Sometimes one of the hardest things a person can do is : admit they’re wrong. I think at times this is especially difficult for Christians. I have a hard time with it, I assume that whoever I tell with think “well she must not really know God or else she would have known His will to begin with”. I know it’s silly, but it’s true. Yet I don’t think we should be like that. God uses everything for good. I recently, well actually a few months ago, watched a sermon by Francis Chan. Not out of the ordinary for me- he’s one of my favorite speakers. But what he said in this particular sermon really stuck with me, it’s something I think back on often. He was explaining how Christians often don’t do anything unless they “hear from God” to do it. He challenged to err on the side of doing instead, until God tells you to stop. Especially when it’s something the Bible says to do. If the Bible says to do it, then we shouldn’t have to wait until God specifically tells us to- He kind of already did. For example, caring for orphans and widows (James 1:27). It’s in the Bible. It doesn’t say, care for them IF I tell you to- it says care for them. This may look different for different people. It may take the form of bringing baked goods to a widow you know personally, or mentoring a fatherless child in your congregation. Or it may be something more radical like going to a third world country and loving on the orphans who are not only fatherless but stricken by poverty as well. But either way, we were given the word that something is to be done by each one of us to care for our neighbors.
For Matt and I, it looks like becoming Foster Parents! How did that come about? Read on and see!
When we got back from Japan, I was so ready to live “Mission Hearted” as my last post explained. I was ready to pour myself into preparing to move to Japan and into the community we have here before we leave. So I applied and got accepted into an amazing Seminary and I took a job with a wonderful organization. Thus, leaving myself with no time to actually study Japanese OR invest in my community in the ways that I wished to. I was on the right track though, or so I thought, that’s what people do right? Go back to school and get a higher paying job. Right?
That was my comfort zone anyway. I love learning and I love working. Working brings me a ton of joy and fulfillment, I’ve been working for over a decade (which is a long time for someone my age), sometimes even juggling three jobs at once. This is what I know.
Work and study. Work and study.
Throughout this past summer working full-time, I was grateful for my job. I loved the people I worked with. But little things kept popping up that really tried my heart.
We’ve always wanted to adopt. I remember Matt and I on one of our first dates sitting on the beach talking about how we’d both love to adopt. I remember when I was a little girl on my way home from dance class, telling my mom that I wanted to adopt when I grow up. For years I’ve been looking into adopting from Japan, trying to at least form a timeline or figure out what is needed.
I learned a lot. Adoptions in Japan are difficult. Though there are tens of thousands of children living in orphanage type “institutions”, most never to see their parents again, and yet they are NOT up for adoption. The parents’ rights are not terminated. The children are stuck in a system that they cannot be adopted out of. Some of it has to do with the fact that many of the Japanese worship their ancestors. It’s just the norm there. But raising a child in an institution with no chance of having a mom or dad ever tuck them in at night? Heartbreaking.
I found this out a couple years ago and check back often to see if things have changed. My last check revealed that Fostering is taking hold in Japan. Though the parents have to agree to let their child live with another family before the child is approved to be in foster care. So one can see how that would be a rare occurrence.
Ministering to women and children are what God has put on my heart to do in Japan. I am hoping Japanese parents agree to let us foster their children. We have a chance- it would be a free english lesson for their child. That’s valuable over there.
Until then Matthew is building his teaching resume so we can move and I’ve been praying about what God would have us do here while we prepare for Japan.
I was convicted of my “work and study” tendencies. What about the doing part? What about showing what I have learned, instead of insecurely comparing myself to people who have grown up in the church with rock solid foundations of faith? What about the sometimes mess of a town that we call home here in America? What can we do here with the time we have left before we move overseas?
All of these things were swirling beneath the surface all summer long, most of the time, I was blissfully unaware of that. I didn’t take the time to put it all together. It wasn’t until the week before putting Archer into school, a wonderful Montessori School, that I put his little backpack on him to send him off and I just couldn’t do it. He’s only two I said to myself. My little boy. I reasoned that most mothers react this way and I just needed to get over it. After all, we needed me to work. Didn’t we? No. Literally the only reason I needed my job was to afford grad school and Archer’s daycare.
