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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Wonderings of This Future House Parent

     It has been 8 days since we said "Good-bye" to the girls, and I can praise God in saying that we are healing. Today I began to imagine what our new life in full-time ministry will be like.  John and I are going to be House Parents (HP).  We will live in a long ranch-style house with a dividing wall down the middle.  On one side of the house lives a set of HPs and up to 6 boys, and on the other side lives a set of HPs and up to 6 girls.  We asked for the girl side just because I am a little nervous about parenting teenage boys.  The children they accept are ages 2-18.  There is one large kitchen in the middle that we will share and alternate meal preparation daily.  Both sets of HPs will work 10 days on and 5 days off, and another set of "Relief Parents" will come and live on the side of the house where the HPs are "off."  We are praying for the other two sets of parents, that they would also feel joyfully called to this ministry, and we can develop a good friendship and working relationship since we all basically have to live and work together closely.  The house is mostly furnished and ready for everyone to move in as soon as our background checks come back clear.  

     Today I have been daydreaming about the girls we will soon meet.  I find myself wondering if we will get a little kindergartener with long hair I can brush and put in two french braids with big ribbons and find her cute sandals and sundresses. I wonder if we will get a first or second grader who I can help learn to read and love learning.  I wonder if we will get a middle schooler who likes to read and cook with me. I wonder if we will get a teenager or two who will welcome help with make-up and nail polish and shopping.  I wonder if they will be young enough to enjoy us coming to eat lunch with them at school or if they will be too old and not want to even been seen with us.  I wonder if they will resent us for temporarily replacing their parents and how we can overcome that.  I wonder how much pain these girls will have in their suitcases along with their toothbrushes and clothes.  I wonder if they will be open to affection and love or closed off at first, needing to learn to trust again.  I wonder if they will be sad and depressed and try to uphold walls to keep us out when we all we want to do is help.   I wonder if they will like us.  I am praying for them and their current situations.  For some reason, they will soon end up in our care.  I am praying we will have the words to say and the wisdom to do what will be best for them.  I am hoping we can do this the way God wants us to and parent with patience, kindness, gentleness, and love with boundaries.  I am so excited to be a partner with my husband in this ministry and I am thankful for the road that God has led us on to this point.

     John and I had been dating maybe a month when he was moving out of his apartment and into his mom's old house. I was helping him pack when I came across a photo album on a bookshelf. "Can I look in this?"  He glanced over, "Sure. It's mostly pictures from my mission trip to the Philippines."  I looked through pictures of John when he still had a little hair on top of his head along with children who had beautiful chocolate eyes and silky black hair around honey colored skin.  My heart started to love this guy.  Then he came over and found one picture and pointed to it, "Those little girls are orphans, and I wanted so bad to bring them home with me.  They throw away little girls like trash over there." He got up and packed another box as I continued to flip the pages of the photo album.  He was walking out of the room when he stopped and looked over at me and said in a sort of an I-Dare-You-To-Question-This type of voice: "You know I'm going to adopt a little girl some day right? Are you okay with that?" My heart and face smiled. "Yeah, I want to adopt too.  I've always felt really strongly about the AIDs orphans in Africa, but I think I could adopt from anywhere." John nodded. "Okay." We kept packing, moving, and falling in love.

     After being foster parents and loving the kids we were blessed to work with, we decided we'd be happy to do a domestic or foreign adoption.  We thought we were going to get the last girls, but God has other plans for them. This leaves us back to wondering where we will get our adopted kids from, but trusting we will know when the time is right.  For now we know we can keep Jonah, and we know we will have up to six girls at a time when we move to Mississippi.  We have to remember why we are doing this.

     My favorite Bible passage has been Romans 12:1-2 since I was in High School:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

     This passage makes me constantly stop and evaluate if I am appreciating God's mercy and grace and responding by living for Him.

John and I together like James 1:27 as sort of our mission verse right now:

27 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.

     We don't claim to be perfect by any means, but we strive to not be hypocrites. We tell others how important orphan ministry is, and how little time is devoted to it in many modern churches, and so we actively try to do something about it. We are aware that not everyone is called to adopt or be foster parents or be house parents.  However, everyone is called to help orphans in some way.  We were so blessed by people at our church and in our seminary apartment complex in a variety of ways.  When we first got our sibling group of 4 in July, the vehicle we had to transport them was a 2002 Dodge Durango with a broken air conditioner.  I think we drove it like that for about a month, miserably with the windows down and everyone sweating, before people in our church anonymously paid to have the air conditioner fixed.  What a blessing! One of the first things we needed - I needed - was to learn how to correctly do their hair.  One lady from our church invited us over to her house, fed us a proper 4th of July picnic and proceeded to help me do all 3 of the little girls' hair in braids.  When I was still struggling a week later with it, one of the teachers at my school came over to our house and showed me another way to section and plait their hair, also providing all the supplies needed.  Some people helped us by offering to babysit, some gave us baby and kid clothes and supplies,  some came over and just befriended us when we really need adult companionship.  I wonder now if our experience as foster parents had not had so many people helping us along the way if we would have quit, and not at all listened to God's voice in leading us to be House Parents. I hope not, but I truly appreciate all of the people who helped us along the way.  I know they helped keep us sane when some days we felt like we were going crazy.  

     Please continue to help by praying now for the kids we will soon have.  Selfishly we are hoping they will be school-age because we are a little worn out from having babies, and we also want to be very involved in the girls' schools and classrooms, and if we get a toddler it will make it much harder to volunteer and help in older children's schools.  Also pray for the other two sets of parents who are being hired to work with us, that we may be a team that works peacefully toward building a loving home for all the kids who enter.  Pray about how God may be calling you to work with orphans in some way in your community.  

   I found this quote on a friend's facebook note and felt like it fit this post: 

“God is on mission, and we, in that wonderful phrase of Paul, are ‘co-workers with God.’ This God-centered refocusing of mission turns inside-out our obsession with mission plans, agendas, goals, strategies, and grand schemes. We ask, ‘Where does God fit into the story of my life?’ when the real question is, ‘Where does my little life fit into the great story of God's mission?’…I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.”  (Christopher J. H. Wright)

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