In my opinion, want to know the biggest lie that the enemy tells?
Foster Parents are Superheroes.
When sharing our story, I never want it to seem as if I have it all together. I just don’t…
Last week my kid dumped Chex mix on the floor. I left it for a week.
Yesterday I had to remind my older kid to brush his teeth. It had been a while.
All the while my younger son is completely addicted to watching videos.
My desire is never looking superhuman because that’s NOT attainable. I want to put real faces on a terrible situation.
It’s such a blessing, while in the trenches, to have people lift you up and encourage you. It’s literally has saved me somedays. I have been ready to throw in the towel and a Saint of God will come along and speak like into me. It rejuvenates me!
Foster Care is for Real People.
I want you to see that my family is real, completely normal, yet crazy, and healthy.
We get way too attached because we are normal.
We get angry at their situations because we are normal.
We cry when they cry because we are normal.
My children are completely and totally worth the fight. Regardless of how they got to me, they are wanted.
You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent.
7,000 kids in WV are in foster care. Honestly, I think that CPS workers would be quicker to remove children from unsafe situations if they knew they wouldn’t have to BEG people to put them in their home.
You don’t have to have superhuman strength. You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in child psychology. You don’t have to be anything special. You just have to have a desire to make a change. A willing heart. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Don’t wait for the perfect time. There isn’t one. We don’t foster because of how we feel, we foster because of how the children do. Simple as that. Rise up. Step up. Toughen up… and say yes.
*Lindsay Emswiler is just a regular mom, business owner, and pastor’s wife whose eyes were opened and life transformed when she became a foster parent. She and her husband, Cory, live in Charleston, West Virginia with their kids–two biological, two adopted, and whomever the else the Lord brings their home!
Listen to this week’s podcast to hear more from Lindsay!
Have you ever felt as if the ministry God gave you isn’t part of the popular group?
Does your ministry feel like a wallflower at the church square dance?
Is everyone else lining up to join the popular ministries?
Do people run when they see you coming with your flyers and sign-up sheet?
You may be part of a a fringe ministry. What’s a fringe ministry?
A fringe is defined as:
an outer edge; margin; periphery:
something regarded as peripheral, marginal, secondary, or extreme in relation to something else:
A fringe ministry is extreme in relation to the rest of the church. A fringe ministry is on the outer edge, often considered secondary. Participating in a fringe ministry requires one to be extremely uncomfortable. You must do hard things. Feel frustration at not being heard. You get the back seat of the bus so to speak. Riding in the back of the bus means it’s cold and you get car sick from all the twists and turns. But God is in control. You must have total trust in God to participate in the fringe ministries.
Adoption/foster care is one of the fringe ministries. I know. It’s one God placed in my lap and in my heart. Often people turn the other way when they see me.
“Oh no, here comes Kathleen, she’s going to ask us to foster children, AGAIN.”
“She’s going to ask us to come to the “Thinking about Adoption seminar.”
If you are a fringe ministry, I am sure you have a similar set of stories.
Fringe ministries are ones that ask for a lifetime commitment of selflessness.
You can’t fake an adoption for Sunday morning service. You have to be committed for the rest of the week to raising a child who may not love you back.
Many fringe ministries look great on paper. Running a food pantry. Visiting the sick. Fixing a roof for someone who can’t afford it. Serving the homeless at a mission. They sound amazing. People “ooo and ahh” over them. That’s wonderful. But you know if God has called you to a fringe ministry, they are full of sweat equity and hanging onto the promises of God for provision for dear life.
A fringe ministry is counting loaves of bread at the day old store and sorting out the moldy ones so you have something to give out in the food pantry.
A fringe ministry sitting calmly with a kid from hard places who has punched a hole in the wall because he can’t regulate.
A fringe ministry is circling verses about provision and praying them when there is no money to keep the building running.
A fringe ministry is begging, knocking on doors, cajoling, begging again that people will listen to the message that God is given you that they need to hear but don’t want to.
Often people don’t want to hear what the fringe ministry is all about because they will have their hearts pricked and they would rather be comfortable.
So… what do you do when your God-sized dream is a fringe ministry? I’ll get into five tips tomorrow.
