Fostering Change

Driving down the highway on auto-pilot, I spoke outloud to the little one gazing sleepily out the window as I breathed in the early morning air.

“Today you get to be with your mom and dad all day, and pretty soon you don’t have to leave them anymore. They are going to take care of you and I will miss you so much.” She babbled back, but she was too little to have real words.

Unbuckle. Deep Breath. The handoff. Go home. Come Back just in time for dinner. Meltdown. Bedtime with an extra song. Pray for her. For Mom. For Dad. Repeat.

foster care Holly Hawes changeUntil one day we packed everything up and restoration happened. A family was reunited. We prayed our way to the moment when we shook their hands, unpacked the boxes, and drove as far as we could. We drove to the Pacific Coast where the salty air mixed with our tears and we could be reminded of the very big God who made the ocean so vast. He was the one who had intertwined our story with this little girl and the many people who love her. He is the one who holds us together when changes in life are hard, because even good change can be difficult.

My days have changed since then. Life doesn’t revolve around naptime, visitation schedules,and playing peek-a-boo. Every child we have had over that last four years has changed us. For a season there were new schedules, taking apart the bunk bed and putting together the crib, new schools, moving the bedrooms around again, different snacks because the last child liked cheese sticks, and this one doesn’t.

Now the time has come for a harder change. We are no longer foster parents, by choice. Partly to rest from the chaos of a revolving door, and partly to eventually pursue adoption through another means.

Before I finally accepted the change, I dug in my heels. I thought we were called to this? Even if we come back in the future, how is it that now is not the right time? How can I say no to the phone calls, the stories, the children who wait in DHS offices for a family to give them shelter? God, what are you doing?! What does this change mean?

Then, I was reminded this weekend of a word I began to ponder almost a decade ago as I read Isaiah 58.

Restore.

 

“And the LORD will guide you continually

and satisfy your desire in scorched places

and make your bones strong;

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water,

whose waters do not fail.

And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,

the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:11-12

 

Holly Hawes Change Foster Care (1)I long to be a restorer in my community. I have had just a taste of seeing restoration first-hand, and I want to see more. I long for broken generations of people who are stuck in self-destructive lifestyles to find their footing in Christ—the only foundation that can bring true change and life.

The mission we have is timeless, but the specific application can change. There isn’t just one place where that restoration happens. It happens in foster care, in the women’s shelters, in my kid’s classroom, in my neighborhood, in the home, and within my soul. Wherever the people of God are, the Lord is guiding them, satisfying them, making them a spring of water able to overflow with the living water to people who are dying of thirst.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

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The Story of Wonder

 

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”-Psalm 77:11

There is an upside-down topsy-turvy nature to the story that God is writing. The pages of the Bible take its readers through an unexpected storyline. It’s a lot less #blessed, and a lot more figuring out grace, belief, faith, and trust in the middle of mundane endeavors. The place where God shows up time and time again isn’t when everything is clean, or when life is easy, but right in the middle of pain, confusion, and a sink full of dishes. This life with God is more about being withless about doing. It’s more about following when we cannot seeless about striving after the perfect plan.

I’ve often missed the gift of wonder by not noticing what God has done, because I am so busy trying to stay away from the mess. The truth is, we cannot understand the gravity of the wonders of this God who is utterly outside all our paradigms unless we see the mess he entered into. It is easy to take things that are true, but strip them down to a sanitized version that can fit on a mug wreathed in trendy watercolor flowers.

“Look among the nations, and see;

 wonder and be astounded.

For I am doing a work in your days

 that you would not believe if told.” Habakkuk 1:5

People wonderYes, wonder. Yes, be astounded. Yes, believe that God is doing something amazing that you don’t even see yet. All that is true, but keep reading. Go back a few verses, read about how fed up the author is with injustice and how he cried out to God. The answer he received: This is not going to go the way you want it to. You’re going to lose. There will be pain. Yet somehow, this predicament was the work of God. His response, even though it’s going to be awful:

“…yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

 I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

 he makes my feet like the deer’s;

 he makes me tread on my high places.”

