I started fostering two weeks ago, and now I’m knee-deep into something I’ve never done before: parenting (or usually it feels like big-sistering :)). So here’s to new adventures and to needing wisdom in new ways…
Now in my house, there’s more laundry, more food, more dishes, more shoes piled up by the door. (The sight of their shoes by my door actually really warms my heart.) There’s more laughter and more conversations and more hugs.
And you know what? There’s MORE to worry about too. There are MORE reasons to doubt myself. There’s MORE to keep me up at night if I let it.
But I decided long before I started this fostering journey, that I would trust God to give me wisdom each day. Of course, I’m a rookie; of course, I’m naïve. But I’m audacious enough to believe that God will give me enough wisdom every single day.
I didn’t used to be this confident about receiving the daily wisdom-bread from God. But then I read a story in the book Rich in Love by Irene Garcia. In this book, Irene tells the story of how she and her husband adopted a baby girl named Esther who had some health problems. Esther began having seizures because when she cried, she held her breath and wouldn’t let air out. She began having about 5 seizures a day. In an effort to stop the seizures, the doctors put her on stronger and stronger medicine until she was so medicated and lethargic that Irene felt her little girl was living like a zombie.
Irene prayed that God would show her how to help her daughter. She pleaded day after day, “Please, Lord, give me wisdom.”
Irene writes, “Then it came to me. I would teach Esther to blow on my finger. If she did that, she would have to exhale and let her air out.”
Irene taught Esther how to blow on her finger like a birthday candle every time she cried. Even Esther’s older brothers were able to help with this when they saw her start to cry, and thank God, the seizures stopped.
When they went to the doctor, he was shocked that it worked, but he agreed to wean her off the medication. Irene knew that God had given her the wisdom to know how to help her daughter.
That story has been a reminder to me that God can give us wisdom for every situation.
Even though the opportunity to be a foster parent brings MORE to worry about and MORE reasons to doubt myself, I’ve decided not to dwell on my worries, but to look to God for wisdom. Probably every day a new little (or sometimes big) worry pops up in my mind, but I’m making myself say, “Nope, my job isn’t to worry about that. My job is to keep focused on the main thing and to do what God has asked me to do today.”
I know I’m naïve, and I know I lack wisdom. So I say, YES, PLEASE when I read James 1:5-6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt…”
My family and friends keep asking me how I’m doing with this adjustment and this new role, and the truth is that I’m tired, but I’m doing really well. I’m ENJOYING the opportunity to be a part of their lives. I’m not freaking out thus far because I’m audacious enough to believe that God will give me enough wisdom every single day.
I wanted to remind you of the truth about the daily wisdom-bread today—because I may need you to remind me of it in the weeks and months to come. #WeWontShrinkBack
 Garcia, Irene. (2014). Rich in Love: When God Rescues Messy People. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. (pp. 93-95).
A few weeks ago, I shared that my goal is to walk through 2016 with open hands. That seemed to resonate with some of you. Maybe it’s because having open hands means being open to risk.
Last week I was texting with one of my friends about a new situation in my life, and I told her, “There are a lot of unknowns, but I guess that’s where faith comes in.”
A lot of unknowns, but open hands.
At this point in my life, I’m realizing that all acts of love are risks. But I know I’m called to risk love because God first loved me.
In my book She Won’t Shrink Back, I share this story:
When I was in college, my roommate Emily and I were sitting at lunch with a few friends. One guy told us about how his parents had adopted two girls about ten years before he was born. He talked about how it had been a rough process for the family, and things didn’t turn out the way his parents had hoped. Now one of the daughters never speaks to the family, and the other rarely does.
As I listened to his story, I stopped eating my lunch and was so sad as I thought about how that would feel as a parent. “Wow,” I said. “I can’t imagine what your parents have gone through. Just pouring their love out year after year for their daughters and never getting anything in return.”
But he looked at me and immediately answered, “Well, that’s what love is. Loving without expecting anything in return.” He shrugged, as if it were that simple. Then he took another bite of his sandwich and had no clue how profound I thought his statement was.
I had heard people say that before; in fact, I might have even written that as the definition for love. But to hear that definition come out of his mouth, connected to his family’s story, made it so much more real to me. And maybe I knew God was going to ask me to do something similar one day. I watched him take another bite and then looked over at Emily with my eyes wide.
Later Emily and I discussed our friend’s family—specifically how his parents had sacrificed and were seemingly not seeing good results from the investment of their love, time, and money into their daughters’ lives. Honestly, I was really disturbed by it. Why hadn’t God blessed their effort and brought unity to their family? His parents had done the right thing, so why didn’t God make it turn out happily ever after?
I guess I wanted justice; I wanted the guarantee that if I do something good and right, then it will turn out well. Emily listened and then told me what I needed to hear: “But there is no guarantee.” She didn’t like that answer either, but she knew enough of life, enough of heartache to understand this reality. I wanted to argue with her, but I knew she was right.
That conversation was over seven years ago now. If I could speak now to the twenty-year-old me, I would say that the story isn’t over for that family—and none of us but God knows all the details to the story. I don’t know what God is doing even now in those daughters’ lives and how He still is using the love from their parents to minister to their hearts. I don’t know how God may be bringing the redemption and reconciliation that those parents have been praying for. And as an amazing byproduct, those parents successfully modeled to their son what the real definition of love is. I smile to think of the ripple effects that their son and his understanding of love will have on his own family and on the many people in his sphere of influence.
Right now, I’m learning that having open hands means being open to risk, open to love those God brings into our lives. #WeWontShrinkBack #JesusTakeTheWheel
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.