Don’t They Know?

Andy and I are in our sixth year of fostering. Newbies still, really. But, recently someone asked, “Considering all you’ve learned in foster care, what advice would you give new foster parents?

Understatement alert! I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned stuff about myself. Umm, I’m selfish. I’ve learned how much I love my clean and orderly little lifestyle. Foster care laughs at that. I’ve learned a ton about “the system.” Yeah it’s broken but sometimes it’s not. I’ve learned much about the plight of children who are neglected, abused, and abandoned. I cry a lot when I pray. And, I’ve learned that there are heroes all around me. There are people who put their own personal agendas aside and lean heavily into making the world a better place for some “ones.” I’m crazy inspired by them.

In answer to the question though, I land at this insight. Don’t take foster kids’ rejection and seeming ingratitude personally.

Going into the world of foster care I didn’t realize the depth of personal pain and how that manifests itself in children. There are good days and bad days, but anger, confusion, and lack of trust are pretty common. Usually they don’t know what to do with all that.

From our adult perspective, they’ve been “rescued” from environments and people who are hurting them. They should be grateful, right? But, they rarely see it that way. Their “situation” is all they know. It’s their normal. It’s their familiar. And they are not happy about being removed from their normal and familiar.

Also, from our adult perspective, we’re giving up a lot to step in and help. We’re sacrificing time, convenience, peace, and resources. We’re carting them to doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and getting their eyes checked. We’re tutoring or hiring tutors to catch them up to grade level. We’re giving away evenings out and sacrificing lots of potential free time. Sometimes, we’re sacrificing other relationships. Oh, and there are parent visits, case worker visits, court appointments, and continuing ed. We know what we’re trading, and it’s a lot.

They don’t know though. And, even if they did, they can’t possibly be expected to understand. They’re kids. They’re actually kids carrying a lot of pain. While we’re certainly doing our best to teach them important things, how to express gratitude being one of them, we cannot and must not take it personally.

So how do we not? Like any other truth, we renew our minds. Maybe there is a verse of Scripture we identify that’s helpful. Or, maybe we simply recall to ourselves, “They’ll be 25 one day, with full frontal lobe development, and they might actually be grateful then!” Or, maybe we remind ourselves of the why behind what we’re doing.

Or maybe not, and that’s okay too. Just don’t take it personally. Really, don’t.

Puritan Prayer for Family

. . . because sometimes we just need a seventeenth century Puritan prayer for our twenty-first century families.

O sovereign Lord,

Thou are the Creator-Father of all men,

for thou hast made and dost support them;

Thou art the special Father of those who know,

love and honour thee,

who find thy yoke easy, and thy burden light,

thy work honourable,

thy commandments glorious.

But how little thy undeserved goodness has

affected me!

How imperfectly have I improved my religious privileges!

How negligent have I been in doing good to others!

I am before thee in my trespasses and sins,

have mercy on me,

and may thy goodness bring me to repentance.

Help me to hate and forsake every false way,

to be attentive to my condition and character,

to bridle my tongue,

to keep my heart with all diligence,

to watch and pray against temptation,

to mortify sin,

to be concerned for the salvation of others.

O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction

of my kindred.

Let those that are united to me in tender ties

be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory.

Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion,

instruction, discipline, example,

that my house may be a nursery for heaven,

my church the garden of the Lord,

enriched with trees of righteousness of

thy planting, for thy glory;

Let not those of my family who are amiable,

moral, attractive,

fall short of heaven at last;

Grant that the promising appearances of a

tender conscience, soft heart,

the alarms and delights of thy Word,

be not blotted out,

but bring forth judgment unto victory

in all whom I love.

 

The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Edited by Arthur Bennett

Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies!

IMG_6896Every now and then you try a new recipe and it becomes a family favorite. As time passes, it becomes what you’re KNOWN for. That’s what this recipe is for me. Whether it’s family vacation, camping trips, or jointly throwing parties, this is the recipe that I’m most frequently asked to make. At Christmas, if I don’t deliver them to a few certain friends, I get sideways glances until the Christmas tin shows up on their doorstep.

