Home and Reconciliation

Eight weeks ago we received Lane and Baby Jour second foster placement, Baby J.  She came straight from the hospital after spending seven weeks in the NICU.  This girl is THE sweetest little girl you can imagine.  Every time you hold her you are guaranteed smiles, and now even laughs.  She is a happy, beautiful, easy little girl.

The past two months have been a very different journey than ours with Anna Lee.  With Anna Lee the overwhelming/immediate need we felt from her was a need for parents.  She needed consistent parents and fell into our arms the moment we met her, desperate for this attachment.

 Seven-week-old Baby J’s most immediate need was a home.  For seven weeks, she was handled with special care due to her circumstances in the NICU.  While she was taken care of well, the NICU cannot be a home for any child.  Baby J came to us…though too young to know…desperate for a home.

We were created for home.  God’s desire in creation was for us to feel completely safe, have abundant food, feel taken care of, feel peace, value, rest and love.  We were intended to have a perfect home. And however much sin has kept these needs from being met, the desire for them is still in us.  Every one of us has different thoughts and feelings when we picture home as a child. Unfortunately all of us have hard memories of home.  But for most of us, it isn’t usually the hard memories that come to mind first, it’s the memories and feelings of safety, security, love and value.

Over and over during the past two months God has continued to bring this idea of home to mind for me, encouraging me to do everything I can to provide safety and peace for this little girl.  Baby J is in need of those things that home should give us. We all are. What God has called Lane and I to is to provide this in every way that we can for her.  He’s using us, right now, to provide her with what many of us take for granted most in life.  In this brief window in her life, God is using us to help establish in her a desire for a much greater home than we could ever experience in this world.

This week we found out that Baby J will most likely be leaving our family in the next week or two. This is part of the foster care journey, but it is a part that Lane and I have not had to face yet.  While we are sad to say goodbye, we are thankful for how God is guiding Baby J’s life and that He is leading her to reconciliation with her family.  In foster care, healthy reconciliation is the hope, but it is not the norm.  From everything we know, God is leading Baby J back to a very stable part of her family that is closer to her birth parents than we will ever be.  God desires reconciliation for His people, reconciliation with Him and with each other.  Though the role we have played in Baby J’s life may be a small one, it is grace that God is allowing us to watch Him lead her in very clear ways, pointing her to the core of who He is – a God of reconciliation.  These are the moments that are hard, but also the moments that you hope for in foster care.

I beg God that this little girl feels safe, protected, rested, taken care of, and loved. I beg God that He protects Baby J and guides every day of her life, for the rest of her life, but I also beg that He grows her up with a yearning to know Him, to understand His love for us, to have faith in His Gospel, and to spend eternity with Him.  I will pray for and trust in the hope that God is not only guiding Baby J’s home here on earth, but also preparing a perfect home for her in heaven.  That is a hope that I have been so thankful for in these months, and a hope that has the power to help us worship Jesus with our entire life.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
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Why we are Accepting Placements

 

Many people ask me if we plan to have biological kids. We are in no way opposed to it and are always praying that God guides us as he grows our family.  For now, orphans in Austin and the need for foster homes continue to weigh heavy on us. God has only strengthened our desire to foster.  As of last week, Lane and I are again accepting foster placements.  We know that in many ways our story with Anna Lee was much “easier” than many fostering stories.  We also understand that it is a unique journey with every kid that enters our home.  We cannot wait to see what God does over the months to come.

