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Forgiveness

“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have to say the word… 

Forgiveness!”

There are so many things I would share with perspective foster parents or those who are curious to learn and understand more of the journey that foster parents walk on a daily basis.  One of the biggest things I think I would share would be the act of forgiveness.  Which, for us, this has by far been one of the hardest things to come to grips with.  I might add that my husband and I are at different places in this area of our lives.

Growing up I was taught to forgive quickly, never to hold a grudge and to move forward.  I really knew no other way, because that was HOW we were taught and HOW my parents truly lived.  As an adult, I still live by that today and tend to hold little in when it comes to not forgiving.  I tend to be less forgiving towards things and diseases rather than people.  That was all very true until we began fostering.

Up and to that point, I could forgive and walk away if needed, or I could forgive and move forward.  In this journey, that came a little harder.  It was, and still is an on-going process.  You see the word FORGIVE is a verb… it’s what you do, and it is something (I believe) you have to do daily.  You have to choose it, sometimes daily and sometimes by the second…it’s not easy, it messes with your thoughts and questions HOW you could ever offer someone that kind of grace when they have done what they have done.

“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
Its always angers own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
Its the whisper in your ear saying Set It Free”

The grace we have is not ours that grace comes from the Lord.  He extends that beautiful gift to us, not only because we need it, but because we are to offer it as well.  I think once we understand that, we are able to extend that gift more freely.  Additionally, Matthew 18:18 tells us that what we bind on Earth, we bind in Heaven.  So with that thought, it is grace and finding peace that allows us to set it free!

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you erase what has happened, it doesn’t mean that you continue to ‘entertain the circus’ and allow yourself or your children to be continually subject to those actions, but forgiveness allows you to move forward, to see things differently.  There is much power in forgiveness, it is actually very freeing.  I also believe that while you may not want to ‘entertain the circus’ sometimes you must… against your own will… when you would rather walk away, well, run away!

“It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you”

 

In the realm of foster care, there MUST be forgiveness.  Not only for yourselves as adults, but to teach your children.  When you show them how to forgive, their lives improve.  They can ‘clear the bitterness away’ in their own hearts.  That can more effectively deal with their past, present and subsequently their future.  It doesn’t matter if it is a story of reunification or adoption, forgiveness is a MUST!  There comes a point where you have to understand that the biological parents are NOT the enemy, rather they are an opportunity.  As a Christian, it is our ‘duty’ to live out our faith.  To show mercy, love, give grace, and to offer them everything Jesus would offer us.  In essence we show them Jesus, we introduce them to this amazing savior who can right every wrong.  Not only do we offer that forgiveness to the biological parents, we teach the children in the process that there is something greater at work.  It truly is a powerful thing when the children can witness those positive, forgiving interactions between the foster and biological parents.

It’s not easy, it can take a long time, and it is even cyclical.  This song I have been referring to throughout this blog was written about a woman who lost her daughter in a car crash when she and a friend were hit by a drunk driver.  The families not only forgave this young man, they asked for a reduction in his sentence and shared Jesus with him.  Today Renee (mother of the child) and Eric (driver) tour the country TOGETHER sharing their message about the consequences of drunk driving and beauty of forgiveness.

I am sure that Renee never imagined this journey, nor did she ever imagine the depths and breaths of her forgiveness.  I am quite sure that she never imagined an artist taking her tragedy and turning it into a popular Christian song that shares a beautiful message of what can happen when we learn to love the unlovable and reach the unreachable.  If she can offer that forgiveness, if she can face the one who caused that unbearable pain every single day, then why can’t we as foster parents, why can’t we as human beings?

“Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible”

I feel that I have finally reached that point in our journey.  It took time, it was and is an on-going process.  I prayed, analyzed, cried, got angry, screamed, and went through every emotion imaginable.  NOT for my own pain, but for what children endure.  God broke my heart long ago for children.  I believe that’s one of the reasons I became a teacher.  I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child.  Now as an adult, having fulfilled my ambition to teach, and now our calling into foster care, I feel that same way, to make a difference in the life of a child.  I can’t change their past, but I can love them in their present situation and offer them the hope for the future.  It’s not perfect, it is often quite messy and at times unpleasant, but I found one thing to be true.  You can absolutely hate the sin and not the sinner.  And when the time comes and you are standing face to face with that person, you can offer them grace, and show them Jesus.  It’s a difficult lesson, but a powerful one and necessary one.  There comes a point where being angry isn’t being productive and your energy spent on that anger is damaging more than just yourself.

