The most kissable face in Little Rock…and beyond!

E has the most kissable face in Little Rock! He is so precious and is such a joy. Not only does he come out of his nursery classroom three times a week covered in lip prints, but now even a sales clerk at Target is kissing him! Lest you think I let just anyone put there lips on my boy, she’s not a ‘stranger’, she’s kept up with me and my babies for years…but I have to say this is the first one she has ever kissed!

Several years ago when our foster son Kenny was with us for 6 months, I calculated how many kisses I would need to give him for him to have one every day until he turned 18. Then, I went about trying to give him that many kisses! Not that it meant anything to him, but it made me feel better. 🙂

Now, I’m faced with the gripping thought of E leaving me as well and I’m challenged by the questions that always come during these difficult times-the “what if’s”. What if he does leave? What if it is the wrong decision? What if there is no justice for this child I love with all my heart? Will he wonder where we all are? What impact will this move make on his development? Will he have the opportunity to be all that God wants him to be?…the list is endless.

Then I remember the poignant and insightful scripture that says “don’t worry about tomorrow…today has enough trouble of its own!” and I’m thrust back into reality. The reality is that I AM this precious child’s mother today….and I’m gonna make the choice to relish the time I have to mother (and kiss on) the most kissable face in Little Rock!

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 1:11 pm  Comments (3)  

“It’s about to get ugly”…….

Those were the words E’s caseworker said to me last week.

You have got to be kidding me- wait, who am I kidding- things with foster care are always messy. There is nothing easy, convenient or pleasant about the foster care process….except loving the children (and if we are honest, sometimes even THAT is a challenge.) 🙂

But, I was hoping in E’s case things would be pretty cut and dry; not easy, but cut and dry. Not so. The case goes back to court for the permanency planning hearing in April- with the intent of termination, but now all of those waters have been muddied. I can’t go into the details- but suffice it to say “it’s about to get ugly”.

My heart is torn between my care and concern for E’s mom and my deep love for my precious little son who has become such a part of me. As I changed his diaper the other day and kissed his chubby little feet, the all too familiar lump rose up in my throat and stayed there until I swallowed hard and told myself I didn’t have to worry about that today. But the day is coming. This child’s future is in the balance. MY child’s future is in the balance and it seems I am powerless to do anything about it.

But I’m not powerless. There is something I can do…I can advocate for him…be a voice because he has none. And most importantly, I can lift him up before a Father who is ‘too wise to be mistaken, too good to be unkind’…..and “when I don’t understand, when I can’t see His plan, when I can’t trace His hand, I CAN trust His heart.”

In all the ugliness of foster care, all the hurt, the pain, the loss, the uncertainty, we can rest in the knowledge that God is bigger than any situation and He will make a way.

Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 12:04 am  Comments (10)  

Sometimes there IS good news!

There is so much hurt and disappointment within the foster care system. Sometimes, however, there is good news! I have had three ‘good news’ phone calls in the past few days and for that I am so grateful.

The first was from a friend whose family had just finished foster care training, completed the home study process along with all the paperwork-only to be told that their family could not foster because of the number of young children in their home. Talk about frustrating! But, after a divine appointment with someone very knowledgeable about DHS’s inner workings and protocol- their family is getting a waver!

The next call was from a dear friend that has been in a difficult situation fighting for the lives of the two little ones that she and her husband were planning to adopt. It was a mess. But then the reprieve…a unanimous decision from the powers-that-be in their favor! PTL.

The last call came today from a friend who had just found out (after a challenging and faith-stretching few months) that her foster child’s parental rights were terminated and they will be able to adopt! YEAH!

Just wanted to share some good news. The Bible says “how beautiful are the feet of those that bring good news”…wish that promise was literal-and would benefit my ‘winter feet’! 🙂

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm  Comments (2)  

What were they thinking?