Suddenly I just could not come to terms with being a working mom if it was just so I could go to school for a degree that wouldn’t guarantee a job in Japan. (Disclaimer: There are many parents, noble and brave parents, who work so they can go to school to better provide for their families. Their kids do great in daycare and thrive amongst their friends. And I am proud to be their friends, you guys are GREAT parents! And your little ones are proud of you, I know it.)
But seeing Archer with his little raccoon backpack and realizing I wasn’t going to be the one to teach him his ABC’s, absolutely broke my heart. Especially because it wasn’t necessary for our family to survive.
That’s when it all started coming together.
If I am working 40 hours a week and getting my Masters, when am I going to have time to do all of the things that mean so much to me? The things that matter? When will I have time to spend with family before we move? To put James 1:27 in action? Having my Masters would greatly enrich my life, I’m sure, but if I want to Foster when we get to Japan and I want to minister to neighbors and friends there… I had to ask myself…. is it necessary?
A mentor of mine suggested perhaps I made the decision to go back to school out of fear. Fear that my faith foundation is not strong enough to withstand a cross-cultural, global, move away from my faith family. When really I should be trusting God and focusing on learning Japanese to effectively communicate what I do know- to communicate how God has changed my life and is in the life changing business.
So I had to take a step back.
Before we made any decisions, we talked over the budget. Ironically (or I’d claim Divinely) we had the exact amount of money, (if I withdrew from school), to become foster parents- right now! I had been praying about this for quite some time but could not figure out how to work it in with everything I thought I needed to do to prepare for Japan.
What better preparation for caring for the women and children of Japan than doing so right here and now? My heart BURST with joy. This is it! I’ve been trying to find a way to impact our community and I can think of no better way!
I wrote this post for many reasons.
There are some of you following this journey of ours who are wondering when on earth we are moving to Japan and why we would commit to something like fostering as it will keep us here for a couple of years. All I can say is- we’re following God as best as we know how and we’re trying to follow His will the best that we can.
Though we long to be in Japan, we’re grateful for this time here to prepare. To learn the language so when we get there we’ll be able to effectively communicate our faith. So we can live life alongside the Japanese.
I can see, even in our twists and turns, how He has used every decision in our lives to bring us closer together and closer to Him. I am grateful I went back to work full time this past summer, our family needed me to do that. I’m grateful I was able to choose to go back to being a Stay at Home Mom; I feel less resentment as my “work and study” mentality is slowing turning into “slow down and show love” discipleship. And I love it.
Lastly, I could not write this post if it were not for my husband. Matthew has been nothing but supportive and I am endlessly grateful that the words “I told you so” or “I knew better” have never crossed his lips. I am so grateful that he has supported my decision to go back to work and my longing to stay home again. I cannot express how amazed I am at his humble go-with-the-flow attitude. He always leaves room for me to grow and never judges just how much growth I need. Thank you, Matthew for guiding our little family and adapting to whatever God has for us here and now and in the days to come.
If you’d like to join us in prayer, these are the areas we’re specifically lifting up:
-As always, the people of Japan. (Specifically the children living in institutions. We pray that their government will be convicted of the injustice of their adoption process).
-The families of the little ones we’ll be fostering here in America. (Healing, Restoration, Reuniting with their babies, finding Salvation and the Freedom of Grace).
-The children themselves. (Healing, Comfort, that God brings people to guide them on their walks with Jesus after they leave our home in case we are no longer in contact with them).
-Matt, Archer and I (To love as Jesus loves).
-That we get through this process of taking foster parenting classes, getting everything ready for the foster baby, and pass our home inspections.
-That we remain diligent in our language studies.
Thank you again, for all of your support as we try and follow God’s will for our lives. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!