Today's post was written by BH member, Christy Bishop.
"Calling and Contentment"…hmm…what does that even mean? According to my husband, it means “Make sure you are called, and say good-bye to contentment!” Ha ha! But not so far off the mark! After the road I’ve walked the past five years, I might just change that phrase to “Led and Laying Down.” I know…weird phrase. Let me explain….
It was the summer of 2009. My husband, Mark, had shared with me that he felt like the Lord was leading us to become foster parents. I remember thinking, ”What in the world?” We already had three boys who were 18, 15, and 12 at the time. Our plates were full enough!
Then in the fall of that same year (2009), Pastor David was preaching through the book of James. He got to James 1:27, which says: ”Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
The Lord used this verse to confirm what He had been leading Mark to explore in the area of foster care. Pastor David issued a challenge for families who were willing to at least commit to the training classes to become foster parents. So, even though I wasn’t completely on board with the idea, we accepted the challenge and committed to take the classes.
In September 2009, we were a part of the first GPS classes that were conducted at Brook Hills, and we finished up in December 2009. So there we were - training certificates in-hand and home-study completed. Now all we needed were some kids! Well, actually just ONE school-age boy. I mean, that IS what we put down on our paperwork, right? That was our PLAN, was it not? This is the part where God laughs and begins to orchestrate our circumstances in a way that only He could!
Two months go by and we are in March 2010. I get a call at school one day (did I mention that I teach high school Zoology?) from a social worker at Alabama Baptist Children’s Home. “We have 2 little boys if you can take them,” she said. And with those words, life as we knew it was forever changed!
This was to be our first step into the world of actually being foster parents, and we didn't have the first clue as to what we were doing! Two days later, two precious little boys were brought to our house with nothing but one garbage bag. Tristan was seven, and Preston was three. Fast-forward to February 2013, and we are in Jefferson County court finalizing the adoption of Tristan and Preston BISHOP! After 2 ½ years in foster care, we knew beyond any doubt that God had brought these boys into our lives permanently.
In October 2013, I get a call at school (again!). It’s the Children’s Home, ”We have a little boy, 6 years old, named Sam.” By the time all is said and done, it wasn’t just one little boy, it was three! Three brothers, Thomas, Sam, and Joe (ages 8, 6, and 5) all coming to my house!
So that means, at that time, I would have seven boys in my house! Two of my biological sons, Jack (16 at the time), Travis (19 at the time and about to head into the military), Tristan (11), Preston (7), Thomas (8), Sam (6), and Joe (5). These three boys would be with us a year and three months. This past January, they transitioned to a foster home in Mobile to be with a family that will be adopting them in May! (That is another work of God for another time!)
I could fill page after page with stories of our two experiences with foster care - one ending with us adopting, the other ending with another family adopting. I can tell you that it has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life! There were times when I could do nothing but sit down and cry and tell the Lord (and my husband), “I don’t think I can do this anymore!” Yet, here I am in a season of somewhat less chaos, hopefully able to encourage someone else with what the Lord has shown me and is still showing me whether it is in the area of foster care/adoption or in a completely different area of life.
You see, we were LED to become foster parents. Even though James 1:27 makes it clear that we are all CALLED to take care of orphans and widows, we might be LED in different ways to flesh that out. But what God has shown me is that it is not in the calling or the leading that we find contentment, but in the OBEDIENCE.
I don’t recall Him ever saying that things would be easy and that I would thoroughly enjoy every day of being a foster parent…and I, in fact, didn’t! I’m convinced that the ONLY way I was able to endure and persevere through these past five years is by God’s amazing grace and knowing that, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it was, I was being obedient to what God had led me to do. But it required me to LAY DOWN my own agenda on a daily basis. Trust me, this was not pretty!
One thing the Lord taught me through having foster kids is this: I am the most selfish, self-centered person I know! And it is brutal having to face that day after day! But I go back to the obedience - being led, laying down my own plans, obedience - ah, yes…there it is…calm in the midst of complete chaos…peace in the midst of being totally overwhelmed. Sounds a lot like contentment.
To learn more about you can be involved in orphan care in our church and in our city, click here. And if you would like to learn more about our church's WRAP ministry to foster families, read this blog post on "The Story of a WRAPer."