-Habakkuk 3:18-19

I want faith like this. It is faith that astounds. A faith that makes the world wonder, because it raises the question, “Is that person crazy, or is this Jesus is real?”

  • When people cling to God despite a dangerous diagnosis. Not because God will automatically heal them, or make life good again (though he could, and sometimes does), but because He is their strength.
  • Joy in the midst of struggle, be it financial uncertainty, difficult relationships, or loss.
  • Declarations of the goodness of God despite the current state of affairs.

Looking into the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ, gives flesh to the ways God is working even in incredibly hard times. Without vulnerability and close connection within a community of believers I would be tempted to view their lives out of context in the same way I cherry picked verses for so many years.

Look at that great promotion, the cute Instagram picture, the orderly children who said the cutest thing today, and so on and so on. We must let people into the struggle, or they won’t know the goodness of God in the midst of it.

Stories of wonderThe wonder that a couple made it to their next anniversary isn’t there, if you don’t know how desperately they prayed to be able to forgive one another. Again. The wonder of the college student graduating isn’t there, if you don’t know that they were taken from their parents for their own safety and bounced from foster home to foster home all through grade school. The wonder of God in the person limping past you, is lost when you don’t know that only a year ago they couldn’t walk.

I’ve truly been amazed by the steadfast love of God when I see his story both on pages and in the lives of his children in context. I find wonder in listening. By asking another the question, “What is God doing in your life?” You will find more of God revealed. I’ve also been listening through the Bible in large chunks at a time. It was supposed to take 90 days- which would put me in Revelation by now, but I’m a bit behind and through 2 Samuel instead.

Listening to the stories of these characters, their  relationships, and God’s story of redemption has opened up the scriptures to men in a new way. The lives of the people known to be “heroes” of the faith are just as messy as the lives of those who surround me today, if not more so. Their story isn’t written so that I can try to measure up, but to give a picture of a person following God through all the ups and downs.
They, like me, needed to see the goodness and graciousness of God in response to their flaws. I need mercy. I get stuck. I find my identity in all sorts of things that cannot satisfy. Even when I know only Jesus does. These stories. Your story. My story. We are living pictures filled with wonder, not because we have lived perfectly, but because we have lived with faith.


Readers, What causes you to be amazed by Got? What causes you to be struck by someone’s story?

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Loving Obedience

“Wow. I could never do what you’re doing. I would get so attached, and never be able to let them go home.”

I have heard this, or variations of this, thought throughout the years from kind well-meaning people. This statement, that strokes my pride but forgets the work God has done in me, is the most common reaction I get as a foster parent. It comes in different tones. Astonishment. Admiration. Confusion. Perhaps a touch of guilt. I never know quite how to respond. Whether it comes up at the grocery store, through a message on Facebook, or while standing in the lobby of a church, we all agree on one thing It isn’t natural to love when there is nothing in it for us.

Attachment foster careI hear you. It’s true, it is hard to continue connecting. Pursuing the best for a child I won’t get to see grow up takes a whole lot of grace, and I can only describe this grace as not from me. My husband and I are not the heroes of this story, we love because God loved us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. -1 John 4:7-11

Jesus loved sacrificially. We have grace, forgiveness, mercy, freedom, and abundant life not because of anything we’ve done, but because God loved us and wants to be known by us. But his love was poured out through great suffering. Why are we surprised then, that when we follow Jesus and obey his call to love the world, it comes at a cost, as Philippians 2:8 says, Jesus “…humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

I have resolved within my soul that I will love like my Savior, and if that means I must set myself in the path of heartache so that I may obey, so that  I may love, so be it.

