient in this endeavor and remember that it is a process that takes time.

With love,