Last week I had lunch with a friend that got my thoughts swirling on some things I just can’t seem to shake.
Mary works for DHS, and she shared with me a story of a 17 year old girl who is living in a shelter right now. She can’t live with her mom right now, not sure what’s up with the dad, but ultimately until someone provides a temporary home for her, she’s stuck living in a shelter.
Living in a shelter.
17 years old.
I have had thoughts before of foster parenting, especially after reading this short but heartwrenching story, but like a lot of good ideas that disappear when they reach the point of inconvenience and require action, they quickly faded and I went on about my life. But hearing about a situation firsthand made it all just a little closer to home. And home is what I thought about…
My mind raced as I listened to Mary share and explain how foster care works, the required classes, the financial help, the risks as well as the blessings. My heart was getting heavy.
Could I help? There’s no question I was willing.
But…. So many buts…
Do I have room? Do I have time to give another child? Am I financially capable of feeding another mouth? What if I get hurt? What would Jacey think? Good grief Jacey is now 9 years old! Where the heck did all the time go?? Will she ever have a sibling? When? How? WHY am I just now wondering these things??
Later that evening I walked into my office to get something and came to a horrible realization. I have an entire room reserved in my home for a personal office… AN ENTIRE ROOM.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it. It’s painted black with white French doors, built in book shelves, and 5 big windows draped with white swagging treatments. The open floor and mirrored closet doors give me space to work on dances. And the view is just breathtaking. Sitting at my desk I can look to the right and see the downtown skyline, and to the left I can see the capitol, as well as a beautiful sunrise any morning of the week.
It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of having in a home office.
But that day, and every day since then, when I go in to sit at the computer or work on choreography, or jump on the treadmill, I can’t help but wonder if the space couldn’t be used for something more important.
I mean seriously….
A 17 year old is living in a shelter and I have an entire room dedicated to my Mac, my treadmill, books and pictures.
Selfish, ridiculous, outrageous, all words that come to mind when I think of how obvious some needs are and how completely oblivious I can sometimes be to my own ability and power to help _IF_ I’d just DO SOMETHING.
When I think of how blessed I am and what a beautiful thing God did to bring Jacey into my arms, and then ponder all of the children right here in this very city that have no parents, no home, no loving guidance… it breaks my heart. One of our pastor/teachers, Ben, often asks “Is your lifestyle up for negotiation?” I don’t want to be the kind of person that believes it’s possible to put a dent in the world’s misery, even encourages others to pitch in and help, while I sit on my… ellipses are lovely…
I don’t even know if this is God’s will for us, but I’m open. I do know one thing, if God opened that door today, if that 17 year old had been a 5 year old, as much as my heart would love to say yes, I’d be going to bed in tears, because I’m still not qualified or prepared. Being willing isn’t enough, I need to get prepared, get available. So I did all I could do. I took the first step. I contacted DHS. Check!
While I would personally prefer to take in an older child, given the greatest need due to the lack of people that are willing or desire to take in a child in older age ranges, I don’t have a peace about that with Jacey; there are too many reasons and scenarios that I’m not comfortable with. Her protection is my first concern. But outside of that I’m pretty open. I could absolutely eat up a toddler, they are so SPUNKY! What if God gave us a boy??? Woah. or a BABY! O my word… that just sounds… nuts!
This morning Jacey and I discussed the whole idea after I asked her to read out of James. I explained foster care to her, because I wouldn’t want her to confuse that with a sister or brother that she gets to keep forever, and so that she would understand the scripture and why it is I felt we should be open to it. While we may be blessed in the end, it’s not for us that we’re beginning the process, but for a child in need.
That being said, Jacey would love to help a child in need…
that is her same age…
and a girl.
And she wants bunk beds.
And of course, in the true sense of selflessness, she’s already called dibs on the top bunk.
Now, I don’t know if it’s connected somehow, but just about an hour later in the car, Jacey asked yet again if she could see pictures of her “birth angel”… “You keep forgetting to show me,” she said. I hadn’t forgotten. Hmmmm… Maybe tonight.
Jacey has always known she was adopted.
We began reading “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis early on and the chats grew from there. But I’m sure it must take on new meaning for her, as she grows older and understands it with each passing year and with life experience. Perhaps her own story and first hand experience of adoption will help develop that heart of pure religion that James talks about… I really hope so. I pray that all of our experiences grow Jacey’s heart for God and His ways, and His children – not in some legalistic traditional sense, but in ways that set her apart, give here intimacy with her Savior as well as give her eyes that see the hurting, a heart that beats for those that have not, and hands and feet that don’t stall or hesitate, but “go barefoot” as Leen would say. As her mom, I know that right now we are called to make our lives open and available to the hurting that need a place to turn, to if nothing else, be available… and while that can manifest itself in ways that are a leap of faith for me – alone… whew… it is so much more to consider when I look into Jacey’s eyes, it means so much more to trek the path of faith, ministry, and love with her hand in mine. I know the journey my own heart and life have taken with God, but to imagine what He’s doing in hers… Wow, wonder what God will do there…
From everything I’ve experienced, I just know wherever God is doing something, He’s usually at work in a zillion places & people doing many beautiful things, with many purposes at once, so I look forward to seeing what He has in store for us as we open this door and take those first steps.
If you’ve ever considered foster parenting, and maybe just put it off or don’t feel you have enough information to move forward, allow me to make it a little easier for you… click here.
Verse for Today
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…
Lyrics for today
If we gotta start start somewhere why not here…
If we gotta start sometime why not now…
Something here is wrong, there are children without homes
But we just move along to take care of our own…
There’s so much suffering, just outside our door
A cry so deafening … we just can’t ignore…