A Whole New Kind of Grief

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One never knows what a new year will bring.  This year has brought a whole new level of heart broken.  This picture is with puffy sad eyes of a turn of events breaking this momma’s heart.  Praise God for a sweet sensitive family pet that knew exactly what I needed in the moment. Sunday morning during our pastors sermon I had a short little prayer “God is it time to move forward with adoption…should I ask Mike about it again?”   The answer to my prayer was practically immediate and not what I ever dreamt or thought.  To protect privacy I can not write about the behaviors of our child that ensued immediately after our church service while we were still at church.  It was more of the tough stuff we have been enduring the last nine months with great intensity.  The afternoon improved and Mike and I once again were given apologies.  Once again we forgave without hesitation and then it seemed that what had become our “new normal” family life resumed for the rest of the day.  That night our child made a very dangerous, pre meditated and planned choice.  It was a choice that greatly endangered our entire family.  The realization was overwhelming that God was protecting us in a mighty way that night.

With prayer and consultation through the proper channels of foster care workers it became very evident that the next layer of healing would not be in our home for this young one.  God had answered my prayer with a big NO regarding adoption.  Not what I expected.  The message that followed was “you did exactly what I needed you to do and now it is time for the next step in the plan I have”.

This Sunday morning I sang the special music at our church.  It was a song that I had heard weeks prior that grabbed my attention in a powerful way.  As I listened to the words I thought “oh my this is my prayer that I have been praying through our journey!”  “These are the images of Jesus put to words in a song that have been sustaining me moment to moment.”  The song is “Abide With Me” by Matt Maher.  As my life journey continues my relationship with Jesus is deepening, but nothing has required a further growth and complete reliance on Him as our foster parent journey.   One of the images has been the image of Jesus on the cross carrying the burden of all the sin of all mankind.  As we have carried the weight of the EFFECT that sin has had on just one young life the understanding of the magnitude of Jesus’ love has blown my mind.  The burden has been so heavy and I have not been able to even carry one person that has been so sinned against without Jesus’ love.  The next image has been Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed alone, abandoned by His sleepy disciples.  He prayed with great anguish knowing the magnitude of the weight he was about to endure.  His anguish was over the burden of sin and separation from God the Father more so than the physical torture.  Now with this week’s events there is a deeper level of Jesus’ pain that is becoming more clear.  Not only was he giving the ultimate sacrifice for those who would choose His healing.  He was fully obedient to carry the weight of those who would completely deny and reject Him.  This was something I knew, but haven’t had the depth of understanding as I now have.  To pour every ounce of love, energy, and sacrificial giving into a person who may not ever choose healing has been very eye opening.

God goes to extreme measures to reach each and every human being.  He will place people in the paths of others so that everyone has the opportunity to know the truth.  The workers are so very few.  (Matthew 9:35-38) As a follower of Jesus I feel so gracious and honored to get to be used by Him.  To understand that there is so much work to heal this broken world and that God would use someone so inadequate as me to touch the life of another humbles my soul.  God continues to provide a peace that nothing has been in vain.  That His purposes are eternal and we may not know on this side of heaven what work He has done through us.  If we went back in time to the day we got our license to foster the answer would still be “yes” to our first call.

We do need some time for “self care”, healing, and to pour love into our daughters.  We are not going to quit and still feel the call to open our home to children who have been hurt by this sinful broken world.  There are so many lessons that are priceless.  I will always love this child that is still learning how to receive true love.  Any child that has been in my care will always be one of my children.  This young life will remain in my prayers.  My hope is that one day I will be reunited with this young one in heaven.  I pray he will choose goodness, love,  and healing that only comes from Jesus.

Here are the words to the song “Abide With Me”.