Hey friend, if you feel as if you are in a fringe ministry, could you tell us about it in the comments? If you’re short on time, just name your ministry in three words or less. We’d love to hear from you.
Adoption. It used to be just a word to me. I had no idea what it meant. This Valentine’s Day, I think a post on adoption fits. Adoption is a pure form of love instituted before the world began.
What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?
God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart. Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father.
I huddled beside Anne under the gray metal desk, licking icing from sticky fingers. Cold fear seized me, wrapping its tenacious tendrils around my heart and setting up residence. Sweet donuts heightened my fear, supercharging my blood sugar.
It was a frosty October evening in 1969. My father’s objection to the expulsion of fourteen black football players from Wyoming State University immersed my family in a bitter battle. My father hid us in his office to avoid the tumult on campus.
My parents’ lifestyle in the turbulent sixties and seventies had us on the run from one university town to another. I toddled around with a sense of evil foreboding usually reserved for veterans of Vietnam. My dad ranted and raved about the evils of our society with the stench of alcohol on his breath. We marched for Civil Rights and Dad campaigned for McCarthy. Watergate news coverage blared on the TV while Peter, Paul and Mary played on the stereo. My childhood innocence and sense of wonder was lost. Every anxious day, a new catastrophe loomed on the horizon. My father spent his days off sleeping off hangovers or nursing them with even more liquor. Although the record turntable sang “We Shall Overcome,” my family lived in an oppressive pit.
Then one day, my father burst out of the house like an angry hornet. He jumped in the teal Suburban and sped down the lane. I sat on the back porch , staring at my new red sneakers. My brother ran after him yelling, “Dad, don’t leave!” Tears dripped down his dusty, sweaty cheeks.
My father was gone.
This was my first exposure to the reality of the great divorce of heaven and earth. I was banished from the only Eden I had ever known, flawed as it was. I was a hurt child, reaping the consequences of someone else’s life choices just as children all over the world– children who are victims of circumstances, hunger, rejection, alcohol addiction, depression, rage, fear, punishments, loss of temper, war, famine, prostitution, and drugs. The pit is the same in any language: Deep, dark, and putrid. No matter what the cause of the rejection or abandonment, the feelings are the same. The devastation parallels Adam and Eve’s separation from the Heavenly Father.
All adoption is preceded by sin. Just as my adoption as God’s child was prefaced by my sinful nature, all adoption is foreshadowed by the original sin. The Father knew man would fall, iniquity would enter the world, satan would have dominion, families would fall apart, children would suffer. What was His predetermined response to this?
“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in
Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set
apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love.
For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed)
as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will
[because it pleased Him and was His kind intent].” -Ephesians 1:4-5, AMP
He sent His only beloved Son to restore the breach the great divorce had caused and then adopted us as His own children. I came to know the joy of that adoption for myself and had a heart for lost children, whether lost spiritually or physically. There is a big step, however, from having a desire to leaping into action.
Fast forward 25 Years
On chilly January day, I took our biological children, Audrey, Amerey, and Hunter (at the time, they were 11, 7, and four) out to lunch at the local Ponderosa Steakhouse that my husband managed. In the middle of the meal Jerry was summoned to his office to take a phone call. He returned with a Cheshire cat grin and a question that would change our lives forever.
“What is it?” I asked, immediately able to tell that something was up.
“Remember the adoption information we requested from Tracy? She wants to know when we are going to complete the paperwork and if we would adopt a sibling group of three. I told her I would have to ask my wife.”
“Well,” I stuttered, “Can we pray about it?”
In my heart I already knew we should adopt three. What were my thoughts when I had watched that first international adoption video? How could I just adopt one? My mind raced. The January sun glaring through the window suddenly seemed tortuous.
My intellect bellowed, I cannot handle three more children!
My emotions answered, If three children need me to be their mommy I can’t say no.
“We believe Jesus in heavenly things- our adoption in Christ; so we follow Him in earthly things- the adoption of children. Without the theological aspects, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as a metaphor.”
– Russell Moore, Adopted for Life
What does adoption theology have to do with my reality? I already believed certain things about adoption that I’d studied in the Word and prayed about, but theology isn’t mine unless I put it into practice. It is just something inspiring I read on a blog or in a book. It was time to live my theology.
