This weekend, Tim and I finished up our PRIDE training through The CALL. You can read more about our first training here. This weekend was another great weekend. Saturday was tough…we covered a lot of difficult topics and I left feeling heavy and emotional and tired. But Sunday, they brought in what’s called a professional panel and a parent panel. The professional panel was interesting because it enabled you to put a face to the “case worker” and you could see their heart as they talked about individual cases. My favorite part of the professional panel was seeing their faces when some of the foster kids started coming in with foster parents who were on the later panel. The professionals’ faces literally lit up, and you could see so much of their heart.
What I heard from them is that most of them are in it for all the right reasons, they are overworked, and they desperately need help. We can do that. We can help them get the funding they need to hire more workers. We can help be a voice for the children of Arkansas. One of our state representatives, David Meeks was on the professional panel yesterday as well. He is on the committee which handles the foster/adoptive care system. Funding is a major issue for DHS. The problem is that there are so many other things competing for funding that foster care just gets shoved to the bottom because children’s voices aren’t as loud as many of the other “hot button” issues. That’s where we come in. We can be their voice for them. You can join arms with Mr. Meeks by clicking here. He and his wife are also foster parents themselves, so they know first hand and just need people to join with them and help them be the voice. I urge you to do this.
The parent panel was my favorite part. Many of them couldn’t even talk about their foster children without tearing up. They are so passionate about these children. Seeing them makes me think that Arkansas is going in the right direction. Now we just need more. 🙂 I loved sitting there and listening to them tell about the wonderful times, the breakthroughs, the families reuniting, new families being joined…even the hard times were told with nothing but love. If you are curious about fostering/adopting, talk to a foster parent. Within just a few minutes, you will be moved to do something. Their passion and love is contagious. The way that they follow the Lord with reckless abandon…willing to love no matter what. Whether they have that child for 24 hours or 24 months, they are willing to love 100%, holding nothing back. As one parent put it, “So many people are so scared to love them and have to give them back, but the fact is that if we don’t love them during that time, who will?” Their words cut you to the heart in the very best possible way.
Finally, the community that we built over those four days was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Those people are my family now. We are forever bonded by going through those two weekends together. Last night when it was all over, I think it hit us all that we wouldn’t probably ever all be together again, and it was so sad. We just lingered long after our training. In fact, our training leader, Justin, kept trying to close up, but we just stayed…and stayed. (Sorry, Justin!) I don’t know what it is about going through that type of training with people, but it does something to you. It binds you together, and you are now a community…a family.
And yet, as we sat there yesterday hearing all those stories, I began to feel so insignificant and small (which is no easy task for a 5′ 9″ woman). But I sat there hearing all these people who have had the honor of touching the lives of 15, 20, 30 kids over the span of just a few years through their foster home and I’m sitting among people who are planning on adopting sibling groups…large sibling groups, and I thought to myself, I’m just adopting one. I’m not even fostering. What a wimp we are! And I just almost allowed that thought to steal the day’s joy. But then, God spoke to my heart, and I realized that there are no big or small contributions to the kingdom of God. There are only lots of people doing what God asked them to do, and when all of God’s people are obedient, that’s when His work can truly be done. When we all work together, when we all are willing to do our part, big or small. We all have to be willing and obedient to God’s call on our life. We all need to care about these things that God cares about. We aren’t all called to open our homes to orphans, but we are all called to care. We are all called to do something. And when we all are obedient and do that something that’s when The Church is great. That’s when a difference will be seen. That’s when people are going to take notice.
I love a quote that one of our trainers left us with. He said,
Parenting: The days are long, but the years are short.
Truer words have never been spoken. These parenting days are tough, but the years fly by. And it’s SO worth it. It’s so worth it.