I have a home, eternal home

but for now I walk this broken world

you walked it first, you know our pain

But you show hope can rise again up from the grave

Abide with me, abide with me

don’t let me fall, and don’t let go

walk with me and never leave

ever close, God abide with me

There in the night, Gethsemane

before the cross, before the nails

overwhelmed, alone you prayed

you met us in our suffering and bore our shame

Abide with me, abide with me

don’t let me fall, and don’t let go

walk with me, and never leave

ever close God abide with me

Love that will not ever let me go

Love that will not ever let me go

You never let me go

Love that will not ever let me go

You never let us go

And up ahead , eternity

we’ll weep no more, and sing for joy, abide with me

 

Crossing Bridges Foster/Adoption

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Right after our first foster placement came to live with us construction was started to rebuild a bridge on one of our main roads to town.  First the shoulder was repaved on one side so that the bridge could go down to a single lane.  After the shoulder was deemed drivable drivers could  cross on the narrow side as the other half of the bridge was torn down.  A stop light was set up so that two lanes of traffic could safely go down to the one. This at times added at least three minutes to our commute.  Our new family member has been the one to openly voice the most complaints about this inconvenience.  After months one side was finally completed then it was time to open the new side and tear down the old half that remained.   This project has taken seven months.  Both lanes are now new, smooth, and much safer to cross over.

The bridge has been very symbolic to me of the bridges we have been crossing as a family.  As we cross bridge after bridge with this life that has been so wounded it has been hard, narrow,  felt a bit scary, has taken a lot of waiting, has taken patience, and with each cross to the other side there has been relief for all of us.   It is amazing that as the bridge of this road neared completion we were finally starting to really see progress with this young life.  It has started with the mom relationship first.  Now as I give instruction and guidance I am not met with all the resistance.  There is not the scary feeling of walking along and the bridge is just going to completely crumble beneath.  As the foundation was laid for this new bridge structurally there has been a foundation being laid relationally in our home.

The relationship and understanding between the child and I is now trickling out to the rest of our family.  There are more glimmers of hope that this wounded person is starting to heal and gain control of the chaos within.  We are seeing more and more of who the real child is.  There are more and more opportunities to praise, compliment, and encourage. We are getting to see the awesome potential that God placed into this human being long before he was even born.  We have many, many, MANY more bridges to cross.  Winter is coming and the actual bridge might get icy.  With the child there will be slippery times ahead as well.

No matter what the future holds with “forever family” status.  We are now all forever in each other’s hearts.  There is a strong foundation that has been laid.

Family and relationships are tough no matter what.  Being a parent is tough no matter what.  My motto has now become cross each bridge with care and confidence.  God does provide the way to cross and there is blessing on the other side.

The cross Jesus died on for us was the toughest bridge ever to be constructed.  God made a way between us and Him.  The cross is the bridge.  Once we have chosen  to trust Jesus and cross over that bridge there is tremendous blessing and relief on the other side.

There are always bridges in life to cross, but with the foundation of Jesus they are secure and we can move forward with confidence.

“Mercy does not Need Reasons”

For weeks now I have wanted to blog about what I see as far as true love and support from a foster parent’s perspective.  Our situation has been purely a calling of God on our life as a family and as individual followers of Jesus Christ.   It has been very eye opening to see who and where true love and concern has come from.

The only non-judgmental truly supportive concern and understanding has come from our church family our actual church and fellow believers that attend other churches.   Jesus’ church of believers.  It has been people that have had a true encounter with Jesus Christ themselves and have had God’s calling on their own lives that provide the unconditional support our family so desperately needs.

This blog is not to point fingers or to provide direct quotes of questions we have been asked.  In general there is a lack of understanding as to why we keep on with all the sacrifices of time, finances, home, emotions,  and actual abuse against us for someone who may never “get it”?   Why do we keep on with all the inconveniences and scrutiny of “the system”?

This morning while working on the middle school girls Life group lesson God has helped bring this observation to a deeper level of understanding.  The story of the “Good Samaritan” one that I have read in Luke 10:25-37 many times throughout my life provides the best answers to the questions we are asked.

God’s call on the life of those who choose to believe and follow Him is this…  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;  and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

How can a human being whose nature is all about self survival, preservation, pleasure and promotion give completely unconditionally  to a stranger and possibly “the enemy”?    It is all by the power of God’s love.   It is coming to the understanding of how much God loves me even though I personally don’t deserve it.  God has shown me an indescribable amount of mercy and it is only through Him I can show this kind of mercy to others.  God has different plans for His people to show love to neighbors.  His plan for our family for this season is exactly what we are doing right now.