As C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” So I wake for midnight feedings that may never shift to midnight chats. I celebrate “first” experiences and offer wisdom when little ears are listening, praying it will stick. These children that enter into my home have experienced loss, and I cannot seek to comfort while remaining robotic and unconnected.

Yes, it hurts when they go, but love is worth the risk. It is the gift we can give to combat the suffering that presses into children just looking for a way.  At the beginning of our foster care  journey my husband and I talked about seeking to love every child like they would never leave. Simultaneously, we fight to remain open handed since we do not determine how long we have them. The ethos of love for our family is no longer as simple as an emotion.  It is a choice, deliberately made, to mirror the gospel.

HeroesTruthfully, I’ve said my own version of, “I couldn’t do what you’re doing,” when I see people love in wild, outlandish, and unconventional ways. Families who invite refugees to live with them while they acclimate to a new culture. Women who give friendship to the lonely and offer their presence in the midst of hard times.Single ladies who leave everyone they know and move across the country, or the world, to pursue a vocation where she will be able serve a hurting population. Mom’s who fill their van’s with neighborhood kids, building community amongst the noise.

All these pursuits may seem different, but they are the same at their core. Obedience. They are all a response to the call to love the person in front of you, so that the God who loved us first can be made known.

I wish that instead of “I could never” our narrative could turn to a celebration of obedience as our sisters participate in the different ways God asks us all to join Him in His work. It doesn’t have to be life altering. Perhaps it is as simple as asking God for the strength to view the person in front of us as he does. Reaching out to the other with the resolution that,  “I will love you, even if you don’t agree with me. Even if I don’t get anything out of it. Even if it hurts.”


Readers, How has God called you to obey him? 

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Seeking Beauty

I stared at the glowing screen, eyes glazed over, darting from one item to the next. I compared products and added to the ever growing “wishlist.” Babies don’t need much, but we are foster parents and instead of 9 months of preparation, we have weeks to prepare. Car seats. Consumer reports. Carriers. Will it arrive in time? Thank God for free two day shipping.

Completely overwhelmed I ended the night gazing at the problem through tears. Wishing the pain that causes a child to need a backup plan on no one. My empathy ignited for separated families and those stuck in cycles they cannot escape. The fear of the unknown future for this tiny one, for my heart.

beauty-seekingI seek the physical necessities, but also mourn that life has not been stable and “put together”. I plan out what furniture we need to collect and find Pinterest projects to beautify spaces. I long for this child to be celebrated, welcomed, and loved if even for a short time.

But the beautiful printables didn’t calm my heart. The wish-list increased my anxiety. Grasping for control only proved how out of control I actually am.

Through tears I expressed my crazy to my husband. He pointed me back again to the only source of peace: dwelling deeply in Christ. My gaze shifted. My heart calmed.

Dwelling, Gazing, Seeking. This is what I must be about.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 NIV

Dwelling:

I sometimes forget that I don’t need to fix all the problems, mitigate all the relationships, and control the situation. I can dwell with my God in worship. Not just someday in heaven, but moment by moment; being near to the one who made me. Abiding with the one who loves me most.

Gazing:

I can gaze upon his beauty as I marvel at his character. Mercy. Forgiveness. Overwhelming love. Love that not only believes in redemption and second chances for all, but also cares for the most vulnerable with justice and compassion. Rather than focusing on what is in front of me, I must turn my eyes to the eternal.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-3

dwelling-gazing-seeking-this-is-what-i-must-be-aboutAs a turn my eyes from today to the one who is truly life, I can stop striving, because God’s wisdom, his Spirit, and his love are available to me. He who named the stars of the sky, who created galaxies, and has been working out redemption throughout all of human history also knows me intimately. He is at work in the entire world and yet

You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book? Psalms 57:8

My heart is put at rest knowing that God is good. My anxieties ease as I stare into his power and greatness. I can leave him in control, for he loves me as well as those I fret over when midnight nears.

