Father’s Day Special!
Get your signed copy of Adopting the Father’s Heart for only $8 plus tax and shipping!
Offer Good Only Through Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
Get your signed copy of Adopting the Father’s Heart for only $8 plus tax and shipping!
Offer Good Only Through Wednesday, June 11, 2014.
Several people who have seen the front cover of my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart, have commented on it. So, I thought I would share a little of the story behind the picture.
The photo was taken during Thanksgiving week, 2012 on Bolivar Peninsula, TX. If you are from the Houston/Galveston area, you know exactly where that is. But for those who don’t know, Bolivar Peninsula is a ferry ride across from Galveston, TX.
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As I wrote the book, Adopting the Father’s Heart, I saw a pattern forming. Looking back over the three-year journey of preparing for foster care, caring for a foster son, then adopting that son, I recognized something or someone influencing the results.
I did not expect to find favor with the biological family, but we did. We worked well with all the professionals involved in the case. Our son, who is a little over 2 years old now, bonded with us immediately. Even though we are in our late 40’s and early 50’s, God blessed us with many friends who are in their 30’s with young children.. Even the adoption process went more quickly and smoothly than anyone predicted.
Need I go on?
I know some would call this fate. But, I am not talking about fate. Others might call it grace. It is more than grace.
It is favor. Favor defined as goodwill, unfair partiality, preferential treatment.
Truthfully, I can see God’s favor in my life for longer than the past three years of our journey in foster care and adoption. You might think that is an arrogant statement. But, look at it through the lens of a father or mother.
Does a father not show his own child partiality? Most people are considerate of others. They might even be compassionate. But, a father naturally extends preferential treatment toward his own child.
So, what is the secret to experiencing God’s favor? Knowing God as your Father, your Dad. Whatever affectionate term you have for your earthly father. That is the kind of relationship God desires to have with you. And once you have that kind of relationship, He pours out His favor on you.
It has taken me a life time to begin to understand the powerful, intimate, and yes, favorable relationship that I have because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, many Christians that are reading this are having a hard time accepting it as truth. But, it is true. God’s favor in the life of His adopted children happens.
“…God sent forth His son…so that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba Father!” Galatians 4:4-6
“For he who finds me (God) finds life and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:34
Abba, Father. That is like referring to God as Daddy. If God truly sees me as his adopted son, no wonder I experience His favor.
So, I do not attribute our good fortune with fostering and adopting our son to luck or fate. I sure do not think it is because of my abilities or hard work. I completely attribute it to favor showered on us by a loving Father.
Question for you: How have you experienced God’s favor? Or, how would an intimate relationship with God make your life different?
One of the sections of my book is about lessons learned through foster care. Foster care is an intense classroom. One lesson I learned is how to let go.
A foster parent is constantly reminded that the child in their care will one day leave their family. This constant reminder forces a foster parent to prepare for letting go. A foster parent might guard their heart to avoid the pain of letting go. When a foster parent does this, they never really connect with the child. I protected my heart the first few weeks our son was with us. When I did, I felt like an underpaid and unappreciated babysitter.
Preparing to let go really is no different for a biological parent. The only difference might be timing. One day every child will leave their father and mother.
So, how do we let go?
We adopted our foster son last fall. So we now know that he is not leaving our family any time soon (he is only 2 years old.) But, I know that I need to continue preparing for the day I have to let go.
Question for You: What are some other healthy ways we can let our children go?
After we decided to foster and hopefully adopt, I spent hours browsing a state sponsored website that profiles children in the foster care system available for adoption. The website listed hundreds of children of all ages. I finally had to stop for two reasons. We still needed to take our training classes and get certified. That was at least 4-6 months away. And, I wanted to take almost every child home. Reading about each child’s story overwhelmed me.
The challenge or problem like hundreds of orphaned children needing a family overwhelms any person. The sad thing is that overwhelming challenges can cause us to do nothing at all. We do not know where to begin. Or, we feel bad that we can not help them all.
