Friday, April 29, 2011

He is stronger...

A few weeks ago Mary Beth was asked to speak at the annual Miracle Hill Ministries Fundraising Banquet. She nervously agreed. On one hand, it was a humbling and daunting task, but on the other it was a chance to share our story of sanctification through foster care. Well...tonight was the night. In the car on the way I asked her if she was nervous. She admitted that she was, but indicated that God had comforted her with the following lyrics throughout the day:

You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me it is written Christ is risen Jesus you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end You're my hope and my defence you came to seek and save the lost you paid it all upon the cross

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher

As we entered the ball room tonight and absorbed the magnitude of 1400 people, I could tell the nerves had elevated to another level. She ate just a small portion of her salad and dinner, I whispered a short prayer into her ear, and she set out for the podium. The following is the text of her speech:

It’s an honor to stand before you tonight. As many of you, I hold many roles: mother, wife, daughter, but tonight I stand before you primarily in my role as a foster parent. You know, when most people find out that we are a foster family, they begin to tell us how great we are – promote us to the status of sainthood almost – we stand before them and before you tonight, just normal people. People who serve an exceedingly faithful, abundantly graceful, extraordinary God.

Two and a half years ago God called us to fostering. He laid it on both of our hearts separately that our family wasn’t complete with the three daughters He’d already given us. We began to pursue international adoption. We requested information from several different agencies, financial aid organizations, etc. and we waited for our mailbox to overflow. It never did. In fact, we didn’t receive one piece of information, one phone call – nothing – from any of the places we’d requested information from.

We were stunned, but took it as clarity that God was asking us to foster. It seemed crazy on many levels. We had three girls, ages, 4, 2 and 10 months already. As we were praying through what God wanted us to do, one of our pastors spoke on the passage in Mark where Christ healed the man with the withered hand. In his interaction with the man, Jesus asked him to “stretch forth his hand.” This was something the man had never done before. It was impossible for him to do on his own. It was , in fact, crazy, on many levels. But, the man obeyed. And his healing came as he trusted and obeyed.

In April, two years ago, our first placement walked through our front door. A little boy with big brown eyes, a small suitcase . . . and more baggage than a three year old should ever have to carry. In the past two years, we’ve loved on 10 little boys and girls – all with great baggage, but all with great hearts that we pray will be pursued and captured by the love of Christ.

As we face people daily who ask about our family, we get asked the question, “How can you give them back?” It’s a hard question to answer honestly because, in most cases, we are talking to a stranger. But, here are some honest answers for you:
It hurts my feeling when people ask that question. The question itself seems to imply that I have no feelings – that it’s somehow easy for our family to say good-bye. The truth is that it’s equivalent to death when we say good-bye. We cry out, we mourn, we doubt, we are afraid . . .

But we ultimately choose to trust.


God has shown us lately the verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that reads, “Love is not self-seeking.” As you know, 1 Corinthians 13 was written to show Christians how to live in community with one another in a loving way. God has called each of us to live in this community where no one would deny that there are children who need to be loved. We choose to love them. Often we do it badly. Often we are frustrated and question why God would ask us to do this. But for us not to do this would be us choosing our own self-protection. So we choose to love. We love so much that it hurts deeply when they are taken from us. We’ve often said that when it stops hurting, then we haven’t loved them well. And when we stop loving them well, is when we need to find something else . . .

For now we make the conscious choice to have our hearts broken because we see -- in this place -- is where we are learning to truly trust, where we are learning to unconditionally love, where we are learning that sanctification is not always pleasant – but always worth it.

There were tears and applause, and a few spectators who went somewhat Pentecostal! She absolutely nailed it! It was awesome to witness her step into the Holy Spirit and allow Him to stretch her like never before. I am so proud of you baby and thankful to an amazing God who sustains. Ultimately, He answered just as you asked...You were made stronger and His name was lifted higher!

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