faith

We’re going for it.

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 146 measure filled in trying again FINAL

Last month, we celebrated DC127’s two-year anniversary and the amazing things we’ve accomplished as a network. With over 7 church partners, 20 in process or active homes through both foster care and Safe Families, and over 50 mentors, coordinators, and coaches dedicating time and energy to investing in the kids of our city, we get pretty giddy when we think about what’s to come.

A lot has happened in the past two years, but we’re not done. We want the city to know that the church is serious about being a leader in caring for children in foster care and children at risk of entering, so we’re pushing forward. We already have 15 Safe Families Host Homes in process, and are actively serving 3 families, and each of those situations directly prevented foster care. But here’s the thing, we’re getting calls every week about families who need the community support of Safe Families, and we’re not able to say yes to all of them because we don’t have enough space.

That’s why today we’re launching our 146 Campaign. Our goal is to have 46 Host Homes and 100 people in support roles in the next 146 days. And we have no doubt, that with prayer and your help, we as the Church can reach this goal and empower churches to be places of refuge for families in DC.

Will you join us over this next 146 days in prayer, support, and even getting involved yourself?

Here’s a breakdown of why we believe this is important:

  • Because we’re serious about bringing the church to the table: If we are serious about this, then like other agents of change, we need to set goals, pray specifically for them, and work hard to achieve them. When you set out to make change, you don’t passively wait for it to happen. You go for it.
  • Because we keep getting calls: DC127 is consistently getting calls for families in need, and we’ve had to turn away three families in the past two weeks because we didn’t have Host Homes. We want to be ready.
  • Because DC127 is in this for the long haul: Saying the word “campaign” may make you think of something short-term, but that’s not us. We’re doing this to get to a place where we can serve families for the long haul. 46 Host Homes doesn’t represent 46 one-day, band-aid solutions- 46 Host Homes represent over 46 relationships where communities and homes open their doors to families experiencing isolation and crisis.

146 measure option 2 FINAL

We already have 15 Host Homes in process, and 30 people stepping up in support roles, and we know that together we can reach this goal. But we need your help.

Here’s what you can do to make this happen:

1. Pray about being one of the 146:

Is God calling you to step out? There can be a lot of hesitations around being a Host Home- and we totally get that (here are some frequently asked questions about hosting). And if you can’t host, we need you in a support role. You could support by being a Family Coach, a Family Friend, or even by bringing meals, babysitting, or donating clothes and diapers. Having a community of support is what makes Safe Families unique and possible. Will you consider taking the next step? You can learn more here, and take next steps here. You can also check our calendar for our next info night and trainings, or contact a staff member to get more information now.

2. Connect us with your church:

DC127-0079If 9 churches recruit an average of 3 Host Homes, we’ll hit our goal. We can do this. Whether your church is already engaged, or if you want to be the first connection to your church- you can play a leading role in mobilizing your community to open its arms to a family in need. Will you help?

 

 

3. Invest in DC127 and our dream of mobilizing churches to support families in crisis:

foster the city-86It costs about $40 for one individual to go through the Host Home training, and $100 to train their support team. We keep all of our trainings free to volunteers, and also provide additional trainings throughout the year to better equip our homes. When you invest in DC127, you help ensure that each Host Home and volunteer is prepared to serve families well. Will you invest in DC127 today and help us provide the best support to our Host Homes?

 

And finally, will you pray with us? From the beginning, we’ve known that we’re not going to get far without relying on God to call the churches, the homes, the mentors, and the supports our city needs. And that hasn’t changed. Over these next 146 days, please pray with us. Pray that God would call individuals, families, and homes to open their doors. Pray that fears and concerns of volunteers would be put at ease. And finally, pray for the families that we are serving and will serve. Pray that in a difficult time, they would experience the love and support of a community.

We’re genuinely excited about the next 146 days. We’re excited because we’re envisioning November 8th (which is also Orphan Sunday) when we, as a collective Church, will celebrate how God has answered our prayers and how we’re able to say that we are ready for the families and kids of Washington, DC.

Will you join us?

Arms Wide Open

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For as long as I can remember, I have been the girl who asks, “May I hold your baby?” Frequently, even when I was hardly more than a baby myself, parents have answered, “Yes.”

