Have you ever had a feeling about something deep in your heart but didn’t quite know what to do with it?
There has been something stirring in me for almost 10 years. Even before Matt and I got married, there was a tug on my heart. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Especially when I got married and we started having kids a few years later, life just took off. We were busy finding our rhythm. Adjusting to being young marrieds. Then learning to become new parents. Parents of two kids created new challenges. When our third came along, we were absolutely leveled. Life was full. How could we take on any more?
Yet, this dream continued to churn in me. I’d bring it up to Matt and he’d say, “You’re crazy! How in the world could we handle that? Maybe when the kids are older we can consider it.”
At the beginning of the year, I shared that my word for the year is change. Last year led us down a path that prepared us and opened us up to this idea of change. On Thursday, I shared about our plan to sell our house, and I said that I would be back today with the reasoning why. So here we go… The story of what’s next!
For over ten years my heart his been burdened with the orphans in our country. As long as I can remember, I’ve had the desire to step into this issue and do something to help make a difference. Adopt. Foster. Visit group homes. (Did you know there’s over a dozen group homes, essentially modern day orphanages, in north Atlanta alone?) I was up for any of it. Growing up in a family with 8 siblings (where all of our needs were met), I just couldn’t understand how so many kids are left waiting and wanting for something as simple as attention. I wasn’t ok with this. I’m still not ok with it.
However, I needed to be faithful with the many blessings and responsibilities God had already entrusted to me. I believe in choosing my marriage first, and Matt was pretty clear that while he wasn’t closed to the idea-now was not the time for us to be involved. As I’ve shared, since Matt’s birthday last March, we started talking and praying about our future. We had a sense that life was shifting and maybe something new was on the horizon. Last time this happened was 5 years ago and it led us to Matt quitting his full time job and starting a non-profit ministry with our friends Andrew and Emily.
Being a girl that likes for things to be steady and somewhat calculated, I was a bit nervous about this returning feeling of change. Where could it all lead? What could God call us towards? Would we be moving? Was Matt going to get a new job? We didn’t know. We just started to pray and ask God for the faith we needed to be ready for whatever it was. For six months nothing changed. Nothing was clear. In fact it was frustrating. We began to feel stuck. Then the amazing happened.
In September, Matt walked into a Starbucks down the street from our house, sat at a table and asked God to bring him some work. In less than five minutes a man named John walked through the door. Matt knew John but hadn’t seen him in 4 or 5 years. He walked right over to Matt and said, “Do you still do videos? I need to talk to you about doing a video for my organization. Let’s talk soon.” He handed Matt his business card and left. Below is the video Matt created for John that was just publicly released last week.
Can you believe it? Out of all the projects God could have dropped in Matt’s lap… a foster care project!? The story doesn’t end there, but now I want to turn it over to Matt so you can hear directly from him.
Matt: The Living 1:27 project certainly came as a surprise and had a “get my attention” sort of quality to it. I literally laughed when I looked down at John’s business card and saw the phrase “Foster Care Ministry” printed under the logo. For brevity’s sake I’ll just say the next several meetings and jobs I took in September, October, and November, it was unescapable. Foster care came up in some way shape or form at almost every single turn. One of my best friends and his family have been fostering the past two years. They have been down a really hard but amazing road as a result. If you sat with my friend, Jimmy, he would tell you he wouldn’t change it for the world. Erica has also mentioned our friends the Stanley’s on the blog before. They uprooted from suburbia to immerse their young family into the needs of children in the inner city. As I have observed the lives of these two families, I have always been incredibly moved and intrigued by their stories. Their choices seemed void of some conventional wisdom and yet I was drawn to the ways they were choosing to live. As I was researching for the Living 1:27 video and talking to our friends, my heart was broken and for the first time I saw what Erica had seen for years. While shooting the 1:27 interviews my assistant looked over at me and said, “Dude, you’re screwed.” He was right. There was no more denying the need and our ability to help. Stick a fork in me, I was done. Toast.
No matter the risk, the obstacles, or the pain that could come as a result, we want our home to be a place that welcomes the orphan. It makes no sense whatsoever but in it there is incredible peace. The truth is, just like Janice says in the video, there will never be a good time to do this. Life is always happening. It’s always busy. There’s always a good excuse not to step into something. But what if this life wasn’t supposed to be totally comfortable? What if some of life’s greatest joys are waiting right behind some of life’s largest struggles? What if we set fear aside and traded in some good things for a chance at great things?
As Erica and I have processed this we’ve realized that some of the scariest moments of our lives, where we chose courage and took a leap of faith, have produced some of the most amazing growth. Memories. Stories. Things worth remembering and living for. We crave more of that. Not for attention or to be “radical.” I’m simply starting to believe it’s the way we are supposed to live.
So, we are going for it. Step one is to sell our home. We live in a 3 bedroom house with five people, two dogs, a DIY crafter, homeschool, and my business. We absolutely love our house and the area we live. However, there is simply no room to grow and step into this change.
For us, it’s about the faithful little steps each day. So, for the next several days we will continue to work our butts off on getting our house ready to sell. (Erica is leading the charge, and I can’t even begin to imagine how many DIY posts this process is going to produce… you all would be so proud of her!) Friday our house will go on the market. We will sit back and trust for the best opportunity and when that happens we will go find a new home. Right now, we are planning on staying in the metro Atlanta area. Despite real estate being all about location, that is the one element that doesn’t mean a whole lot to us. We just need to find a great home better suited to chase this dream.
Once we have an idea on the future of our housing situation we will begin to take the mandatory training classes for foster care. Beyond that, I genuinely have no idea. We’ll know when it’s time to know. The truth is it’s not really our job to know, we’d be God if we did. It’s our job to trust, live today to the fullest, and take the next faithful step forward. So we will continue to do our best at that. The times we fail we’ll get up the next day and try again. Thank you for taking to time to read our story and track with us as we take the next steps. I can’t even begin to tell you how much encouragement so many of you bring to Erica through your kind thoughts and words. And with that, I’ll throw it back to Erica…
Erica: Isn’t he great!? I’m obsessed with him and this video. I will be going to watch it again right now. If you would have asked me a year ago, if this would be the direction I would be headed, I would have said no. Obviously, we have a ways to go, but I am still so excited and can’t believe this dream is starting to take shape. What about you? Have you seen a long term dream come alive? Or do you have a dream that is waiting for you to take the next faithful step?