Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Big Announcement!

I've been a bit cryptic around social media these days, because HUGE things have been stirring in our lives lately.  We wanted to wait until it was official to let everyone know and that time has come!



Kevin and I are becoming foster parents!

God has been at work BIG TIME in both of our hearts (honestly for years).  Even when we were dating, we talked about adopting in the future, but we didn't quite know what he'd teach us in the coming years.  God has taught us about the foster care system - the brokenness and the victories. Kevin's job has given him the insight on what it looks like to age out of the foster care system and how hard it is for those kids.  We've met with multiple families both in our church and outside of it who have fostered and adopted.  We've soaked in as much as our brains could handle and laid it all out for God to mold and shape!

There were multiple nights that we floated around our pool and talked about what it would look like to foster/adopt.  I even had visions of us taking in pregnant teenage girls.  I often ended up in tears thinking about how hurt most of these children are - from feeling unloved or unwanted.  Kevin knows, first hand, what that feels like so I constantly pictured 13 year old Kevin so afraid and in need of love.

Because mine and Kevin's journeys have been unique, I want you to hear from both of us today! They're separate yet they come together and make one huge story about how God led us to this point.


Kelli

I've always known that I was called to do something huge - something uncomfortable, something for God's Kingdom, something that would require sacrifice.  I tried to go be a missionary in Thailand and God said 'no.'  I tried to find a non-profit to work for and God said 'no.'  I tried to move to Brazil and God said 'no.'  I also knew I'd be married to a missionary.

But then nothing seemed to be falling in line with that.  The lyrics to Casting Crowns recent song "Just Be Held" come to mind.

Your world's not falling apart
It's falling into place

Fast forward to 2015 - I'm married to a missionary and my world is about to be rocked.  As a Believer, I think we're all missionaries - called to show the love of Christ to all who are around us - yes, even your coworkers in a Corporate America job.  But heck - my Corporate America hubby now works for a church!  And I am a missionary too.

Will I ever be 100% ready to be a mother (foster/bio)?  No.  I can't do it on my own.  I can only do it through God's strength.  He will equip me, because I will fail and I will fall short, but He will pick me up!

I'll be honest.  I'm scared.  I'm nervous.  I'm afraid.  I know that what we're doing is not easy and that I will cry A LOT.  But God has given me certain gifts and a compassion for these children and has given Kevin the ability to relate to these kids because he's been there, so I know that we'll be okay.  Please don't assume that we think it's going to be a piece of cake!  Please be a shoulder for me to cry on when it's hard!

Our end goal is not adoption.  We are not doing this to try and fill a void in our little family or because we don't have biological kids yet.  We are doing it because God is calling us to it, He commands us to take care of the orphans and to just be a safe, loving home for the kids.  Even if we never "attach" to the kids or them to us, we will still know we're doing what He wants.  I hope that we do!  I hope we bond with the kids, but if we don't, it's okay.  If the opportunity to adopt presents itself and we feel confirmation from God, we will absolutely do it!  We're just taking it one step at a time as He leads.


Kevin

When I tell people that we are becoming foster parents, I always hear “Wow, that’s really cool, but…” Those sentences end with something like “do you know how hard that will be” or “some of those are really bad kids” or “why not just try to have your own kids?” Simply put, it’s hard for most people to understand why we would move from our comfortable lives into the uncomfortable uncertainty of foster care. And when I really think about why I’m choosing to do it, I always feel like there is one answer: I must do it.

I must do it because these kids need to be loved. I must do it because these kids need to hear the gospel. These kids need to see the gospel and understand that they are His chosen ones. I must because God has asked me to care for the orphans. Because God rescued me from being an orphan myself. God wants me to point them to Him as their loving father. I must.

The truth is this: everyone needs to be rescued. The reality is that I am not the rescuer. Jesus Christ is. I was rescued by Jesus, because a family took me in and led me to him. I am simply put, becoming a foster parent, not for me or my family, but for God’s Kingdom. I recognize that every child is God’s first and ours second. I want so much for these kids to understand that they have a daddy and it will never be me, it is the Lord. He is perfect, he has a purpose and plan for their lives. He loves them more than I ever could, but he is asking me to bring them to Him.