Seeking:

Seeking him out is the most beautiful pursuit. I don’t need to know the end of the story to know that God will be at work. He does not just take people who are doing well at life and shine them up a bit, but he transforms the worst situations possible into something beautiful.
It is not simply the “someday” resolution, wrapped up in a bow, that creates beauty in the midst of the messiness of life. Choosing to dwell with, gaze at, and seek the giver of life allows true beauty to bloom in chaos.


Readers, Whatever your cares the weight of them can be revealed by keeping your eyes on the the God who can carry it for you. May you seek and find rest as you search for His beauty today.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Dear Adoptive Parents

Dear adoptive parents,

There is something I want you to know, and I am unashamedly going to steal a line from NBC’s Parenthood’s patriarch, Zeek Braverman, to do it.

“I hear you, and I see you.”

I hear you.

I hear your earnest, heart-filled desires to bring children into your homes. You pour out your hearts to God. You ask for wisdom, for guidance. Sometimes you are asking God for direction because you are unable to have children of your own. Sometimes, your families do not feel complete until your adopted son or daughter is busy growing up alongside your biological children, their siblings.

You are heard when you request prayers in pursuing which avenue of adoption to take: foster-to-adopt, infant adoption, overseas adoption. I hear your passionate voices when you speak of the children who are yet to join your home, or who already have. You are heard.

I see you.

I see you raising money by creative pursuits and unique inspiration. The t-shirts, the puzzle pieces, the jewelry, and the garage sales.

I have seen your friends sell their possessions to help you pay for your adoption.

I see how much it costs to adopt a child, and yet, you do not complain.

I see your trust in God’s provision.

I see the hope you have for bringing home your child.

I see you waiting years for your child, without hesitation.

I see you loving your adoptive son or daughter exactly as if they were your biological child. You are seen.

In Ephesians 1:3-10, Paul writes,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

Sweet adoptive parents, the beauty of this passage is that God chose us He predestined us. We are adopted by God the Father, just like you adopt your son or daughter. As you persevere through the painstaking trials to adopt your child, to get to your child, you are a direct reflection of God the Father. I am a firm believer that the child you adopted is specifically hand-picked for your family.

So, adoptive parents, hear me. “I hear you, and I see you.”

I hear your prayer requests, and I will not stop praying until your child comes home to live with you.

I see your efforts in raising money to bring home your child, and I will support you in doing so with time and money.

I hear you share your challenges as you raise your son or daughter, and I have hope for you as your family begins to meld together.

I see you raising your sons and daughters. And I want you to know, I am on my knees asking God to care for you as you care for your child.  

Adoptive parents, my dear friends, you are precious. You are called. You echo the heart of God.

I hear you. I see you.


Readers, Do you see the needs of adoptive parents? Consider how you could help today.

Sarah believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog, and you can find her stories for Anchored Voices under the tag Sarah.



Temporary Dad

Author: Josh Hawes

I experienced something most fathers simultaneously dread, and consider one of their proudest moments in life. I took the arm of a young woman dressed in white and escorted her down the aisle to give her away to the man she loves. Though she wasn’t my daughter, and in actuality is slightly older than me, it was an honor and a privilege to usher her to the one she wed.

My wife and I desire to be hospitable as a way to show others the welcoming love of Christ. At various points throughout our marriage, even before becoming foster parents, we have had people live with us. Some stayed for a day or two to hide from an abusive ex, another for a year until she got married. One was the girl I walked down the aisle. We also long to care for the orphan. We have had 10 foster children, nine of which were in the last twelve months.

As they joined us in ones, twos, and fours, I began to notice a trend.  Almost without fail, they entered our home partially due to an absent or failed father. Some of these men were too controlling, some were absent, one left by death, and many were weighed down by the consequences of poor life choices. While I was not a replacement for these individuals’ dads, God revealed the deep strength of his Father’s heart more each time. I will never be Dad to the woman I walked down the aisle, but for one fleeting moment, I stepped up as Temporary Dad.