This morning I was having a morning where I was fighting with my own human nature and feeling very tired of the “behaviors”.   God’s word cut right to my core yet again.

I love a quote in the Wiersbe Bible Commentary I just read.  ” The Samaritan identified with the needs of the stranger and had compassion on him.  There was no logical reason why he should rearrange his plans and spend his money just to help an “enemy” in need, but mercy does not need reasons.”

I’m tired, I’m far from perfect, but God keeps speaking to my heart.  He keeps telling me to press on, not to give up, and  to give what ever it takes.

 

 

We had a Really Good Day

After another rough week of tough behavior God has given yet another glimmer of hope.  It always seems to be when I cry out that I really don’t know if I can keep on that God allows me to see into a glimpse of His eternal hope.  He gives me a little peek at His plan for a child that the world has beaten down and has broken.  There are times that our family feels completely alone trying to piece together some semblance of a happy life for this life that has been so shattered.

There are definitely three notable triggers of poorer behavior, red dye, processed refined sugars, and video games.  In my opinion the world would be a much better place had these things not been invented.  One thing I have noted is that the last two times I have stated that screen time is up (after preparing our child with the time and how long allowed on it) the computer was turned off without any attitude or fight.  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!!!  No anger and attitude!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!  I had no clue how braced I am for the utter defiance with nearly every word I utter.

Today after church it was just the two youngest children and myself so we made a plan to have fun.  It was too beautiful of a day to waste cleaning and getting organized.  After explaining the plans in detail several times backward and forward we set out.  There was initial complaining that was very obviously coming out of a source of fear of the unknown in the child.  Simple explanations, a little of ignoring some comments, and giving choices seemed to be working and for one of the first times I saw genuine emotional regulation in this child.

Part of our outing involved a short hike up to a cross on a bluff in our town.  Hiking has become a significant gauge of emotions, trust, confidence, physical well being, and much more for our child.  The hike was made with minimal complaints, our kiddo actually had fun and wanted to take pictures.  A very significant change from our very first hike.  His physical condition is far far better with much more endurance.  There was next to no drama.  Our child heeded my warning of some poison ivy with no arguing and followed instruction in avoiding it.  On the way down some fear of slipping started to overwhelm, but our child admitted that it was fear being felt and asked to hold my hand tight.  A very significant sign that human relational attachment is finally happening for this little one who has been deprived of it for so long.  My hand was all the comfort needed to press on and complete the task.   After the walk he stated that he really didn’t want to do that part of the day again.  I asked what was it that he would not want to repeat.  This time he openly stated “I was scared”.  My response was “yes, but you did it”!!  “You overcame your fear”.  His reply was “no, I really didn’t”.   I stated that “Yes you did because anytime you are scared and still go on to complete your goal you overcame your fears!!” Overcoming fear doesn’t mean we don’t still feel the fear.  We just don’t let it stop us from doing what is right, completing our task, or achieving the goal!”

We went on to have lunch at a outside venue which brought about anxiety for our child who wanted to eat inside with airconditioning.  Without resistance he chose his food and talked to other people around us with respect.  Once again Thank YOU JESUS!!!  Sitting near us was a very well trained dog that the owner and the dog showed off her many tricks she could do.  With our child getting to give the commands.  Later I pointed out that an inside restaurant wouldn’t have allowed that smart dog inside so it was a neat surprise with eating somewhere outside.

Our child got to go apple picking for the first time ever again with minimal attitude and defiance.  Then played well on the playground with other kids after.

As he held my hand so tightly during our hike out of fear yet also out of trust in me I couldn’t help but be reminded of whose hand I am grabbing onto.  Our child has no idea now, but hopefully one day will realize how tightly I am holding on to the hand of Jesus.  Hopefully he will learn in time that I have fears.  We all have fears and there is  only One that will always be there for us.  As our child learns how to trust us and have a relationship with us.  As he learns what family means I pray God will soften his heart to realize that He has a Creator God that loves him so very much.  How very awesome that it was reaching the cross today that gave us hope in our situation that some days seems impossible.  It is truly the cross that my hope rests in.  The cross that Jesus died on to save me.  The cross where he conquered sin and death.  The cross He carried for me so that He can hold my hand through this life and on into eternity!!