Not surprisingly, I grew up to be a nanny. When you meet me, you will very quickly realize that I still harbor a bit (okay a lot) of a child in me. Hanging out with kids helps me stay in touch with that light-hearted and freewheeling approach to life that young children carry with them. Over the years, “hanging out with kids” has become much more than just a babysitting job for me.

Through the national initiative Safe Families for Children, I can play a part in supporting and strengthening families in DC. Everyone can have a role in Safe Families. Whether you are single like me, or not, live in a studio apartment or a group house, have 10 hours or 10 minutes, you can be a part of extending God’s love to families living in isolation here in DC.

I know first-hand how debilitating a sense of isolation can be; I have struggled with clinical depression for many years. The support, encouragement and accountability from my God-given community of family and friends are all integral to my mental health. My experience with depression has given me sensitivity to the need for authenticity and community – a safe place to be known. I have a growing vision and passion for extending the arms of the (capital C) Church community to envelop families in our neighborhoods. Practically speaking, that might include coaching parents, mentoring children, babysitting, providing meals, moving furniture, or even temporarily hosting children in your home when the need arises.

What if no one were asking to hold your baby? What if you were living in virtual isolation, without family or friends to call for help when you hit rock bottom, or when everyday life suddenly flares into major crisis?

I dream of a day when no baby lacks for safe arms to hold her, and when no child lacks encouragement to be the very best he can be. I dream of a day when EVERY family receives an overflowing abundance of love, acceptance, and support from the Church. Together, let’s extend our arms, wide open, to share the love God has showered on us.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27 (NLT)

 

Learn more about how you can open your arms to a family experiencing crisis here.

 

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About the author: Kathryn Parent attends National Community Church (Georgetown location) and is new to the DC127 community of volunteers. A transplant from the Inland Northwest (Idaho), Kathryn enjoys reading, hiking, bicycling, and cooking. After graduate studies in chemistry and six years working in the field of chemical education, God resurrected her dream of being a stay-at-home-mom, though she is neither a mother (just a Parent), nor does she stay at home (just at other people’s homes).

 

The Church and Reunification in Foster Care

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Today we’re featuring the Christian Alliance for Orphan’s webinar: The Church as a Partner in Biological Family Reunification in Foster Care.

Reunification, when a child is able to return to their family after spending time in foster care, is a beautiful thing and the ultimate purpose of foster care. We believe that as the Church, we’re called to restore families and support all families. The webinar below is a great resource to learn more about how your church can support and reunify families.

If you’re interested in mobilizing your church around reunification, send us an email at info@dc127.org. We would love to help you launch!

The Church as a Partner in Biological Family Reunification in Foster Care from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Our Orphan Sunday Prayer

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Blog-ButtonAs we work to recruit churches to our city-wide prayer gathering, One City. One Hope on November 7th, we’re calling on all churches to join churches across the globe in observing Orphan Sunday.

We’re asking all churches to join us in this prayer. As a collective Body across the city praying this prayer together, we’re engaging in Orphan Sunday alongside churches around the world.

You can print out the PDF version here: Orphan Sunday Prayer

You can also use the text version of the prayer below:

A prayer for Orphan Sunday

On this Orphan Sunday, we join with your people across our city, country and world to pray for children. We know that love for these precious children begins not with us, but with you. You pursued us when we were wayward and alone. You adopted us as your children. You invite us to address you as Abba and to live as your sons and daughters. Truly, we love because you first loved us.

You tell us also that you are near to the downtrodden and destitute. Your heart aches for children that face the world alone. You champion the cause of those who have no one else to take their side. And you call us to do the same.

So we pray that you would rouse us to share your heart. We ask that you would stir your people to passion and vision and action on behalf of children that have no family, and those in families in crisis.

We lift up to you the millions of children in the world who have lost their parents to disease, to war, to addiction, to poverty, to abandonment. As you promise to do, place the lonely in families. Be their defender, their provider, their hope and peace. Help us to do the same.

We pray also for the 400,000 children in our foster system in America, and the 1,200 children in Washington, DC. So often, they are bounced from home to home, knowing little love, consistency or true nurture. Please be their love, their consistency, their nurture. Help us to do the same.

