Tag Archives: Faith & Missions

Interview with a Foster Parent and Missionary

Interiew children washing clothes pin

My dear friend Isabel is such a source of inspiration to me.  Her family have dedicated their lives to serving and loving the most vulnerable and needy and have done so for many years.

So when the activity to interview a foster worker came up in our ‘Prayer and Personal Involvement Journal’, I thought we’d take the opportunity to tweak the activity a bit and instead ask Isabel about her experience as a foster parent.  I also sneaked a few questions in there about her work with orphans.  She has a huge heart and great capacity to love.

I hope your heart is stirred for loving the most vulnerable children.  We may not all get to travel to Africa, but there is much we can do.  It takes all kinds of participation!

1.  How did you get involved with foster care?

I have had a passion for abandoned children since my early childhood. My husband Richard was himself adopted and has always had a tender spot in his heart for fostering/adopting. The Lord released us into fostering when we came to NZ 8 years ago.  After fostering short-term and respite, along came our fifth child who we have now been fostering for over 6 years and has become a permanent member of our family.

2.  What is the greatest challenge in foster care?

For short term: getting attached to children and then having to give them up again

For respite: adjusting your family routine constantly to changing children which I found very intense.

For permanent care: the issues that you deal with from a child that has had a difficult start in life. But we absolutely LOVE the tremendous GIFT and ENRICHMENT that our foster son brings to our family, and the challenges pale in comparison to the JOYS!

3.  How can a family participate in foster care?

There is a GREAT need for all types of foster care mentioned above. PLEASE consider opening your home to a child/children through foster care.  You have to know the Lord is calling you to it, but if you feel a tug on your heart, don’t be held back by fear about how you will be able to handle it. It IS a step of faith but the Lord will be there to help and there is a lot of support available. In NZ there is no financial burden at all, as all costs are covered – quite the contrary to those caring for orphans in Africa!

praise school

4.  Please share with us a little about your work with orphans.

Three years ago, God has led me to come alongside existing African initiatives that care for orphans and vulnerable children.

I feel to strengthen and empower these through friendship, prayer, support-raising and input to carry the heavy load with them and enable them to serve and care for the orphans more effectively.

I currently support 2 projects in Uganda:

  • Home(s) of Praise – a children’s home (hopefully soon 2 family homes) – caring for close to 40 children at present – near Kampala. Praise has become my much loved daughter which is priceless and much more than a ministry!
  • Hope In Villages+ – a sponsorship programme to help vulnerable family units keep children that would otherwise end up abandoned/in orphanages in the very poor villages surrounding the YWAM base near Jinja.  Through our home church in NZ, 65 children are now able to go to school and get discipled. Their caregivers are getting trained in micro-business at present to empower them out of extreme poverty.

Praise school maths

5.  What is life like for these children?

It is very hard yet full of joy for the children. They live very simply, without electricity, proper sanitation, have to carry heavy water long distances daily. Showers are sponge baths in the open. They wash their own clothes. The older children look after the younger ones. In the “Home of Praise”, up to now, they have been living in an unfinished house, 2-3 in a bed (that will soon change) with rats nibbling on fingers and toes while they sleep, bats flying over them for lack of windows and occasional snakes. They have many mosquitoes that carry malaria and the children get malaria regularly, even though they now have mosquito nets. They constantly have to fight jiggers (worms) in their feet that come from the mud.

Their greatest treasure is God and the highlight of their day their devotional time with praise/worship/prayers and teaching. They love to sing, play drums and dance and are generally very happy and content. Up until now they are not eating when it rains (about half the year) since their food is cooked on an open fire. But money has been raised for a kitchen to be constructed that will enable them to eat regularly. They do get to go to the school that Praise started, but it is very basic and nothing compared to the education our children are receiving – hopefully that will change soon!

toilets

6.  What vision do you have for the work in Uganda that you are involved in?

  • For Homes of Praise – Praise and I are envisioning 4 houses to be built where children live in family units with a mother and a father (about 20 per home).  We would like to see a well on the property, proper sanitation, a kitchen and a proper school with qualified teachers. We would like the ministry to eventually become self-sufficient.  We envision the children to become strong godly leaders that will impact their nation and the nations!
  • Hope IVillages+: As we are now starting to empower the children’s caregivers where possible (hard for the old grandmothers), it is our hope that they will eventually become self-sufficient and won’t need sponsorships indefinitely. The vision that YWAM Hopeland and I have are transformed communities where HOPE is alive and children can grow up to be productive, God-loving adults with thriving families transforming their nation.
Isabel's first time meeting Jo

Isabel’s first time meeting Jo

7.  What can your average family do towards caring for orphaned children?

There is no limit to what a family can do!  Ask God – be creative and use what’s in your ‘hands’.  Ask the Lord to give you HIS heart for the orphans and you WILL find a way to do something!