These chocolate chip cookies are ridiculously good, and actually pretty healthy. The recipe originally came from a First Baptist Church of Atlanta cookbook. They were called $250 Chocolate Chip Cookies, and there was some Neiman Marcus story related to them. So, while I’m not sure about the details surrounding all of that, what I AM sure of is that my healthier version of them is delicious!

So, here you go. Give ‘em a try and let me know what you think!

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Tips for you:

  1. This cookie dough freezes well. The recipe makes so much that I usually divide it into fourths or thirds, wrap in waxed paper, slip into freezer bags and into the freezer. So handy to pull out and bake when needed.
  2. You could totally slip some of your favorite protein powder into this recipe.
  3. Many times I use all coconut oil, rather than butter.
  4. Perfect gift for people you love!

Circles ARE Better Than Rows

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Written by my friend Chris Wills:

This weekend, the five women in my couples small group decided to take a trip to Texas. Why Texas? Well, since I was born and bred there, I would ask, “Why not?” The truth is our favorite HGTV show, Fixer Upper, was having the huge grand opening of their new store in Waco, Texas. We saw this as a perfect opportunity to hop on a plane for a quick girls trip. Not an easy feat.

Though we are mostly empty nesters, we were leaving behind: husbands—one with ALS, work, five children, and one new foster daughter. In spite of all that, we were giddy. Flash flood warnings all around Texas did NOT slow us down. We got drenched in Waco. We drove through some horrendous rainstorms. We learned that one in our group is terrified of torrential rain. We enjoyed Magnolia Market, Harp Designs, and Common Grounds coffee shop. We sipped our coffee on the Common Grounds porch as the rain came down in sheets around us. And we took more social media pictures than I care to admit.

But, for me, the icing on the cake was getting to see my two worlds collide. Georgia friends, whom I have done life with for almost 20 years, got to meet my Texas friends, who have been dear to me since college. Sisters-in-law also intersected in some of these relationships, making it even that much sweeter! We went from In-N-Out Burger for dinner one evening—where we all ate each and every French-fry— to the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus the next. There was no rush. No huge agenda. Shopping one day, taking in a Presidential library the next morning. Not laying eyes on Chip and Joanna Gaines, but running into Laura Bush at lunch, and, of course, having a picture made with her! Heart-felt conversations were had, some with tears. At other times we were laughing so hard those tears came again.

All the while, I watched some of my favorite people in the world not only meet, but become sweet instant friends with one another. Then it hit me. At some point in my life, I have been in a circle with each one of these ladies. We have married one another off, birthed children, encouraged each other through years of mothering and baseball games. We have celebrated and grieved the ups and downs of life together. We have known life’s joys, beauty, death, sickness, surgeries, divorce, recovery, and the need to have others navigate it all with us.

As I fly home, I am overwhelmed with how the Lord has blessed me through the friendships of these fearless, faithful women. The extra bonus, or hug, I felt like I received this weekend, was getting to see these friendships that span my lifetime connect with one another.

“In this world we will have trouble . . .” God promises that. But in this world, we experience glimpses of heaven as well. This weekend was one of those glimpses for me.

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MAKE IT ZERO!

Have you ever read a book that you absolutely could not put down? Mary Frances Bowley, the founder of Wellspring Living, is releasing her new book this week—Make It Zero—and I could not put it down. I’m not exaggerating when I say this book could change the world. It could certainly change a bunch of “somebody’s” worlds.

Through the stories Mary Frances has recorded, and through her own passion and compassion for young women from difficult places, you will come away changed. You will move away from being concerned with a “category” of people to feeling an urgency to personally respond.

As a foster mom, it’s easy for me to put my girls’ faces into the stories Mary Frances shares. Foster children are more likely to become runaways. They are more susceptible to homelessness at early ages. And there is a strong correlation between runaways, homelessness, and commercial sex trafficking.

So often when we face the overwhelming statistics and the numbers related to at-risk women and children, we turn away, not because we don’t care, but because we wonder how our little bits can ever make a difference. Mary Frances hammers home the idea that everyone can do something. Whether your platform is large or small, whether you can impact thousands or make an impact on one, YOU can make a difference.

So, please read Make It Zero. Share it with others. Become part of a movement. You’ll be glad you did!

A few ways to engage:

  1. Buy the BOOK.
  2. Attend the Launch Party!
  3. Follow the movement on social media.

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