As our family presses on I pray we have many many more days like this one.  Days where true connections and happy memories are made.  Days that bring healing!

Our pastor quoted this scripture today and brought tears to my eyes.  The Word of God is good at cutting us to our deepest core of emotion.  “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”  Matthew 10:42 

The greatest reward will be greeting this child in heaven one day because we just kept holding on to Jesus!!!

Beaten Down…More Lessons as a Foster Parent

As we continue along this journey our family continues to learn more about ourselves and how to love the broken daily.  There are days that feel like Satan has literally whipped the tar out of us.   Mostly speaking for myself having felt beaten spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. Lately the battle has been intense.  The struggles are a strong indicator that we are exactly where God wants us to be.  Satan leaves us alone when what we are doing has no significant impact on the eternity of someone else.  When we are making an impact he throws his best shots at us.

One thing I am learning of myself is that I go from happy to extremely angry in 0.0002 seconds when the safety of others is compromised.  Threats of physical harm, hatred, and disrespect of life really ticks me off. It is sin that I despise.  The sins of hatred that exist in this world and I despise what it stirs within my own self.  How do we remain empathetic and therapeutic with a young little human being who has known nothing but chaos, hatred and abuse?  God continues to reveal more and more the effects of trauma, lack of parenting, and lack of nurturing on a human life to us. Reading all sorts of books still has no comparison to living it.  There is no cut and dry, no black and white, no easy answers.

There is so much I can’t share.  There are multiple conversations about life daily our child and I have.  This morning’s conversation I think it is safe to share.  One thing I have learned is that a traumatized child will turn to material objects as their comfort.  They can control them and break them.  They can keep them and those objects don’t pose a threat to them.  Human beings have failed them.  TV, video and computer games has been the nurture for this child.

I was talking to one of our dogs this morning in my high pitched, make the doggie hyper and happy voice.  Telling the dog how beautiful she is and how much I love her.  Our child piped at me “She is ugly!!  She isn’t happy!!”  My reply was “Well you can have your own opinion, but I think she is beautiful!”  The returning comment was “You think she is ugly!!”  Once again I reply “I think she is beautiful!”  “She is a living creature and all living things are beautiful because God created them.  Everything God has made is beautiful!”  Our little one asked “So do you think the TV is beautiful?”  My response was “No the TV is man made and really to me it is junk!”  He then asks “What about phones?”  My response again “They are junk and really not important either they are a tool to connect with other human beings.”  “What matters most are living beings created by God not things that were made by man.”  He then asked “what about flowers?”  I state “Yes they are living and we have to savor them and enjoy their beauty fast because they don’t live real long.”  Next was “Do you think the laundry basket is beautiful as he pointed to it?”  My reply “Was no not really it is just a tool to help the human beings I have in my life to care for.”

Children that have not been valued and loved unconditionally struggle with being able to value other people.  Children who have not been nurtured in love struggle with loving others.  Their hope has been placed completely in failing and fleeting material things.  This is a rocky journey and I fall some days.  This mom gets tired.  Some days I feel like our family is just in survival mode.  Then God will give us sparks of hope.  God will renew the spirit within me the more I lean on Him and trust Him.   Some days I feel like I am just hanging onto Him by a fingernail with a dark hole beneath me.  Then I  realize that underneath the unknown, the unseen, God’s other hand is right there to catch me and protect us.  God is good and we will continue to learn and press on.

When the “World” Lives in Your Home

It has been a while since I have had time to write a blog.  Partly because I have lacked the energy.  Partly because of lessons I am learning could breach confidentiality to blog about. To become more educated on the life and behaviors of a traumatized child I have been doing much more reading than writing.  Lastly the ups and downs are so frequent I really have not been able to fully wrap my mind let alone my writing around the emotion constantly surrounding our family daily.