It seems useless to meet the needs of only one child. So why even try?
I struggled with this for a while. I finally decided that I needed to do what I could for one at-risk child even if only for a short time. When we accepted our first foster placement, I thought he was the only person that we would impact. I soon learned that our actions affected and influenced more than this one child.
We interacted with the biological family of our foster son much more than I expected. You can read about it in this blog post – 4 Things I Learned from Meeting the Family. We continue to pray for healing and restoration in this family.
We interacted with caseworkers and lawyers a lot more than I expected. Some visited our home many times. Hopefully our friendship and encouragement helped them to work hard at meeting the needs of other children in their caseload.
We affect one another more than we realize. It is that simple. People that never gave orphan care a thought, have it on their radar screen now simply because they are in relationship with us.
Let me recommend a few ways other than fostering or adopting to impact more than one at risk child:
So, instead of feeling helpless in the face of enormous challenges or hoping they go away, remember that even your seemingly small investment in a person’s life potentially impacts more than that one.
How do you usually respond when faced with an enormous challenge?
In my sample chapter, The Call of a Father’s Heart, I write about our responsibility to respond to the needs of orphans. It is clear that the cries of the orphans reach the ear of God. He notices and wants us to notice. Many statistics show that over the past 10 years international adoptions into the U.S. have dropped dramatically. Both Ends Burning website states, “the current international adoption trends show an almost 60% decline in the number of children adopted since 2004.”
Many families wait 2-5 years to adopt “their” child that have remained stuck in orphanages due to bureaucracy and corruption. These are children that could be in a family now.
This video below is a trailer for the documentary Stuck. Visit Both Ends Burning to find out about showings in a city near you.
This picture is one I took when Danielle and I were touring the Forum in Rome. I pondered the fact that I was walking among the ruins of a civilization that existed over 2000 years ago. This picture captured for me the way the distant past can stay for years, and the way the immediate present is often fleeting.
One of my biggest struggles is living in the present, or Staying in the Moment as I write about in my book, Adopting the Father’s Heart. I am much better at it today than I was in the past, but I still struggle.
Why live in the present one may ask? Jesus referred to it as abiding. He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
When we live in the present or stay in the moment, we are more fruitful and productive. We enjoy life and relationships. We are at peace.
God uses different ways to teach me how to live in the present.
He uses my mistakes to teach me. I lived for years with regrets of my past or fear of my future. The result was that I hardly ever lived in the present. All that accomplished was a lot of mistakes which only pushed me to live more like this. However, He grabbed my attention because of my failures. He used counselors to guide me. He used my broken state to speak truth to my heart.
He uses life experiences to teach me. One experience was when Danielle and I decided to quit our jobs and move to Thailand. We decided to serve as volunteer missionaries for at least 6 months. I had no idea what I would do after we returned to the states. But God taught me how to live each day while we lived in Thailand trusting that He had my future under control. And, He proved faithful.
Another life experience that has taught me how to live in the present is fostering. When our son was our foster child, for months I did not know if any given day would be his last with us. Once again, God proved to me that He was worthy of trusting and abiding in.
So, what are 7 warning signs that you are not living in the present?
Question for you – What are some other warning signs that you notice?
I must have been a sleep during this part of our training classes. The part that described what our interaction would be like with the biological family of foster children. Maybe it was the horror stories of angry, threatening parents that caused me to forget. Whatever the reason, I somehow deducted that I would never have to meet any family members of any foster children in our care. Or at the very least, if I did meet them, I would not have to interact with them.
My intention was to fulfill my call to care for vulnerable, at risk children. I did not intend to interact with the family of these children.
I shared in a recent post, Trauma upon Trauma, about the multiple layers of trauma a foster child endures. In that post, I share about going to our first parent visit. Here is a little more detail about that visit.
I went with my wife, so she would not have to face the unknown alone. As we drove to the office building, I wondered why they had not told us where the secret drop off door was when they gave us the address to the building.
