An Aching Heart To Do More.

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It was Mother’s day yesterday and as much as I had a wonderful day filled with love and life, this year was different. There was an ache in my heart that I just couldn’t shake. As you might have noticed I wasn’t up for much blogging last week. It was one of those weeks where every post seemed so trivial. Does that ever happen to you? A bit of that carried over into Mother’s Day I guess. I love my husband and my girls with everything I have, but there are so many children in this world who need so much more. My heart was thinking of all the children in the foster care system who really just want to be back with their own Mothers and can’t. My heart breaks for those children, for those families. Do we realize the need around us? In our neighboring, tiny, tiny county, they had almost 30 kids that needed to be placed in stable, loving homes in one week. One week?!?! That blows my mind. Can you imagine what the need is in an actual city? Let’s not just live in our beautiful bubbles, let’s get passionate about something and make some change. There is real brokenness, that needs REAL change all around us. That doesn’t just mean fostering, adoption or orphan care. I know not everyone is called to help in those areas, however, there are lots of ways we can make a difference around us. We are all busy. I get it, I do. It has just been so heavy on my heart lately that we need to do more. I keep thinking over and over how foster care is sort of a bandage for a greater problem. It’s such an important step to healing but what if we never got hurt and needed the bandaid in the first place? How can we support, love and encourage these families from the very start? I don’t want to see broken families.

I have been sitting on this blog post all day. So many thoughts are rolling around in my head. I just haven’t figured out how to get them all out. A blog friend sent over a link to this blog and I seriously can’t stop reading all the posts on fostering and adoption. Jason Johnson writes everything that’s in my heart. I can’t even come close to expressing it better than him. Here are a few excerpts from some blog posts that I’ve been reading over and over today…

“On one side of foster care is the need for us to respond to the plight of these kids and intercede on their behalf. It’s right and honorable and a reflection of the heart of God to secure and protect the rights of the helpless and hopeless. On the other side of foster care is the need for us to proactively respond to the brokenness of families and intercede on their behalf to ensure that their children never become foster kids in the first place. This too is right and honorable and a reflection of the heart of God to bring healing to what is broken and hope to what otherwise is destined for destruction.”

“This is foster care – interceding into dark stories in order to bring light into them. It’s advocating the cause of the helpless, seeking justice for the defenseless and maintaining the rights of the oppressed. This is nothing less than what Jesus has done for us. We, therefore, are compelled to do the same for them.”

“This is the essence of the battle we engage in and the platform upon which Jesus is presented as the true Hero. If the real enemy in the care of orphans is not the biological parents but Satan who kills and destroys lives and families, then the true hero is not those who foster or adopt or care for orphans in some other capacity – it is Jesus Himself. The heroic efforts of so many who fight for justice for the marginalized and even adopt children into new forever families only points to the work of the true Hero who redeems and heals and restores and transforms grievous wrongs into glorious rights. Any sense of a personal “hero complex” must be crucified on the altar of pointing to Jesus as the real Hero.”

“I know we can provide her a good home, a safe and loving environment, possibilities and opportunities that she may not otherwise have available to her if she were not with us. I know she will be loved here, cared for here and protected with every ounce of our energy from things that are dangerous, harmful or unhealthy for her. Yet, for all that we may be able to provide, God’s ability to be good to her in a difficult environment is far greater than any good we could offer her in a comfortable one. No amount of “good” we can give her can compare with the goodness of the sovereignty of God in her life, wherever she may end up living it. There are no guarantees in foster care, except one – God is sovereign in the life of this baby girl. He is good, and He will be good to her always, no matter where she lays her head at night.”

I want to be frank for a minute and say for some reason talking about foster care has opened up the flood gates for negative comments about our family here and on other sites. I have not read any of the comments other than the ones that have been written directly on my site. I am not sure why it’s happening and honestly I am not sure I will ever understand why. It’s ok though. I stand firm in our calling to become foster care parents. I trust what the Lord is doing in our family. I am no hero nor am I am trying to be a superhero out to “save” families. I’m not perfect (not even close!). I have my short comings and I fail daily as a parent. I do try my best though and I was tired of sitting on the side lines saying I wanted to help. You may not think I am a great person, mother, wife, whatever but I hope that through any of this you can respect that we are at least trying to do something. I am not looking for glory. If fact the whole notion of people praising us for this makes me feel uncomfortable.

Let’s love. Let’s get involved and let’s remember this is not about ourselves, it has everything to do with these kids and these families.

