Domingo & Irene are a mechanic and a hairdresser. They are both 60 years old.
And they have recently taken in & adopted 11 foster children.
They came to Francis Chan's church and began to question him. "Man, I don't get it." they said, "The word of God says that this is true religion. If this is true religion, explain to me how there could be half a million foster kids (and now the number is closer to 800,000) right here in America, and no one will take them in? And "supposedly" there are millions & millions of "Christians" in America."
Francis echoes them... "Seriously, try to make sense of that! How could there be even a half of a million kids in America, in a land where there is supposedly millions of Christian families, and GOD says, "this is true religion, when you care for the widows and the orphans?" (James 1:27)
I heard this message while helping to photograph The Justice Conference in Portland back in February. You can listen to his message for $2.99.. Just click HERE! I promise you it will be more than worth it. I would venture to say that this message changed my life for the better, and could absolutely change yours too.
My heart was awakened.
Tiffany (a wonderful friend of mine) and I came home from a long day of photographing the event, only to spend the next couple hours stirring over this message, explaining to my husband every last detail of what Francis Chan had said and how it made us feel.
I was reminded of the heart I have always had for adoption, and I felt a bit more informed about this whole foster care thing...something that is under-advertised, yet always in great need of willing, loving, committed and consistent families.
Months went by and my busy season kicked in...there was no time to think about anything outside of my job, or so I thought. But right in the middle of a crazy trip to California where we take our church's high schoolers, I fell into a conversation with a woman named Betsy whom I absolutely adore. She told me all about her life, and finally about the most recent happening in her home - bringing a foster child in. I sat on the edge of my seat and asked her way too many questions, as once again I felt a stir in my heart. I remember feeling like something was telling me,
"Listen up! You will go through all of this too someday."
Most of her stories did not sound appealing. They did not sound gratifying or fulfilling.... Most of her stories sounded really, really difficult. And I still couldn't help but feel a nudge (from the Holy Spirit, as far as I can tell) that this is right; this is good.
But again, months went by and the busy season kept going strong (which, don't get me wrong, I am SO thankful for a job I love & clients I adore). It kept me from doing anything about my heart's desire, though. It was probably God asking me to be patient and trust in His timing. He always does that :)
The end of summer was approaching, and a photographer friend of mine briefly mentioned that she gives discounts to adoptive & foster families. *spark!* Oh yeah, I'm interested in that! So I got online, searched foster parenting in Oregon, and learned everything there was to know in the hour of time I had.
Then I went to my husband, hesitant to tell him just how invested I was in the idea of foster parenting so as not to scare him away.
"Soooo.....Zach, one of my friends mentioned something about foster parenting the other day, so I thought it would be interesting to look into it" (totally playing it down, y'know) "and everything I've read so far looks like it's a good idea. Maybe we should think about it."
Now, my husband loves Jesus & loves people and I completely admire him, but I still was NOT expecting what would come out of his mouth next...
"Yeah, I totally agree," he said. (insert Hallelujah chorus). You guys, this man I married is AMAZING.
When God said to care for the widows & orphans, he wasn't just saying it's a cool thing to do in theory. He was saying to care for His widows & orphans. And Zach gets that, and I love him for it.
So we asked for more information about foster parenting and took off for a weekend away at the beach. Just us, our dog Trinity, and the real Trinity ;) While sitting around the campfire one night, we decided to spend some time praying about fostering and whether God wanted us to move forward with it. We prayed a pretty simple, standard prayer asking for clarity and wisdom, and finished by asking for God's will to be done.
And we sat there. In silence.
Zach broke that silence... "I feel like we need to keep praying."
He asked Jesus to speak to us... "God, maybe You want to tell us right now if we should move forward." And with those very words, the Spirit made Himself more obviously present than ever before. My entire body had chills, my heart seemed to be beating out of my chest, there was a feeling of pressure on my heart, and tears began streaming down my face. I was almost struggling for breath, but I was not afraid.
In that moment, I felt more assurance and more comfort than I could ever imagine.
Zach continued to pray, and after "amen," I wiped my tears, took a deep breath and said, "I'm pretty sure we're supposed to do it." (ha! ...pretty sure, Kari? that's all?). Zach agreed - and he would also tell you that there is only one other time in his life where the Lord provided so much clarity about something.
It was beautiful.
Jesus continued (and always will continue) to show Himself to us in the coolest ways. We kept our decision to ourselves for a bit, while we gathered more information and kept praying...but I couldn't hold it in! So I told my dear friend Maria.
What I had forgotten when I told her is that she grew up with foster siblings, and now has an adopted sister out of the system. So the one person I decided to spill the beans to became one of my biggest resources and most encouraging people throughout the process! Thanks, Jesus (and Maria)!
This announcement was posted to my Facebook a few weeks ago, and the positive response from all of you has been so incredibly encouraging! God knows how to speak to my heart, and thank you SO much to all of you who have been a part of that!
I'll end with this. Because I believe this excerpt from Matthew 25 to be true and I take it literally...
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I can not even begin to imagine how these moments will feel. But the overwhelming joy of hearing Jesus Christ say, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." is enough to get me CRAZY EXCITED!!!
And wow, I do not want to be on the side with the 'goats'... Not out of fear of eternal punishment (although it is a scary thing), but because I want to be able to look at my sweet Jesus and know that I have loved Him & His people as much as I could. Because He loved me first.
I just want to say a quick prayer...Jesus, give us eyes to see those who are hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and in prison the same way that You see them. We are all YOUR children. We want to love and serve You, and spend eternity in a perfect relationship with You! Thank you for the joy of caring for your loved ones WITH YOU!!!
So there we go! Many of you have asked how this whole foster parenting thing came about for us...and my answer was far too brief. I had to write this post to tell the whole story. :) Whenever you think of us, please be praying!! For our marriage, the child(ren) that will be in our home, and for their families. Thank you, friends!