And we pray for children at-risk of being removed from their families. Support these parents with your love, your grace, and your patience. Teach us to open our communities, welcoming families in distress and strengthening them as a unit.

We confess that we have often lived with little regard for these precious lives. Please forgive us. Lead us to take up their cause, not in guilt or obligation, but as a joyful response to your great love for us.

As we do, we pray that you would use our humble response to transform. To transform the lives of countless children both physically and spiritually. To transform us as we encounter you in them. To transform your Church as we lift our eyes beyond our own comfort and self-focused religion to live out the painful beauty of the Gospel. And finally, to transform a watching world as it catches glimpses of your love made visible through the actions of your people.

We commit all this to you, the One who is a father and mother to all, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Crawling out of our comforters

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There was a moment last week when the busy of life began to slow down and I had a second or two to think about an area of my life where I knew God was calling me to step into something new, uncomfortable, and if I’m honest, kind of scary. What I wish I wanted to do was grab the nearest broom as my sword, and the nearest coat as my cape and stand there ready to charge into whatever it was God had for me.

What I actually wanted to do was put on the thickest pair of socks I could find, crawl under my fluffy down comforter and burrow myself into a little hole. (My comforter is especially good for this as it makes a sort of cave)

This isn’t a new feeling to me, and I’d like to think that it’s not a new feeling to humans, which means that you might know that feeling. That feeling when you know you’re being asked to do something new and challenging, but for some reason breathing becomes a little harder and you just wish you had a fluffy down comforter to hide in. I’m sorry, mine is taken.

Maybe for you this was a new job, a new relationship, a new place, a new area of service, a new __________. And maybe you feel this way when you think about foster care, adoption, or getting involved in foster care?

As I’ve been slowly crawling out of my goose-feathered cave, I am actually okay with my reaction. See, what if I had (we had) immediately grabbed our broom-swords and coat-capes? How far would those have taken me (us)? I’ve done that before, too. And those are usually the times I find myself exhausted, burned out, and feeling like a failure, because I thought I could go and do ____________ with my own array of armor.

Brennan Manning has this line in The Ragamuffin Gospel that gets me every time, “When we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God’s mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us.” When we crawl out from under our comforters and admit that yes, God is calling us to something new and scary and we are going to have to trust Him because we can’t do it on our own, then maybe we can (God leads, we follow) actually go somewhere worth going.

Getting involved in foster care can sometimes be that ________ that drives us under the covers. It’s full of unknowns, time commitments, and big steps. But we take those steps because as of March there are 1,179 kids who need us to. And because we believe that as we recognize our absolute need for Christ and the urgent need to be united for the kids of our city, God will make/has been making/is making something beautiful. And won’t it be beautiful when DC is a city where no child waits for a home?

Foster care: 5 ways to pray

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During Foster Care Awareness Month, we’re encouraging you to find your role in helping children in foster care. Some of you might decide to pursue training to become a foster parent. Some of you may check out one of the many mentoring programs in DC and invest in a child who needs an adult presence. And some of you may long to help but don’t have the capacity right now to be either a foster parent or a mentor. Your role (and everyone’s role) might be to pray.

The system is a complicated and messy one, but we serve a God that sees the inner-workings and knows each child in foster care. And so we pray. Pray because judges need your prayers as they adjudicate for the best interests of the child. Social workers need your prayers as they struggle to give each of their cases the attention they deserve despite being overwhelmed with work. Foster families need your prayers as they open their homes to children who may have experienced much trauma in their young lives. The church needs your prayers as it struggles to be a voice for those who aren’t being heard. Birth families need your prayers as they fight to rebuild their lives. And of course, the children in foster care need your prayers. They need to know they are not forgotten.

So take five minutes today and pray, for the kids, the foster families, the birth families, the system as a whole, and the church.