Thanks.

(I am not sure what kind of pictures you put with this kind of post?- anyway, since it was Mother’s Day and I do feel forever thankful for my girls. Here we are.)

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  1. Alainna Samuelson •

    The only one whose thoughts about you matter are God’s. He says, “How beautiful you are & how pleasing, O love, with your delights!” Song of Solomon 7:6 “Since you are precious & honored in my sight, & because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, & people in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4 “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16

    Sending love & prayers.

  2. I can’t imagine why anyone would leave a negative comment about you, your family, or your desire and intention to be foster parents! Even if someone disagrees with something, it’s obvious you have wonderful intentions! I don’t think you need my encouragement or support, but here it is anyway: Keep doing what you’re doing! You rock!

  3. Laurie •

    Regarding the negative comments: pay them no mind. You are doing a GOOD thing. I am baffled that people would look upon what you are doing with anything other than respect. I think sometimes that people want to ignore the ugliness in the world because they can’t handle it…don’t let that keep you from doing what your heart calls you to do. You, obviously, can handle it and thank God for that because this world really needs it!

  4. Hi Jen, I guess I have never commented on your blog but been reading it for a long time…I think your piece of the internet is one of the most honest places around there, you do a great job as a mother, wife and friend and I love having a peak at it!
    Don’t let others get you down, most of the mean comments come out of jealousy and disbelief because a lot of people are to selfish and/or hesitant to take on an endeavor as foster care. Many of us know how important such things are but only few have the faith and resources to really pull it off! And unfortunately, some people tend to critizise others for doing things they secretly wished they could do themselves. I am sure there is a some neuropsychological term for it which I can’t recall right now!
    So, keep up your work with foster care and keep up blogging!
    I always love to pass by your blog and read something honest and worthwile!

    Love from Germany,
    Elena

    P.S.: You look absolutely gorgeous in your jumpsuit! 😉

  5. Jen, I won’t praise you for what you are doing because I know you don’t need that (or want it) but I will tell you this. You are a loving and kind person. Anyone that has a problem with that is missing the bigger picture. Imagine what the world would be like with more love! Continue on your quest and never look back. I look forward to following your family on this journey.

  6. While I don’t share your commitment to the Christian faith, I think it’s wonderful that you are called to be a foster parent. Those other mean people are stinkyfaces. Seriously. I would use stronger language but this is, after all, a family blog. 🙂

  7. What a sweet calling you two have! Sorry for the negative comments that you have been receiving. I love your blog and feel privaledged to read about your journey fostering!

  8. It is so sad that one negative comment can completely overshadow one thousand positive notes of encouragement. I really admire what you are doing. We are in the midst of an adoption ourselves and what you have shared is in my heart as well. Even though we fail as parents, we must keep as our constant reminder that Jesus is the true answer! You are doing a great thing. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Katie Estelle •

    I’ve worked in the foster care system in Michigan for about 3 years now. First as a casworker for kids already in foster care and then as an in-home worker for families facing the possibility of their children coming into foster care. I will say that it IS getting better. This country is finally starting to realize that every dollar and hour you spend on preserving and empowering a family saves you lots of dollars and hours later on. They’re realizing that these kids grow into adults who have more kids. If the problem doesn’t get fixed early on, it just becomes a generational problem that’s so deep it’s hard to dig yourself out of. Thanks for the post, as it is National Foster Care Awareness Month.

  10. Katie Estelle •

    I admit I just kind of skimmed your post quickly at work- lol- and just read through it again. YAY for you becoming a foster parent!!!! There is a serious, serious need in every state for people in the community to become foster parents, not just those who are related to the children. You don’t have to be the “perfect parent” to foster, you just need to be a loving parent. Why anybody would criticize you stepping up for innocent, blameless children is beyond me.

  11. It breaks my heart that people can take from your obviously heartfelt yearning and calling to help at whatever capacity you can and turn it into a negativity. A negativity towards you, your decision, your family. Instead of focusing negative energy on you they should look at the blessing you and your family are and will be to your community and beyond. Just like we should be supportive of family and friends, we should also be supportive of people in our community (your physical community or even the blogging community), especially when someone is doing something to help children. Children who need a voice. I don’t even know you beyond this blog but I feel that what you are doing is amazing and I am thankful that there are people like you out there. xox

  12. Pay no mind to the negative comments, no family is perfect but in order to help each other all we need is a mind full of determination and a heart full of love and God, this way even if you make a ton of mistakes you won’t fail ever! Thank you as always for your lovely posts!

