I remember walking through the aisles of the grocery store when Micah, my first child, was just a little infant. I struggled to bounce him in the carrier to keep him from fussing and could hardly manage to get through half my grocery list before we were both breaking down. Then every once in awhile, I would pass another mom with 4 or more kids and my eyes would automatically glaze over. I could not imagine ever being in those shoes, shoes that were tattered and frayed at every corner and stained with mud from playing in the backyard yet still the same pair she mindlessly slipped on everyday because there just was no time to pick another pair, much less buy a new one.
Yet today, I was that mom. With my trusted gray and white sneakers which have also gone through its own war, I mustered up the courage to take all 4 kids to the store for the first time. When we pulled in, I snagged the nearest two seater kid cart (thanking God for the person who invented it), and very strategically slid two in behind the play wheels, put one in the main part of the cart, and instructed the older one carefully to walk beside me. My plan was genius. That is, until I looked down and realized… there was no room for the groceries.
Before I had even entered the store, my cart was already full of these little human beings who I took a moment to look at in disbelief….where did they come from and how did I get here? Yes, my cart was completely full of them, my minivan was full of their carseats, my home was full of their toys, and their rooms were filled with mattresses and clothes and stuffed animals and books.
Slightly overwhelmed, I think I could have panicked because there was so much I needed to get. But instead, I took a deep breath and commanded myself to give thanks because there was SO MUCH MORE to be thankful for and not only the children, but the means I have been given to care for each and every one of them.
Especially since our latest addition, I have absolutely MARVELED at the support we have been given since we have taken in this little boy. Although we have the honor of being the ones hosting this child and being in the trenches with him, I am realizing more and more how we are just one small part of the puzzle and how there are SO MANY PEOPLE who are just as vital in caring for this boy and seeing him through. I cannot stress this enough. WE COULD NOT DO THIS ALONE.
And to clear up any confusion, this is not foster care. It is called Safe Families which is a national movement of Christians and churches all around the country who are stepping forward and answering the call to care for at risk children in our community BEFORE they are placed into foster care. Similar to foster care, these children are placed into a host home while their parents are working on getting back on their feet, but the difference is, there is a NETWORK of people all playing different roles to love the child AND their family with the love of Christ. Our family, specifically, is playing the role of temporarily hosting children, but others who are not have come around us in so many different ways playing their own various role.
For example, when the honeymoon period ended for us with our new little guy and the reality of not being with his biological family set in, he acted out in extreme ways. Rightfully so, he was scared and began to go into survival mode, lashing out at all of us aggressively with claws, fangs, and more. It was a trying period and so easily, we became feeble and tired. Then on top of the behavior which we hardly knew how to handle, we had to get clothes for him, prepare food for the entire family, figure out rides, get him situated into a daycare, and pretty much felt like anything we used to do normally had to take the back seat. The question of “could we really do this” set in with dark clouds.
Then our network within Safe Families reached out to us. All of them pretty much strangers whom we hardly knew, I wasn’t sure how much help they could really be, and at the same time, I feared asking for too much help. But I didn’t even have to ask. Very quickly, along with our church and our friends, these “strangers” came around us and began to offer us supports in every way, just like family would. In the same way we invited this boy into our family, they invited us into their family network, and it has been such a beautiful picture of the body of Christ loving each other selflessly.
Now, our home is full of not only the food and clothing and other items they have given us, but with their prayers, their love, and their unconditional encouragement. What’s more is that since we have been given such lavish support and the ability to focus solely on loving this boy, he has been FLOURISHING. Our house has not only regained order, but it has been thriving and has been even fuller with joy than before this all started.
I am humbled to be part of such an amazing movement and sincerely thank all those who are involved. If ANYONE has a heart for these families and children who are at risk of being separated and becoming orphans, there is a role for everyone in Safe Families, and the best part is, Christ is glorified.
Please contact me if you would like to get involved. It’s not just a ministry or a movement…this is real people with real lives who need a real chance. One is sleeping peacefully down the hall from me this very moment and I seriously feel like I am hosting angels in my home, if not Christ Himself. I am overwhelmed.