Similar to most large commitments/changes, the thought of fostering again brings a mixture of excitement, fear, and trust. Excitement comes when I think about our family growing and when I think about what our next foster kid will be like.  In order for Anna Lee to stay the oldest child in our family, we will only be accepting infants.  I have fears around having an infant. I honestly don’t know what to do with a kid that needs bottles!  I also wonder how hard it will be for Lane and I to keep fighting for time together as our family grows more and more.  Many of the same fears that I had before we met Anna Lee are back.  Will I be able to love them like a son/daughter and not put any walls up?  Will I be able to feel the love and grace I need to toward their biological parents?  Will I be able to let them go if necessary and lead Lane and Anna Lee through that loss?  But there is a trust that is greater than all these fears.  I trust that God will take care of Lane, Anna Lee, me and whatever child comes into our home.  I trust that He will lead each one of us and make us better through this process – no matter how hard it is on certain days.  I trust that for every hard decision and every hard day there will be more joyful ones as I watch God move powerfully through my family.  It’s this trust that helps me focus on the excitement of it all.

pictureSo, why we are choosing to foster again?  First, adopting Anna Lee and the process of fostering has taught me more of God’s love, grace, and guidance than anything in my life.  It has been a very real and physical example of what it meant for God to adopt us as sons and daughters (“Adopted“).  Second, there is a need.  Several months ago our agency emailed us about a great need for people willing to foster babies right now.  There are many people willing to adopt, but there is a need for homes that are willing to straight foster babies.  Third, we want our family to forever be connected to foster care and adoption.  Though we may not always be available for placements, the need for people to foster and adopt is too great for this to just be a short season in our life.  It’s a need that Lane and I are very passionate about, and I don’t see those feelings fading anytime soon.

I hope and pray that I again am ready to be a father to whatever baby comes into our home, for however long they’re with us.  I also hope that our community loves the next baby that joins our family as much as they love Anna Lee.  That topic deserves an entire blog, but our community has come around Anna Lee and treated her as family more than I could have ever imagined. Our extended families, our church family, our friends, our coworkers, and our youth group students have loved Anna Lee from day one.  It has been the best picture of the Church that I have ever experienced.  I pray that every kid that enters our home can experience this very real outpouring of God’s love.

As I brace myself, I am so excited to see what is ahead.  Please pray with us has God prepares us physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the days and weeks ahead.

Adopted.

Anna Lee 111.20.15.  Adopted. New name, new birth certificate, new identity.  Meet Anna Lee Mae DePue.  Today the most incredible little girl I’ve ever met officially became my daughter, forever.   We are so thankful for meeting Anna Lee, and for now knowing that we will get to watch everything God does in her life.  Today we celebrate a new part of our family!

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)

All we’ve done and will continue to do is prepare the way.   Prepare the way as best we can for Jesus to come and move powerfully in Anna Lee’s life.  We didn’t save her.  We didn’t swoop in and become some hero.  We responded to a conviction and God brought Anna Lee into our family.  This is not us doing something incredible, it is God working and moving powerfully in a little girl’s life, and us getting to learn from the work He is doing.

Most days when I’m with her there aren’t thoughts about her being or not being in our family.  She’s ours.  In every way she is our daughter and I can’t imagine life without her.  However, I can’t describe the feeling I get when I think about her life for the first 15 months she was alive.  It isn’t often that I think about it, but when I do it brings such a gut wrenching pain.  I do not think I am any better of person than her birth mother, at all.  I know that circumstances were extremely difficult.  I know that I am FAR from a perfect parent.  But when I think of the darkness and suffering that my daughter was in, I want to vomit, lash out in anger, and cry at the same time.

I also don’t want to ever forget about that year.  It’s this feeling, this contrast from an old life to a new, this contrast from a life of loneliness, hunger and neglect to the life she is experiencing in our community that I want to always remind me of my adoption as a son of God.  Who Anna Lee was 13 months ago is every one of us without Christ.  I want her life to be a physical example of a spiritual adoption that I have experienced and that I am confident Anna Lee will experience some day.  Remembering the contrast of what her life was and what it is now only brings more joy today.  She is adopted.  She is ours forever.  As Anna Lee’s father I will do everything I can do love her well, keep her safe, and point her to Jesus.  I cannot wait to see how God uses her.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13)

Anna Lee 2

Adoption Days for June and Anna Lee

Anna Lee and JuneA little over a week ago Anna Lee got to see her best friend be adopted.  Lane’s closest friend since college, Amy, fostered a little girl for two years and this past weekend was able to adopt her now daughter, June.  Two years ago as a single woman Amy had no idea what God’s plans were for her family, but she knew that she needed to take care of the orphan specifically through foster care.   She responded to that calling and moved forward in trust.  In what has been a very joy filled, hard, and confusing two years, God has finally brought June into a permanent place in Amy’s family.  No more CPS visits, no more monthly reports, no more court dates.  June will forever be Amy’s daughter.