  13. Heather E •

    I truly admire your selflessness, and the enormous heart it must take to take on fostering and adoption! I can’t believe that anyone could possibly have anything negative to say about your willingness to help children who need loving homes! Your family is an inspiration!

  14. Heather Lea •

    Jen, I’ve been reading your blog for years now. You and your family never cease to amaze me. So loving, so giving, so kind. If fostering is your calling, embrace it! Let the haters hate, and continue to love them. =)

    I would really like to know where you got Rowan’s dress! It’s beautiful!

  15. Julianne •

    I work in child welfare in Washington state and wanted to say, first of all, good for your family for becoming a foster family – there is such a need! Many local churches here are involved in a national program called Safe Families for Kids (I’m not involved with it at all but have heard great things), which aims to do exactly what you describe – support and heal families BEFORE kids end up coming into care: http://www.safe-families.org/whatis_whowehelp.aspx. I’m not sure where you live and whether there are affiliated churches near you but it seemed like something you might be intrigued by as you think about how your community can do more!
    Thanks for doing your part and I’m excited to hear how it unfolds! Warmly, JBP

  16. i mean, i think that it is really easy for us to want to sound perfect on our blogs to other people. i absolutely adore your blog and what your family stands for, but i do think that a post like this could rub some people the wrong way. i would love to be a mother but alas, unlike most young christian women, i didn’t get married super young and have never met a good guy (in my lifetime thus far.) i’ve also learned a lot about how I do like my life by myself, afterall!! but i think it’s hard for some of us to read a post about mother’s day and there you are with your two beautiful daughters, but you just want… more?? (i totally see that you want to give to these foster children and it seems like a great opportunity for you. but at the same time, i think it’s particularly frustrating to see a mother say even that, when you have two little ones right in front of you. and especially after the death of a blogger’s 3-year old son two weeks ago.
    I’m an event planner (among many other things for my job) and I take into consideration all of my past feedback when, for example, ordering food for people, but there’s always going to be someone that wasn’t satisfied and i know that now! you just can’t win ’em all, ya know??

  17. Hi Emily! Jen, Here. I just wanted to say thank you for your comment. I am very sorry if it came across as not being thankful for my family or situation, like I “need” more. That actually wasn’t the point of the post at all. It’s not that I am “aching for more” because I am not satisfied with my children already. I am so very grateful for my family, Kev and the girls. I just don’t want to feel complacent in that, when there is so much need around us. The post was about this brokenness and how my heart aches for change. I never said people had to agree with me either. I wrote I am ok with the negativity. I don’t understand it (I’m not talking constructive criticism either- I mean full on hateful comments), but I am ok with it. Thank you for voicing your opinion.

  18. Sarah •

    Most of the negative comments I read (on GOMI, we’re all adults, that’s what is being talked about here) pertained to the fact that you have a very public life on your very public blog, and your birth children are in every post. You cannot do that with foster kids. There are privacy issues, safety issues….the comments I read on GOMI were along the lines of “I hope Jen realizes that she has to be more careful posting about a foster kid online.” Most posters on GOMI also stated that they thought it was awesome that you are fostering.

    It seems really disingenuous to make vague references to people “attacking” you when I did not see that happening, here or on GOMI.

  19. Yessssss, Jason writes the words on my heart better than I could! Love what God is doing to you in prep for foster parenting..dropping more and more of his heart on you! Of course people are gonna have something negative to say when something so fiercely important and life changing is happening in your fam, some people can’t see past their own small bubbles and are threatened when others rock the boat and venture out on “risky” waters. I’ve had people stand at the end of my shopping cart at Target and GLARE at me when they see me with children that clearly aren’t mine biologically and I stare right back like “Say something! If you have a question ask me, if not move along. But don’t you dare judge my children/family.” God will use the negativity to pull the boldness out of us and fight harder for these kids. I’ve fought God on over sharing the importance of everyone having a part in foster/orphan care and He quickly reprimanded me speaking, “You think I’d rather you share meaningless cute things that are fleeting? Get about My business and speak up every opportunity you get!”. Proud of you lady and can’t wait to see how God is going to use your beautiful family and this space to glorify Him!

