This was my last Mother's Day of not being a mom.
No, this is not a pregnancy announcement. (I would already be calling myself a mom if that were the case.) This is a motherhood announcement.
I suppose most mothers aren't aware of when their last "non-mom" holidays and events occur. I wonder if they would view those times differently if they did? A little more pampering, soaking in the quiet peacefulness of the tub. A little more attention to detail, realizing that soon their world will change. A little more hope, knowing there is life to look forward to.
Being one "in the know," I have been experiencing ALL of the emotions. But it's good, and this time of isolating ourselves has actually given me time to process everything I am feeling.
My husband and I are getting licensed for foster care.
This has been a long time coming. If you know us personally and hadn't heard that this is something we're doing, I'm sorry. We weren't trying to hide our plans. I didn't want to post about it on here, though, until we neared the end of what is a very long process.
We are almost there.
This all began back in September 2019. I was driving down the road on the way to a chiropractor appointment -- something so routine for me -- when I felt an overwhelming flood of emotion. The thought that preceded it was, "There are thousands of babies out there who are crying, and no one is there to hold them."
Let it sink in for a moment. Hundreds of thousands of children enter the foster care system each year. HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of children who need to know that they are loved, that they matter, and that their life is important.
After that overwhelming flood of emotion I had a singular thought, something that has stuck with me for all this time:
"If you feel that strongly about it, then you need to do something about it."
Guys, I never pictured foster care as a part of God's plan for my life. It always seemed "too hard" and I wasn't sure I wanted to try and fix kids who were broken. But there's a few things wrong with that way of thinking.
One) Yes, these kids are broken, but so is everyone.
Kids are kids, and if you think about it they really don't need much to thrive. They need basic care -- food, shelter, clothing -- the same as any adult. They need love, the same as anyone. They need to be instructed and taught. I don't believe that, even as adults, we are done learning, so we shouldn't expect kids to have it all figured out, either.
Kids in foster care are hurting. They've faced trauma. So has everyone. We've all faced it, but on different levels, and unfortunately these kids have faced large levels of trauma in a short span of time. They need empathy, caring, structure, and love to help them get to the other side of that trauma. But...
Two) It is NOT my responsibility to fix them.
I am not a doctor. I am not a psychiatrist. I am not a psychologist. I certainly am not God. I cannot heal their wounds, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional. I cannot erase what they have been through. I am not a perfect being.
Only time, proper care, medicine, and God (especially God) can heal them. And I mean heal, not fix. Because fix implies that there's something wrong with the child, when there isn't. That they are the reason this happened to them. They aren't.
Children who face trauma don't need fixed. They need loved. They need to know that they matter and that they are cared about. They just need hope.
My job is to be there for them and to be the loving arms of God to them as they learn and struggle and strive to face this world with the pain of trauma as their baggage. That is all.
Three) "Too hard" doesn't matter.
What do you do when you realize that something is important to you? Easy answer: You take care of it.
What do you do when you realize that something is important to God? Same answer.
James 1:22-24 says, "But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like" (NLT).
Have you ever done that? You're getting ready, take a peek in the mirror to make sure everything's in place and walk away, only to realize you don't actually remember what you looked like? This usually means you have to go back for a second look.
But how often do we actually remember what we read about in the Bible?
I'm guilty of this too; opening up the Bible, reading a verse or passage, then closing it again and forgetting what I just read. I need to start doing one of two things: actually taking a good look in the mirror the first time, or making sure I come back and look again.
If we actually looked at the Bible -- if we read it and did our best to try and understand what it's saying -- I don't believe our lives would look the same.
My life a year ago and my life six months ago look very different. My life in a few months will look even more different. All because I took a good look at the Bible and believed and chose to act on what it was telling me.
James 1:27 says, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you" (NLT).
In this passage, James describes religion as "pure and genuine," but in the verse prior says it is "worthless." (James 1:26, "If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.")
So it sounds as if our religion isn't based on our beliefs, but on our actions.
To take it a small step further, our actions are directly correlated to the intentions inside our hearts.
Matthew 12:33 and 12:35 say, "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad... A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart."
That's not to say that only Christians do good things and only non-Christians do evil things. As I said before, I am not perfect. I don't believe that anybody else is perfect, either, except Christ. But, if your heart is in the right place, and if you are actually looking at the Bible and holding its truths in your heart, then your actions will begin to show your true (and good) religion.
For me and my husband, this looks like following the commands of James 1:27.
You may think, "but not all kids in foster care are orphans." You're so right! A wonderful fact is that a majority of kids in foster care are actually able to return to their birth parents or families (meaning fewer than half of children stay in the system long-term).
The "orphans and widows" mentioned in this passage aren't just the people fitting those exact societal roles. They are anyone who is in a position of vulnerability. They are anyone who needs help.
As a Christ-follower, I read this verse and realize that my actions need align with my heart, which means I need to be helping these children who have come out of traumatizing circumstances.
I would like to take a step back a moment to clarify something that I think a lot of people struggle with. That is the thought that we need to do good things in order to be saved. I want to make it clear that we are not becoming foster parents because it will get us a "better place in heaven," or because it will look good to our peers or elders, or because it's something that only "good or special people can do."
We're becoming foster parents because God showed us in so many ways that this is His plan for this time in our lives.
I encourage you to take a look at your heart. Is there some concern for others weighing on it?
I pray that you won't smother that feeling. If you follow Christ, especially, there's a good chance that concern is from the Holy Spirit; a message from God asking you to make your actions reflect your heart, and let your "pure and genuine religion" become evident in your life.
It won't be easy.
I have no misconceptions that there will be difficulties and trials that we will face as foster parents. But I know with utmost certainty that God will give us absolutely everything we need for each day, hour, and minute of this journey.
It's His promise to each one of us, if we are willing to walk by faith and follow the plans he has for our lives.
If you aren't sure you believe the idea that God is enough and that he will give you what you need for each day, I'd like to invite you to check out this blog post: God Will Sustain You a Day at a Time. There are numerous Bible verses listed throughout the post to encourage you in whatever struggle or decision you might be facing right now.
And if you have ever been involved in foster care and the system in any way, I would so love to hear from you and learn from your experiences! Please reach out to contact me on the About page of my blog or send me a message on my Instagram account, @LindseyKorthal. I'd love to connect!
Also, know that, as this is becoming a large part of my life in the near future, upcoming posts will reflect that. I will not always be writing on this topic, but I will some of the time.
I hope that, even if this is not the kind of content you are here to see, you will stick around for everything else that is also still very important to me. This blog is a reflection of many things dear to my heart, and if you share even just one of those interests with me, I'd love to have you around!