This is our home, we chose this home with the intention of sharing it. We chose it with the intention of (figuratively) leaving it unlocked to whomever God leads to us. I won’t lie that our house is big, with 2.7 acres of land, 4 full bathrooms and 5 bedrooms, we have plenty of space to share. November 2016 we moved into our new home just a day before Thanksgiving. I remember that even then, we had some friends staying with us for the holiday. They helped us move and slept on our couch surrounded by disorganized boxes and random pieces of furniture at every turn. Actually, come to think of it, even right up to when we moved, we had another friend living with us in our basement in our old home. He was able to find a home for him and his family and moved pretty much at the same time we did. It was a hectic week with all of us trying to move to different houses but at the end of the day, we were all settled and ready to celebrate Thanksgiving.
My husband, my mother in law, my brother in law and myself have been the four constants living in our home but over the course of almost four years, our house has been a home for a shifting number of people. Not only have we had the privilege to open our home for long term stays, but we have gladly accepted many short term guests who needed a place to stay for a night or two. We were a home to 5 when our foster daughter Melody lived with us, we were a home to 6 when we were foster parents to two kids for a short time and now we are a home to 9. If you count pets then we are home to 16 which includes 6 cats and a dog!! The first thing I’ll say though is that it doesn’t feel like it. The house is big enough for everyone to have their own space. With the exception of occasional cat fights (literal cat fights) there has been no feeling of stepping on each other’s toes.
We are a home to 9, this time not as foster parents, but as “foster friends”. As I have shared in many of my previous blogs, we have been blessed with being able to develop a close relationship with our first foster daughter, Melody’s, family. We have stayed in contact regularly even after she was successfully reunified. A little over a month ago, several things lead us to extend an invitation for the entire family to live with us for some time. After having a while to think about it, they accepted our invitation and have thus moved in with us. Together we have established short, medium, and long term goals in the best interest of the family, and are working to meet them.
As I have explained before, the word “foster” simply means to help something grow, to promote development, or to encourage the progression of something or someone. Today the words “foster care” or “foster parents” or “foster” anything unfortunately have negative connotations and is almost always divided into there being two “sides”- the “good” side and the “bad” side. Yes, there may be a “side” that may need some more guidance or growing to do in certain aspects in life, but if we aim to live as Christ calls us to, then we need to acknowledge that God sees both “sides” as the same. Meaning that all need Him, meaning that without Him our lives would be chaos, pure destruction and death. He sees us all as needing to learn and grow. Compared to Him… both “sides” are still very much uncompleted works of art. In His eyes, you and I need to be “fostered” into deeper understandings and knowledge of who He is. A fool proof way to avoid falling into the lie of superiority, vanity or arrogance is to remember this deep spiritual truth: Until you are in the presence of God, you still have a lot to learn and God can choose anyone to teach you. You may have some strong points, some talents, some areas in your life you have mastered, but if you believe you have no areas to grow in, then you have proved yourself to be sorely immature. When we allow ourselves to be teachable, we can be surprised by what we learn and who we learn it through. It is my prayer that I will allow myself to be continually taught by whoever God chooses to teach me through.
As I have stated many times, we believe there is more than one way to be “pro-life” and this entails us protecting and nurturing the lives of children not only in the womb but outside it. This means supporting families and helping them keep the kids that we so fervently wanted them to give birth to. We believe in God’s design for family. We believe that whenever possible, so long as it is safe, families should stay together. We will not make much progress in the quality of life of kids without investing time in the quality of life of the family as a whole.
Having said that, we should look at the opportunity to help others as an equal opportunity to be helped. In each lesson we hope to teach, we should also seek a lesson to learn. Apply each word of criticism to yourself first before thinking about giving it to another. We open our home not as a flaunt to what we have or even as an offering of what we can give. We open our home to return to God the goodness He has given us. He grants us the privilege of being able to say “thank you” by giving us the opportunity to share His grace, mercy and love with others. He doesn’t need anything from us, and we of ourselves, have nothing to give. But we stand as bearers of HIS good gifts, and His gifts are not always material things, these gifts can come in the form of time, space, patience, encouragement, and conversations.
We are not the author of our lives, God is. We are in God’s story, He holds the pen and paper, He decides what happens next, He decides what characters come in and out of our lives. I simply tell the story. We don’t “let God into our lives” He puts you in His! So I share our lives I share our home because I want to share HIM! I want to share what HE is doing!
I have learned so much these past few years, God has enabled me to do things I thought I never could. Through foster care, God has brought to life many truths that I knew in theory but hadn’t really experienced. A few things come to mind such as true dependency. When you learn to be dependent on Him, you experience true freedom. Ultimate independence is a lie from the enemy, it is the ultimate bait that enslaves people to a life of selfishness forever. I have learned to be vulnerable. When you learn vulnerability to Christ, you gain impermeability from the world. He makes you perfect in weakness.
My sense of entitlement has been shattered. When you learn that your things are not really yours, you learn to give. When you learn you don’t deserve anything, generosity becomes easy. By believing that all we have is a gift from God, we destroy greed.
I have learned to set my eyes on eternity. When you accept the truth that we are only passing through this world and that we will have eternity to do all the things we want to do, it becomes much easier to say “Yes” to hard things. When we understand the brevity of this life, it becomes no issue to push back your plans, to step outside your comfort zone or to voluntarily place yourself in a situation that promises rewards but inevitably entails risks. When we are crucified with Christ, we allow God to expand the breath of our hearts to include many more people other than ourselves.
God is the author of our story, He is the author of your story. Where will He lead you next? What journey? What place? What people?
For us, at this moment, He has lead us home, to a party of 9.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20)