Monday, February 29, 2016

Echo into Eternity: Redemption in Foster Care

"Let this year or so that you have the kids Echo...into...Eternity

Those are words that shook me and brought me to my knees during a quiet time in late November (3 months into having the kids). This was around the time God began changing my heart from wanting to receive the kids, to wanting to give for the kids.

As I thought about those words, "echo into eternity" I wept. And those words still to this day shake me up a bit. This was a word/phrase of hope for me from my Father God. My papa in Heaven. It was Him telling me that even if we don't get to keep the kids forever on earth, the seeds we plant in their hearts (and later- the hearts of their families) can and will echo into eternity... Where we can truly be together forever. ❤️

So, this is where the story of REDEMPTION began, not just for the kids, but for their momma's. Their biological families. 

I began to ask Jesus, beg Him... For salvation to fall swiftly upon M and L and for their specific family members. Because it wasn't just about the kids knowing Jesus anymore, it was about their bio families too. God put this on my heart. These thoughts did not stream from my heart. No way Jose. These were God's thoughts. Streaming from His redeeming heart. 

So I began asking Jesus, what does this look like practically other than praying? I then thought about the fact that Christmas was just right around the corner; aka - a perfect opportunity to bless M and L's moms with a gift. And of course, what else would God have me give other than His Holy Word that has the power to save? The power to redeem.... For eternity. 

So here I am (with the help of a godly man, David O' Farrell, and his ministry to get Study Bibles engraved with people's names on it) with 2 Bibles; one for each momma (both dads are unknown). 

<<side note: It's kind of awkward/hard to post this for me because I feel like it's such a holy offering to God and one of those things you just don't share... You know, You don't boast about things like this, because it's God's idea. But, I feel the freedom now to share, with hopes that maybe Jesus will spark in my fellow Foster mommies hearts of redemption for all involved in your case! That is my prayer and hope in sharing>>

Well, December/Christmas visits came around and it was time to give the gifts! 
Each mom got her Bible and of course pictures of their babies. The most beautiful thing about this was that my heart was settled on the matter. God had shown my heart so heavily to "set my heart on the things of Heaven" that it truly felt like a joy to give these gifts to them. Even though I love these kids like nobodies business! It was just beautiful to feel God's heart for these moms, too. 

Fast forward a few months later ---> as you know if you have followed our story that M went back to be with his mom January 7th, 2016. When he left, we felt the sting of what felt like a death, even though God had already encouraged my heart that this will echo into eternity, it didn't take the immense pain away. We wept and mourned, but not without hope because of the hope that the seeds of God's love and word would grow into salvation... Aka... Echo into eternity. 

Then 3 long, hard days later, we got the news that mom wanted us to be apart of M's life. Not only that, but we would be his God Parents! :-D! We have seen M 4 times since he left.❤️ His mom is doing so well that she's phased up in the program and is in her own apartment now; which enabled us to meet at the park and love on our little love bug and his sweet family. 

Such a gift to snuggle him again.
Good for my soul to see them together. 

M's sweet momma, brother and sister:)

This. Is. Redemption.... This is the story of the Cross. God redeeming the world and bringing them into fellowship with His son Jesus Christ.  Foster care with Jesus is about Redemption. Redemption for the kids. Redemption for the families. May our lives shine His redemption. May all we do "echo into eternity". And maybe (haha just maybe? Of course all things are possible with Him), God will go over exceedingly and beyond all we can think or imagine ... Even on earth! 💞

Love in Christ, 
The middle mom/Foster mom/God mom... Lindsey ❤️

P. S. A question to ponder... 
What if foster care is more about showing the love of Christ to a broken world than any other possible thing? Jesus, we are your hands and feet. You are the hero of Foster care and we need you! Thanks for rescuing us in our sin, and using us to be a place of restoration and safety; ultimately rescuing others from their sin by pointing them to You! The great Redeemer! Your will be done. Your kingdom come. In Your name we pray, amen. ❤️

Friday, February 26, 2016

The good news of Christ...

It never gets old. Relish it, friends! 
Lyrics from "How deep the fathers love for us" hymn! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An open letter to our little L

Dear L, 

Today as I was running while pushing you in the stroller I thought about a few things. First, my shirt that I was running in said "Iron sharpens Iron" (proverbs 27:17), and I couldn't help but think about you being a type of Iron that the Lord has used to sharpen me into someone who looks more like Jesus. That's been my prayer for awhile, that my heart would be more like Jesus'. The interesting thing is, iron comes in many different shapes and sizes! And you, my little love, have been used as iron in my life by God and I am so thankful for this. At times, sweet one, I did not want to thank God for this, because of my sin. You don't know or understand yet how God has used you to chizzel me, to break me, and to ultimately heal me from things that aren't good for me. What a gift you are. Little L, you are a precious gift from God and have changed me forever. Thank you for always graciously forgiving, loving and hugging me as I'm learning how to be your mama. I know what Jesus means now when He says "let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14) 

Love you always, 
Your middle "mama"

When Your Dad Turns 60...