Anna Lee of course had no idea what was happening that day with June, and she won’t at her adoption either.  She was just excited to give June balloons.  But, I am so thankful for the friendship she will have with June.  There will be a day that Anna Lee learns her own story.  There will be a day that we tell her about the first 2 years of her life, and no matter what age she is, there will be aspects that will be hard to understand.  I pray that God uses June and Anna Lee’s friendship to support one another, to push one another, and to encourage one another.   I pray that God uses both June and Anna Lee’s stories to point to a far bigger adoption story than their own.

As good of a weekend as it was celebrating with Amy and June, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t picturing and anticipating the day we were able to adopt Anna Lee.  As confidence has grown that we will be able to adopt Anna Lee, it is patience that God has taught us most over the past few weeks.  God has continued to answer prayers and at the end of last week we were able to set an adoption date for Anna Lee.

On November 20th, 2015 we will officially adopt Anna Lee.  We will be inviting pretty much everyone we know to celebrate with us that weekend.  From that day forward she will be our daughter in every way that this world can define it.  We are so thankful for the things God has taught us as foster parents and the ways He has already used Anna Lee’s story for His good.  BUT, we are SO ready for this next chapter.  Though time is already seeming to fly by, I am so happy that I get to watch this little girl grow up.

“He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.” (Psalm 18:16)

God has moved mountains in both of these little girls lives already.  They are only two years old and they already have so much evidence that His hand is leading them.  I pray that God uses the Church to make this true for many more orphans in our city.

Letters to Birth Mom

Birth Mom LetterBirth Mom’s one request as she relinquished her rights was that we get a P.O. Box for writing back and forth with her. For the past 3 months we have been writing.  The first letters were nearly impossible to write. How do we comfort her, show the love we have for Anna Lee, and show the love we have for birth mom all in one letter? Before writing I asked several people in our lives who had gone through an adoption process what they had done.

Though the wisdom we received didn’t make it any easier to write, it did guide us as we finally forced ourselves to just start writing.  Below are the major parts of our first letters with Birth Mom.  I’ll have to cut some for the sake of privacy, especially in Birth Mom’s communication to us.

Birth Mom’s First Letter:

In Birth Mom’s first letter to us, she explained that no words could come close to describing the feelings she had gone through over the past month (relinquishing rights). Anna Lee means everything to her, the “fiber of her being,” she explained.

Then she said thank you.  She thanked us for making the process even a little bit easier.  She said she had to learn more than ever before the difference between selfishness and selflessness.  Though it was the hardest thing she’d ever done, she thanked us for making the decision a little easier.

 

BeachLane’s first letter to Birth Mom:

Dear Birth Mom,

Sorry it’s been as long as it has since we’ve written.  Every time I’ve sat down to do it I’ve been overwhelmed by how much I wanted to tell you…but that is no excuse.  We miss you!  Anna Lee is doing so well. She makes us laugh so much and is such a happy little girl.

She loves to sing. She loved your pictures! It is so perfect that you sent her a picture with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on it because that is currently her favorite song to sing (along with the ABC’s). This summer she and I have had such good time together.  It was great being home with her every day.  We took a lot of fun trips with our families as well.  She LOVES the beach. She is fearless.  She was fearless at the beach and is pretty much everywhere.  She kept us moving at the beach for sure. 🙂

Currently the only thing she’ll watch is Tinkerbell.  Pretty perfect that your name for her is Tink!  We hope everything is going ok with you.

