orphan care

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Where do the Prayers of a Mom Go? I love this reflection from Sylvia Schroeder. She says, " My Mom will never be known through books or media, she wasn’t prominent in her community, nor did she pass on an inheritance of fame. Yet, her life rose much higher than diapers changed and tantrums stilled. It spanned veiled generations."

2.      Caring for Orphans Isn't a Command: Jason Johnson shares that, instead, "our participation in this work - and even more than that, our becoming these kind of people in the gospel - is “cleansing”. It puts a clean, unadulterated picture of the gospel on display, but it cleanses us as well.

3.      How to Become a Name Wizard: Remembering names matters and I need to improve. Dan Duckworth's practical suggestion begins with humility and care: "I became a Name Wizard when I discovered a reason to transcend my ego. Suddenly, what mattered most was that other people knew that I cared, that I valued them for their divine potential, whether we were strangers, acquaintances, or friends. Driven by that purpose, I could no longer tolerate social pretense. I had to be real. And this is real: “I don’t know [or remember] your name, but I want to.”"

4.      What is a Pupper? What is a Doggo? These final two are from my son who loves them. I think they're pretty cute too.

5.      Doggo Chart: Breaking it down :).

Father's Day Recommendations

Father's Day Recommendations

1.      5 Dangers of Being Deprived of an Involved Father: Eric Geiger condenses 55 findings of researchers. He begins with two physical impacts: "Children who suffer the loss of a father have, by the age of nine, a 14% reduction in telomere length – the most reliable predictors of life expectancy. The more frequently a father visits the hospital of an infant who is born prematurely, the more quickly the infant is released from the hospital."

2.      To Spank or Not to Spank: My friend Benjamin Vrbicek with a healthy and nuanced perspective on the topic: " Yet this post isn’t part of my crusade to get you to spank your children. I’ve never written about this before and don’t plan to do it again. I certainly don’t want to be another polemical voice in the already overly opinionated milieu of Christian child-rearing. Instead, I’d like to talk about how parents can spank their children rightly." All 13 of his nuggets are worth considering.

3.      Why to Take Your Vacation: Ben Healy reports on the positive benefits of taking vacation and the negative impact of viewing other people's vacations. I don't think that not sharing vacation photos is the solution to the envy issue, but it's worth considering. Two of the positive benefits are: "From 1974 to 2004, those men who took at least three weeks of vacation were 37 percent less likely to die than those who took fewer weeks off... Vacation can yield other benefits, too: People who took all or most of their paid vacation time to travel were more likely than others to report a recent raise or bonus." 

4.      Teaching Our Daughters Positive Self-Talk: Tracy Lane considers how we ought to protect our daughters from the natural tendency of negative self-talk. She says, " I don’t want criticizing our looks or our bodies to be a natural inclination. Instead, I want the truth of who God made us to be, to become the natural overflow that we believe about ourselves."

5.      Foster Care and the Fear of "Getting Too Attached": Jason Johnson considers perhaps the biggest barrier to foster care, that it will be too hard because you will get too attached and concludes, "Yet despite all of that, over and over I've found the remarkable stories of those who also have this pain branded into their souls all consistently on some level sound the same - the goodbye was devastating and the grief is hard. Extremely hard. But so, so worth it. No question. These kids are worth it."

The Tears of Success

The Tears of Success

In class, philosopher Cornell West once said that every story that has ever been told is either a tragedy, a story with a sorrowful ending, a comedy, a story with a happy ending, or a tragicomedy, a story with elements of both. The tragicomedy, West said, is the most difficult story to tell, but it is the most powerful.

Angel Mateo was 17 months old when he entered our lives. We were his first non-family placement, but his fourth placement in four months. He had been shipped from one family member to another until none were left. We expected a traumatized child to arrive at our front door. But Angel Mateo had almost no signs of trauma. He slept like a rock, met every strange new face with poise, and greeted every ball he saw with an enthusiastic “BALL!” as though it was the first time he had encountered this spherical admixture of magic and fun. Joy exuded through every pore of this boy.

We fell in love.

One of the beautiful things about fostering is that you learn to love the other. When you look at your own child in your arms, you can be captivated by the ways this being reflects yourself back at you. There is a powerful beauty in beholding oneself in another.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

This week I want to introduce you to Michael and Ivey Ketterer, a normal couple whose hearts have been transformed to reflect our Heavenly Father's love for the orphan.

Watch all three of these videos in order, from top to bottom. Then, if you have kids or a spouse, watch them again together.

God is smiling.

Lullabies for Me

Lullabies for Me

Our biological children are 14 and 12. It’s so much fun to have adult (and semi-adult) conversations about faith with them, whether those are conversations about life or theology (my 14 year old daughter has recently been struggling with the book of Joshua and God’s call for the Israelites to kill the Canaanites). It's a joy to parent them. And frankly, I’m probably better suited for parenting teens and pre-teens than young children.