Our most recent foster daughter recently went home. As she prepared to leave she questioned her mom about when she would get married so she could have a dad. A discussion ensued with her and her mother about marriage and wisdom, but one part stood out to me; our foster daughter said, “Well of course Josh will always be my dad, but…”

While incredibly cute on the surface, her statement magnified the pressing need for fathers. This child’s statement demonstrates  how great the effects of being willing to step into someone’s life and fill a role, even for a short while can be. It is always inconvenient, it always hurts, and it is always worth it.

God is the true father to the fatherless, and for those who call Him their own, they are often called to father others. Sometimes this looks like adding a member permanently through adoption, or maybe it is helping a person make a budget, shop for a car, break up with their boyfriend. In whatever way God may call us, being someone’s temporary dad can make an impact for life. Moreover, it shows the heart of God the Father when you do it in His name. For His is the name that lasts eternally.

Our names, our actions, they are but a blip on the radar of time. Even with my adopted daughter, I cannot promise to always be there. She will be graduating in two and a half years. When she is in college, I won’t be able to protect her. When I get to walk her down the aisle, I will be handing over her protection and leadership to another man. Tragedy could strike and I could go to be with Jesus, leaving my family here. We are, all of us, temporary. So I have to hope and trust in something bigger than myself, knowing I am not enough. I know that God is the  better dad, the better husband, and the best provider.

I can trust him with the prayers I have prayed for my temporary daughters, sisters, and sons. I can trust Him with the chaos of this ever changing world. I can trust Him with all that I am, have done, or will do. For He is the never failing eternal Father.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4


Readers, How can you help others to find wisdom, hope, and trust in our Heavenly Father?

Josh Hawes is our first male voice here at Anchored Voices, and it is an honor to have him. He is a hard worker, husband, father, and foster father who is trying to faithfully walk through life as he is made more like Christ.

 

When the Adoption Fell Through

The night before it all fell through my husband had a dream that skated on the edge between sleep and wakefulness. The kind where you think your dream-life actually happened, only to wake and find it never existed at all. He was holding her, a girl we planned to name Harper, sleeping on his chest. It felt so real; the warmth and weight of a tiny body snuggled up, safe, and peaceful in daddy’s arms.
Then the phone rang like a chill shivering up the spine of a silent September morning. It was over.
We’d raised money, poured over her pictures, completed an expedited home study, and talked to a myriad of lawyers. We had done anything we could to make the dream a reality. The flight was practically booked to bring our little girl home when we were told it wouldn’t be needed.
Something I was sure was ours turned out to only be vapor. Worse, a dream I was sure had been planted in my heart by God suddenly withered for reasons I could not fathom. Why this cruel, quiet reality? Why not this child? Would we ever become parents?
The following weeks were a rollercoaster. I was sad. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I thought I looked like a fool for hoping this adoption process would actually come through. I’d been so vocal about the path I thought God had placed us on. Had He failed? Or had I failed to hear?
Before we lost her officially, I had begun to lose hope. One day I opened the Bible to a random page, desperate to be reassured that all would be okay.
Romans 8:31 jumped off the page. “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
That was it. I posted on my personal blog and Facebook about the latest adoption challenge with the hashtags #ifgodisforuswhocanbeagainstus & #adoptionrocks.
The truth? I had equated God’s goodness with Him giving me what I want. In my eyes His faithfulness would ensure that the road would be smooth, and this circumstance would turn out in our favor. In reality, the theme of that chunk of scripture assures me that no trial or suffering could separate me from the love of Christ.
I had been reading the Bible like it was a crystal ball—all about me and my circumstances and the next step to take.  Not as it truly is, a story of God and what he’s done to rescue his people. My quick interpretation of one verse was entirely backwards.
But the truth gave so much freedom:
  • I could be weak, because the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26
  • God is working for the good of those who love him, according to his own purpose. Which means He would lead us to His purpose and somehow it would be good (8:28). Even when, even though, we weren’t taking home this child.
  • God gave his only son on my behalf (8:32). He is not holding out on me. Nothing can separate me from His love.(8:35)
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. I knew He had been leading us to adoption, and when it fell apart I couldn’t see why the path suddenly became a dead end.
***
A week later, we were told a heart-wrenching story of an older teen girl who desperately needed a place to stay.  She had been trafficked and needed to not go back to the area she was from.  I casually asked what it would take to become foster parents, since we already had a home study completed. I figured that since we had no other children, and we had been told, because of our young age, that we’d wait for up to three years for one we might be able to help. That situation ended up not being a good fit. We didn’t live in the right place.
A week later we received a life changing phone call. Could we be just foster parents? For up to a year? A 12 year old girl, who had been in an adoptive placement needed to move. Today. Everything in her life was falling apart, and we lived in the right town.
Three years later, she is our daughter. Rather than being in the potty training stage we are about to start driving lessons. I didn’t see that coming, but I’m so glad it did.
We’ve marveled over and over how God put us together. I can see the way He weaved our stories into one. How for her 5 years in foster care God’s people loved her, held her hand, and walked her right to our unlikely doorstep two weeks after we thought our adoption dreams had been decimated.
The dreams we held onto were far too small—we had no idea.  The destruction of one hope led to another being fulfilled. Our daughter was in need of us on the other side of that suffering and pain. God hadn’t failed; His promise stood true. He hadn’t told me that we wouldn’t suffer pain and loss, but reminded me that nothing could separate us from his love because He knew I would need the reminder.