I know it sounds cliche’ but I just have to say it: WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Two weeks ago (tomorrow) I got a call from DHS. They had gotten a call from a neighboring county’s 911 office saying they had found our Heart Gallery trailer. DHS wanted to know if ours had been stolen. What? The day before I had picked up the Heart Gallery at a church, tucked it away inside the trailer, and returned the trailer to my church (The Summit Church) parking lot where it ‘lives’ when it is not in use. Back in December our church had been broken into and the lock on our trailer cut. When the thieves realized it was ONLY pictures of kids and about 70 easels in the back, they left it in tact except for some gift bags we had stored for teens. (How nice.) Anyway, I never worried about anyone stealing the whole trailer because it was locked, but mainly because it had a huge beautiful logo on both sides and the back that featured two hands holding a bright red heart with the words ” The Pulaski County Heart Gallery…presented by the Pulaski County Adoption Coalition” on it. No one in there right mind would steal it.

Well, two weeks ago, someone not in there right mind, did steal it. I called the church, asked the receptionist to look out onto the parking lot and sure enough it was gone! We found out later that someone had taken it between 9:30 the night before and 8:00 that morning. They had driven it to Saline County and left it parked in the wooded area (where the Sheriff’s office said they planned to come back to paint and strip it.) Two men noticed it and called the authorities-praise the LORD!

I went out to the church and met the police to file the report. Basically, they said nothing would be done since it had been recovered. Then the interesting part began. I called the Saline County Sheriff’s office to find out how to go about getting the trailer back. I learned it had been towed for storage. They gave me the name of the towing company and told me to call them. When I called, I was blown away. We would have to pay to get our “non-profit-finding-deserving-kids-forever-families” STOLEN trailer back. And not just $50, but $278. I could not believe it. I told the man our story and that we didn’t have much money in our account and ask if I could have a couple of days to talk with our treasurer etc. He said “yes, for $45 plus tax per day”! Long story short, I called our treasurer, Jennifer Wilcox, who told me to let her handle it. And handle it she did. She went out to the towing company, our bank statement in hand and tried to reason with the guy. It was futile and time consuming. He acted as if he’d give us a break and then said the best he could do was $223. So, for a mere $223, we got our stolen trailer back.

When I picked up the trailer to deliver the gallery this week, it broke my heart…there in the back were the pictures of the children in our county that I am responsible for: scattered, broken, seemingly worthless. There’s got to be an object lesson in there somewhere. Praise the Lord the value of these children is not measured by a picture or by a thief, but by a heavenly Father who made them and is willing to give it all to insure they have the life He intended them to have.

Just a warning for the criminals who stole the trailer….you don’t want to meet Jennifer Wilcox on a dark alley! (Or anywhere else for that matter!) What were they thinking??

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm  Comments (2)  

Hope Now

There’s an awesome song that I have on my Ipod (which happens to be missing at the moment!) called Hope Now by Addison Road. The chorus says “Everything rides on hope now, everything rides on faith somehow, when the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free.”

My heart is heavy tonight because of some tough foster care situations that some of my friends are facing; situations with NO easy answers. As I counted, I realized there were 5 of these situations that I could think of right off the top of my head.

You know, this journey is hard, really hard. Sometimes in my weakness, I find myself wondering if there really is hope. How do we reach out and break this cycle; a cycle that we are all too familiar with? How can we really make a difference in the life of a child who has been so damaged by the inconceivable acts of a birth family? How can we point a child to the heavenly Father who has never seen the love and nurture of a human father? Do we really have a voice in the midst of a system that is broken and flawed and filled with people who are broken and flawed? What can we do when a child seems bent on sabotaging everything and everyone that could turn his/her life around?

Like I said, there are no easy answers. As I type, the faces of children in our Heart Gallery and foster children that I have had the opportunity to mother (or just to meet) flash across my mind. Some of these children are extremely difficult- with behaviors and diagnosis that make them hard to love and nurture. However, I am reminded once again, that they are not on this foster care journey by choice. They don’t have a voice. It is up to those of us who carry the burden for them and those of us who physically care for them to be that voice. We cannot do it alone.

