When I was sixteen years old, the Lord called me a girl from small town Arkansas to ministry. I was given this list early into my ministry of goals that I should follow in order to be a great and respected minister by someone I valued as a minister.
God made me with a “Type-A personality” when it comes to list, so I followed all the steps in life in order to be prepared for ministry that the minister gave me. I checked off my bachelors in Christian Education degree, my master’s degree in Christian Education, and various jobs in churches to my resume so that I would be prepared. Then when I got married and made another mental list with my husband and one of the first thing was to have kids. We bought a house (another checkmark) and then we knew we needed children to fill the home too.
My husband and I struggled for a year with infertility. I had been on fertility drugs majority of the time and finally after everything I told him I was done. I looked at him and said, we should look into foster care. There were so many kids that needed someone to love them. I had previously worked at a children’s home and knew there were many kids looking to be adopted in our state. Adoption and foster care were on my heart because my grandparents had adopted my aunts, and my cousin had recently adopted two little boys in foster care. I don’t want to make it sound like foster care and adoption was a backup plan to me. It had always been on my heart with every new pill I took to try to get pregnant. I knew that I wanted to give a home to a child in the gap like many in my family had done. My husband agreed and that next day, I made another check list in order to start our process of foster care with an inquiry with our state. My husband and I were quickly placed with a child because of a unique situation.
Our whole lives turned upside down the moment I held the child I affectionately call our “Lil’ Bit” in my arms. I imagine having your own child is super hard, but to care for someone else’s child is extra complex. God began recently to show me that my checklists had gone full circle. Arkansas gives parents are given their own checklist called a case plan of things they need to do in order to get their child back. In some cases, it’s breaking addiction on their list they have to overcome. It may be going to counseling, getting a job, or a more livable situation for the child. Their checklist like mine in the past, will make them better parents. Those goals are difficult for the parents just like my bachelors degree was on me but so worth it when they get to see the plan God has through the pain.
To me, this is where ministry and my calling has got super hard. I can’t control their checklist but I can help them. I have sat across the table and encouraged parents. I have cried knowing they will miss another visit. I have sat at the doctor’s appointments wondering if DHS was going to show up. I have gone to court wondering what is next for the last year.
Foster care has been the hardest thing I have ever been called to do but I can’t imagine what could have happened if I didn’t step in and answer the call. Caring for children in crisis is a calling and my prayer is that I can stand in the gap and point people to Jesus in the midst of the checklist.