  • Pray for the kids in foster care. Pray that children will be placed in homes that are a good fit for them, and that their first foster home is their last foster home. Pray that sibling groups would be able to stay together. Pray that every child in foster care would understand that they are uniquely made by God, and that God cares for them. Pray that they will experience the unconditional love of a forever family, whether through reunification or adoption. Pray that they will heal from all past trauma. Pray that they will be able to form healthy attachments to their caregivers. Pray that they would be able to forgive those who have wounded them.
  • Pray for foster families. Pray that more singles and couples would become foster parents. Pray that current foster parents would have the resources they need to tackle the challenges they encounter. Pray that they would have support and understanding from their communities. Pray that they would not lose heart and that they would be diligent in seeking justice for the children in their care. Pray that they would have a positive relationship with the birth parents. Pray that these parents would be able to see these kids as they see their biological children—as gifts from God that deserve to be cared for in the best way possible. Pray that these parents would have the wisdom to discern when to say yes and when to say no to specific placements.
  • Pray for birth families. Pray for reunification. Pray that children in care would be able to return to their families quickly and grow up in a safe and supportive environment. Pray for parents struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Pray that they would be able to complete their recovery programs and that reunification with their children would become a possibility. Pray that they would have a support network to help them make good decisions. And pray that families that are reunified will be strengthened and will remain intact.
  • Pray for the foster care system. Pray that all members of the foster care team will be able to make wise choices and act in the best interests of the children they’re representing. Pray that God’s hand guides the judges who have to make decisions regarding the termination of parental rights. Pray that social workers would experience joy in their work and that they would not grow weary in doing good. Pray that they would take their motivation from the gospel and its ability to do the impossible and transform lives.
  • Pray for the church. Pray that church leaders would engage in the child welfare system. Pray that they would speak to their congregations about the church’s responsibility to care for the orphan. And pray that they would be able to set an example, whether through becoming foster parents themselves or supporting those in their congregation that do. Pray that the Lord would reveal to each member of the church their role in helping children in foster care.

Prayer suggestions compiled from the following sources: 12 prayer requests for children in foster care, Praying for children in foster care, Prayers for foster care children, families, and more, and Foster care prayer guide.

 

Blue Sunday: A day to pray

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a designation in effect since President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed it so in 1983. And the fourth Sunday in April (the 27th, this year) is the day for churches to rally together and intercede for the most vulnerable among us.

Blue Sunday. Inviting churches to set aside time in their services to pray specifically for children who have been abused.

This is the first year there will be more people praying than there are new victims of child abuse in the United States. In 2013, over 6 million children became new victims of child abuse. This year’s Blue Sunday campaign has over 7.4 million people committed to praying for these children. Register your church to pray here.

Along with prayer, there are many ways to be part of the work to prevent child abuse. Part of the effort is helping children have safe, healthy lives, and Child Welfare Information Gateway has an idea to that end for every day of April. We’re nearly through the month, but these suggestions can easily be implemented any month of the year. On its blog, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers information on recognizing and reporting child abuse and more ways to get involved in prevention, including playing golf! (The Children’s Trust has organized a fundraiser tournament.) And if you’re particularly prone to advocacy, the Child Welfare League of America offers suggestions for contacting your elected officials and local media to let them know about any community activities you plan.

Finally, as Beth Vo wisely notes in an article for the Citizen-Times, “Preventing child abuse requires that we all recognize and support the hard work of parenting.” Just as parents are encouraged to call out good behavior in their children, make an effort to acknowledge good parenting—by friend or stranger. One compliment can go a long way, and may even give a stressed parent the boost he or she needs to respond to a challenging situation with grace and love instead of anger. And if you know of a family in duress, offer to help—babysit, run errands, or suggest resources.

 

Why the Local Church? Hint: It’s Strategic.

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46-by-friday-header

We’ve been diving deeper into the mission of DC127 this week and posting a blog every day this week (here are our firstsecond, and third posts).  Today our founder, Aaron Graham, talks about why we chose to work through the local church. We are specifically looking for 46 people to invest in DC127 through a monthly donation to help us mobilize and empower the church to recruit and support families. Will you join us?

We often get asked why the church? What is the unique role of local churches in addressing the foster care and adoption crisis in Washington, DC? Why put so much energy in mobilizing churches? It’s a good question, and as with anything, your strategy should be thought out, and well…strategic.

