Friday, October 22, 2010

And so it starts....God you are in control....

Well, MAPP classes have officially started and my heart is broken before the Lord as we learn more and more about the system....but being broken before the Lord is a good place to be.

The classes are on Thursday nights from 6-9pm and there are 8 couples in the class.  The class is divided almost equal with parents looking to adopt from the system and parents looking to foster.  We adore everyone in our class.  To say they are "good people" just might be the under statement of year ;).  Everyone comes to the class for different reasons but everyone who comes there is there for one central goal in mind - making an impact on a child in the name of Jesus.  It's beautiful, wonderful and heartbreaking all at once.  It's a twist of emotion that lays heavy on my heart - for one mans biggest gain is another's biggest loss.  There are no winners in the children's sad stories but there is a big God who is in the business of making things right and healing old wounds.   He is meeting the children's needs at Florida Baptist Children's Home and he's using us.  That's a huge honor....

Getting into what the classes are like I'll do a simple run down and go into detail in the next few weeks.  We started the first class off by doing an ice breaker.  We met one person by a card matching game and had to introduce them.  It was a great way to hear about everyones story, find out why they there (to adopt or foster) and a little bit about their personal life.  After that we were giving a big packet of papers that we use as an outline for the class.  The first class was mostly a lot of legal information and identifying what "needs" are and how we as foster and adopted parents can meet those needs.  And identifying what our own family "strengths" are.  It was very interactive and we had great class discussion.  Then of course there's the was reading about a case and assessing the situation.   It's very important to see each situation for what it is and also seeing it from the child's point of view.

The reality is this, even if a child is being abused they don't usually want to be ripped away from the only home they know...from the only parent they know.  It seems crazy to think that a child would want to stay in a home life where they are being abused or neglected but the reality is...that's all they have EVER known.  So what do you expect?  Taking them out of their home is about the most traumatic thing that can ever happen to a child who most likely blames themselves for their abuse in the first place.  It's hard to wrap your mind around this but as a foster parent, in most cases you are providing a loving home for a short while and at the same time encouraging the parents to make changes so that they can get their children back.  The goal is reunification when at all possible - I truly get that.  No matter how I feel about the parent or the situation at hand the true goal is to love the child and parents through the storm.

I'm going to finish this post up by answering a few questions that people have asked me recently regarding fostering...

1.  Some people say to me "Won't it be too hard to give the child back...I know I couldn't do foster care because I would get too attached to the child?"
A - This has been something that I honestly can say I'm not struggling with at the moment.  Maybe it's because I haven't had a placement yet but I feel like the Lord is preparing my heart in many many ways.  He is working on my heart to provide a loving home for a child and all the while helping me TRULY understand its NOT ABOUT ME.  It's about the child and once it becomes about me and about my feelings I'm not doing it for the right reasons.  That's when we will need to step back and take a look at the situation we are in.  Now with that I'm not saying I won't be attached to the child.  I'm SURE I will be but if I didn't love them like my own child then I wouldn't be doing my job.  I expect it to sting...that's the point.

2.  How long will the child be in your home?
A- This all depends but typically there is a plan in action for either reunification or TPR (termination of parental rights) within a year of the child coming into the care of the state.  So at the year point we would know what direction the case was going - either the child going back to the parents or being adopted.  However, it could be as short as only a few months or weeks that the child would stay with us.  It really is all a case by case situation.

3.  Can you choose what type of child will be placed in your home?
Yes and no.  You can have an idea of what you want - say an age range, a sibling group or a single child  and maybe a gender but you can't exactly hand pick the child for your family.  I believe that God has that under control and I have to give that control up to the one who brought us to this point.

Okay well this is long enough Ill answer a few more question and keep you updated on the MAPP classes in a few days!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homeless....Our story loving the "least of these"

Lord, never stop breaking my heart for what breaks yours.....

