Fifteen months of fostering a total of thirteen children, and moving to TX country to do it, and having up to twelve children in the home at one time, and then moving back to our original home, well, it all took a lot out of this woman who sought to trust the Lord in all the things.
This intense season of serving also opened up a whole new world of compassion through the challenges that come with loving in hard places.
What I thought we were doing when we made the decision to care for many, turned out be that and so much more. I was stepping out in faith, ready to trust whatever came my way. As it turned out, there would be quite a bit would come my way.
In many ways, our family stepped into the line of fire.
Children who only knew of deception, self-serving, cursing, neglect and abuse needed someone willing to risk it all for their sake. They needed someone willing to love them enough to take the hits that come with the territory.
And I do mean literally – taking the hits. And the cursing. And the biting. And the throwing things. And the breaking things. And the attempts to runaway. And…
When a foster parent stands in the gap, they stand between a wounded child and their parents. They also stand between them and the rest of the world. Not against them, but in the gap. They stand in the line of fire, which often comes from the children themselves as well as the many people involved with their lives.
To foster well means being willing to adjust your parenting paradigm and consider new ways to connect and care. It also means nurturing their hearts and allowing them to love the ones who have wounded them.
Foster parents do this for the sake of helping children, and they need to trust the Lord to bring the healing.
Foster parents stand in the line of fire to take the hits so a child stops receiving them.
As I look back on our time of fostering I recall many physical altercations. We regularly dealt with angry outbursts and behaviors while also managing appointments, reports, visits, and more. With delight, I also recall smiles, hugs and love that grew over time. But God.
I remember the boy who had break downs multiple times a day, every day. Who wouldn’t hug or receive hugs for several months. I also remember the precious hugs received by him after many, many times of my husband and I being there through the fits and taking his hits.
This elementary aged boy had much anger and hurt in his heart. He was in such need for unconditional love. Though it was exhausting, we were there.
My husband would hold him in love which helped him calm down. After the anger was worked out, we’d be there to usher in the opportunity to feel more love – and acceptance. It took quite some time, but eventually he grew to long for the prayers, the hugs and our willingness to help him when he had a hard time calming down.
A couple of our teen foster sons were the oldest of several children. They grew up helping to raise their siblings. They didn’t know what it was like to receive love. One in particular was often very sad. He also didn’t know how to set boundaries with his younger siblings who demanded everything. We stood in the gap, to help frame boundaries and relieve an overburdened heart.
Of course, when you say “no” to a child who is used to getting his way, you’re probably going to take some more hits. And we did.
I didn’t know then the spiritual battles that would take place and exacerbate the physical and emotional stresses occurring on a daily basis. The enemy didn’t want us wearing that armor of God. He wanted us to burn up and blow away.
Add to all that what is often referred to as Murphy’s law. When it seems like everything that can go wrong does, on a daily basis, you begin to question your calling. At least I did. I began to wonder if we had made a mistake.
Opposition seemed to come from all sides around us.
The only place to be was centered. Centered on Christ.
Being in the line of fire meant suffering for the sake of others so that they too could know the love of the Father. By turning to Christ all those fiery darts are extinguished and his love heals the wounded places. By turning to Him for strength in the hardest of times…
Faith grew, love ignited and the fires eventually died down.
It was worth the hits.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:2-3
with love, Jolene
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