Our Life Really isn’t Ours for the Taking, but for the Giving (foster/adopt a child 1)

I have been debating on whether to write on this topic or not.  Due to privacy I am not really sure how much of this journey I will be able to openly share.  Realizing that my own struggles could very well be the struggles of someone else out there is the draw I have to write and share what God is doing in the life of our family and within my own heart.  The call to foster and/or adopt has been weighing on Mike and I for around six years now.  During this time I have picked up at least a dozen packets from various agencies I kept a lot of them for a while then finally pitched them.   I have questioned several people that have gone down the road of fostering/adopting and some who have adopted from other countries.  The cost of time and finances has been my largest road block.  The rest of the family has actually been open without hesitation the whole time.  It has been my own selfish struggle.

We now have the resource of an extra bedroom our kids have become older, more mature, and much easier as far as actual care.  In fact we are getting close to being “done” as far as parenting goes.  Though one is never really “done” when a parent.   A few years ago we actually were going to apply for a license to foster, but we couldn’t figure out how to even get the classes worked in with our busy schedule so I easily gave up.

Well the topic reared its head again.  The last few weeks everywhere I turned the topic of fostering children was coming up.  I literally was feeling like God was beating me over the head with it.  So much so a week ago Sunday I actually was arguing with God.  Yes, I love Jesus, I have surrendered my life to following Jesus, but unfortunately I am still just a sinner saved by grace.  I yelled at him “I keep asking you what I need to give up in my life and you are telling me to add another human being or beings?!?!?!”  “Lord I am so tired I don’t know how I can!!!”  Then we go to church that evening and our youth pastor’s sermon was on James 1:26-27 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  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.”  The entire sermon brought tremendous conviction and was an answer to my ridiculous prayer/temper tantrum from earlier that day.   God’s answer was this…”You take this step of faith, trust me, I will provide what you need, it will cost you, but that’s ok because I am here and have a plan”.   Every reason I have not to foster children in need is purely selfish.

Needless to say we have started the process to be licensed.  Nothing will happen over night.  There will be ups and downs.  It will be a journey, but it’s not about us.  It is not about me.  My life is not my own.  I had to laugh that one truly does have to pay to be nice in this world.  Today I took a state form to my physicians office to have filled out stating that I am physically capable of caring for children.  There was a charge to have the form filled out.  I will be honest in saying that this caused a minor irritation in me, but a reminder that it does cost to do what is right.   In this life we can give all that we have or we can be takers.  One day when I meet God face to face will he see a life that gave everything?

How Much of God’s Promise are we Missing?

map wade to euphrates

So I was just reading in Genesis and in chapter 15 verse 18 God says to Abram “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.”  Out of curiosity I searched how much land that actually is compared to what the Nation of Israel actually ended up being through the Old Testament to our current time.  Wow because of sin there is a lot of real estate missing.  The nation never really even got close to what God actually had fully promised.  You will have to read the entire Old Testament to find out why and how sin was the culprit.  This made me question how much of God’s promise do we miss as individuals in our lives?  Through my own doubts and lack of trust how much of His peace, love, protection, and blessing do I miss out on?  What promises do I miss out on because of my sin? Every single time I decide “It’s ok God I got this myself!” what am I missing?   What real estate in this life have I not even come close to scratching the surface of?  A lot to think about…

It is ok to Doubt God?

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Today the lesson for our middle school children at our church was about having doubts about God and if that is ok or not.  Writing about our doubts has been burning on me since I first looked at the lesson.  It was great today to get to sit back and listen as my co-teacher (who does such a great job) led the lesson.  There is a lot of learning that can happen when we actually sit, listen, and allow ourselves to really think about what God is trying to tell us.  It was also great to hear the children’s responses.

The girls weren’t really sure when first presented with the question as to whether or not having doubt and questioning was ok.  They weren’t sure if God would be ok with any unbelief.  One of the girls brought up the fact that God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying in Acts 5:1-11. That was from a lesson on lying we had a few weeks ago.  It was encouraging in the fact that the girls are actually listening.  We do have to be careful of only looking at the wrath of God in scripture and missing the truth and reasons for it. The key in that story is that they lied to God.  Their hearts were dishonest.  Are we dishonest when we tell God that sometimes we doubt or are we dishonest when we act like pompous know it all’s that never question our faith?

God knows we have a human sinful nature.  That was His whole purpose to send Jesus to the cross to save us from that sinful nature.  As long as we are alive we will have the human nature creeping into our thoughts and decisions even after choosing to follow Jesus.  Having doubts is part of our humanness.  What God wants more than anything is for us to have a personal relationship with Him.  What do we want most out of relationships?  Honesty would rank extremely high in any kind of relationship.  If I ask a friend if I have food in my teeth or on my face I want the honest truth!! Seriously though it has been the times in my life of my greatest doubts and fears that God has done His greatest work in me.  It has been those overwhelmed cries to Him as fears and doubts bear down on my faith that God has revealed His glory to me.  So often His miracle is within my own heart.  He opens my eyes to new perspectives, His perspective.   A change in me that can only be from Him and only would have happened through my doubting.

Our lesson was from Mark 9:14-27 with verses 22-24 as the focus verses.  “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  He didn’t condemn the father for questioning and admitting that he had unbelief. He honored the honesty by showing the child’s father God’s glory and power by healing his son.  Do you think the father had much unbelief after that encounter?

In our discussion “doubting Thomas” was brought up.  John 20:24-29.  There again  honest questions and doubt were presented by Thomas and Jesus then provided proof of His nail scarred hands.  One of the girls said and I paraphrase.  “So doubting Thomas was actually a good thing!”  God has a specific purpose for every part of scripture and the fact that there are specifics about doubt means it is important.  Every case of doubt and question that is presented to God humbly and honestly is honored by God showing His glory.  It provides God an opportunity to draw us closer to Him.  It provides God the opportunity on a personal level to confirm our faith more deeply and strongly.  When we are honest and looking for Him He most certainly reveals Himself in ways beyond our furthest imagination.

On the flip side when a person does not have the desire to believe and denies God entirely the blessing of truly knowing Him is missed.  The miracles, the peace, the hope, the freedom from the burden of sin, and eternal life is missed….forever…don’t let doubt harden your heart.  Present questions to God and be in awe of how He changes your heart for the better.