Every night when we pray with Anna Lee we pray for you by name. We care deeply about you and hope you know that.  We hope you know how much we love Anna Lee as well!

What is best for you in these letters? Do you want to know specific stories? Is that hard to hear? What kinds of things do you want to hear?  Let us know!

My First Letter:

Dear Birth Mom,

I hope you know, or at least know as you read this, that we think of you often.  The past two months we have thought of you, talked about you, and prayed for you SO MUCH.  We care so much about you and we will ALWAYS care about you deeply.

We can’t imagine what you went through this summer.  It was SO clear to us from the moment we met you how much you love your daughter, and we can’t imagine having to do what you did last month.  We thought of you every single day and wished we could be doing more.  Though we can try our best to put ourselves in your shoes, no one can fully understand what you went through except you.

I think the most we can do right now is make you promises for how we will raise the most beautiful little girl we’ve ever met. We hope to keep in touch and that you will see in some way every stage of her life, but I hope promises like these help a little more in your trust that we will love Anna Lee with everything we can.

We will fight to raise Anna Lee as best as we possibly can, starting most importantly by loving her.  We will love her with every part of us, with the same love that you have for her.   We will fight to show her who Jesus is.  We will show her best we can how to treat others with love.  As she becomes more and more independent we will do everything we can to make sure she has good friends, support, and community.  We will keep her in school and do everything we can to make sure she never stops learning.  As she grows older and gets married, we will support her and her family in every way that we can.  We’ll make memories with her, travel with her, forgive her when she needs it, and give her guidance when she needs it.  We’ll be there for her when she goes through good times and hard times, and make sure that she laughs…a lot.

I know that her life is going to fly by.  You’re so right, she has already grown SO much. She’s talking a ton. She is a little social butterfly.  She had such a good birthday! We thought of you a lot that day.

We love you and are so thankful God brought you and Anna Lee into our lives.  We’ll never stop praying that she knows Jesus, that she loves others, that she loves herself, and that she grows up a happy girl!  We’ll always care for you and pray the same for you.  Thanks for trusting us!  Hope to hear from you soon.

Birth Mom CardBirth Mom’s Response:

Her response was better than we ever hoped for.  She loved the stories of her at the beach and her being fearless.  She said, “it’s normal to be fearless when you feel safe.”  She opened up more than she ever has about how the journey has been for her.  We had never heard her talk about her own faith or struggles as much as she did in this letter.

She explained that went into stress mode when all of this started, wanting to fight to keep her daughter in every way that she could.  It didn’t go her way though, but she sees that it went God’s.  Right before she relinquished rights a new friend in her life saw how stressed she was.  She grabbed her hands and started praying…praying that His will be done.  In the days to come this prayer brought an overwhelming peace for her.

She again expressed how thankful she was for us. She remembered the first time she met Lane…she couldn’t stop crying because of the relief Lane brought her.  Those feelings haven’t changed.

She explained that she is doing well, in both recovery programs and bible studies.  She sees now how much she needed all of this to lean on God.  Through all of this, He is showing her how to focus on Him again.

She ended by letting us know that she is also praying everyday…for us, for herself, and for His work to continue in her life.  She wants to hear any stories, recordings of her, or anything at all that we can share as Anna Lee continues to grow.

——

Please continue to pray for Anna Lee’s birth mom.  If I put myself in my friends’ and family’s shoes, it would be very hard for me to remember to pray for birth mom as the case moves forward, and especially if we are able to adopt Anna Lee.  I understand that, so for now I ask that you please join us in praying for birth mom as she is still such a huge part of this story.