Seriously, I thought that there was a secret door where foster parents could drive up, give a secret knock, and hand off the foster child to a CPS employee. I would never have to interact, much less see, the angry parents.
Well, that was not the scene for that first parent visit.
When we pulled into the parking lot of the government building, a young couple stepped out of their car. They strained their necks to see who we were. I thought they probably were the parents.
I really needed to find that door!
I drove around the building twice beginning to feel sick at my stomach. I never found the secret door. I finally parked. We slowly walked, carrying our 8 month old foster son, toward the front doors which were double glass. Inside we saw the two young people eagerly looking back at us. Sure enough, it was the parents. It was not supposed to happen this way! But it did.
A week or so later, our CPS case worker asked us to attend a family meeting. What? Not only were we going to meet the parents, but more of the family? Sure enough.
How did I have it so wrong?
Over the next few months, Danielle and I had several interactions with different family members of our foster son. They were always gracious toward us. I still was protective of our foster son, but my heart was also opening up toward his family.
Here are a few things that I learned through this experience:
Question for you – How has God used you to enter into someone else’s hard place to take part in their healing process?
I am blogging on different segments of my upcoming book, Adopting the Father’s Heart. This is one story that causes my throat to tighten. A one second decision altered my life.
We became certified as foster parents January, 2011. Now it was June. We turned down several foster placements for a variety of reasons. We traveled a lot those 6 months. We also narrowed our parameters quite a bit about a foster placement. For example, we decided that it would be wise to begin with only one child instead of a sibling group.
The summer of 2011 in Austin, Texas was brutal. The heat wave that summer broke the record of days over 100 degrees–by a long shot! This particular day was hot enough to fry an egg on the dashboard of my truck.
Because we had turned down several placements, I was beginning to doubt our decision to foster children. I was weighing other options in my mind. To feel productive, I bought ceramic tile to put in our kitchen and breakfast area.
I unloaded over 300 square feet of ceramic tile in 110 degree heat. Then I sat down at our kitchen table to drink some ice water. I sat with drops of sweat running off the end of my nose as I read some emails.
Then my phone rang. It was Arrow, our foster care agency.
Here is what went through my mind in about 2 seconds before I answered:
Then I answered the phone. Arrow needed a home for one 8 month old boy. The only other information was that the child probably would be with us for only a few days or weeks.
I share more about this story in my book. Bottom line is that we accepted that placement. And, it did alter my life.
This story causes me to think about how seemingly insignificant decisions often have a great impact on our lives. Some people call it coincidence or fate.
I prefer to see it as God’s hand of direction and providence. I have no doubt in my mind that God intended for this little boy to be placed in our home. And, even though I came so close to not answering that phone call, I believe that it was God’s Holy Spirit that nudged me to answer.
The question for me is not whether God works in our lives like this. It is instead are we very good at listening and noticing what He is doing in and around us. I recollect other times when I was definitely not paying attention to Him. The results show it too.
Question for you: What happened in your life that was the result of what seemed like an insignificant decision at the time?
I put a lot of research into self publishing vs. traditional publishing. Blogs, articles, and author friends of mine had a lot of different advice. Some said to stay far away from self publishing. Others said that self publishing is an excellent option.
For me it came down to a few things that helped me make this decision:
Ultimately, the decision was mine to make. But as I was on the phone with the WestBow representative, I felt very strange. She even commented about how I did not seem very excited. Believe me, I am excited!
The strange emotion lasted for most of the day. Finally, as I was getting ready for bed, I processed with my wife what I thought was going on inside of me. Why did I feel so strange?
I decided that making this commitment made everything seem more real. Another thought lingered around the edges of my mind – “Do I really want to take the risk of sharing some of my life, my story, my passions?”
The answer is yes. But, I do not take what I am doing lightly.
I appreciate everyone’s encouragement to follow my dream of writing. Will you help me get the word out. Like me on my FB page – Adopting a Father’s Heart – the book. You can do so by looking to your right on the sidebar.
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Enjoy the video!