Aaron and his family, Amy, Elijah, and Natalie

Aaron and his family, Amy, Elijah, and Natalie

This is what we want to talk about today: Why is mobilizing local churches strategic in embracing and ensuring the success of every child in foster care? Here are a few reasons:

1) We are called

For us, mobilizing churches is not simply a means to an end, it is an end in itself. The Bible is filled with passages highlighting God’s special concern for the poor, for children, and for the orphan.

Part of DC127’s goal is to see the church fully committed and engaged to serving vulnerable children in our city. God sets the lonely in homes and is a Father to the fatherless – and as his children, we are called to live out this love. And what a beautiful calling it is.

It’s so much bigger than just foster care. It is part of the redemptive work of Christ as he restores all of us and we work to see his kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven.

This is more than just a calling, it is a part of who God is, and therefore, a part of us as His body.

2) The Church Endures

I’ve always been amazed when I’ve traveled to the war torn areas of Africa, such as Northern Uganda and South Sudan. Hospitals are gone, schools are closed, houses are burned down, roads are impassable, and yet there is one thing still standing: the church. They may be meeting under a tree, but they are still meeting.

Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Here is the deal: The government may sequester or shut down; the economy might sink your business; and the funding for your non-profit may be lost. But, nothing can prevail against the church and work of God. Jesus promises that he will build his church and not even the power of hell can stop it.

The Bible refers to the church as the bride of Christ. And it is the church who Jesus is returning for.
When working with kids who have come from hard places, and families who are in crisis, it can feel, and often literally is the power of hell working against us. Yet even in the midst of poverty, addiction, and oppressive cycles and systems, the church endures. In fact, the church often endures the strongest among people who are poor and among the persecuted. The church was here before DC127 and it will endure long after.

Yet even in the midst of poverty, addiction, and oppressive cycles and systems, the church endures.

Mobilizing the church is not just about throwing fun events and potlucks. It’s about actively engaging and continuing the culture of our churches where opening homes and lives to care for kids in vulnerable situations is normal and supported.

3) It’s just smart

This seems odd to talk about after discussing the spiritual aspects of the church’s involvement in foster care, but it can’t be overlooked that faith-based communities are in a unique place to make tangible and sustainable change. Let me break this down:
A: There is no stronger network. Our faith in who God is and what he has done for us unites us as churches in ways not seen elsewhere in our society. While we may have different names above our doors, we have one faith, one Lord, and one mission. One church operating alone can do some good, but it cannot bring about major social change in a big city without working collaboratively with other churches. In yesterday’s story, we shared how several churches worked together to settle a young woman and her daughter in a new home. The network is here, we have over 600 churches in DC, we just have to build the relationships and start working more together.

B: A community of support exists. We call it the body of Christ, and it’s a beautiful thing when it works together. The church knows how to bring meals, how to share hand-me-downs, and how to be there in those tough moments. We already do this within our community, so it’s not a far stretch to expand our view to ensure children in foster care and their families, both birth and foster, are supported. It is so powerful to bring a child into not just a home, but into an existing community that is prepared to love them and do what it takes to see them succeed.

It is so powerful to bring a child into not just a home, but into an existing community that is prepared to love them and do what it takes to see them succeed.

C: We care for the whole person. When the church is at its best it is not just inviting people into relationship with Christ but caring for the healing of the whole person. When hard times lead to a child being placed in foster care, it’s not as simple as providing a home, checking that off the list, and then moving on with life. As human beings we are complex. We are messy, and healing takes awhile. Who knows this art of healing better than the church? Through our own relationship with Christ, we see how healing is a life-long journey and not a one-time event. The church can walk with children and families, both birth and foster, caring for their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

In sum,

We’re here because we are called, because it’s a part of who we are and our tradition, and because we can do this well. Do we as churches always get along? No, we don’t. And there have been too many times where we have hurt instead of healed, and wounded instead of walked with. But at our core and at our best, we are a big family with a lot of love.

And there have been too many times where we have hurt instead of healed, and wounded instead of walked with. But at our core and at our best, we are a big family with a lot of love.

Starting a church-wide network was actually something I avoided for a while. It wasn’t until God made it painfully clear that he was not only asking me, but also asking the churches of our city to unite around foster care that I knew this was what needed to happen.

This week we’re asking for you to invest in DC127 and our efforts to unite the church around foster care. We’re specifically looking for 46 people to commit to giving anything from $10 to $100 a month to help us accomplish our mission. Would you join?

