So often we take things at face value. For example: If someone is smiling, they must be happy. There are many faces in this world, but what is shown is not always what is real. I remember teaching a class at a Junior High church camp while on camp teams with my Bible college one summer. I gave an example of how often we don't take the time to look beyond a face and into the window of someone's soul. After the class a girl stayed behind sobbing. She said no one knew what a hard time she had been having. She'd been carrying her heavy burden around silently, plastering a smile on her face that fooled all those who thought they knew her.
When I was in Junior High I was this girl. From everyone else's perspective I had no reason to be sad, to be hurting. I had good grades, was involved in extra-curricular activities, and smiled A LOT. I actually had a counselor tell me, "You don't have a good reason to hate your life. You have everything going for you." Needless to say my parents didn't take me back to that counselor. I was hurting inside deeply. I was having a crisis of faith and asking hard questions. "Did I only believe in God because that's what my parents believed? If there was a God how could He allow so much evil in the world?" Every single day I got on the bus my friend Tera and I were bullied by two boys. They made fun of us, told us how fat and ugly we were, and taught us a lot of perverted words and gestures that I didn't want to know. One of my closest friends in school turned on me and instant messaged awful things like, "Why don't you just go ahead and kill yourself."
Unfortunately even the things I experienced in Junior High are minor compared to the world of kids today. The pressure of sexting, unlimited access to media and the ability to ruin someone's reputation through it, drugs, alcohol, and the ever more prevalent obsession with sex, and girls putting their worth in how 'sexy' they can be. Gah! Our kids are beat on every side with these things. I had supportive parents who sought out counseling for me, and I had a youth sponsor who would take me out to ice cream and talk with me. There were several people during this time who were willing to look beyond the plastered smile and into the window of my soul. They weren't afraid of not having the right answers or saying the wrong thing. They were there for me and I knew it. I knew they cared. They believed in me when I could not. When I questioned my faith they encouraged me to question, but to not stop at the questions! They encouraged me to search out the answers in the Bible and the historical evidence that helps verify it's truth. These people were safe to be real with, to be raw and without the fake smile. They were safe. They dared to look deeper.
I agree that not all of us are in a position to foster, but I believe that all of us are in a position to influence a child for the better. It might not be as hard as you think. Simply lending a listening ear, giving encouragement, sponsoring a child that might not otherwise get to be involved in extra-curricular activities such as music, dance, or sports. As a neighbor you might be the only kind, safe, and stable person your neighbor child knows. As a coach, spend the extra time on the kid who struggles more or doesn't have as much natural ability. As a teacher, go beyond the grades and academics and inspire your students through your own life, Live the example, don't just teach it. As a church youth sponsor, don't just show up for Wednesday night youth group. Find a child you can invest in, mentor, and love on. As a church elder or deacon, invest in the youth! They are the future! Don't be afraid to throw money at your youth program if it will change the future generations. As a foster parent, don't believe the devil's lies that you aren't actually making a difference because you're not "the ideal or perfect" foster parent. Remember that Christ's strength is made perfect through your weakness and inadequacies. As a parent or foster parent, let your kids see what matters most in life through your own life. What you spend your money on, what you talk about the most, what you spend the most time on. They will see easily if it's material things, a successful career, entertainment, or if it's Jesus. The most important thing in this world is not education. It's not money. It's not even family. It's knowing your Creator and loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Do the children in our lives see us living for the only thing that matters? Or do they see us chasing after the wind...
"For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." ~Hebrews 4:12-16
This April marks 3 years since Darin and I first began fostering! Throughout the last 3 years we have had ten children in our home along with our son Winston. This is a reflection on these last 3 years for our friends and family, and an update on where FLM is
heading. There is some major news in this blog so please read!
Near the end of January, I began to feel very physically and emotionally exhausted trying to keep up with everything. We began to realize that all of our 6 foster children were going to be a longer term placement or potentially adoption. I was feeling like a failure because keeping up with 7 kids, housework, the church ministry, wrestling, counseling appts, doctor appts, court dates, monthly foster care meetings and case worker visits, and the ministry of Fine Linen made it hard to stay up on things.
