By Katie Gann
About two years ago, two small little boys were brought to our home around 7pm by a social worker who had to remove them from their home and everything they had ever known. She was carrying them on her hips and I will never forget the day they stepped into our home as long as I live. This was our first experience as foster parents. We had been thru training classes and we thought we were as prepared as we could be but honestly like most things in life – you really only learn thru experience.
I think back to that first day a lot. Almost like having a new baby at home and you had no idea that you would never sleep again – except this time these kids were not new babies. I didn’t even know the day they were born….And they arrived in our home not from a place of joy and excitement like a new baby ….but arrived with trauma from a place of brokenness and pain.
Yes. I think back to that first day a lot. That day that I thought I was “a pretty good Christian”….with my life together. Wanting to do something good. I went to church, read my Bible….we were prepared right?
Not making light of my precious foster children’s trauma in any type of way – but when I think back to that first day they arrived now – I think God probably laughed at me. No honestly I do think he was smiling and shaking his head in a way saying “oh my child….just wait and see what I’m about to show you because you have NO IDEA how I am about to WAKE YOU UP.”
Because little did I know….God was literally about to FLIP MY SCRIPT and my heart in every way imaginable over the next two years of this journey to show show me exactly what I was NOT and exactly WHO HE IS.
The first month was unexplainable. It was just chaos. Trying to still go to work. Four kids running around the house now. Scott coaching baseball season because the devil knew that would be the worst time imaginable for us to take on extra kids and he could try to break me – but GOD knew I would lean on him more.
Foster kids not understanding even the minimal kind of routine or rules. Trying to go grocery shopping. Remember to eat. Remember to shave your legs. Oh and sleep. Trying to talk to my husband at some point in a day and remember his full name. Doctors appts, psych evaluations required for foster kids. DHS visits. Social worker visits. I now need my own counselor visits.
Two weeks in I was pouring chocolate milk at the fridge with a tornado of kids running around me and I just remember sliding down the fridge into the floor crying my eyes out. I said “ God this was a mistake – this is too much – I CANT DO THIS” – At that very moment is when He began to change my heart and way of thinking in a raw and painful but beautiful way. He began to teach me the “basics” of Christianity and who Jesus is all over again. Things I thought I was pretty good at understanding – I mean I’ve been in church my whole life right.
You want to talk about being humbled and put in my place. I felt like I had been thrown off a horse and then walked over left for dead in the pasture. I WAS NOT ENOUGH. Loud and clear that day I realized I could not do this. I remember telling God “ok, I need you now. You have to do this. I can’t”
It’s the hallmark of Christianity right? Yet sometimes it takes us being knocked down to get us to that place of complete surrender and humility.
What arrogant pride I had thinking I could handle it. The first lesson He taught me was “NO, You can’t”…..But He can. And when He says give it to HIM he is not kidding. He means it. Hear me on this before you get kicked off the horse.
Then there was this thing called Faith ….
We talk about that often don’t we? We monogram it on t-shirts. Tattoo it on our wrist. Faith.
Hebrews 11:6. Heard it a million times. Without faith it is impossible to please God. OK so maybe we had a little faith stepping into the unknown of foster care….but I still had my own “plans” you know. I mean I didn’t need to totally have Faith in the unseen because I still thought I could in some aspect control this foster care journey to some degree right?! Have mercy on my soul. I only thought I knew what faith was.
Before I knew it about 3 months in we were so deep out in uncharted waters in the sea that I thought I am literally going under water and I can’t see a thing and we may all drown because the ship is on FIRE. There are so many twist and turns and emotions in foster care that you are left with NO CHOICE but to completely have faith in the all knowing God that He is writing a beautiful story in the midst of all the pain and chaos around you. When it’s impossible to see the plan at all, and you have no control …you have no choice but to grow in faith. And that’s a good thing. Because without faith we can’t please God. The exact words are it’s IMPOSSIBLE to please Him without Faith. Impossible.
Next came my lesson on Grace …..
Saved by Grace. That’s what we say. But did I ever really grasp the complete extent of what Jesus really means regarding grace. This journey led me to sit in courtrooms and hear and see the most broken stories you can imagine. People bound by drug addictions and mental illness, depression, haunted by poor choices, some remorseful and some not. Choices that are made by biological parents that caused them to lose their children from either abuse, neglect, drugs…..their decisions make us angry at them and beyond frustrated. Do they deserve Grace? Do they deserve forgiveness? Forgiveness and grace …That was something God worked on my heart tremendously and was unrelenting in helping me understand during this process. At first I was angry at the decisions made by the biological parents…throwing my judgmental comments but in a “nice Christian way” of course. Boy did I have it all wrong. Over and over again Jesus broke my heart for the biological parents that had made so many mistakes. He reminded me again and again that I am NOTHING without the grace of God. Nothing. Maybe I haven’t made the choice to do drugs. But I’ve done my fair share of sins and have been a real jerk of a person plenty of times.
Towards the end of the journey I was able to hold hands and pray in the parking lot of DHS with the biological parents. My pride wouldn’t allow me to do that at the beginning – but once He opened my eyes to grasp the grace I have received I wanted to run and tell the parents …yes He Loves you too. No matter what. Yes. None of us deserve a thing. But He has changed my heart to be broken for people in broken places. He has reminded me that his love is for everyone, not conditional…and His grace and mercy is new every morning.
Finally there was my lesson on Love….
That verse in Matthew…..Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Thru this journey, Jesus has stripped every thing I thought love meant and all along this journey he has said to me – “My child I need you to step your love up a notch…I need you to walk around in this foster care arena and show everyone involved the love I meant when I was HANGING ON THE CROSS for them and literally DIED for every mistake they have made that has led them here to this pain.”…..”I need your love to look different from the rest.”
You know what kind of love foster care takes? ALL THE LOVE YOU GOT. All your heart, soul and all your mind.
Love. Even when it’s not easy. Love. Even when it’s not convenient to my schedule. Love. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Love. When the world says they are not worthy of love. Love …..when you feel like you have nothing left to give. Jesus has loved me at my very worst. And thru this journey I have been reminded over and over again that we are called to LOVE with all we’ve got …..love the broken, the lost, the drug addicted, the refugee, the parent in jail, the gay, the lesbian, the atheist and the list goes on and on. We have the answer to this chaos….And it’s the unconditional Love of a Heavenly Father.
I fell in love with two foster children and it has been one of the biggest honors of my life to be their foster mom. I’ve been in church all of my life and have heard about humility, faith, grace and love so many times. But until I leaned into the actual physical place of those that are broken – I never really actually knew what any of it really meant. No …I mean like what Jesus really intended these words to REALLY mean. He didn’t mean for it to just be knowledge we gain on Sunday, not just verses we read about or songs we sing – what He really meant was to go sit right beside the broken and bruised and hurting and show them the actual HEART of Jesus – humbly, gracefully, faithfully and with unconditional, unexplainable love.
I will forever be thankful for the two tiny hearts of my foster sons that God used to change my heart forever.
Where is God asking you to go be with the broken? Wherever that is – GO. And take with you all of the love, grace, faith and humility that you can possibly find. Show the broken who Jesus really is…. Isn’t He wonderful.
There is an amazing ministry at our church that ministers to local foster children and their foster families as well as youth court judges and CPS social workers. This ministry is always in need of prayer, volunteers, and donations – both items and monetary. If you would like to be involved in The Refuge ministry we would love to have you.
We are all called to do something.
We are all called to a purpose.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21