The challenges have been tremendous, the test has been hard, there are daily sacrifices of all of our own needs and wants for this hurting human being.  There has been nothing in my life that has painted a more personal picture of exactly what Jesus did for me on the cross than foster care.  Each member of our family has been told “I hate you!” one minute then “I love you!” the next.  We all have been hit, kicked, spit at, and then hugged and kissed.    The complaints, demands, lack of gratitude, and harsh words are exhausting to hear even when you know it is out of pure fear and pain from the past. There really can be no comparison to Jesus and His perfect gift of love given to human kind.  Foster care has brought a much deeper understanding and appreciation for my Lord and Savior.  The perfect sinless Savior fully human and fully God took all sin of all human kind upon Himself as if it were His.  He knew what He faced in full as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.   The humiliation, unfairness, and separation from God the Father.  The feelings of fear, loneliness, pain, regret, guilt and shame never felt before would all be upon Him as He took on our sin.  Not to mention the most gruesome physical beating and tortuous death a person can experience.   Why would He do this for us?  Because the Glory of God and heaven is worth it.

Each of us Lucas’ has excepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord and that is our assurance that we will be in heaven one day.  Foster care has been a result of the relationship we have with Jesus.  Why are we doing this?  Because the Glory of God and heaven is worth it.  If one life is led to Jesus because of this small struggle we are enduring then it is worth it all.

Recently I was told  by someone that they didn’t think I knew what I was really getting into by getting into foster care.   My reply was I knew exactly what it was going to be and cost inviting the world into our home.  That is why it took me nearly 7 years to surrender to this calling.   It took me a lot more than one night in a garden to pray “Not my will, but thine be done.”  It took a lot of fighting with my own sinful nature and selfishness.

We have also been told that we don’t know what we are doing.   Truthfully every life is unique and each person’s trauma is different so who really knows besides God what each individual needs?   What I do know is that we don’t know what we are doing, but we are no longer sitting around in our safe little world.  We are doing!!!  It is not about us it is all about God and His Glory.  The fact that we are doing something for a hurting world with God equipping us more than qualifies us.

The deeper appreciation and relationship with our Savior has been a blessing.  The blessing of God’s Word guiding us, and our pastor and youth pastor’s sermons each week are a blessing.  The prayers of fellow believers have been a tremendous blessing. It is amazing how all the books I am reading are indeed helpful, but what has offered me the most help has been the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Just reminded of this verse by a fellow believer and friend.
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

 

Just Look How Far You’ve Come

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A couple weeks ago I took all three of my children on a hike in one of our local state parks.  Hiking is one of my most favorite things to do outdoors.  The bucket list of hikes I would love to take is extremely long and gets longer and longer instead of shorter.  This was our foster child’s first real hike ever I am quite sure.  There was severe whining and complaining the entire hike.  This was a very short hike compared to what this momma really loves to do.  All along the way there were little break throughs amongst the complaining and threats from our child.  “I can’t go any further!!!  Oh look there is the same kind of bug you and I saw that one time mom!”   “Oh I hate spider webs!!   Oh my legs are worn out!!!  Oh look at the cool butterfly!!”  All three children missed the beautiful deer that crossed our path right in front of us.  All the way were opportunities to teach about God, His creation, His love, and that in life we need to stop, listen, and look otherwise we miss the greatest blessings from Him.  As the hike grew more intense with inclines so did the complaining.  The story of the Little Engine that Could (one of my favorites)  came in handy that day.  With each step I encouraged “I think I can…I know I can!!”  At one point I turned and looked at our child to keep encouraging and I saw just how far we had come.  I said “Turn and look and see just how far you have already come!!  I know you can do this!!”

We reached the top to see the awesome view and the first response was “wow!”.   Then that hard shell of pride and survival methods from a harsh life went back up.  The guard had been let down just for a moment showing a glimmer of hope that love was winning this child’s heart.  The opportunity presented itself to explain that the reason I love hikes so much is that they are hard.  The girls started telling him how they have even watched me fall down on hikes. It is a goal that requires physical, mental, and sometimes emotional work.  All along the journey God provides little views of His Glory and His Blessings.  Once we have persevered and reached the goal then we get to see something beautiful that we never would have seen had we not made the long journey.   Each hike I have ever taken I have gotten to see more and more of God’s glory, His beautiful handiwork of His creation.