  20. Hi Sarah. Thank you for your comment. Honestly, that’s great that you think there is a healthy discussion going on over on GOMI. But please don’t assume because you read that thread you know everything that I am talking about or that I don’t understand the privacy issue that surround having a foster care child. I have had to delete quite a few very hateful comments surrounding all this. I usually will let most comments through. I am open to differences in opinions but a few have been so out of control. I have no place in my life for that kind of negativity. And privacy of these children is something I do not take lightly. I do think there is a way to share our journey though in a respectful way. It’s foster care awareness month and if no one ever shared about it where would that leave us? Thanks again for leaving a comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read.

  21. Melissa •

    I LOVE the part in one of the excerpts about Jesus being the real hero. So, so true. It is so amazing how you and Kevin are following God’s plan for you even when faced with negative feedback, comments, fear, etc. It shows a lot of integrity. Praying for strength, wisdom and peace for you guys.
    And that jumpsuit is everything. 🙂

  22. Liz H •

    Thanks for the post Jen and sharing your heart and conviction!! You are really challenging me! Keep going girl!!! PS. Adore this black jumpsuit on you. Love the simple outfits on all 3 of you 🙂

  23. Laura •

    I think it’s wonderful when families opt to foster and adopt when they feel its their calling. Anyone who is hateful toward you sharing your journey on your *personal blog* is a fool. Forget the haters, girl. Thanks for always sharing and being real here. There are many families in need and kids who don’t have options and it’s really great that y’all are working towards helping a few of those children and families.

  24. Julia •

    Hi Jen
    I think what you’re doing is great and I think that a lot of us have more time than we think we do – time that can be shared with those who need it most. Good for you for identifying the ways in which your family can help others.
    I do have a couple of questions that I hope you’ll address – and they’re questions that I find make me uncomfortable about fostering and adoption in general.
    You’re obviously a very Christian family – you speak a lot about your faith here and from several pictures I’ve seen in your home, your faith is apparent on the walls of your house. What if the child you bring into your home isn’t of the same religious affiliation as you? What if he or she is not religious at all? Or what if he or she is too young to make that decision on their own, yet comes from a family who isn’t like yours – would reunification after spending time with your family cause strife in their biological family? I don’t subscribe to any religious beliefs – I consider myself a humanist – and the idea of bringing someone into one’s home and expecting them to conform and adapt to your beliefs leaves me with a very unsettled feeling about the whole process. I’d love to know how you’re planning on dealing with this situation. (Hey, it may be as simple as you’re working with a Christian organization that only places self-identified Christian children in your care)

    You feature your girls heavily on the blog. I know you had mentioned in an earlier post that the foster child would not be featured (privacy issues, of course). Do you think that this will create a divide? Make the child feel less a part of your family? I imagine there are ways to circumvent the issue (take tones of pictures of all the kids and only publish the ones of Rowan and Finley – the foster child, and your girls for that matter, won’t know the difference.) Just wondering how you plan to approach the issue.

    I know the negative comments suck – and I hope mine hasn’t come across as nasty, just inquisitive. I think that a lot of people lash out at things they don’t understand, and while I know you’re still figuring this whole thing out, maybe discussing the nitty gritty topics like the ones I’ve mentioned might ease some people’s need to lash out.

  25. Hi Julia
    Thank you for your comment! You ask some very important questions. As foster parents we have to respect the rights and wishes of the biological family. If they and their children go to a particular church and request that the child continues to go there or don’t want them to attend church at all then we have to fulfill that request for them. If no requests are made, we will continue living how we normally do as a family. There will never ever be any forcing of beliefs or religion on anyone. Yes, they will be around it as we live out our day to day but they will always have a choice to participate or not with out any shame given. The fact of the matter is there are many things that our family does or any foster care family for that matter (eating, sports, dress, how they chose to live, etc…) that will be different from the child’s biological family. None of this is easy and it’s something we will have to figure out how to accommodate as the situations come.

    As far as privacy goes. There will be lots of pictures taken of all our kids together. The kids will know that. But what gets posted on this blog and what pictures actually get taken for the kids and out family will be very different. If adoption comes into play and I can one day share pictures because it will be my decision as the parent, we will not have missed a beat and have lots of family pictures that were taken together the whole time they were in foster care with us. The child will always know how important and loved they are. We plan to make scrapbooks for each and every child that will be placed in our home. A memento of their time here that they will be able to take with them when they return home. I am not saying it will be easy or that I have it all figured out, but I don’t want people to think I take any of this lightly or that am just jumping in with out lots of thought. Thank you very much for asking questions but still being respectful. I love discussion.

