Oh hey, short on time? No worries! I'd love to join you on your commute or daily walk/run, or shoot, even while you take care of that to-do list. We can't let these things get in the way of this friendship. It's just starting to get good! Click below to listen to the blogcast.
When I think about family, one word comes to mind...
As Drew Holcomb sings,
...Family, it ain't always pretty Family, can drive you insane ...Family, all four seasons Family, well bless your heart You don't choose 'em, you can't lose 'em We all have a song to sing Some are crazy, some are amazing All got a little bit of everything - Family, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
We can't choose 'em, and like it or not, we're together for all four seasons - snow, rain or shine.
And you know, there are times in all of our lives when the rain hits a little harder. None of us are excused from the downpours, the avalanches, or the harsh sun rays. We all find ourselves in moments when we need another to offer us a hand, a sturdy umbrella, maybe some snow boots, or a bit of shade so we can steady on.
There are times when we need another's help so we can keep our family together.
We've been talking a lot about adoption lately and I hope you've been encouraged and inspired by the stories of these families and seeing their faith in action.
But, you may be following along with us and not feel that urge deep within to adopt. And, goodness, hear me when I say this - that's okay! God has different plans for each of us. However, God has called each one of us to serve and be full of mercy toward others as He has been full of mercy toward us.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. - Luke 6:36
While we may not all have the resources or passion for foster care or adoption, there are still many ways we can serve those in our community.
Today, I'm excited to introduce you to an organization I've come to know through my local church called Safe Families.
While the Department of Human Services (DHS) is primarily focused on intervening when child abuse or neglect has occurred, Safe Families is focused on prevention, helping families in crisis to prevent abuse and neglect, working to see fewer in foster care.
Safe Families started in Chicago based on a need - a woman reached out for help and the director of a foster care agency selflessly offered to keep her children for the weekend. It has grown and now serves families across the nation, helping keep families together and building community for those in need.
Support is given when a need arises -
When a mother is having her second or third child and needs someone to watch her children while she's in the hospital...
When a parent is in rehab and needs temporary support...
When a parent is attending a weeknight class and needs support every night for two weeks.
The keyword with Safe Families is temporary support. It can range from a weekend to six weeks or six months. Opportunities to serve can range from a small time commitment of picking a child up from school and taking them to their house, prepping a meal, babysitting for a night, or providing clothes all the way to a larger time commitment of hosting a child in your home for a temporary stay.
If you choose to become a host for Safe Families, you will be connected with a volunteer Family Coach who will help coordinate with the parents of the participating family while you focus your time and energy on caring for the children well. Over time, you will likely develop a relationship with the parents, but the Coach will help parents navigate the challenges and barriers that arise so they can meet their goals.
As a host family, you are teamed up with other volunteers to serve as a circle of support like extended family or "a good neighbor" as Jesus modeled for us. God has called us to simply walk alongside others through difficult times, not try to "fix" them.
About 92% of children hosted are able to safely return home without any higher level of intervention needed.
Additionally, I encourage you to check out the online platform Care Portal to find practical ways you can support families in your own community effected by Child Welfare. DHS workers post needs that will help strengthen a family, support a foster family, or even help a family reach reunification.
You may see opportunities to help with someone's electric bill, provide clothing or a car seat, supply a thirty day bus pass, even drop a one-time donation. Every request listed on the Care Portal is approved by the DHS Supervisor, so you can ensure legitimacy. Sign up to receive needs in your community here- Care Portal. You can even engage your entire church!
Melissa always felt God had laid on her heart a pull towards adoption and/or foster care, but it took relocating to a new state for God to get her attention. She said,
"I had this strong overall feeling - the kind that brings you to tears. I knew God was telling me, 'I want you to do My work.'" - Melissa Gibson
She was surprised to realize God had also been stirring her husband's heart for this same purpose, and they were aligned. Melissa remembers her initial hesitation as she thought of all her piling to-do's with a busy family. The very first day she stepped out in faith to do this, the enemy attacked her with accusations of not being good enough and fears of how she could handle this with her husband working out of town.
Her first hosting lasted for three and a half weeks while the mom delivered twins. In that time, other Safe Families volunteers visited the mom and her twins to help her through this adjustment.
Another time, Melissa was able to establish a relationship with a child's mom to offer support. This took many different forms such as providing meals during Covid, frequently keep the child on weekends, and delivering groceries.
Safe Families was able to help another mom through the ReMerge program who was going back to school. They thought they were simply "giving her a break," but God allowed this to be more. The mother's initial hesitation of "religious ceremonies" when she heard they had taken her child to church turned into transformation in her own heart, saying, "I can't believe what God is doing in my life." She will graduate from OSU in Counseling and has a professional job lined up.
In order for her family to stay together, she simply needed support.
When we help meet the practical needs of those around us, God is able do immeasurably more.
If you're interested in supporting families or learning more, remember your level of involvement can be flexible - hosting for a month or simply providing a meal, maybe becoming a family friend, providing diapers, or coaching.
The thing is, we're all so consistently "busy." If we put it off to when "things settle down," we'll never do it. Sure, these things may settle down but other things will come up.
I was convicted of this myself. Logging onto the Care Portal was a great first step for me. Reading through the needs in my own community inspired me to pick up a gas card the next time I was filling up with fuel, thinking if something as simple as this can help a child stay in the care of his grandmother, it's worth every penny.
Pray and let God lead you. His great love leads us to serve those in need every time.
Let’s find strength in the command of scripture to be merciful as God has been merciful to us. Let's find joy when we step out in faith to help another. Let’s find peace as He leads us and rest knowing He is with us every step of the way.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
Oh, and if you're as eager to see the colors of Summer as I am, check out this fun idea to add some van Gogh inspiration to your flower pots this year!
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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