 
Readers, What hope helps you to trust God with your deepest desires?
Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

Running From Love

“Worst case, if she runs, just call the police.”

Did I hear that right? I had taken this phone call in the safety of my living room, and I was glad. For the cell connection hid the shock painted upon my face. Those words gave me a quick and hard reality check, and I was choking on it. Now, three years removed from the eve of our first experience with foster parenting, I’ve only had to follow this advice once.

Nine children have gone in and out of our home, and one came in to become our own. Through these experiences, I’ve learned much of how we as humans try to protect ourselves. Many times, in trying to do so, we run from exactly what we need most. I had no idea how difficult it can be for some to receive love, or how much I run from being loved myself.

We all do it. Fear causes us to run from love. As we attempt to get through the walls we ourselves and others put up we must realize that it may take extraordinary measures of persistence and sacrifice.

In children who have experienced trauma, it can come out in running, screaming, or slammed doors. They push people away before they get close enough to hurt, because that is what they have experienced. After enduring profound emotional and physical pain at the hands of those who are closest, the very people who should keep them safe, they learn to protect themselves from vulnerability. Which can cause a domino effect to those reaching out. Our natural response to being given the cold shoulder or being lashed out in episodes of explosive anger—Get away. What the child actually is asking for as they try to make you turn is closeness, connection, and safety. Their overtop reaction is a pleading for love.

I haven’t always translated this chaotic disconnect very well. As Dr. Russel Barkley said, “The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways.”

Sometimes they have the words to ask aloud, “Why should I trust you? Do you really care?” Other times the same question comes out in their actions, “Will you still be nice to me if I break your stuff? If I throw a fit, will you still tuck me in and read a bedtime story?”

Love gives both grace and truth in the midst of failure. This love takes perseverance that is completely beyond humanity’s grasp. When love freely given is not returned, or the recipient looks you in the face and spews vinegar for your honey, you are reminded real love is hard.

Real love is worth it.

I see this worth it in the child who packed a bag in anger. It’s contents: a teddy bear, warm clothes and the Jesus Storybook Bible we read at night . One moment raging and running, the next asking for reassurance. A hug. A sandwich. Completely against me one moment, but wanting me to stay close by later. My presence allowing sleep to come quickly.

