We just got back from a wonderful vacation in Oregon with my husband Darin's family. It was probably the most relaxing vacation we've ever had outside of our honeymoon. My Mom-in-Law cooked all the meals and I didn't have to do almost anything. It was lovely.
We returned from our vacation and I'll admit it's been hard to get back into the groove of things. We are in month three of having 6 foster children and 1 biological son and some days I struggle with motivation and questioning the future. In foster care you never know when your kids will be going home, or if they will ever go home. It's hard to plan and operate as a permanent family when as much as you might wish that you could just be a permanent family and get the privilege of being called "Mom" and "Dad"...it's not up to you. We had a visit with a case worker yesterday and some issues came up that we weren't aware of that could change some things, and that's hard. Just when you think you've got it figured out you realize you really don't. In Fine Linen Ministries my goal has been to travel and sing and raise awareness for foster care, but on days like yesterday I question, "How can I raise awareness for a system that is incredibly flawed and frustrating? A system that half the time I wish I didn't have to deal with." I'm just being totally honest here. One secret of foster care is that most of the time it's not the kids who make foster care hard, it's the state system and legalities and all that entails that make it extra hard. I am a BIG feeler and overly sensitive and anyone who knows me well knows that, and that's why it's amazing that we've lasted 2 years doing this. I get discouraged so easily. I get down. I feel helpless. I feel angry at the parents who will not fight for the kids and blame everyone else but themselves. And that's when I have to remember...
ONE DAY AT A TIME. That's all you ask of me Jesus. ONE DAY AT A TIME.
My ladies Sunday school class at church is so encouraging. I look forward to that time each week, and this last Sunday was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. The lesson was on The Blessing of Greater Contentment.
"For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." ~Philippians 4:11-13
Do you believe that you can do ALL THINGS through Christ who is your strength? Unfortunately the American church has created a culture of comfort and spiritually obese people. We stuff ourselves on the Christian concerts, the sermons, the Sunday school lessons, the times of worship that should be exactly how WE want it to be. We want a feel-good faith: not the dying-to-ourselves faith that Jesus commands us to have. We want the faith that doesn't step on anyone's toes, that doesn't risk rejection, that doesn't make others think less of us because they don't agree. I'm preaching to myself right now because yes, I would rather have the feel-good faith. Not the crying-in-my closet faith because I feel empty and have nothing to give and wish it wasn't so hard. That faith is not pretty. It's pretty messy actually.
A lot of us are not okay with not appearing to have it all together. And when someone else says, "I'm really struggling right now," we freak out and think it must be because they're not in the will of God, they're over-doing it, they need to take it easy. I'm not saying those things can't be true--because I know of Christians who have had nervous-breakdowns because they over-did it. But sometimes life is just inevitably hard, and especially when you make the decision to not be a couch-potato Christian, but a Christian who will take a stand and do something you will have a target placed on your back by the evil one. He WANTS couch-potato Christians, and unfortunately he succeeds in getting many of us back on the couch and comfortable. We think we must be in the will of God because it's easy and it feels good. It doesn't inflict pain. As a major feeler myself I'm learning that my feelings do not determine my faith, and when the very thing I'm doing (for us foster care) makes me feel at my weakest, gives me the greatest discouragement, breaks my heart over and over, I'm probably right in the will of God.
What battles are you facing right now? Do they seem to much to overcome? Are you wanting to give up because you're not enough? Are you tired and weary? It's okay. It is OK to not be perfect. It's about getting back up each time discouragement beats you down. Have you let others down? It's okay. Do you think you'll never measure up? It's okay. I'm right there with you brother and sister and I'm a pretty messy gal. I cry, I yell, I say "I can't do this!" I'm selfish, I'm very flawed, and I'm reassured that it's okay. Because it is Christ Jesus who works through me and he knows I'm going to mess up. He already knows I'm ridiculous. He sees those yucky things in my heart...and he loves me anyway. He cleanses me through and through. He gives me new chances everyday.
Whether God is calling you to foster care or something else, He's calling you to something. Don't let your weaknesses keep you from stepping out or serving...Remember it's not you doing the work, it's Jesus working through and despite you. You can do this. And you will find the heart of God in your darkest times.
"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." ~Hebrews 12:3
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." ~James 1:2-4
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!)