But there are hidden blessings of parenting infants and toddlers, too.

One of the unexpected blessings of welcoming foster children into our lives is opening back up children’s Bibles and singing lullabies to these beautiful children. There is a beautiful anchoring in bringing oneself back to the simple truths of the faith every day.

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I still hold my teen and pre-teen children. I still pray with them. I still speak simple truths to them. But there is something powerful about the repetitive care of an infant. Something liturgical.

Every night with our foster baby closes with the same liturgy.

Farewell to our Easter Lily

Farewell to our Easter Lily

Maundy Thursday, 4pm

“Angel, give me a call ASAP. We need to talk.”

Not a text you want to receive from your DCS case worker.

We called immediately.

“We’ve decided to move Lilly to a home closer to her half-sister.”

We hadn’t been notified that was even a possibility.

“Can we pick her up tonight?”

We talked the case worker out of that idea and into waiting until Monday.

We hung up the phone and sat in silence, shocked.

Jesus took the unleavened bread that Passover night and he gave it to his disciples, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”[i]

Our bond with Lilly had come so naturally. She had only been with us three and a half months, but we were a mutual admiration society. After a couple of weeks of trauma-induced non-responsive behavior, she opened up. It wasn’t long before her squeals and belly laughs filled our home. We kissed her, squeezed her, and sung and prayed over her.

We dreamed of the possibility of adopting Lilly. We didn’t know if that would be possible, but we knew that the case would be a long one. We would get to enjoy her for at least another year.

Three weeks to Healing

Three weeks to Healing

She was the littlest thing. Fourteen months old but in nine month clothes. It was 9pm and the social worker put her limp sleeping body in my arms without ceremony. She was finishing up a long day and obviously wanted to get home. Handing the tiny bundle off meant that her final box was checked. She checked off the box and we stepped into it, not knowing what lay ahead. You never do.

They had told us hardly anything on the call: her age and that she was removed from her home because of neglect and abuse. And the social worker added no more details that evening. In fact, they got her name wrong. It would be a week before we would learn her correct name (which I'm withholding because of ongoing security concerns).

The next day we saw signs of neglect and abuse in spades. She wore nothing but a blank expression and cried every time we set her down, even for a few seconds.

What Our 2 Year Old Foster Child Taught Me About Care

What Our 2 Year Old Foster Child Taught Me About Care

Valentijn was hand-in-hand with the aid and Romeo in the crook of her arm. The aid had just driven the boys from the shelter, where they had spent three weeks. Chubby Romeo was ten months old at the time and well adjusted. It was two-year old Valentijn who had been impacted the most significantly. This was the third time Valentijn had been removed from his home. He was affectionate but fragile without boundaries.

As the Department of Childcare Services Specialist filled out the transfer paperwork to make our foster care official, Valentijn sat on my lap and pulled out the decorative pine cones from the bowl on the table and chucked them on the ground, one by one.

Not knowing what it looked like to love and discipline him well, I sat there, semi-stunned, and let him disassemble my wife’s handiwork. From that first moment, I knew parenting these two would prove to be a much different task than raising our two biological children.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

Hawaii’s Lava Hose: This is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of.

How Shallow Are Most of Your Decisions? Phil Cooke shares stunning research from Princeton on just how shallow our decision-making is.

Foster Care As the Way of Christ: Darren Carlson's thoughts echo some of our experience with foster care. “Foster care can be a part of dying daily. When we think of denying ourselves and taking up our cross, many of us do not think that mundane life is what Jesus had in mind…. Surely [Jesus] knew that included changing diapers with gloves to avoid infections, lying awake with a meth-addicted baby, signing up your children for fewer activities because of visitations… receiving other questions wondering if you are sacrificing your own children in the process, and more.”

How to Study the Bible: Simple and helpful method by my friend, Benjamin Vrbicek: O-I-A: observe, interpret, apply.

The Importance of Teachability: A thoughtful reflection by Nicholas Batzig on why a commitment to teachability is so critical.

Tracks to 5-3: Redirecting the Tracks of Orphans

Tracks to 5-3:                                     Redirecting the Tracks of Orphans

15 years ago in Madison Street Jail, level 5, block 3 that God began readying my heart for foster care. I graduated from college with a degree in Biblical-Theological studies and got married weeks later. Knowing that pastoral ministry was God’s long-term call, I wanted to do something that would impact me and impact others, but outside of traditional vocational ministry. A billboard on the highway promoting the need for Detention Officers struck a chord and six months later I stood dressed head to foot in starched brown in a concrete box in downtown Phoenix that was Maricopa County’s Maximum Street Jail.