Posts Tagged children

Foster Care and Adoption: the first 6 weeks

Six weeks ago, Sarah and I got a call from our adoption specialist with a proposition. There were 2 kids that needed a place to stay immediately. Their staff had deliberated and had chosen us as a the family to offer this opportunity to. We had a few hours to pray, talk, and come to decision. In the end, we had to set aside any fear about what the future would look like and just make a call based on our immediate situation. Could we take 2 more kids into our home and take care of them? It was too hard to imagine all the possible scenarios, so we said yes knowing that we were not jumping blindly into an abyss, but we were merely sheep being led into paths of righteousness by the Good Shepherd.

The first week might not have been so difficult if 4 out of 6 people in the family didn’t catch a stomach flu. When Sarah’s sister, who was coming to visit that weekend, called to inform us that she had contracted bronchitis, we panicked. Leading 4 kids through the biggest transition of their lives thus far was hard enough with out projectile vomit and sleep deprivation. On the other hand, it might have been a little easier since there was usually one kid who was half awake on the couch for the day.

The second week, my mother flew up from Tennessee to rescue us. We needed an extra caregiver who could oversee the house work while we handled the parenting. Discipline was a issue from the start because we had to retool the whole way that we did it. We are more traditional in our philosophy on discipline, but we needed to learn more progressive methods in order to comply with the legal requirements of “co-parenting”. We watched a few episodes of “Super Nanny” taking notes and bought a few books with good tips. Mom spent 2 weeks with us helping us to get past the sickness and initial shock of how much our lifestyle had been altered. 4 kids is not impossible, but it’s not easy to add them 2 at a time and to have 3 toddlers in diapers.

We had a nice week after my Dad took Mom home. We were able to have a bit of “normal” routine: School, work, meals, playing, naps, baths, bedtime,  chores, errands. Then Sarah’s folks arrived for a visit. We gladly excepted more help. My father-in-law took on a few projects to get a few of our spaces organized in order to create a more toddler friendly environment in our main level. Today they are departing so we’ll be back to the routine.

In the last six weeks, we’ve been pushed to the limits of our patience, our strength, and our sanity. I’ve wept a lot. I’ve experienced the loss of the life we had before. It’s been a fun time being a daddy for these new kids, but it’s still a little terrifying to imagine how all this will play out. For now, we rely on the Spirit to fill us and produce good fruit in us.

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This is what we signed up for

This past spring, my wife and I took classes to become licensed to adopt from the Missouri Children’s Division. We went in to it with the thought that we would be willing to take on a sibling group that was about the same age as our kids. So, when we got the call this past week from our adoption specialist that they needed a home for 2 kids, a 2 year old girl and a 1 year old boy, all we could say is, “This is what we signed up for.” Now, we have doubled the number of kids in the house as well as taken a leap back in development by taking in a 1 year old. When we got hit with the stomach flu mid-week, I had to call my mom for help. She flew up to stay with us for 2 weeks. We are getting the hang of things slowly, but being sick is not helping the situation.

Why would we do this? Do we have a disposition for lots of kids? Do we have a Messianic need to become martyrs for some cause? Are we insane?

For me the first step was a conviction that if I see that I can do good and fail to step up, I am sinning. I knew that adoption and foster care is a serious need in our community, and I felt convicted that if I didn’t at least explore if adoption was possible for us then I would be serving my own idols of comfort and security. Later, I heard a presentation on the sex trafficking industry in our country and internationally and I felt a strong emotional shift. Hearing about how children are exploited and abused, I felt that I had to do something, what ever was in my power, to stop this cycle. I knew that in our community, children were being sexually and physically abused by their own parents. If I could provide a safe home for them then I knew that it would be worth what ever I had to sacrifice to make it happen. When Sarah and I moved into the city of St Louis, we were blessed (through the failing housing market, and the persistent decay of St Louis) to be able to buy a home that was larger than I ever imagined possible. We knew that this blessing was not for us to indulge in our own comfort, but to open ourselves up to taking care of the lonely and fatherless.

So here we are. This is what we signed up for.

In the story of the Exodus, YHWH saved his people from slavery to the Egyptians. They cried out to be delivered, and their Redeemer brought them out of slavery. They were brought out of a place where all their needs were met, but they were no free to worship or free to be the blessing that was promised to their patriarchal ancestor, Abraham. So YHWH delivered them. He delivered them in to wilderness where they had to depend completely on the Lord to sustain them. Even to the point of miraculous water from a rock and bread from heaven. This is where Sarah and I are now. We asked the Lord to deliver us from slavery selfishness, materialism, and fear, and he brought us out. Now we are in a position of total dependence on the Lord to provide for us. We have seen him sustain us through the service, prayers, and encouragement of his body.

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A lesson for kids about worship

These are my notes for my talk at the Freedom School this morning.

I want to share a few bible verses from the book called Psalms which tell a story about what it means to worship God. This is a story was written by King David, (like David and Goliath) who was a strong warrior and also a harp player (which is kind-of like a guitar) who wrote hundreds of worship songs. David loved God so much, but he also made a lot of big mistakes in his life and did a lot of sins that would make you really ashamed. But even though David was a sinner, he knew that God was going to forgive his sin. That’s why David wrote this story in a song that we have here in the bible. Let’s read it one phrase at a time.

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.

The first thing that David did was cry out to God for help. He knew that he was in big trouble. He was so scared but he waited for God to rescue him. What kind of waiting is this?

Is it like waiting to see the doctor?
Is like waiting for school to end?
Is it like waiting for Halloween or Christmas? Read the rest of this entry »

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Hangin’ with Mr. Baker: my morning with The Freedom School

The Freedom School is a pre-K through 6th grade school that my church has created. Their principle, Timothy Baker, asked me to come in today and do a chapel with the kids about worship. There is also a small worship team made up of 6th graders that I met with to teach them a few of the songs I’ll be doing this morning. The worship team meets at 7:45, and the first chapel is at 10:30, so I now have hijacked the receptionist’s computer to write a blog post to kills some time.

Here’s a quote lifted from their website of what the school is all about:

The Freedom School is a Christian elementary school with grades Pre-K through fifth grade, committed to a racially and culturally diverse educational environment where both Christian and non-Christian young people from a diversity of backgrounds can obtain a quality education together under the grace of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures.

We do this through a challenging, Christ-centered, elementary education. We welcome all, as we intentionally partner with the urban poor, immigrant, and refugee.

I was just wondering what I would do if a child actually came into the office needing something, and lo and behold, in walks a kid with a stomach ache. I went to get Mr. Baker who asked him, “Have you had any breakfast today?” The child said, “No, but I had some chocolate yesterday.” These are the things you learn in elementary ed; I would have given him some Pepto and sent him home. It’s a good thing that I don’t work here.

I am here to do my job: lead some worship. I will be also sharing a little bit from Psalm 40 about what worshiping God is all about. It’s cool to try to take a subject as massive and complex as the worship of the one true God and boil it down into something that a child can understand. It’s a good thing that Jesus reminded us over and over of the importance of children and child-like faith otherwise big people might exclude kids from the process. (Unfortunately, a lot of churches do exclude kids from worship. Bummer.)

When I get back to my office, I will post the notes from my talk on worship.

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