  26. Julia •

    Thanks for answering so thoroughly! And thank you for clearly explaining how the process, in terms of differing belief systems, plays out. It definitely seems like the best interest of the child is put first and foremost 🙂
    Knowing what I know now, I have no doubt that any foster child/ren who comes into your home will benefit from the stability and love of your family. I wish you all the best on this journey.

  27. Jenni •

    Hey Jen… I’ll leave a short but sweet comment. The greatest commandment is to LOVE…. Love God, others, anyone!! You will be great and do great things with what God gives you!! Also makes me think if you have chatted with Bethany….

  28. Sarah •

    Hi Jen, thank you for responding. You are right, I didn’t see hateful comments but that doesn’t mean they weren’t posted. I’m sorry people were so nasty that you had to delete comments, because I know you usually don’t do that. I’ve been a reader of your blog for years and I do really think it is awesome that you are going to foster. I work in mental health with a lot of foster kids, and what some of them go through is so hard to even comprehend. The right family and a loving, supportive environment is so, so important and can really change a child’s life. And sadly, that’s not always what they get. It’s obvious that you guys have a loving, supportive family and I think any child would benefit from that! I hope you didn’t feel attacked by my comment – I can be brusque at times – and I am glad to hear that you are on top of the privacy/safety thing. I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

  29. Crystal •

    I wanted to just drop you a note to say thank you for sharing here! I love reading this blog and hope you don’t let mean hateful people get you down. I love the idea of fostering and hope to one day take part. Thanks for sharing your journey here.

  30. I respect you and your family for making this choice. It’s not an easy decision to add another person/stranger into the mix just because they need help. Not everyone is willing to do that, so kudos to your family for doing it!

    Also, can you share where your jumpsuit is from? I love it!!!!

  31. It makes me sad to hear that people are making negative comments about your choices. I don’t know why people think it is necessary to judge the actions of others, especially when they are doing something so positive. I’m sorry you have to go through this and I’m glad you are trying not to let it get to you! I support you and admire you for taking the steps towards foster care. You’re right, the world needs more people like you to help make a change. I am an elementary school teacher and I see families in need of so much support daily. Thank you so much for doing this!

  32. So beautiful Jen. Love your heart. Can’t wait to see what God has in store–obviously you are being prepared for great things, and love that you are spurring on the rest of us as we watch you ;).
    Had no idea any negativity had even gone on, but no one can argue with a genuine conviction like yours ;).
    XO
    Aloha
    PS: darling jumpsuit–I too thought I couldn’t wear one, but maybe I should try one on too 😉 you look great!

  33. I’m saddened that some feel the need to comment negatively. This is such an amazing opportunity for you and Kev to take on with your family and I wish you the best in this new adventure.

  34. Be humble,be private when you move forward with a new child.This should not be on your very public blog
    I said I believe this new journey is purely Gods calling.
    You should not boast or advertise your mission.

  35. Stay strong and continue to do what you believe is right. Ignore those that taunt, no one can tell you what is right for you but you.

  36. Sarah •

    Hi Jen,

    This may sound sort of weird but I know exactly what you mean when you say that you feel uncomfortable with the praise. My parents did foster care for over 10 years and to this day people still comment about how wonderful they are and how selfless it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful and they certainly gained a lot from it, but the fact that people see your family as “perfect” still makes me feel uncomfortable.

    That being said, once you start this whole journey and get going, if you ever need support or have questions about what you’re doing and how to handle it, feel free to email me and I would be happy to share my family’s experiences with the foster care system here in Ontario (Canada).

    Thanks so much for sharing your story and I wish you, Kevin, Rowan and Finley all the best as you begin this new and incredible journey! 🙂

    Sarah xo

  37. I am just catching up on your blog after not reading for a while. Fostering and adopting is something I’ve always thought is such an important thing for people who can to step up and do. I would like to help children by fostering one day, though if I am honest with myself I realize it will be so difficult to overcome all the apprehension and break out of my comfort zone in order to really do it. Your whole family is doing such an amazing thing. You may even inspire some readers to find something we can do to help others.

    I am absolutely blown away that people would be criticizing you for taking the steps to become a foster parent.

  38. thanks for sharing this. I too was sick of praying and waiting for someone else to take of children or help restore families. The SPIRIT of the LORD is upon us. He moves us into action with the burdens that lay heavy on our hearts. Christ is indeed the hero. The one who Restores and Redeems. My husband and I journeying through the process right now.

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!


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