The rest is history. Jerry and I did adopt a sibling group of four. You can read the book, linked below or listen to a bit of our story on The Whole House Podcast, Episode 3, The Guire Adoption Story.
On this Valentines Day, I want to give a shout out to foster and adoptive parents everywhere! You rock! Really, you do. You are the living example of love lived out. Unconditionally. If I could buy every one of you a giant box of your favorite chocolates, I would! Thank you for living out the theology of adoption every day! Please comment if you have adopted children or you are a foster parent. Tell us a little of your story in a sentence or two!
*Most of this is an excerpt from my book A Positive Adoption Story: The Door from Theology to Reality. It’s a reprint of my first book with an added study guide in the back for personal study or for use with a support group. Email me – Positiveadoption@gmail.com if you have a support group and are interested in the book and study guide.
Every year is a fresh blank slate to fill with Christmas memories. This year was one of those. You may not feel like it right now, your house may be a mess. Christmas has worn you out. Right now, take a moment and breathe deeply. Ponder the season. Look back through the tips and count up how many you used. Guess what, even if you only did ten or five, you did more than you would have done if you hadn’t read this Advent Devotional. Go YOU!
* * *
I hope the chapters each week deepened your faith and expanded your understanding of adoption. Not only are you chosen and loved, but so are your children, regardless of their past. Adoption makes kings out of carpenters. Adoptions transcends all bloodlines. Just as Joseph is really the father of Jesus, you are the parent of your adopted children. Adoption is for those childrenwho need a home to flourish in so that they may fulfill their destiny. It’s a father like Joseph that children need. A man who follows the call and doesn’t look back.
We adoptive parents, when entrenched in the day to day with our child’s behaviors, survival mode ruling, we may wonder if your children’s births were prophesied, if they were planned for, if all the past shame neglect and abuse can bring forth a new shoot, new life from the stump of pain and decay.
* * *
In the midst of the mess, the strewn wrapping paper, the piles of presents, take some time to prophesy for the coming year. Find a quiet place and for a few moments, look ahead to the present of the new year. Write down some prayers for your children based on the word. Remember, God can do over and above and beyond all we can ask hope or think, according to the power that works within us, the same power that rose Christ Jesus from dead.
* * *
We adoptive parents may go through a Job syndrome of our own. Horrific things happen in the wake of our calling. Maybe you feel like the holidays are a Job syndrome. Too many meltdowns. Too much sugar. Too little schedule and your family has been thrown for a loop. I get it. I’ve been there. It’s hard to celebrate when you feel as if you are just surviving.
* * *
Funny thing about surviving, it means you made it. You crossed an invisible finish line. Christmas is behind you and the calendar is speeding to a new year.
* * *
Another interesting phenomenon, your children will remember the celebration, the layers of tradition, the happy times more than you will remember the exhaustion of this moment. When my children talk about our leanest years, they don’t remember lack, they remember celebration and joy. When I remember the meltdown on a Christmas shopping day, that particular child, all grown up, remembers it as a great day. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. The post Christmas exhaustion you feel is not a measure of the holiday or the memories you made.
* * *
Let me leave you with a final word of encouragement. Parents, you are anointed and qualified to preach the Gospel of good tidings to your children.
* * *
With the help of the Lord, under your prayer covering and guidance, your children can be set free from the mindset of neglect and lack. If you adopted a child from birth, he can feel chosen, not abandoned. If your teen struggles with his identity, you can proclaim liberty and continue to point to his worth. Formed in his mother’s birth womb, he was chosen and set apart.
* * *
Start the new year with this in mind, you are equipped, you are chosen, you are qualified. You are the parent that your children need. It wasn’t some mix up in the universe. So, today, put on your shoes of peace, along with the full armor of God and fight the good fight of faith. You are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you are doing.
Three young boys shuffled on the stage in bathrobes. They hovered in the background while shepherds, sheep and cows knelt before the baby-doll- Jesus in the manger. They seemed tacked on to the production, adding no value or having no major significance. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. These Wisemen, who were not Jews, recognized Jesus, as King and Messiah.
“Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him.”
– Matthew 2:2
Who were these foreigners to say this child was valuable, deserving of life and praise? One who would replace Herod as King?