“I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me”

My final thoughts are simple, and while it’s not full-proof in my own life, and there are several situations that I would love to see changed, I can honestly say, in any situation I am involved in, whether it is family, friends, work, or foster care, I absolutely have come to a place of forgiveness in my life.  I hold nothing in any longer and pray daily that in spite of the forgiveness I have chosen, that it may not be reciprocated, and that is fine.  We all have fences that are in need of being mended, some choose freely to mend those fences and restore those relationships and others choose to mend those fences and walk away.  I never like to walk away, but I understand that sometimes it is necessary.  I also believe that even after you have chosen to walk away, there is always opportunity restore those relationships… at least that is how I see it.  Jesus wouldn’t turn you away if you chose to come back to him, he would restore that relationship, so why should I be any different!

Matthew 6:14-15 ~ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Song – Forgiveness by Matthew West

2

Called, “Not” Qualified!

This is an exciting update… at least for me this is REALLY EXCITING!!!

Throughout our journey, I have found myself terribly bothered by certain things.  So much so that I have been praying and working towards making a change in the foster care system!   In an ideal world, I would overhaul any bad parts of the system, make it work FOR the children and ensure that anything else that needed changed, got changed!  I would also live out my “BIG DREAMS” of what has been placed upon my heart for kids in care!

A little over a month ago, I received a letter from our agency.  In the envelope where two letters. When I got to the second letter, I became so excited that I could hardly stand myself.  I had been praying so hard for an opportunity to make a difference in the realm of foster care!  The front of the letter detailed information about a newly forming Foster Care Advisory Board for our county!  I was so excited… until I turned over the paper and read the requirements to be considered for the position.  After looking at the requirements, I realized that I did not meet two criteria.  I also realized quickly that the deadline was the next day and you were to call for an application!  So when my husband got home from work, I quickly discussed it with him. Always supportive of my dreams and having knowledge of my career history, he convinced me to call for an application.

The next morning, I left a message with the gentlemen concerning the position.  Upon returning my call, we discussed my interest, my experience, and my concerns regarding the criteria. He encouraged me to fill out the application, as they had extended the deadline through the end of the month.  Of course, I was willing to throw my hat into the ring fully knowing that it may be a long shot.  A few days later I had received the application, I immediately filled it out and attached (since the application didn’t ask) a letter stating what I felt qualified me for the position.  I mailed it off the same day and honestly, put it out of my mind until the actual due date!   That day I gave it a moment’s thought and said, “Lord, whatever you have for me.”

Well, yesterday, I received a phone.  It was the same gentleman, He asked me for my email address, so that he could send me the information and meeting dates for the board.  Me being, well, ME, said, “Wait, so I am on the board?”  He replied, “Yes!”   It was kind of funny, I believe there was a chuckle with that yes as if I was asking a stupid question… I mean after all, I was (by their standards) not qualified.  Of course I was overwhelmed, humbled and excited!  Here’s my chance to do some SERIOUS work and help kids in need!  My first text was to my husband, his response… “WOW!”  I think we both thought that it was a long shot, but worth a try!  My second text was to our agency caseworker!  Of course she congratulated me and told me to get to work!  My third text was to my parents and well, they were just plain old proud!

I was so humbled, excited and completely overwhelmed to be a part of this.  I truly believe that this group can have an impact on HOW we care for kids!  I can’t wait for the new year and cannot wait to get started!  I am really looking forward to working with the county and others who share the same passion.  One thing was confirmed to me, HE doesn’t always call those who are most qualified, but HE certainly qualifies the called!  Part of me feels badly for being a doubting Thomas, or showing my insecurities like Gideon, worrying like Martha or being impatient like Sara.  God used each of these and many more.  Moses stuttered, yet he led boldly.  Now here I was praying to God and telling him of my lack of qualifications… yet there was no reason to feel insecure, to doubt, and worry because God already had a plan long before it was ever a desire in my heart!  My only prayer as I start this new adventure… is that I, along with the other board members make a difference in the life of a child!

 

Jeremiah 1:6-8 ~ “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

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Ready, Set, Go!!!

Our morning started much like any other typical work day, Jason and I went through our normal morning “routine” in getting ready for work.  He always tells me he loves me and kisses me before he leaves.  It was at that point I noticed the anticipation and smile in his eyes.  I can always tell exactly how my husband feels by looking into his eyes.

My morning devotional was just further confirmation of God’s plan.  I have to be perfectly honest here and say, I have been slacking in my morning devotionals.  Today when I opened the website (Proverbs 31) I began to read… wouldn’t you know it, it was about making your life your mission field.  The first paragraph was about adoption, and I smiled, because I knew that wasn’t a coincidence… rather what I call a Godincidence.  His timing is perfect and His ways are just… Ahhhh – I love when I can feel His presence.

