Giving Thanks: Finding the Blessings in the Challenges of Serving Others

By: Amy Hammond

fullsizerenderThanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.

Don’t get me wrong: I love celebrating the birth of our Savior and the renewing of faith that it brings each December… as well as the promise of redemption that comes alongside Easter Sunday. But Thanksgiving, to me, is a reminder to celebrate one of the most important tenets of walking in a life of faith: gratitude.

I have nice clothes, a safe home and a dependable car. I’ve been blessed with a devoted husband, a loving family and a supportive church community. These are all gifts I thank God regularly for giving me.

But what about my calling—my ministry? Am I thankful for the acts of service God has called me to?

As a foster mother, I’ll be the first to confirm that the things He asks of us are not always easy. From blow-torching lead paint off the walls in preparation for getting our license, to the equally fiery battle faced every day in advocating for the kids I serve—this is far from an easy job.

Particularly when it is time to let go.

My husband and I had a little boy placed with us in July at just a few weeks old. He was so tiny… and so sick. We spent many sleepless nights trying to understand this little one’s needs. One very specific feeding protocol and doses of medication later, this tiny guy has blossomed into a strong, happy and healthy six-month-old. He lights up when we walk into a room, and snuggles against our chests when he’s ready to sleep. As young as he is, he has grown to understand that he can trust us to take care of him. People who are not his family. People who—as is the case for many foster children—he might never have seen again once home with his family.

img_5468That’s why, as hard as we’ve worked to get to this point with this little human, we’ve worked twice as hard to show the same love toward his family, too. It started with letters and baked goods on visitation days, and has transformed into something much more. We’ve been invited to celebrate birthdays and graduations. A new house. And soon, even in the midst of loss we are bound to feel, we will also celebrate the reunion of this child we have come to adore with his wonderful mother.

Don’t get me wrong: Relationship is messy. It has meant forging new territory, all while trusting that the promptings we hear come from God. We are following where He is leading us in loving on this family, even when it might feel foreign to everyone involved.

Throughout this journey, people have shown us gratitude. They thank us constantly for what we do, for the sacrifice we must be willing to make. But the truth is, we don’t have to do this… we get to do this.

Matthew 20:28 says, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I have served this baby boy and his family, not for earthly recognition or eternal reward, but because this is not my life. It is His breath in my lungs, so I live God’s gift in a way that honors the One who gave it. Serving His children is such a blessing to me, and a calling I am incredibly thankful for.

There are moments in serving when you know unequivocally that God walks alongside you. His love for us is evident in the blessings that overwhelm by their magnitude, those bigger than you ever thought to pray for.family-pic

Two weeks ago this beautiful little one’s strong and selfless mother asked us to be his godparents.

Even as I was mourning the end of this season, God was still writing the story.

There’s a question my church asks often: Are you putting a period where God has put a comma? With this holiday quickly approaching, I beg you to pray about the story He’s writing for you right now. Let’s look at the struggle with gratitude, as this is the gorgeous mess He’s using to mold us. Let’s give thanks that He is the savior of the world, and He carries that world—and all of us, so precious in His sight—within His capable hands.

Amy is a foster parent in Washington, DC. She and her husband, Adam, have cared for 4 children in foster care over the last year. 

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