So it is with life and definitely parenting.  Anything truly worth anything takes a lot of physical, mental, and emotional work.  As God directs and leads down new paths it is so hard.  I stumble, hurt, cry, feel like giving up and then He shows little snipits of His glory.  Each new hurdle in life God reveals more and more of His Glory to me that I would have missed had I not listened and taken the path He directed.

Not only was this hike a teachable moment for this young precious child it was one for mom as well.  Just keep looking at how far you have come I can hear my Heavenly Father encourage.  Just keep taking one step and one day at a time and trust me.

It is always good to look back and see what God has brought us through and the prayers that have been answered.  The past is not a place to dwell, but to learn from and press on.

So a message to all parents and especially foster/adoptive parents.  Just look at how far you’ve come!!!

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

 

 

I Love You Because you Exist

There are daily life lessons to learn as a foster family.  So many I really can’t share.  Many things I have known, but God is driving a deeper and deeper understanding within me.

What a messy world we live in.  It seems that so many people desire to completely change who they are and are never satisfied within their own skin.  There is a desire and push within this world to completely change the things about ourselves that are clearly defined when we are born.  It is hard enough to figure out things like what school to go to and what career to choose let alone the things about us that are actually very cut and dry.

God continues to reveal to me the deep problem of humanity and what His cure for the problem is.  The greatest need of every human being is to know that there is at least one person that loves them merely because they exist.  A love that has no condition, a love that has no selfish goals, a love that is there even when we are underserving of it.  From the day we are born we are in need of this kind of love.  You cry I will be there, you cause me to be unable to meet my own needs at times…I will be there, you lash out at me…I will be there…   I will still look at you and smile, my eyes will light up when you enter the room.   We all need this kind of love and fewer and fewer are receiving it…even as a small helpless child many never receive this kind of love.

Love like this opens our heart to realizing that we exist because God cared enough to create us and plan our lives.    It opens our hearts to realize that God gave us free will because He wants us to love Him in return because we choose too.  Love like this opens our hearts to understanding that God sent Jesus because He loves us despite our wickedness, flaws, and our unworthiness.   God loves us just as we are because He is.

No matter the struggles and challenges the answer to the deep dark pains of this world is LOVE.   God is helping me love and understand on deeper levels daily…sometimes minute to minute.  To look at every human being with eyes of love merely because of their existence.  Because they are a creation of God.

Our Journey has Officially Begun Foster/adopt#7

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For the sake of privacy and protection I can’t share too much at all about this amazing last week we have had, but I can share what I am learning.  As I have watched the divine plan of God and His perfect timing unfold in our journey I am not surprised that this happens to be the seventh blog on this subject.  The perfect number.

God has chosen us to be the part of something so amazing and so much bigger than ourselves.

When I gave birth to our first child I remember how as a new mom I would look at her and feel like my heart would just burst with love for her.  I had never felt a greater pouring of love into my very soul like this before.  Our second child came along 3 years later and once again the love poured in.  The love doesn’t run out when it comes from God.  This unconditional I would give my life for you kind of love grows and grows when we forget about ourselves and allow it.

This has been my first experience now of parenting a child that was not given to me by birth.  God strategically laid the foundation within my heart and the rest of the family to prepare us for the blessing brought to us this past week.  As I look back at the lessons, challenges, delays, and how this calling actually began now around 7 years ago I can see the work of God’s hand.

Once again as I look at this life handed to me to care for and nurture I feel this huge pouring of love that makes my heart feel like it will burst.  As complicated and broken as life can be sometimes it is amazing what peace and assurance God brings.  It is amazing how God orchestrates lives to cross paths  showing  just how much He loves every single human being He created.  He will and does go to all sorts of planning  for even one lost sheep.

Luke 15:3-7

“3 Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”