Now we are home and we can officially say – IT IS OFFICIAL, we have started the process!  Words cannot express our feelings this evening during the orientation.  While questions are swirling in our heads and new dreams are beginning to form, we were drawn back to a saying that has become our mantra… If only for a moment!  If only for a moment, we are given the privilege to pour into their lives, to love them, offer them consistency and stability, it will be worth it!  At the end of the orientation, without hesitation, our application was officially submitted.  We left with smiles on our faces and gratitude in our heart, gratitude for a Savior that called us to this “mission field.”  There were two phone calls made on the way home.  The first call was to my mom, she is so over the moon with excitement for us!  The second call was to a dear friend that has walked this journey herself.  Her words of support and love only added to the excitement.  A final text would round out the night in sharing this journey.  I was asked what the best part of the night was and my answer was simple… “Honestly, knowing we are doing the will of God.”  We are feeling so thankful and blessed.  It is simply overwhelming… in a good way!!!

Today’s scripture verse is from Galatians 5:13 ~ You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

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God’s Plan…

There is a saying that goes… make a plan and God laughs!  How true those words have been for us!  From the beginning we wanted to start a family immediately… that was our plan.  Being a little older than most newlyweds and having established careers, it seemed logical and right for us.

Having been married a little over a year, we have had what you would call a whirlwind of events during our first year of marriage!  It went a little something like this… marriage, job promotion for the husband, difficulty getting pregnant, job change for the wife, routine check-up, unusual finding, thyroid cancer diagnosis for the wife, and treatment!  By the time we reached our first year anniversary, which was eventful in itself, we knew that God was certainly in control and his plan was greater than ours!

About six years ago, while still single, I (Bridgette) sat in the pew at my church and listened to a woman give her testimony about her adoption journey.  I knew in that moment, that God had called me to adoption.  While I was eager to answer the call, I was apprehensive because I was single at the time.  Seeking out an agency and exploring my options, I was still ready to move forward.  Then, in the blink of an eye, my family’s lives would be forever changed.  My beautiful niece and god-daughter had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at seven months old.  It was then that I had quietly decided to not mention it any further and simply support my family in this journey.  As my niece finished her journey, I had begun to think about starting the process again… once again, God had another plan.  This time we would walk a journey of cancer with my mother.  Nearly six months out of treatment and here we were, hearing those words again.  Needless to say, that calling was put on hold!

In September of 2010, I would meet my husband for the first time.  From the beginning we both knew that we would be married and again, life had changed… We were married on a perfect, sunny, 80 degree day on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012.  We knew we wanted a family and being older we knew that if we wanted children we would need to try to start a family right away!  When that didn’t happen in the first six months of marriage we decided to see a fertility specialist.  Routine check-ups led to a cancer diagnosis.  Once again, that word entered our world, and this time, it was said to me.  I was never more thankful that it was contained, and extremely treatable.  Being given a clean bill of health and having everything go according to the protocol, we were blessed and we knew it!  We were instructed to wait until July of 2013 before starting a family!  In the meantime, God had other plans…

In February of 2013, Jason and I found ourselves looking for ways to give back, pay it forward, to get involved in our church and to be a positive change in our community.  In one text and follow-up phone call, our lives had changed.  We had expressed interest in becoming involved in the Empty Chair Orphan’s Ministry at our church.  It was then that I was asked to step up as the educational coordinator for the group.  Without hesitation, I wanted to say yes, but I knew I needed to talk to my husband about it.  Needless to say, his response was YES!!!

Within two months’ time, while preparing educational materials and researching we had made the decision to become foster parents!  For us, we simply could not ignore the statistics.  We decided that even if only for a moment we could pour into their lives, love them, keep them safe and give them a nurturing place to grow, we would be that change or that chance in their lives.

So here we are today, our home is being re-organized to prepare for a child!  We are excited to start our orientation class this week and our training classes this weekend.  In the meantime, our home is full of a lot of hustle and bustle of getting a room ready for a child we don’t know… WE ARE EXPECTING!!!  We are not sure how old, what gender, what needs, or anything else we should be expecting, but we are thrilled.  We have new carpet on the way, new boy bedding (we already have girl bedding), toy box, dresser, and neutral decorative items have been purchased.  Our goal was to prepare a room that would be inviting, nurturing, empowering and safe for a child.

I think we are ready; we are open to God’s plan and realize that HE is in complete control.  Our fears, concerns and anything else we “worry” about are in his hands!  We know one thing for sure… we want to carry out God’s mandate in James 1:27 ~ “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”