Latest Adoption Status

Morning RoutineAs our case with Anna Lee continues to move forward, confidence is only growing that I am currently fully living out God’s calling for my family.  When we act on our biblical convictions we are ushering in Christ’s light to this world.  Lane and I truly felt conviction to care for the orphan through the specific way of fostering, and God continues to use this journey to draw us closer to Him.  I couldn’t be much more confident that the Christ, the “Light of Life” (Jn 8:12), is leading our way with Anna Lee.  It is sometimes so difficult to act on convictions we have, and I am so thankful that in this case, God has given us the courage and endurance to follow through.  I pray that I remember this and that always gives me boldness to choose His ways for my life over this worlds.

On July 24th Anna Lee’s case officially switched from fostering to foster-to-adopt.  It is required that we are foster-to-adopt parents for 90 days before we can have an official adoption day set.  Until birth mom relinquished rights it was not possible for us to begin this period.  This is one last window for any other family members to step up with interest in adopting Anna Lee.  This 90 days will be up on October 22nd.   At that point no family can step forward.  An official adoption date will be set soon for some time after this date.  As soon as we know this date we will let you know.  Trust me, it is our hope that as many of you can come as possible, and that it is the best celebration we could possibly give Anna Lee.

Anna Lee’s birth mom had one request before she relinquished rights for her daughter.  She asked that we get a P.O. Box so that we can write her and stay in touch without her needing to know our physical address.  We absolutely agreed with this.  Our contact with birth mom throughout this process, though limited, has been extremely important to us.  I want so desperately to see Anna Lee’s birth mom come to know Jesus, and I am excited to keep in touch.  We pray daily that God uses us to minister to her in any way that we can.

Later this week I will be sharing some letters we have written with Anna Lee’s birth mom.  We began writing a couple months ago.  Every letter we’ve received is emotional to read and every letter we write is tough to write.  The first couple of letters were exceptionally hard.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t put myself in birth mom’s shoes.  I can’t begin to know what it feels like to sign away rights to your child.  She also can’t begin to put herself in my shoes.  To adopt a child and completely/unchangeably see her as my daughter is difficult to grasp unless you’ve been through this process.  This made writing the first letters for everyone involved extremely hard.  So, I thought I would give you a glimpse of this part of the journey.  Later this week I’ll post parts of our first letters.  Birth mom’s letter, Lane’s letter, and my letter.  With some things left out for privacy sake, this should be a good glimpse.  Thank you for the continual prayer and support through this process.  I hope these letters will be encouraging for y’all as we continue to go forward.

Learning to Ask

Anna Lee ThinkerySomewhere deep down I know that I do have faith in prayer.  Unfortunately, I often don’t live in that faith. A much bigger part of me wants to control everything going on around me.  I fully trust that God is leading my life overall.  I pray daily that He guides my worship of Him, my marriage, and my ministry. I desperately hope that God is guiding every area of my life in some general distant way, but when it comes to specific healing, provision, or counseling needed, I try hard to take the reins.  Maybe that is due to fear of what it means if God doesn’t give me things I ask, or maybe it is because I want the credit when things go the right way.  Whatever the reason, I know that God desires His sons and daughters to ask, plead, and beg for His help, and as shameful as it is to admit, it is rare that I find myself on my knees with a specific request.

” This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”  1 John 5:14

 

I am thankful that God has, for so many years now, given me a general faith and trust in His will and guidance for my life.  But my prayer life must grow.  Through this season of fostering, everything is far beyond my control.  Lack of control has never hit home as much as when it is about the life of the little girl that I see as my daughter.  I have had to learn how to beg God to move in power. I have had to learn how to live by His Spirit, not my control.  I have forced myself to often set aside time that is focused on praying for Anna Lee.  I have forced myself to ask more and more people to pray alongside us. With the help of y’all and the power of prayer, God has been constantly teaching me both His goodness and the power that prayer has.

Last week our prayers were answered beyond what we could have even hoped.  Anna Lee’s mom decided to relinquish her rights.  Her dad also made clear to his lawyer that he would not pursue custody.  This means that sometime in the next few months, Anna Lee will most likely be officially adopted into our family.