46 represents the number of months on average that kids in DC spend in foster care (twice the national average). That’s almost four years, and it will take us as a city and church united to bring that number down. Your support allows us to reach more churches to recruit and support foster and adoptive homes.

We believe that we all have a home in heaven. And if that’s true there, then no child should be waiting for a home in DC.

Will you join us?

Aaron Graham is a founder of DC127 and the lead pastor of The District Church.

Kathy Edin and Aaron Graham on foster care and poverty

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DC127 Founder Aaron Graham and Kathy Edin, a professor of sociology at John Hopkins University (and Aaron’s former professor) and recent author of Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood and the Inner City, sat down with Values & Capitalism to discuss faith, adoption, foster care, and poverty. Aaron and Kathy are both adoptive parents and leaders in advocating on behalf of children in foster and those living in poverty.

Part of the discussion was about how to restore and lift up the families that children in foster care are coming from and how to work towards preventing children from ever entering foster care. Kathy’s research in Camden, New Jersey on marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood in low income neighborhoods found that the quest for identity often plays a huge part in young people’s journey into parenthood,

“What we learned about these young women and now these young men that we’ve been studying for a decade and a half, is that they often enter into parenthood kind of as a result for a quest for meaning and identity that all young adults go through. But their quest is unique because of its hopelessness and its sense that there is no path and there is no sure future. The sense of being overwhelmed by the violence and what young people would call negativity.”

Kathy then speaks to a community organization she is on the board of that works with kids starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school, and at age fifteen, gives young people leaderships roles within the program, allowing them to take ownership of their community. This program saw significantly lower rates of teenage pregnancy and incarceration.

We’ll let the rest of the interview speak for itself. We so appreciate Kathy and Aaron’s candidness and honesty in discussing challenges and celebrations around adoption in foster care.

Adoption provides an opportunity for God to really change us and for us to enter the same kind of mess he entered into when he came into our lives. The difficulties, I think, are just a signal of how difficult we’ve been as adopted children of God. But it is the model, and it’s undeniable that it’s something Christians should be engaged in.” -Kathy Edin

 

Guest Post: An update on Fostering- and the Perfect Timing of Lent

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Today we’re reposting a blog from a very dear friend of ours: Blythe Scott. Blythe was instrumental in making DC127 a reality. I remember sitting in Blythe’s car after a partner meeting on foster care about a year and a half ago and before DC127 was even a thought (in our minds), literally sitting on my hands to keep myself from volunteering all my time away, and both of us saying, “We’re not going to start anything new.” As classic over-committers, we didn’t want to commit to something we couldn’t do. God had something else in mind. I am so, so thankful for Blythe as a leader in this city and as a friend. She currently works as the Operations Manager at The Expectations Project. Blythe- thank you for sharing this post and teaching us through your own vulnerability and story. – Chelsea, DC127 Director

An update on fostering – and the perfect timing of Lent
By: Blythe Scott

blythe and steve

Just about two weeks ago Stephen and I were asked to foster a little boy we know and love dearly. Because of the urgent nature of the foster care system, we had a few short days to think and pray about it before either moving forward or closing that door. Through praying a lot those few days, we both felt God calling us out of our comfort zones, asking us to be willing to enter into this life-changing situation no matter how challenging it might be.…So we decided to move forward with the fostering process.

As is the nature of foster care though, it is a complicated and messy process and long story short, the birth father stepped in a few days later and now wants the child. So as of now, it looks as if he will go to the birth father.

It has been an intense couple weeks, with a lot of change happening really fast and a lot of deep emotions. We love this little boy – we’ve known him since the day he was born and have been praying for him from even before then. We want the best for him….and this whole situation is just very uncertain. It is still a possibility we could get him at some point and our hearts ache for this; but we also ache for him to have the love and care from his birth parents that he deserves. We are sad and tired right now, but God gives us hope throughout this process by reminding us how much more He loves this child than we could ever imagine (thanks to many of you for being the instruments through which God has reminded us of this). Since the beginning of our relationship with the birth mother three years ago, God’s hand has been so evident – through the ups and downs we truly believe He is writing a beautiful story, for His glory (You can read a little more background about this story here).