I see myself in the runners. How I want my own way. How I avoid being near to God when I’m upset instead of collapsing into his open arms. I throw the same fits on a different plane. Moments of unbelief cause me to question if God really loves me, even though I know he has shown his love over and over again. I see now, I am running just to see if he chases me.

He does chase me. Like the Storybook Bible that is once again on the bedside table says, his “Never ending, never giving up, unstopping, always and forever love,” continues to persevere no matter what I throw his way.

His love is relentless, and somehow by God’s great plan there are people in my life who need to be chased down with the same kind of love. A love that does not depend on whether or not it is received or reciprocated. We go to extraordinary lengths to persevere in love because, “We love because He first loved us.” 1John 4:19

So today, I remember the persistence of God’s love for me, and from it I can persevere in loving the people in front of me. Even those who aren’t always easy to catch.

 


Readers, Are you running from the love of God? What keeps you from seeking him?

ff717-holly2bsquareHolly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.

Hope Even if “When” Never Comes

Author: Holly Hawes

Years of negative pregnancy tests.

‘Nuff said.

No matter how quickly we tell others that “God loves us and has a good plan for life,” some seasons of waiting, we would never choose. “Waiting upon the Lord” is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The soul spaces in which we wait might not be as innocuous as the physical waiting rooms decorated in muted shades, but they torture the nervous patron just as severely. These waiting spaces are built with our hopes and dreams, and those walls too, can feel like they are closing in.

Nosy questions, and unfulfilled desires left me raw and unable to really talk to anyone. Not even to God, about my deepest hopes. I felt bad for the people who happened upon my ugly cry episodes or bumped into my raw emotions. My every decision was resting on possibilities that hadn’t happened. I couldn’t look for a new job because I’d probably get pregnant and need to leave. I didn’t buy myself clothes for years because I wouldn’t be able to wear them “when”.

“When” didn’t come.

We had a plan— it didn’t happen. No one is prepared for that. It was a devastating season of waiting.


Who we want to become; those we love the most; those we hope to love in the future. When these things come, or do not come, our view of God is shaped. It is easy to see him as holding back and holding out. Why won’t he just give you that one desire? Hope is born as He draws near. He comforts as you put your desires into his loving hands, again and again, even as your heart breaks.

We often can see what God was doing—afterward. We began to subtly hear God whisper and direct us towards adoption. It was something in our plans, but after biological kids. We felt there were too many obstacles: We weren’t old enough for most adoption programs. We hadn’t been married long enough to even apply. We didn’t have the money, the energy, and is anyone’s marriage ever in a place to not need a little work?

Then, we heard of a dessert night taking place at a local church where several families would share about their adoptions. That night we uncharacteristically knelt on the floor and prayed out loud for God to move. We stood up with new direction. While we could always wait for life to reach a better place, children were waiting. They needed a family NOW. The season had come for action in response to God’s activity. We weren’t just waiting now; we needed to act.

These verses remind me of that time:

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both”.~ Ecc 11:4-6 (NLT)

The new steps we were taking, didn’t fix the hardship we had gone through, but helped us see beyond our struggle into the possibilities of God. Not only were we waiting for children, our daughter was waiting for us. Had we waited for the perfect time, until we felt completely ready, we would have missed out on the work of the God of the universe. It wasn’t what we expected; she was 12 years older than what I imagined when holding my first child.

God has brought me back to that waiting and action. Now, we are waiting for the next member of our family to join us. Instead of a pregnancy test we’re waiting on a committee of people who have the power to say whether or not I get to be his forever mom. It breaks my heart, because many of the kids who need to find their forever families have been waiting longer than I have.

They are waiting now.

I don’t know what season of waiting you may be in. But whatever it is, when God directs you, don’t wait. Act.

Want to see what children might be waiting for adoption in your state? Check out some pictures of the waiting children in your state.

Readers: We know waiting is hard. Tell us how we can pray for you in the comments, and may this verse uplift your heart.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.