When my parents abandoned me at age 13, I was bitter and angry. I blamed God and swore against his name. How could he do this to me? Why was I locked up in mental hospitals and juvenile detention as a middle schooler? Why was I sleeping in a park instead of a bed in a home? Why did nobody love me enough to want me?

God wanted me to come home and He provided a family to bring me to Him. Like the single mom with 3 kids that was stretched to her limits but who I know, found herself on her knees, begging God to provide so she could show me love, that’s the kind of love and faithfulness I want to be known for.

We are not fostering to complete our family. We are fostering to show love. To be obedient. To provide a safe outlet for wounded children with lots of hurts and questions, ones that are bitter and angry, like I was. What changed my life was not just a family that loved the Lord and loved me and who has never stopped loving me since, it was my heart being changed by the same God that softened their hearts toward me. By believing in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, I had value. I was given purpose and suddenly found my life to be one worth living.

That is the life I want to provide for our foster kids, for God’s children. One worth living. One filled with enough love to overcome the heartache. With enough value to trudge on in the messiness of sin. One filled with purpose that they are a son and daughter of the most high God and the knowledge that beyond all else, they matter.

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We truly thought that this was way into our future.  We thought we'd have older kids and already have parenting experience.  In July 2015, we went on a short-term mission trip to an orphanage in Honduras where God started nudging us.  He said "just check it out. Go to an info meeting. Check out the training classes." So we did! 

In August 2015, we started our classes and through a crazy chain of events, we've decided to move into a larger home that will allow us to take in sibling groups.  We're licensed for ages 6-18, as we feel that there is such a need for this age group.  It breaks our hearts to think of siblings being split up so we want to do what we can to keep them together!

We'll be getting our first placement in January so please please please pray for us!  Though we won't be able to post photos of the kids on social media, we'll keep you posted on how things are going.

If you're interested in helping, please read THIS!

36 comments:

  1. Congratulations to you both! I can't think of two more deserving people to become foster parents!! I hope the experience is everything you wished for and the child feels the love from you that you will give!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  2. THIS. EVERYTHING IN THIS. YES, yes yes!!!! Congrats to you both... and I'm so proud of the work you are doing because this REALLY is God's work.

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  3. I'm cheering so stinkin' loudly right now! Yay yay yay!!!! Oh Kel, this is so awesome and warms my heart in all the right places. Praying for God's peace and strength; praying for His love to surround these kids and ya'll (as I know it will); praying that His glory is made known (which it currently is being done because of wonderful folks like ya'll). Love ya gal!

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  4. That is such a huge step for your family, and such an amazing thing for y'all to do for those kids! So many kids need love out there, and all of the kids that y'all foster will definitely find love in your house!

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  5. This is amazing! Loved learning more about both of you! You guys will be amazing! ❤️❤️

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  6. So excited for you guys!! This is going to be such a journey and I'm excited to follow along!

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  7. Oh my gosh! Girl. This is amazing and so incredibly self-less. I'll be honest, thinking about doing this scares me... but I am so incredibly grateful for people like the two of you who have such a heart for God and these children. You were meant for this!

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  8. Oh Kelli, I will be praying and cheering all the way from here. This completely touches my heart, and I am so glad that you both are answering the call. I may not be next door to help out in the physical sense, but if you need a shoulder to lean on, or someone to talk to, you've got my number. :)

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  9. this is just the best news!! blessings are on your way!! what a wonderful announcement! so many prayers and hugs are for you both!! 2016 is going to be great!

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  10. Congratulations!!! I am so excited to follow along!

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  11. I am so, so excited for this next step in your lives Kelli. I couldn't think of 2 people more equipped for fostering than you guys. I know you guys are really going to change the lives of so many kids. Can't wait to hear about your first placement!!

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  12. This is amazing! So glad to read a post about it and loved that you shared both of your hearts. I can't wait to see how God blesses you in this next stage! So exciting!

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  13. Congratulations! I know we briefly talked about this, and James and I are going through the process. I'm with you on the feeling of crying all the time. I'm scared and I'm nervous. But I also know this is what we need to do. I also feel like I'm not prepared for our lives to change so much. And I know God doesn't often make things comfortable when he wants you to do things. So I pray a lot and just sit in anticipation. But I also know that God will help us and I have a great husband to support me. All will be fine. I will be praying for you both and can't wait to hear updates!!