You throw a party! :)

My mom planned this whole party... we just opened up our house! I am so thankful for my daddy-o. We've been through many seasons together. Easy and hard ones. I am thankful to share in this new season of foster care with him. He has been such a help; the hands and feet of Christ to us! He has walked out love many ways through this process and I've loved watching us all grow together. One of my dad's songs for me as an adolescent was "I believe in you" by Steven Curtis Chapman. Daddy-o has always been one of my biggest fans and that is a special gift from my Heavenly Father. I love you dad! I'm so thankful to share life with you!

Friends and family came from out of town!

so many people we didn't have enough eating/seating space!

L loves Connie. She met Connie the first weekend she came to live with us and has loved her since!

photo bomb!

                              Figuring out the super cool candle from the Gallaghers! (Thanks Heather!)

The plate says " You are special today!" But you're special everyday Dad! Hehe!

L loves her cousin Daniel and the new bear she got from grams!
Good times!

What a special Dad I have! Thanks to everyone who came and supported him! I love you Daddy-o!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines Day - 2016

This year I've learned (and am still learning) a new kind of love. 

It's a beautiful type of love. A sacrificial type of love. A not-in-it-for-me type of love.  A I'll-love-you-with-my-whole-heart-even though-tomorrow-is-not-promised love. A love that dies (and many times) daily. A love that knows no bounds. A love that desperately hates the self-seeking sin it sees and destroys it for the sake of anotherA love that fights a spiritual battle not of your own makingA love that says "no matter what, I'm not giving up". <~~~ that is true, biblically-based love. That is Jesus' love. And we love because He first loved us. 

Through God's sanctifying grace, foster care will birth (and continue to birth) this type of love in you. In our short 6 months of foster care, I've learned what love is in such a deeper way. Through it all, I'm seeing (with the eyes of my heart) God's love in such profound ways. Wow. I'm just blown away by His love. 

Our Valentine's Day today: Guess what I woke up to this morning? Not your typical flowers and romantic-ness. LOL. I told Kalen happy valentines and he responded with,"is today the official day?" Haha. So, that is the extent of our special valentines today. But you know what? I didn't freak out. Because truly, Kalen shows his love to me daily and I don't need a "holiday" to solidify it. (Don't think I'm superwoman who has no feelings, just keep reading :) ) That's not my security, though years ago it would have been. Kalen and I have been through so much in our almost 5 yrs of marriage. Our love is deep, deeper than a Valentine's Day card, or a little sentiment (even though those are always welcome and appreciated!). This foster care process has wrought out in me so many things, but one would be entitlement; the feeling that I deserve this and I deserve that, while throwing a pity party when things didn't go my way (Literally- so sad, maybe some of you know what I'm talking about?). I see now, there's just no time for that in a person who's been saved from the wrath of God by a sacrificial Savior. I just am so thankful that this morning when I woke up to a messy house with no flowers, I can truly say my heart wasn't hurt or wrecked. That's amazing, a miracle! That just comes to show how God's love does cool things. Through this season of  taking care of these babies, I've realized to a new beautiful level how this life isn't about me. I like this new kind of love... It's humble and simple.  This new kind of love doesn't find its security in having a flower picture to post on Instagram or a beautiful new piece of jewelry to show my friends/family  (yes that was me a few years back!). I like what God is doing in my heart. I like this new kind of love! Happy Valentine's Day, friends! May this next year you learn a new kind of love, too! ❤️❤️❤️

In Kalen's defense, we did have a valentines family date on Friday night to Shanks (glow in the dark putt-putt with L)! It was fun! L was scared of the glow in the dark animals, she thought they were real! Poor baby. We snuggled the whole way through! 
Sunday church and lunch with our new Valentine this year! ❤️❤️

Below are some pictures showing how I found this new kind of love: 
SUCH Bountiful grace and mercy God has shown me through my relationship with L. I have had to learn how to be a mommy with her and have made so many "uh-ohs" (as L would say), but she forgives me every time. 

        Nothing is impossible with God.

L loves "dada" and is coming up with new words every day. Her most recent is "wow!", which we caught here :).

A little glimpse into some of the time we had with M. We are so glad to be God parents and look forward to what the future holds in that regard. 

Below are some of the precious adventures we had together as a family of 4: 

Pedetrician appointments - whew! Victorious when these were done! 

Rang in the New Year together! 
Had fun with family! 
Made Christmas memories! 

M's first Christmas- what a blessing to share it with him❤️❤️❤️
These two❤️L is the sweetest big sister. 

My favorite Christmas presents this year.

Cousin love! 

After-bath snuggles; (my favorite) 

Play dates with friends (so life-giving!) 
We love the Dunn family! 
And the Johnson family! 
And Tornado! 

Visits with grandparents; we love nana and pops! 
We love didi and papa c! 


I'll end this valentine's post with a magnet I found on my mom's fridge tonight. She cut out the picture from our Christmas card and placed it in this magnetic frame that says "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee". I'm confident He will keep this promise to these babies that I love so dearly. Thank you Jesus for this new kind of love...The love you abound in infinitely.  We can only experience it finitely. Keep showing us new sides of your love. ❤️

Amazed and thankful,
Lindsey ❤️