I know this is far off the topic of fostering children but I wanted to share from my heart a few things that we have been doing recently and what it has done for us and our children.  We won't have much to update on the foster situation until we start the MAPP classes (which start in 2 weeks - October 14th).  We are anxiously awaiting the start to this wonderful new adventure.  In the mean time we are striving to do what we can to love on God's beloved people - "the least of these".

After we read the book Radical a few months ago we felt a desperate sense of urgency to get out there and be the hands and feet and to share Gods message.   A family friend of ours asked us about going downtown about 2 months ago to bring some food down to feed some people.   What was suppose to be a one day event has turned into a weekly/biweekly ministry that has blessed not only a few homeless people downtown but also our family in ways that could never be expressed in words - it has blessed our hearts.

We have formed a friendship with a few homeless people downtown in the past 2 months - Carolina and Joe to name a few but the one who has stolen our hearts is a precious man named Rodger.  He sits on a bench in Munn Park the whole day until his bench is hit by the hot summer sun.  It is then that he moves under the shade of a special little coffee shop downtown (God Bless those owners they have truly shown compassion on this sweet mans life).  I will never forget the day we first met him.  He was in the shade of the coffee shop with his personal items lined up against the wall as he looked up at us from his work with his glasses on the edge of his nose.   He had been working away drawing with the only pencil he had on the only paper he had - drawing the most beautiful drawing I have ever laid my eyes on.  My heart pounded in my chest as we asked him if he wanted something to eat and drink.  Thinking he might reject our efforts because he is passed by, by so many people that reject him on a daily basis I was surprised by his kind voice as he spoke with a soft sweet "Yes, thank you, please sit."  So thats exactly what we did.  We sat with Rodger as he ate that night, we learned about Rodger, we loved Rodger.  Our girls loved Rodger.  God loved Rodger.

As we learned about him we asked him about his life, his family and his situation.  He has many health concerns that we were able to pray with him about that day and some personal items he needed that we are able to meet on a weekly basis.  He asks for things like socks, jackets, jeans, bug spray and of course food and water. It sometimes seems like what we do for him is far too little but God knows his needs and is meeting him right where he is.

A story comes to mind of a recent encounter with our friend Rodger.  My friend Ashley, her husband and their twin 2 year old children were with us this past week downtown.  Rodger wasn't at his normal place but all of his "stuff" was so we knew he was close by.  We went in search for him and we found him.  We told Rodger we had food for him and he said he was just at a near-by restaurant trying to get a meal that night but didn't see the right person and had no luck.   That is, he said, until he saw us.  God is so good isn't he?  He was starving that night as he ate two of the sandwiches we brought.  He was full, we were full, God was full.  It was beautiful.  On this night Rodger had a concern about his finger that seemed to have an infection.  My friend Ashley said, "is it warm to the touch?" and he said, "I don't feel."  And she did - she didn't even flinch she just reached out grabbed his clearly infected finger and did what most people wouldn't do in a million years, felt for the warmth of an infection.  That day I saw Jesus in her actions complete and utter disregard for her own health and I don't think she even realized what a beautiful thing she did.  To some it may seem like nothing, to most it would be too gross even look at but to her she was just loving a man the way Jesus would have loved him and it was beautiful.  I will never forget her kindness that day.  She is a beautiful person, inside and out.

Rodger tells us he doesn't want to be off the streets.  He tells us that it's his life, it's what he knows and what he loves.   That seems hard for any of us to wrap our minds around.  To accept that his simple life is condensed into two big bags and that's the way he likes it?  I'm not sure what the future holds for our sweet Rodger but I do know that God loves him and so do we.  Our children pray for Rodger every night and so do Brett and I.   I say none of this boast of what we are doing but I speak from my heart to open up the blind eyes of those who walk by these people everyday.  Those scared to death of what it might mean to actually form a relationship with a homeless person.  To be Jesus to one person that needs to see Jesus.  My heart pours out with love for God as we love Rodger I am full of faith in my big God when I see Rodgers needs, on the street, being met.  He is a big God isn't he?  We give you all the praise Lord.  You alone are worthy.