Thursday, May 31, 2012

National Foster Care Month: A Huge Announcement!

{It's National Foster Care Month, so I will be sharing a series of posts during May with the hope of bringing these beautiful children to the attention of the Church, to join in the national foster care conversation as well as suggesting ways to get involved, stories that inspire, God's provision for foster families, and challenges to get involved.
Would you STAND UP with us to make a difference?}


It wasn't too long after the babies came to live with us when I looked at Seth on a long ride in the car and asked him a question.  

"I am just wondering....what will the next leap of faith be?"

I am fully convinced that God's plan for our family is not to rest for the remainder of our lives on the fact that we had taken a risk for Him in October 2010.  He wants more from us than that.  I don't want to still be living on the memories of the spiritual football game of '86, so to speak, and I don''t want to be one of those people who is all "I obeyed God this one time when I was 25 and it was scary and it turned out great and now I'm done."  

The Kingdom is an advancing Kingdom by nature, always asking more commitment from us than we can give in the natural, leaving us to lean back on Jesus more and more.

Seth was quiet for a moment and then promised to pray and seek.  I did the same.   

That Voice...the One who speaks with such authority that the mountains shake and the earth trembles and the sea stills at the sound of it....That Voice can make you believe He can speak into a system full of red tape and bureaucracy and sheer brokenness and set up camp by His Spirit right there in the middle of it all.

I heard that Voice again.  Just as if I was sitting right next to Him in those hours of seeking.  

Go on.  You will be an agent of redemption. You have learned my child.  Now you know how to join Me in my work....

His words were quiet but powerful and calling me to more.  

A couple of weeks later, I revisited this topic of springboarding into a new area of faith and trust with my husband, who confirmed everything I was reading and hearing from God.  
"I think it's time we start helping the Church and the Foster Care System get more acquainted," he said softly with a smile.

It was overwhelming. We dreamed and hoped and sought God about what He had for us to do and the vision began to take shape. 
A mandate, a command, a decree from the Lord to be a change agent in this confusing and often disappointing maze of fostering.  

We can sit back and shake our heads, or we can actively connect the Body to the most defenseless children and those that seek to protect them. 

 This is one of the things for which we were created.  That may sound dramatic to you, but when you find the one thing that makes your spirit come alive for the Kingdom, you know it.

"Your one thing births a burning-bush experience in your soul where you sense God himself inviting you into an intentional and personalized partnership with him to renovate reality."  

Bill Hybels wrote that on the pages of a book called Holy Discontent, which at the time I read it, felt as if Mr. Hybels was writing directly to me! 

God's provision always follows His will, so we waited and prayed and dreamed and asked for the finances to start the ball rolling.  Seth and I became more vocal about making a deeper commitment within foster care, and as I spoke at churches I faithfully mentioned the desire to connect churches and foster families, hoping that the right people would hear this dream at the right time.  

However, old fears dogged me again and again.  I am not exactly a "poster mom" for foster care.  I am not always patient with my children.  I was not good at attachment parenting.  In one moment I praise the workers in the foster care system, and in the next moment I find myself angrily frustrated over the laws surrounding the system and how long and drawn out our adoption process has been.  I am a big-picture person and the intricate details of a non-profit make we want to run for the hills.  

As these anxious thoughts swirled about me, I heard Him, graciously planting truth where unbelief was sown.

Daughter, who better than you to help these new foster parents?  Your mistakes and weaknesses make your need for Me evident...your lack will reveal My abundance.  It is I who have called you. Go on.

Some friends of ours who are also foster parents promised to help financially so that was a huge encouragement early in this process.  We kept believing that God would come through for us and kept bringing our inadequacies at the cross.  For His part, God began to orchestrate miracles. 

A few weeks ago, Seth handed me a plain-looking business envelope. I opened it to find a letter written by our aforementioned friends.  After hearing a message on caring for orphans, they knew God was also calling them to a deeper commitment.  Inside the letter was a check for 1500 dollars MORE than they had originally pledged.  They cashed in a small nest egg which was earmarked for a rainy day.  As those fears were clouding my hearing from the Lord, He was nudging them to partner with us in this ministry!  I got down on my knees and praised Him for providing a way.  

Seth and I went to our lawyer, who just happened to have a few minutes free the NEXT DAY!  He agreed to do the work for a reduced fee because he has a huge heart for the Lord and sees the needs of foster children on a daily basis.  

As we talked though, the Lord's provision was overwhelmed in my mind by the daunting tasks he listed off to us.  I started to get nervous and scared...Could we do this?  Could we do it with the excellence God deserves?  I chewed on my fingernails and tried to trust but I left feeling as if a mountain was sitting on my chest.  Maybe I was supposed to help someone else Stand Up for foster families.  Someone better at paperwork and strategic planning and fundraising.

I didn't tell many people at first because I wanted to surprise you all on the blog.  Also, because I was afraid, to be honest.  I was scared that I had gotten in over my head.  Perhaps I heard Him wrong??

I did tell another friend who has been incredibly supportive of our children and family.  I confided in her that we had received the money we needed to have a lawyer help us in the process and that I desperately coveted her prayer and intercession on our behalf.  

Little did I know that very morning she asked God where He had her to give some of her finances.  God knew I needed the encouragement and He prompted me to tell her at just the right time.  
The next time I saw her, she handed me a check for 500.00!  

I think I was so surprised I may have sounded ungrateful, but I was blessed beyond words that the Lord responded to my fears by showing us that He is on board, and that's all we need to know.  

With a heart full of praise, I would like to announce this:
The Stand Up Foundation exists to connect the Body of Christ with opportunities to serve foster families by providing awareness as well financial, emotional, and spiritual support.  

The vision of The Stand Up Foundation is to provide grants for first-time foster families to help cover the up-front expenses of foster care as well as providing grants to post-adoptive foster families to ease the transition.

It is our hope to welcome foster families into the the Family of God and to continue encouraging the Church into the ministry of foster care. 

These are very rough drafts of the logo, mission, and vision statements of the foundation.  Please pray in agreement with us that as we write proposals and structures, God will give us every word.

One of the reasons we decided to pursue the opportunity to grant first-time foster families is that although FPs receive a per diem for each child in their care, a lot of things must be procured in the first week or two of care (things like beds and clothes -- our three came with a few trash bags full of summer clothes that didn't OCTOBER) and it's a financial strain on most families.

We truly covet your prayers as we begin this new adventure.  If you would like to help out in any way, please contact me using the contact button at the top of the blog.   

Will you STAND UP and join us?



Becky Boyles said...

So, so, so proud of you guys! God has called you for just such a time as THIS!!! Know that this girl has your back and is excited to help in ANY way. :)

Angel said...

I will stand up with you! This is awesome! Hopefully when our adoption is over, we can help support you as well! This is amazing! Yay God!

Nicole said...

This is amazing!! I'm so excited for you guys!!! AH! God's redemption is so beautiful. I love you!!

Joni said...

I'm ready to get started! Let me know what I can do!

Joni said...

Ready to get started!