Prayers are still needed.  Last week was an unimaginably difficult week for Anna Lee’s mom.  Whether it was the best decision or not, there is absolutely no easy way to process relinquishing rights of your child that you love more than anything in the world.  Pray that God gives her peace in her decision, and that she knows exactly where that peace comes from.  Pray that God continues to show us how to point the people involved in this case to the truth of who He is and how His gospel has changed our lives.

Going forward,  there are still plenty of steps and hurdles.  Sometime in the next couple of months, Anna Lee’s placement in our home will switch from fostering to fostering to adopt.  This will then be a period that family members can still come forward if they have interest in adopting Anna Lee.  So, nothing is final, but last week’s decisions are absolutely worth celebrating.  Thank y’all so much for constantly praying and checking in on Lane and me.

From Mom to Mom

Anna Lee and JuneLane wrote this weeks blog.  I know I have mentioned it often, but God has taught us both so much through this, both together and individually.  Here is a little bit from her point of view…

Thursday (June 11th) is another big day for us. A lot is being decided – not by the court but by Anna Lee’s mom.

Since the first time I met her mom I could tell how deeply she loves Anna Lee! Their bond was clear. Her mom would cry every time she saw us and would thank us for loving her daughter so well. It didn’t take long for Stan and me to develop a love for Anna’s mom as well!

From early on it seemed like everything that could be stacked against her was. Her circumstances seemed difficult beyond anything I could imagine going through. We could see how choices made by her parents during her childhood put her on a path that has been so hard. It just seems impossible for her life to ever change – for her to ever heal. She seems so deep in this world of pain and struggle.

But we also know that God can do anything. He can overcome anything that seems impossible by the standards of this world. He can change any heart and redeem any life. Not only can He do this, but we know that He DOES do this. He did this for me and Stan. He has done this in so many hearts of so many people all over this world. He takes us out of darkness and brings us into light. He adopts us as His sons and daughters. He changes our hearts so completely that we become a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is what we want so badly for Anna Lee’s mom! We want her to be made new! We want her to know the hope and the peace that comes with knowing Jesus! This is our primary prayer for her!

Along with this big prayer that we have been praying since we met her, we have a more specific prayer for this week. We pray that she will choose to relinquish her rights. Without being able to say much more about the case, we believe that this is what’s best for both Anna and her mom. We also pray that she feel peace as she makes these decisions.  

We are praying too that God will comfort her and use this situation to show her His love.  Please pray this for her mom tomorrow every time that you think of her. I can’t imagine letting Anna Lee go and I didn’t carry her for nine months or give birth to her or hold in my arms for the first year of her life. I can’t even begin to understand how hard all of this must be. But I know that God works in all circumstances and uses even the hardest struggles to draw us to Him.

Please join us in praying for all of these things tomorrow! 

Prayers for Today and Tomorrow

First, I wAnna Leeant to brag on and update you about Anna Lee. It’s been 7 months now since she entered our home, and this little girl is doing amazing. Thank you for your prayers! The most immediate need she had when she came to us was to gain weight.  She wasn’t eating much and had dropped several pounds the months leading up to her coming to our home.  She has gained around 8 pounds since she’s been with us – going from being in the 3 percentile to right at the 50 percentile.  Eating like a champ.  She was also behind in her speech.  Some minimal speech therapy and Lane’s teacher skills have taught her A TON of words. And lastly, she was in desperate need of healthy attachment.  At first she would cling to and hug almost anyone that she’d come in contact with.  Though this seemed great to everyone that met her, she needed parental attachment. She currently has what seems to be a really healthy attachment to both of us, but especially Lane.  Through all the struggles she’s faced and transitions she’s had, it is incredible to see the resilience and signs of health she shows. Though some may seem big and some may seem small, it’s been through all these growths that God continues to give me complete confidence that He is caring for and leading Anna Lee.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while then it’s gone.”  – James 4:14

God is continuing to teach me more about who He is and where my faith in Him needs to grow.  What I’ve been praying most lately, is that I don’t ever lose the desire or motivation to pray for Anna Lee every day.  As a foster parent, there is a certain fight in you to not take a single day for granted.  I never want to lose this.  Because I don’t know how long Anna Lee will be in our family, there is motivation to ask God daily that His Spirit leads every step of her life. There is a unique inspiration that makes it easy to consistently beg God that there will be a day, whether Lane and I get to see it or not, that Anna Lee will come to know Jesus.  My prayer right now is that if Anna Lee ever becomes a permanent part of our family, that I don’t lose this drive.

