May 23rd, 2012 by Kristi Stephens
This week Focus on the Family, the Cry of the Orphan, and Show Hope are calling for a prayer vigil for children in the foster care system. I am asking you to join with me in prayer for God to move in amazing ways in the lives of those 400,000 children. Today I am honored to introduce my friend Kristin as she shares the beautiful story God is currently in the midst of writing in their home.
As we began the journey to foster, I was a bit like Peter in some of the stories that we have witnessed in the New Testament. I boldly claimed to surrender it all for Him in this calling to foster. That is, until I actually started to think about what the journey could possibly involve. This would be the cue for the small, horrible, life-sucking word:
As I began to create in my mind images of what could happen in fostering, I began writing pieces of this journey on my own terms. I began to define what would be safe for my family and what would be considered unsafe.
I came up with an age range that I would accept. School aged was clearly unacceptable. This was simply because I could not imagine how the world of homeschooling my own five children could mix with the state requirement of placing any foster children in the public school system. On top of that issue, I heard on a regular basis that any child older than the age of three or so is very difficult to deal with.
Next, I came up with a list of abuse situations that I would be comfortable with, quickly marking off the ones that I would never be able to accept here in our home. Again, I look back at this decision and see that creepy little word hiding in the very depths of my heart:
Fear is often what paralyzes me and keeps me in the place that I define as my comfort zone. Fear is always what confines me to my plans and keeps me from walking in the obedience of His plans.
I’m so thankful that He called me out of my fear and on to this journey of foster parenting (despite the fact that I began kicking and screaming at times).
So what’s the rest of the story that He is still in the process of writing? Three months after we completed state certification along with the paperwork that was driven by my expectations, He sent us a 7 year old girl.
She was three years older than our acceptable age range. As we scribbled down brief notes from her file, I was filled with incredible peace that can only come from Him. My husband and I were both moved by His presence to say yes to the plan that He was revealing to us. Now the question was was she here for a week, a month, forever?
Despite all of the spinning questions in my head during this crazy journey, His powerful presence in our home continues to sweep through the very depths of my heart. His peace began to erase all of my fears.
The first night that we tucked her into her bed, she whispered: “Can I stay here forever?”
Three days after that soft-spoken request, we spent late nights listening as she poured out brief recollections of the evil abuse from her past. She spoke of abuse that I was certain that I could not handle here in my home.
Here I was, sitting in His Presence, filled by His peace in order to become His vessel to a very broken little girl- a girl that spoke of unimaginable abuse.
She continues to pour out her heart to us. Just this week I had to file another report to child protective services. It is maddening, heart breaking and unfathomable. Somehow in this process that should be overwhelming (according to my terms and conditions) I am finding incredible joy in His calling.
We have recently received word that parental rights have been terminated for her case and we will begin with the adoption process. Her name, which means birth, will be changed, Lord-willing, to a name meaning new birth.
He is birthing something new and wonderful here in our home and He is doing so despite the fears in my own heart. There is still some fog ahead on the journey and certainly relief will flood over me when I hear the official words that she is mine. Until then, I know that she is ultimately His. His plan for her life will always prevail.
This has been my prayer for my little girl. This week, I have prayed it as a covering for those children waiting for His families to touch their own lives:
“He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. Come, let us return to the Lord.” Hosea 6:1
My sweet girl, you are torn. He has chosen a great tearing of your heart as a bittersweet piece your testimony. You are struck down, but He will be faithful to bind you up. Come; let us together, return to the One who loves you and to the only One Who can heal you. I will persevere with you to the place where we can rest together and say: He has made our hearts new. Lord, help me to continually place her at the foot of Your healing.
Last, I want to briefly encourage you with this: If He is not specifically calling you to foster parenting, pray for the children who need a foster home. I have had both friends and simple acquaintances tell me that this little girl in our home has drawn them to their knees at all hours of the night. This is incredibly comforting and exactly where His battle is won. If He is calling your family to foster, be encouraged. His abiding peace in your heart will be a roadmap to one of the greatest journeys He could call us to: giving beyond our fears and resting in His arms of peace despite the great evils of this world.
Join us down on our knees for the 400,000 children in the foster care system? Download the official prayer guide here.