  • Adopt an orphan in prayer (I can give you a photo)
  • Sponsor a child to go to school ($25/month)
  • Write to your sponsored child and possibly develop a relationship
  • Get together with other homeschoolers for occasional or regular fundraisers
  • Stay in touch with regular updates on Praise’s Facebook page “Journey with Praise”

We pray regularly for the children and my 10 year old daughter has decided that she wants to save all her pocket-money and earnings from extra jobs to help pay for schooling for Praise’s children. It is great for our children to become sensitive to those less fortunate than them and to pray, share and work to help them!

~  Isabel is about to leave for Uganda in a week, so I would so appreciate you praying for her time there and also for her family who are remaining behind this time. ~

**  Thanks to Isabel for the use of her beautiful photos.

[Our cousins are also in Uganda – I’ll tell you about them another time] 🙂

{Linked up with March for Missions}

Raising a Sensitive Child

Raising a sensitive child

Some years ago, I read ‘Raising Your Spirited Child’ and learned that my then 3 year old was ‘spirited’ in the sense that she was highly sensitive (she scored very high on this) and also slow to adapt to change.

That pattern in her life has continued, and despite efforts by others to change her (and also my own misguided efforts at times), my husband and I now see these characteristics as a blessing, and that these traits are woven into her being as a unique expression of a loving and creative God.  She is highly imaginative, creative, discerning, empathetic, feels things deeply, is easily upset, and is also super bright and somewhat of a perfectionist just to add even more to the mix.

I was a sensitive child and know how it was to be belittled and teased for being so.  When I see my daughter treated this way, particularly by those who are supposed to be her greatest cheerleaders, it does more than grieve my heart.  In response to her sensitive nature, adults who should know better have responded in ways that would make your jaw drop.  I know I need to ensure that I don’t react to others in fear, and am trying to walk in wisdom and faith in how I guide and instruct her along with my husband.

Now as an adult, I’m easily moved by the plight of the suffering and the Lord has given me a compassion that often moves my faith into action. The seed of this was always there in the child me.  I’m glad for who the Lord has created me to be and hope I can be faithful to what he has entrusted me with.  I see so many similarities in my daughter, and look forward to seeing how this will blossom and grow as she matures.

Guidance, Grace and Others

As a child I had no-one who really recognised sensitivity as a gift or embraced it as something positive or desirable.  I’ve been determined with my deeply sensitive child that she would know that God loves and values who she is and so do we as her parents.  Her sensitivity needs loving direction at times, and sometimes we need to help her not to invest her heart so unreservedly where the resting place for it is not ready for such an outpouring, or where that place may not be appropriate to.  She loves deeply and wholeheartedly, but also potentially can wound deeply.  I adore who she is.

As parents, we are uniquely positioned to have insight and understanding into our children, and therefore be able to offer grace and guidance that others will not be capable of.  I can recall many times where my sensitive child has been working through a painful experience, or issues of her heart, and the process has looked less than tidy.  My husband and I, although not always getting it right, are far better equipped to bring grace and guidance than someone outside of our family unit who may be more concerned about correcting behaviour and/or reacting with disapproval to what they see.

This is the challenge we have found in the way we parent, where for us the long term goal of shepherding the heart is of more concern than the short term correction of less than desirable behaviours, many of which are unresolved issues surfacing or simply God-given traits that are still unrefined and the ‘seed’ of what will eventually grow and mature.

I’d like to encourage you to consider who you allow to speak into your sensitive child’s life, and to what measure you extend the invitation to various people.  Keep watch over this impressionable time in their lives.  Surround them with caring adults and children who see sensitivity as a wonderful way to be, and who affirm them their with words and actions.

Here are a handful of tips that have helped us with our sensitive child:

  • Lovingly affirm and accept them, and embrace their sensitivity as a gift.
  • Discipline in a gentle way that does not hinder your connection.
  • Create an environment where there is peace.
  • Work with your child in training them to get them through difficulties, rather than just telling them to get over it or work it out themselves.
  • Discover how they give and receive love, and lavish your love freely in these areas.
  • Enjoy their strengths, talents, and gifts, and provide them with opportunities to focus on these.
  • Be patient and allow them ALL their childhood to grow and mature in their unique personality and temperament!  Don’t pressure them or place unreasonable expectations on them.  Above all, show grace.

As they grow, you will see them be and do incredible things.  Provide opportunities for them to love greatly and give of their hearts to a needy world.  You’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish with a loving hand behind them.

Here are some great books that you might like read:

Other books on parenting:

{Shared at Time Warp Wife Titus 2sday Link-up}

Remembering the Main Thing

remembering the main thing

Can I share with you a post from my friend Jenn’s site Mommy Evangelism: “Heroes Rarely Play it Safe”?  This so spoke to my heart today.  I feel like I need to keep reminding myself on where our focus should be as a family on this homeschooing journey.