While few people may have realized, I was a wreck at home and felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Most of this was because of the pressure I was placing on myself, not the pressure from anyone else. I was sobbing nightly and struggling with exhaustion. The hardest part for me to come to terms with was why other people could handle having several foster children and not me? I am a stay-at-home mom and I have Jesus... so why did I feel like I was failing? Yes, my pride was in the way of seeing clearly. Darin and I realized we had bit off more than we could chew for a long term period. I asked a couple from our church who had bonded with our youngest two foster children if they would be interested in fostering them, and they were! The kids were actually asking us if they could live with them, which also hurt my pride and feelings, but showed me God's hand was at work in this whole situation and not my own. I believe it was His Providence.
***March 2016: (The BIG News)***
Our 4 boys' case goal was changed to TPR (termination of parental rights) and Adoption. This is a big one, and I want to explain so that all of our family and friends can better understand the situation. When a case goal is changed from reunification to adoption it does not mean that it's a for sure thing. It has a dual purpose: 1.) To work towards permanency for the children 2.) To continue offering the bio parents the opportunity to start working on the requirements to get their children back. For some parents when the goal is changed it serves as a wake up call to really get at it, but for other parents they continue to not do what is asked and at this point the parental rights will end up being terminated.
Darin and I would like to adopt our 4 boys if the parents continue to not be involved in the case plan. I want to explain something though. With older children, the feelings are very mixed on adoption. While we are extremely excited about the possibility of adopting them, there is a lot of grief in working with the boys through their own grief. It is a great loss for children when their parent's rights are terminated, and it is traumatic. No matter how great or loving the adoptive family may be, they are still losing something very precious to them. I say this because I want to ask our family, friends, and church family to be sensitive to this and not talk to the boys or in front of the boys about "Darin and Becky adopting them." If they bring it up on their own that's different, but I would ask for you to err on the side of caution and sensitivity. Remember that especially for the older two it will be difficult if their parent's rights are terminated, and the excitement that you and I feel may not match their own. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask us!
We have been so blessed by our four boys. They are amazing kids. While adopting 4 older boys was not in our plan when we started fostering, the possibility floors us in a good way! There are some kids that you just connect with better than others, that you could see being your forever family. That's how it has been with the boys. They love the outdoors, camping, swimming in the pond, sports, playing air soft, and video games. They are very musically inclined. Our 13 year old D is playing the tenor saxophone for the first time and his teacher asked him to go to contest with the more advanced band class! The boys are super smart and creative, Two are very expressive while the other two are a bit more reserved and quiet. They are the best brothers to Winston. They love to cook, they love going to bed listening to Adventures in Odyssey, and they are very thoughtful. I could go on, but I wanted to give you a picture especially if you have not yet met them. We've also been blessed in that the boys have amazing Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles who have been supportive this whole time and very invested in the boy's lives.
Please keep the boys, their parents, and us in your prayers. Pray for God's will and His hand to move however He sees best in this situation.
So WHAT NOW for Fine Linen?
Many of you were very generous in supporting the "More Than Us" album project last year! In fact, producing the album would not have happened without your support! I would like to ask you to pray and consider continuing to support Fine Linen through Prayer and Giving. While we are a "small" ministry at this point: "Clothing the Broken with God's Word" is our ultimate goal! Whether through song-writing and recording, leading worship for events, teaching at youth and women's events, producing children's books, or promoting the ministry of foster care and adoption through educational materials and special drives for foster families. I hope to continue using my creative abilities to promote the gospel in these areas!
If you believe in the ministry of Fine Linen and would like it to continue would you consider supporting us monthly or through a one-time donation? 3 monthly partnerships of $10 would cover the yearly cost of the website, and 4 monthly partnerships of $20 would cover the cost of babysitting to be able to continue writing songs, blogging, and developing the ministry as God moves and works! You can click the link here to donate
FLM's Specific Needs:
Optional but Helpful Needs
is a rural Missouri preacher's wife who stays at home with her son Winston and 4 foster sons whom she and her husband are in the process of adopting! (Looking forward to the day I can put their names on here!)