It is rare that I think much about Anna Lee’s long-term future.  Where she’ll go to college, what she’ll be involved in at school, or how old she’ll be when she goes on her first date, aren’t questions I think about right now.   Though I know there are benefits to planning, praying, and thinking far down the road, I don’t want to lose the drive to treat every day like there may not be many more.  To find a balance between not taking a day for granted, and getting to have long term hopes and plans is important and difficult.  Prayer for my kids’ lives is an area that I hope I take what I learn as a foster parent and balance it well when long-term vision and goals are more of a reality.  In this season God has taught me to always pray both that the Spirit leads our children’s lives today, and that He gives us clear vision, plans and goals for their future.

This Friday, June 5, Anna Lee will have another court date.  Please continue to pray with us.  Pray that God guides every part of Anna Lee’s life.  Pray that He gives us and everyone involved wisdom on what is best for Anna Lee.  Pray that He continues to give Lane and me peace and trust in Him.  Lastly, pray that He moves through us in truth and love far beyond what we could do on our own.

Grace Covers All

Anna LeeFostering Anna Lee has provided a setting for God to teach Lane and me lessons that nothing else ever has. In this season God has moved in our lives like never before. To be clear, the uniqueness of circumstances in foster care brings great trial and grief.  However, five months into this I can already see that it brings boundless growth and reward.  No matter the roller coaster of events that happen, I love Anna Lee deeply, and it is an extremely unique love.  God continues to use this little girl to teach me more of who He is.

One lesson for me has come from the uniqueness of the fact that my first kid was already old enough to rebel when I began parenting.   In the first few weeks of my most innocent stage of being a father, before struggles of impatience or anger came into the picture at all, I experienced grace in a rare way.  In the most pure stage of parenting we can have, when most dads are learning what it means to care for a newborn, I had a little girl who understood what it meant to tell me no, to push away, to fight for independence.  I saw what it meant for a father to love a child far deeper than their child’s rebellion could go.

It meant that there was nothing Anna Lee could do to hinder the love I had for her as my child.  It meant that while I needed to correct her in her rebellion, this correction wasn’t led by anger or frustration.  The correction and guidance I gave her was led by a desire to keep her safe, grow her in wisdom, and teach her the things I know.

Sometimes when we mess up we think we owe God something and we fight to make up for our actions by striving to be perfect.  Other times when we sin we think God is angry and doesn’t want to talk to us for a while.  That is most often me.  I grow distant from Him because though I know He loves me, I act as if He might need time to cool off and time to get over disappointment in me.  This is reflected in how I treat other people in my life as well.  It is so easy to give most people distance and time while they get over how I offended them.  No matter how much we apologize or are apologized to, we typically still need distance.  However, through Anna Lee He is beginning to show me a love that isn’t based on merits and that doesn’t hold grudges. He’s given me a better glimpse of a grace that covers all and a forgiveness that should cause us to immediately draw closer, not push away.

While His Spirit will never stop leading me to holiness, guiding my life, and constantly making me aware of my sin, He has a forgiveness that is far greater than my sin. Though He will never stop correcting me, my rebellion does not even in the slightest bit change the grace and mercy that He has already established.  He looks at me and sees Christ’s righteousness.  It is His righteousness that defines me, not my sin.  Because of what Christ has done He can look at me and see perfection.  It is that type of grace shown to me that gives me strength to seek holiness and seek God with my entire life.

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 2:1