My husband and I have the goal before us that we are not simply raising good citizens but that we are raising children to live a life extraordinary by expressing who God has intended them to be on the earth.  Some days we can get too bogged down in getting the academics and social time covered that we miss the point.  Thanks Jenn for the reminder. 🙂

I have been missing it. God is doing something in my heart to pour into my children. Heroes rarely play it safe!  They are out, serving, ministering, loving the least of these. They are bold, strong and courageous. They listen to Gods call and GO!  So if my children are in my home and I have a limited time to train them should I bog them down with busy work or should I be equipping them?

Are we teaching them to read so they can make good readers OR are we training them to read so they can go and teach children in villages in Africa how to read?  Are we teaching them math so they can make change or are we teaching them so they can train women in India how to run a home enterprise, pulling themselves from begging and poverty?  Are we training them in science so they can know a lot of cool facts or are we teaching them science so they can go and help farmers grow crops in tough soil or help villages make water purifiers?  Are we teaching them history because we should or because we want them to go and reclaim what this country once was? Let us start training heroes with our homeschool!  World changers!  Life changers!  People who DON’T play it safe but run after the challenge that is before them! Let us change our perspectives!

Please take the time to read the rest of Jenn’s post and be encouraged!

Abiding in Him

footprints

I read this today on Eric and Leslie Ludy’s Facebook page.  It so spoke to the growing desire in me to know more of His abiding presence in my life.  I hope it blesses you also.

As we learn to abide in Christ and practice His presence, something amazing happens within us; something that lifts the confusing fog of decision-making and makes our path clear. We develop a holy instinct. Our spiritual ears become tuned to the whisper of God’s Spirit. Our spiritual eyes become open to His fingerprints of direction upon our life.
Have you ever heard someone say, “When you meet the love of your life, you just know?” That’s the way a holy instinct works. The more we abide in Christ, the less we have to wonder what specific steps He wants us to take in life…we just know.

Gaining a holy instinct toward Christ is similar to cultivating intimacy in marriage. As we spend time in His presence, as we submit to His rule over each area of our life, as we get to know His nature and character, we begin to truly know Him. And the more we know Him, the less we have to ask the question, “Lord, what should I do in this situation?” – because we instinctively know what He would have us do.

As I abide in Christ, I learn to recognize the soft guiding voice of His Spirit within me. I feel Him pointing out people who need my sensitivity. I feel His prick of caution when I begin to head down the wrong path. I feel His sorrow when I make a choice that grieves Him. I know my God, and therefore, I know His voice.

Of course, there are still plenty of times when I ask God specific questions. “Lord, what should I write in this chapter of the book?” or “Lord, what is the answer to this particular challenge?”

There are times when I feel that He gives me direct answers to these questions. But it is all too easy to get caught up in seeking answers rather than in simply seeking Him. So when I need to make a decision and no answers seem to be coming my way, I take my focus off of “solving the problem” and simply spend time in the presence of my King. And inevitably, as I focus on Him, the answers become clear.

– Leslie Ludy, “When God Writes Your Life Story”

Surviving a Season of Lack

family

I’m asking some of those ‘big’ questions at the moment; you know, those ones we all ask at some stage in our journey of faith.  Will you come through for us Lord?  I feel more fearful than faithful – will you still answer me?  I haven’t gotten it all right – will your grace still be sufficient in my weakness… and my mistakes?

The last few weeks have been a financial stretch for us.  We’ve negotiated some unexpected expenses which have come in during a busy time of the year for our family.  There are some things we’ve exceeded our budget in, and others that are simply the pressure of living on one income in a double-income economy.

I’ve tried to keep trusting in God to provide all that we need to live in abundance.  It was my hope that He wouldn’t leave us high and dry.  I’m still hoping that.  My heart has been a little heavy as we haven’t been able to provide for our children in quite the way that our hearts desire to.  I’m not ungrateful for what we have, and I feel blessed to be raising and homeschooling our children – even on those more challenging days in our household. 😉

I don’t have the theology thoroughly worked out as to why there is lack in our lives at present.  There are plenty of gifted theologians that have debated these issues regarding the level and nature of God’s involvement in mankind for centuries, and they are still not in agreement.  I’m quite sure there are others more qualified than me to discuss such things.  At present, I don’t want my head spinning in circles trying to work it all out.  In saying that however, I do know if I seek him for wisdom He will give it to me.  I’m asking Him to lead me through this time so my heart has enough understanding according to what He has determined, and that I grow closer to Him in the process.

What I do know is that I’m responsible for my own heart response.  The undeniable truth is that the Father is always good.  Always.  He is unchanging, sovereign, perfect and lacking in nothing.  I can trust His nature and character. 

So during these uncomfortable times where discouragement is attempting to take root, what must we do until such time that our circumstances change?

I see an opportunity to trust greater, to grow deeper, and to love faithfully.  I find myself counting my blessings, of which there are many.  I hear the invitation to always give thanks, and to do so with a cheerful heart.  I still feel convinced and unwavering that at all times we should give generously.  I will trust His word no matter what.

The story remains unfinished.  So while I await evidence of His hand on our lives in this area of provision, I will trust Him and stay true to what I know He is asking of me while our circumstances remain as they are.

…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.… (James 1:3-5)