Will you join me in praying for EVERY child that is in foster care? It is up to us. Everything does ride on hope now, everything does ride on faith somehow and one thing is for sure His love really does “set us free”. Faith, hope, love and freedom- what a gift.

*Here are the initials of the kids involved in the difficult situations I mentioned above-J, Z, C, G, B, C, C, T, L- Feel free to comment and leave initials (only) of the children you want folks to pray for…(this could be the start of something big.) 🙂

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 1:16 am  Comments (3)  

Out of the Box- Leaving a Legacy

Last week I got the opportunity to speak at a ladies event at our church. It was a wonderful night that was full of testimony from 3 sets of women: two had just returned from Haiti, two had been short term medical missionaries and two are really involved with Voice of the Martyr. My job was to, as our pastor’s wife put it “tie a bow around the night”. I wasn’t sure how I would do that after hearing all of the incredible things that these women had shared. However, the Lord had given me some points about following the call God places on your heart, and it definitely was Him who delivered the ‘bow tying’ that night. Here’s the abbreviated version:

I don’t know about you, but I want my children (and some day grandchildren) to remember me for more than my cooking, my housekeeping, what I bought them, etc. I want to leave them a legacy: a life that with all of its’ faults and frailties tried to do God’s will and find His purpose.
As I discuss the following points, I want you to think about what you are passionate about, what stirs in your soul when you think about a vision for your life, what you feel God has called or is calling you to do.
What God Calls You to Do:
* May come as a total surprise- or it may not at all, it might just be an extension of who you are, a manifestation of your gifts and talents
* Might not make sense- to you, your family and certainly not to the world
* Will take you out of your comfort zone (whether it is a mission trip to a foreign country and your afraid to fly- or its standing by a husband that everyone else says you should leave, etc)
* Will cost you something. The cost may be measured in comfort, money, time, dreams, even sleep!
*Will Force you to rely on HIM.
*Is easier to follow by taking one step at a time- not getting too far ahead of God or lagging too far behind
*Will not be easy- but will make your life so much more fulfilling as you see God work on your behalf!
*May not be pretty at times!
*Will (or should) shatter legalism and hypocrisy
*Will be like a movie of your faith to the world
*May spawn opposition

What does it take to do what God is asking?
*Faith-one step at a time- being assured it will happen (Hebrews 11:1)
*Patience-may not happen overnight (Nehemiah and the wall)
*Humility-realizing that I cannot do this on my own.
*Vision- begins with a discontentment with the status quo
*Trust- “when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart” Trusting in darkness, when you don’t want to, and when nothing makes sense.

I want to encourage you to step out when you hear God call you to do something-don’t be afraid, just DO IT. Believe that he is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or imagine” Ephesians 3:20 What a blessing it is to be out of the box, but right in the middle of His will. 🙂

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm  Comments (4)  

Haircuts and Humility

Wow. I have been so bummed since E’s visit yesterday. His birth mom brought a barber to the visit and cut E’s hair…really cut it. What’s the big deal? You’d have to see E to know. His hair was (and I mean WAS:) a big part of his personality- not to mention it looked precious! They spent the entire hour-long visit cutting a screaming childs’ hair.

The caseworker called me last week to see if I had any objections, since I would have to maintain it. I told her I didn’t want to cut it, but I didn’t want to upset mom, so to go ahead. I’m sorry I said that!

That’s my point of view-the foster mom’s point of view. Here’s how I think his birth mom sees it… is the only thing she has any control over-she has lost custody of her child, someone else is mothering him, her case is moving towards termination and it is all out of her control. E’s hair, however, is still in her control and she wants to feel like she can still make some decision regarding his life and care. I do understand that. I can’t imagine how it must feel to only see your child one hour a week, to miss every ‘first’ in his life, to have him prefer another mother’s arms to yours. It must be so hard.

When I think about the situation from that perspective my heart softens and I realize it’s only a haircut. (But, before you are too proud of me and my attitude, I have to ‘fess up and say I’m still a little bummed!) 🙂

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 10:20 am  Comments (3)