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?
Cheering you guys on! We love you ALL and are excited for what God has put on your hearts. Let us know how we can support you guys!
Very excited for you two! When I viewed this video last week, I wondered if Matt wasn’t the one who worked his magic…wonderful! You both are inspiring!
Thank you so much Debi!! You are always so encouraging!!!
Karen @ Dogs Don't Eat Pizza says
You guys are so amazing. What a beautiful story. I can’t wait to hear more about this journey and what unfolds. Let me know if there’s anything I can do, too!
Karen, Thank you!!! I’m so thankful for our friendship!! Blogging has been the best thing for me because it has lead me to people like you!!!
Excited for your family! Praying for you from Indiana!
Wow! Thank you so much Erin!! It is so cool that the different nations and time zones don’t matter to encourage one another! I hope you are doing well!!
Dana Matheson says
what a beautiful video and story. Any child that steps into your home will be truly blessed!
Dana, that is one of the most encouraging things I could hear. Thank you!!! I truly hope we can impact some kids for the BETTER and make them feel loved in this house. I love you friend!
Iisa @ before meets after says
How amazing! I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next!
Thank you Lisa!!! Me too 🙂
living life in the dash says
AMAZING! We are sooooooooooo excited for you guys and this step of faith. Anxiously waiting to see what your next step is….and what God has in store! Praying for y’all!
Thank you so much Georgia!! All the miles between us don’t matter…you cheer me on and I feel so encouraged by you daily!! Thank you for being hands and feet of Christ in my life!!
So exciting and awesome… Can’t wait to hear what God has in store for this journey!
Thank you so much Bethany! I find so much encouragement through your comments on instagram..thank you for caring about us and the path we are on!!
Jeana Sing says
I am speechless! Thank ya’ll for being faithful to our God! Thank you for sharing! Ya’ll are awesome! I am so thankful that ya’ll are part of my extended family! Ya’ll are such a blessing and inspiration! Matt’s video rocks! He has awesome talent! I can’t wait to see God’s new house for ya’ll! Orphan’s have been a tender spot in my heart for many years now. Since the first time I saw a tv program about an orphanage in another country I have wanted to go to one and just love on them. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you Lord!
Jeana, I love you! Thank you so much for the sweet comment! You made me want to cry (from being encouraged) to laugh from picturing you literally saying what you typed. I can’t wait to see the new house too. Today, I got more sentimental and questioning if we are doing the thing. Thank you for giving me perspective and support to bring back home the heart of what we are doing! I too just want to love on some unloved kids. I’m so glad we are family!!
I have been waiting to hear what the big news would be and what little I know of you, this is no surprise. Your family seems like the perfect place to welcome a foster child. And you definitely have the heart for it! I’ve always wondered if this would be what God intended for me too, but I’d have to wait until my youngest is alot older. You are brave and you’ve got the energy for it. I can’t wait to follow you through the process, and support you where ever I can along the way. I’m going to have to send that video to my husband – very inspiring!
Sally, you are too sweet!! Thank you for standing beside me through the blog and in real life!! You are such a sweet friend and one that I am loving getting to know even better! I really hope I can make it on Saturday because I want to hang out again! Thank you so much for your encouraging words!
Julie Potts says
I’m not sure why I was drawn to read this today, truthfully I haven’t read any of your previous ones. What can I say – God works in mysterious ways. I want to encourage you (as if you need it right now, it’s always so exciting in the beginning). Read this later when you get discouraged and wonder if it was the right thing to do. I know this sounds nothing like encouragement right now, but read on… First know that I was a foster child myself. I went through several homes over period of two years between the ages of 6-8. I was eventually adopted by a loving Godly family. Fast forward 15 years and I found myself wanting to start a family of my own. Don and I were married, had bought a 3 bedroom home and were ready for a family, or at least I was, Don wanted to wait. Then in church one day we heard that foster families were needed. Temporary kids were more appealing to Don at that point and I had always wanted to “give back to the system”. So we jumped right in. Over a period of a few years we were able to care for a total of 8 children, some came 2 at a time. It was hard but we were dedicated to praying for the children’s families as they transitioned through whatever put their kids in foster care to begin with. In all but one case, the children were able to return home. And now 20+ years after that, we’ve raised 2 of our own and have heard back from every child (except for that last case when they didn’t go back home). We were able to find out how well they turned out and felt so encouraged that we were able to help them during their rough time. We were even able to attend one of the kid’s wedding a few years ago. It is so worth it, they are so worth it. I was worth it. Foster care is God’s love in action.
Julie, I am in tears. Literally, I am so moved and encouraged by your story! Thank you so much for reading my post and taking the time to encourage me. As I was painting my front door today a cheery, curb appeal red, I literally was thinking “I want to move, right? This is the right thing to do, right?” Kind of asking myself…kind of asking God…and kind of starting to grieve the loss of a place that has been so good to us. Thank you for the reminder and perspective of what we are doing is GOOD! I will re-read this…thank you!!
This would have been my guess given our email convos, way to go on heeding the call! love it! to God be the glory! We are hoping to foster/adopt in the future as well. 🙂
Valerie @ Making It Worthy says
I should also say we checked with our county (Forsyth) last year and were told they are not training new foster parents now and to try another county (like Fulton or Cherokee), because they had no one to do the training. I was surprised, but this post made me remember that, so even if you are waiting to move before you go through training you may want to check out the basic availability of training first. This may not apply if working with a private organization of course.
Valerie, You are so amazing!! Thank you for continually reaching out and encouraging me!! I really hope I can make our blogger meet up on Saturday because I would love to hang out with you!! Thank you so much for all the advice about training. I remember you mentioning that in one of our emails. I am a bit overwhelmed with the house right now to research anything, but I bet we will go with the private organization our friends used. Hey-maybe we will end up closer to you with this move!
Susan Davis says
What a wonderful adventure you are starting! How exciting for you all. God will provide the right buyer, the right house, and the new additions to your family, temporary and permanent. I loved the video when John posted it several days ago. That family spent a week with us in West Virginia last year and they are all delightful. What a beautiful heart that was truly shown in the video. Matt did a great job.
Christy Myerscough says
Just found your blog through a link on Facebook. My husband and I are a couple of weeks from getting licensed for foster care. We are excited and terrified, but we know the Lord is the One leading us.
Katie Phillips says
I’m so glad to have found your blog! I am a fellow Atlantan and my husband and I just started a foster care/adoption ministry at our church in Dunwoody. We are going to be taking the training in April and cannot wait to see who God puts into our care. My blog is http://www.operationleapoffaith.com.
Dana Peterson says
What awesome gifts and talents both you and your honey have! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the video and as a current foster family (our family ministry since August 2011) all I can say is welcome to the fold!! We have fostered almost 40 sweet children in these past few years and so my biggest word of advice is to be sure you reach out when you have questions and/or need help, know you are never alone!! Cobb County has a great Foster Adopt Association that supports the parents in our county with monthly meetings (you can be fostering in any county to attend not just cobb)! I can’t wait to meet you and your beautiful family and watch you guys grow in your new ministry like we have in ours. : )
Dana, you are amazing!! Thank you so much for reaching out to me and encouraging me with your sweet words! I love hearing your story and all the kids you have been able to help thus far! So incredible! We are getting closer everyday to being able to do the same. We have moved and are settling into our new house, so then we can get trained and start! I know I will think back on this post when we are going through some rough spells with this journey. Thank you for your advice! We aren’t alone!