And we have faith that His good purposes in this whole process extend far beyond what we can know now. Already, just in a couple short weeks, God has shown Stephen and me more of what it means to trust Him fully and deeply: what it looks like to hold our hands open to him with those we love most, seeking to follow the example of Abraham with his son Isaac, asking God to do what He will and learning to trust Him either way….and we have had to. We wake up in the morning, still at this point not knowing what will happen with this child tomorrow or in 6 months or 2 years…but we are learning as we walk through each day what a deeper trust looks like. God doesn’t ask us to trust him only when we feel confident about what’s next, He asks us to trust Him because He is God and He is GOOD….no matter the outcome. So we pray to trust, with open hands and willing hearts. And we believe that no matter how hard this situation and others in the future might be, it will always be worth it to love.

God doesn’t ask us to trust him only when we feel confident about what’s next, He asks us to trust Him because He is God and He is GOOD….no matter the outcome. So we pray to trust, with open hands and willing hearts. And we believe that no matter how hard this situation and others in the future might be, it will always be worth it to love.

And while I truly believe this, I need to be honest about where I am right now: I’m tired. I have walked with this friend the past 3 years, doing all I know to do to help her and speaking all the words of advice and truth that I can. Now I love her son as well and there is literally nothing I can do for him at this point except wait. Wait and cry out and get outside myself, trusting in the hand of God more than ever before.

So it is timely that Lent begins tomorrow. The season of Lent has always impacted me greatly – it is a season that shows more of Christ’s humanness and brokenness than any other. His deep love for us displayed in the strength and sorrow of His sacrifice on Good Friday has always especially moved me (So much so that Stephen actually proposed to me on Good Friday, wanting our marriage to reflect the ultimate selfless love our Savior displayed on that night).

But even with Lent impacting me so much over the years, it’s significance has never hit me so hard as right now. With my heart hurting for this little child I love so much, hurting for his mother, for the brokenness of our systems and culture, heavy with weariness at all I see…I bow my head, thankful for God’s timing.

I am thankful to be forced to my knees at a time we are called to reflect on the humility of Christ….I am thankful to be on my knees knowing my Savior was, and is, down here with me. I am thankful for this season of brokenness, reflection, and self-denial with my Savior.

I have always been a control person, a do-er. And I think because of this I have always struggled with fear around surrendering completely to God’s power, because it is so awesome and unknown – who knows what He will require of me, if I truly give him control and enter deeper into His love and compassion? Easier to try to live out His love on my own. Easier to do for people than to let our hearts break fully for them. Easier for me to come up with plans to help the birth mother, to find the resources she needs, to help her children and try to rescue them myself – easier to do all this than to let my heart break completely for her as my Lord’s does. Easier to do this than to pray and intercede and wait for Him to move.

But there is no end to brokenness in sight and I’m at my end now. The end of my rope, the end of my means. I am just weary. So I enter this season of Lent, tired but thankful for God’s perfect timing…thankful that He has been breaking my heart and preparing me for what He knows I need this season. It’s like He has brought me to a place where I can do nothing but cry out, walking with Him and weeping and learning to get over myself and trust fully and deeply. He has brought me to this place but I am tired and I welcome it.

So I enter this season of Lent, tired but thankful for God’s perfect timing…thankful that He has been breaking my heart and preparing me for what He knows I need this season.

So I enter this time of repentance, asking forgiveness for the ways my fear and pride have prevented me from loving my God and this friend and others fully. I ask for Him to bring me low in this time, to help me walk with Him purposefully in His humility and suffering, being reminded of my own sin and selfishness. I ask for Him to help me deny myself in this time to I can experience His strength and grace and compassion in even deeper ways, filled to overflowing with renewed love for this mother who is really my sister, and for my other brothers and sisters for whom God has called me to love and sacrifice – as He has done for me.

In brokenness but also in faith I will cry out with my Savior for God to deliver and to move. I will ask Him to help me love “to the end” and to trust in His power daily to deliver against addiction and brokenness, to save hurting children. And I will look forward all the more to celebrating His resurrection over all pain and anger and death this Easter. I hope you will join me in this as well.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)

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