I signed up for this gig out of obedience to a command.
Lots of days I am unsure of many things except one.
We are called to care.
Far too long I lived with the mindset that the command to care was somehow suggestive.
It is not a suggestion.
It is a clear, explicit command.
Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world. (James 1:27 AMP)
In this post, the focus will be on orphans, particularly those in foster care.
I wish I could be super spiritual and say that I became a foster parent primarily to advance the Gospel but mostly I did it because I want to do what I’m supposed to do and, in my arrogance, thought I’d save the world one child at a time. Funny thing, Jesus is showing me over it’s not about us. Instead, it’s about our desperate need of Him: His forgiveness, His grace, mercy & love.
It’s exciting to see what the Lord is doing in our local community. This morning I had a great FaceTime chat with someone God is about to use in a mighty way that I will tell you more about soon and very soon. I had another great conversation with a local youth pastor and a super exciting chat with a local contractor last week. I’m not sure of the why but there seems to be an awakening. A passion stirring in regards to foster/orphan care and it has set in me holy anticipation of what is to come. The pondering of what The Lord is up to has recently consumed my thoughts which is nice because in a very recent 7 day stretch our five boys (2 bios, 1 adopted & 2 foster) endured the flu, double ear infection, croup & a virus.
Thankfully, today all appear to be on the mend, the weather is mild and the windows are up so I thought I’d share a few things foster care has taught me:
Love without abandon
As if his creamy complexion and eyelashes weren’t enough to cause anyone to covet… but his smile. Gosh, it was infectious and at night, when he would reach up from my lap during story time to tickle my face and say, “I luff you, Mrs. Karmen.” I. just. can’t. and never ever do I want to forget how easy it was to give love and receive love from him. And to think, Jesus loves us like that-a precious, never-ending love without abandon.
We’re all dirty
She wouldn’t stop apologizing. “I’m so sorry you’re having to do this.” “I’m so embarrassed.” “I thought we got it all.” She’d been with us a couple of days before we discovered it. “I’m so, so sorry Mrs. Karmen.” I was standing ankle-deep in a bathtub of water. She was on her knees with her head hanging over the side. Her hair was beautiful, jet black and every bit as thick and long as some of our horses’ tails. I was glad her head was down. I didn’t care that it took six hours. I didn’t love her anymore or less than I did before I knew that she had lice. I just didn’t want her to see me cry. Tears of overwhelming gratitude as I dried and picked her hair clean all I could think about was my filthiness, and the cross and Jesus. Only He has the power to forgive and cleanse us. We’re all dirty and stand in desperate need of a Savior named Jesus.
Everything we need
It was just shy of midnight when I saw the headlights and tiptoed my way to the side porch. I walked slowly towards the van as it pulled to a stop when the door opened & exposed a terrified young girl. Softly, I whispered a welcome & was grateful for the moonlight as she lifted her head. She looked at me as I reached to lift her from her seat when suddenly she leaped like a tree frog wrapping her long legs around me. I did my best to reassure her, gently patting her back as we made our way to the front steps where we sat & waited for the caseworker to unload her medical supplies and very few personal belongings. She appeared unaware and it happened before I realized what was happening. Soft sobs. Hers and mine. Both of us scared. She’d never been away from her mother and I’d never cared for a child with special needs. The emotional, financial, & mental stress I had experienced the few short days before melted away as I rocked her in my arms and hummed Jesus Loves Me. When the clouds gave way to the full moonlight I could see her sweet face. In that tender second that lasted just for a moment, it was as if Jesus Himself reminded me- in Him, we have everything we need.
Each week after our pastor presents the message he faithfully serves us a, “So what?”
So, what’s keeping you from getting involved?
Excuses are excuses are excuses
I will foster when I have more time.
I will foster when I have more money.
I will foster when I have a bigger house.
I will foster when I have a bigger vehicle.
These were mine. My excuses that played on repeat for just over a decade.
But then, one day out of the blue while making my bed these words replaced those.
The Word simply states,
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27 ESV)
Also translated this way …
“Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight and guard against corruption from the godless world. (James 1:27 MSG)
or this way…
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
Nowhere in any translation were my excuses justified.
Nowhere could I find or make okay my if, then scenario.
So, here we are two and a half years and 35 foster kids later using this space to ask you:
Now that you know that it’s a command –you can’t not know.
I’m going to leave you a few thoughts to ponder for yourself because some of you will and others want to do something.
- Pray about how you can get involved. (prayer warrior needed! could you be a mentor? help transport and/or pick kids up? have you been blessed financially so you can be a giver? can you cook a meal? clean a house? do laundry? donate gently used clothes? toys? offer a date night to a foster parent?)
- Google how many children are in foster care in your state? county?
- Write down questions or fears that you have because I’m going to be doing a Live Q & A FB Live next week. If you are interested go to my Facebook page and follow so you’ll know when we’re live.
- Lastly, pray some more. Not everyone can become a foster parent. I get that but EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING! What’s your something?