We commonly refer to the Magi as kings or Wisemen. They had taken the prophecies of the Messiah, studied and believed them wholeheartedly. They willingly sunk their time, talent and treasure into locating the child and offering him praise, thereby acknowledging His divinity and giving Jesus’ earthly parents confirmation, validation. It had likely been a few years since his birth and although Mary had pondered all of those things in her heart the night of His Holy birth, she may have been wondering as Jesus toddled around where God was. Joseph worked hard to provide. She took care of the household and may have had another child on the way.
* * *
This short visit by the Wisemen stirred a nation and angered an earthly king (Herod). It brought forth a Job syndrome of sorts for Joseph and Mary and the nation of Israel.
* * *
“Now after they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up! [Tenderly} take the young child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you [otherwise], for Herod intends to search for the child in order to destroy Him.”
– Matthew 2:13
A genocide began in their wake. Herod ordered all the male children (two years old and younger) in Bethlehem and surrounding territories to be put to death.
* * *
We adoptive parents may go through a Job syndrome of our own. Horrific things happen in the wake of our calling.
A year and a half after our adoption was final, 911 shook our nation to the core. Ourrestaurant businesses went down hill as a result. People were afraid to go out to eat. They felt safer indoors. We had taken our children from a nation fresh from the dissolving of communism where fear and lack reigned. And now it was happening here (or at least we thought). Fear reigned.
We lost our businesses in the economic downturn that followed. We were forced to sell our home and one by one, our four restaurants. Our savings quickly depleted and we cried out to the Lord asking, why have you forsaken us? It hit hard.
* * *
I didn’t want to suffer lack and more than that, I didn’t want my children to re enter the mindset of lack.
* * *
In the midst of the bankruptcy I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS). I had suffered many of the symptoms since I was a child without a diagnosis. The stress of the situation made the disease rear it’s ugly head. Hubby took me to Pittsburgh to a specialist and I sat in an IV room weak, crying and questioning, why? we did what you told us to, Jesus!
Or maybe yours is just a daily battle. I get it. I understand. It’s hard to think your journey is holy when four of your seven kids spill their spaghetti dinner on the floor and you follow suit (true story). Are piles of dirty laundry holy? Or meltdowns when triggers are activated? Or your schedule is overloaded with doctor’s appointments and therapies?
* * *
Adoptive parents may forget the holiness of the mission in the midst of the day to day trying to survive. The mission doesn’t lose its holiness or its value when kids are melting down, dishes are stacked in the sink and no one has clean underwear.
* * *
The more I have served adoptive/foster families the more I find that the Job syndrome is pretty much one hundred percent guaranteed.
* * *
Friends of ours who adopted from China had to sell the home they had just built and move to another state and begin again. New area. New church family. New home. All shortly after the adoption.
* * *
Another friend of ours, foster mom of so many I lost count and adoptive mom of three, suffered health issues for years. She was convinced she had thyroid issues, doctors repeatedly told her it was in her head and she just needed to work harder at working out. Finally, a doctor followed through and listened. After some extensive tests, she was told she only had half a thyroid.
* * *
There are many more stories I could tell you of families who suffered illness, financial loss, death of a child or fill in the blank. One thing I will say about all of these families, they didn’t turn around on the adoption/foster care road. These things may have happened anyway, you may be thinking. I don’t agree. When we are inactive, not pursuing our mission, the devil is content to leave us alone.
* * *
If you want to know what is most valuable, look for what is most fought against, what is being battled most vehemently and violently profaned. When we march forward valuing life, there will be opposition.
* * *
The Bible says to gird up the loins of your mind. That’s a simple way of saying prepare mentally before the battle. Put on the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation. Get out your sword of truth and write down and speak the truth, the word that is able to save your soul (your mind, will and emotions). Mary and Joseph had both had words to encourage them in their mission. Maybe you need a fresh one. Here it is. You are not alone. You have chosen to value what God values. Life. Family. Those are important to Him. You did hear His gentle whisper. What you are doing is holy. Hard, but holy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
We are also like theWisemen, walking in the footsteps of those who say each child is valuable. He is worth redeeming. Birth moms say this when they handed that swaddled one over to adoptive parents. This child deserves life. He has a purpose. You are serving that purpose when you step up to the plate day after day. Go YOU!