    Love, Heather Shaker

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  14. Yes, yes, yes!!! I am honestly so proud to know both you and Kevin, and Im so excited to see God work in not only the kiddos hearts that he brings to you, but both of you too! I will be praying diligently for the whole process!

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  15. I love this so much. Congratulations to you both. I know that Jim has such a heart for this and I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is where the Lord leads us as well someday. I can't wait to hear and read more(as you're allowed to share!) of your journey.

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  16. Oh I am so happy for you! What a blessing you'll be to the children and families you come in contact with. May the Lord Jesus work in and through you continually. May He fill you overflowing with the love and wisdom that He can only give.

    Blessings to you my friend. I can't wait to hear about your journey.
    xoxo

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  17. Congratulations. I just adopted my 5th child out of the foster system in 2015. What a journey you two are embarking on. Cannot wait to follow your journey!

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    1. WOW! That's awesome! Just left some comments over on your blog. Look forward to learning from you!

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  18. Ok I've already showered my excitement on you but I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU GUYS. I know this will be hard and sacrificial but I can't think of two better people to love these kids.

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  19. I work in Pediatrics and the children I see on a daily basis who need good homes. You are truly a blessing!

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  20. How amazing! Lots of prayers to you on this journey - I cannot wait to hear what you are able to share of it!

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  21. Oh my goodness this is soon exciting! We haven't "announced it" officially on my blog yet, but we are starting "foster to adopt" classes in January! So hopefully we will be fulfilling our duties as God loving parents soon. I will most deff be praying for you guys. This is such a huge blessing to whatever child will be put in your path. I know you guys will be AMAZING and I cannot wait to hear more about this new journey! God bless you both! XO Julie

    http://www.thesaltlifewife.blogspot.com

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  22. Wow Kelli!! Congrat's to the two of you!! That is so amazing, wonderful and awesome. Big hugs. If God ~ Jesus has His hand on you, in which HE DOES, the road will unfold as it should, in His time, His way, for HIS purpose. Hold His hand tight and He will lead and guide you through it all, ... the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult ~ He has got you under His wing. I'm so super excited for you two!! I will definitely be praying for you two and the children that your hearts will help, love and bless. Amen!! xoxoxo :) You Rock!!!!! Seriously! YOU ROCK!! And Jesus is your Rock ~ always! Thumbs up! High five!!!

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  23. This is so wonderful! I am so happy for you. I will be praying for your family, during this joyous time. God bless! <3

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  24. Sooo....this is CRAZY! I recently started following your blog and reading along. I just read this post with tears streaming down my face. My husband and I are foster parents (since September), and you have almost perfectly captured why my husband and I decided to step out into this journey. We have one biological child who is 17 months old, and our first placement was a brand-stinkin'-newborn. Our girls are 13 months apart and life as a foster and bio Mom is CRAZY! We were SHOCKED. We are licensed for 0-12 year old and are also willing to accept sibling groups. I'd love to connect and I'm always available if you have any questions going into this! I also blog about it at my blog www.suzannehines.org, although like you said...I can't include very much info!
    Congrats!!! I always remind myself that if God has called you to it, He will equip you for it. You will NOT regret this decision!

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    1. Oh, look at that! I clicked the link at the bottom of the page about what the church can do for foster parents and its my blog. HA! So I guess you kinda already know who I am! I'm over here chuckling about how awesome this blogging world is. Seriously, though- let me know if you have any questions!

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  25. Wow! This is so exciting! I'm so impressed by how you guys are following God's leading in your lives! He's going to use you in amazing way!!!!! <3<3<3

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  26. I am SO excited for you guys! We will be praying for you and your family!!!!

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    1. Thanks Rachel!!! Your prayers are so so appreciated!! :)

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  27. What a wonderful decision. My hubby and I are just starting to look into the foster care system and have our orientation next month. I look forward to following your journey. xo

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    1. Ah! That's awesome! Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!!

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  28. This is amazing, congrats you guys and you are really doing something wonderful :)

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  29. Congratulations to the two of you. What you're doing is truly remarkable and something that both you and the your foster children will remember for the rest of your lives. Thanks for sharing your good news with us on #SHINEbloghop

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