When God Nudges … Numerous Times

It’s late October, and many of you are thinking of pumpkins, candy corn, and, well, maybe even dead people. If you’re not, I encourage you to, although my version of dead might surprise you. 😉 Come see what I mean by clicking here.

Today, I’m thrilled to share a story my sister, Jesseca Randall, shared with me. You might remember her. In 2011 she visited my blog and talked about something that is and will forever be very close to my heart--hurting children.  Fast forward two years, and this sweet Christian woman began feeling an increasingly persistent nudge to put action to her words. But how? And when? Her days were jam packed as it was!

Jessandfamily

She’s in grad school.

Raising two young children.

Jessandkiddos

JessandfriendsTrains for and runs in half marathons. Has a soldier for a spouse, one that recently returned from a one year deployment in Afghanistan.

Honestly, there are days when making it through the day is enough to do her in. How could she possibly add one mort task–or, more accurately, one more heart to care for, in the mix?

But that nudge wouldn’t go away. In fact, the more she tried to deny it, ignore it, the stronger it became.

Here’s her (and a young boy named William’s*) story:

Running yesterday morning I heard a message about how the definition of faith is to step out and do something impossible expecting God to show up.  You know me and my brain so I start to think of ways to do this. “Okay, so I’m going to contact the church about a teen mom group, and maybe I’ll revisit the juvenile detention ministry…yada yada yada.”  I do, and then proceed to drive to class. During my drive I turn off my radio and just pray about these possible ministries.  In the middle of prayer my phone rings. It’s the call asking us to take in a young boy named William*.
Here’s the deal – this is the fourth time God has put this little guy in front of us since the end of summer.  We said no THREE different times.  I tell the lady on the phone that we’d love to but we don’t have childcare, and I am 9 weeks from graduating so “I can’t quit now”.  She thanks me anyway and we hang up.
Now I’m in tears because I know that God has placed this same little boy in front of us now four times, and we have said no every time.  I do not believe in coincidences! So,  sick to my stomach (you know the feeling when you know God is telling you to do something but you don’t), I continue through my classes at school.
But then my husband, Rob, and I talk. We decide we will step out in faith and take this child in and expect God to show up with childcare or some other way.  That was Tuesday.  By the next day, we have childcare from two unknown families for Friday and Monday (unknown to us but not the agency).
Having said all that, I clearly see God all through this but holy smokes this is one of the hardest thing I have ever done.  It is hard to see him suffer,  and it’s hard to see my kids struggle. He seems to have a love/hate relationship with with my youngest child, and I can’t leave the room because he hits her.  He is the most active child ever, and again, you can’t leave the room.  He is also the sweetest thing (especially for what he’s been through).
Those who know me know I am a control freak and love my comfort – this is very trying.  God is stretching me.  There is also a large part of me that just wants to adopt this little guy and take him away from his chaos. But he is not even up for adoption as his mom says she still wants to have him.  Turns out though she has used our state’s programs as well so I’m afraid this little guy has clear attachment issues.
I could use prayers and the constant reminder that this is not about me but about him and God’s overall plan.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.
Jesseca Randall is Air Force wife and mother of two who has a God-given passion for helping troubled youth.  While stationed overseas, Jesseca completed her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice with a focus on youth at risk.  Once she and her husband returned to the United States, she worked for the State of Oklahoma investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect and as a Foster Care Specialist.  After the birth of their first child, Jesseca became an independent contractor, certifying homes for foster care and adoption.  Wanting to work in a more therapeutic role, Jesseca is now working on her Masters Degree in Social work and has recently completed her practicum at a child advocacy center.  If you have questions about foster care ministry, would like to be come involved, would like more information, or would like to be added to Jesseca’s email loop, contact her at Jesseca.Randall(at)gmail(dot)com
livingbygracepic.jpLet’s Talk About This! What has God placed on your heart? Does it feel impossible? Maybe too hard or too scary? If so, then my guess is that ministry is exactly where you need to be, because it is when we are weak that God’s power is most seen. 🙂 And like Jesseca said, taking in Isaiah wasn’t about her–her abilities, strength, or comfort. It was about saying yes to a mighty God and allowing Him to work in and through her. The same applies to you. 🙂 Will  you say yes? Will you humbly and without hesitation offer up to Him all you are and all you have? Chances are, it won’t be easy, but I can gaurantee you, it will be so worth it.
Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or at Living by Grace on Facebook.
Another post you might enjoy: How Big is Your God?

The Trickle Effect: Part I

About a week ago, I spoke with a woman regarding the number of homeless children in America.

She responded with a hand-washing, “If the women would be responsible…”

It’s easy to point fingers, but like I tried to express to this woman, a scared and lonely child struggling to survive doesn’t care why they are where they are. They care about one thing: Will anyone help me!

Walking away, frustrated and a bit teary at the misconceptions and rush to judgement apparent in the woman’s words, I realized much of her response came from a lack of knowledge. And I can’t help but wonder if we all, including myself, share a bit of this woman’s faulty thinking.

Let me give you an example, one I hope will challenge us all to look a little deeper. You are at the mall with your spouse and children. It’s a Sunday. You’ve just left church and are heading for the food court for burgers and fries, topped with ice-cream. On your way in, you pass a pack of teenagers. They’ve got gaudy jewelry dangling from every edifice, are cloaked in black attire and chained belts, have cigarettes dangling from scowling mouths, and use words that set your ears on fire. So what do you do? You pull your children closer with an obvious frown and move to the farthest door–the one that will add the most distance between you and one of these foul-mouthed, disrespectful teens.

One of them, abused by her father and rejected by her mother, looks up, and sees the disgust on your face, and although she tries to add more bricks around her already encased heart, the dagger slices before the mortar sets. Your look confirmed what she already believed to be true–she’s worthless, scum, unlovable. Ushering in a surge of anger to shield her breaking heart, she sucks harder on her cigarette and tells herself again and again she doesn’t care, about that woman with the fancy clothes and perfect life, about her father and mother, about herself–about anything.

And I’m speaking to myself here. Often when I see troubled teens or rebellious children, my first response is to jump to judgement, instead of love. But the problem is, judgement pushes people away. Love, on the other hand, draws them near. And with the large number of children living in foster care, and an even larger number living in abusive and extremely impoverished homes, the chances are we’ll come across one of these deeply wounded throughout out week. And when we do, it’ll be easy to move aside, or point fingers, or give ourselves a pat on the back knowing our children would never behave in such a way.

But God looks deeper. He looks beyond the sin and anger and displays of hatred to that three-year old crouched beneath a much-too-thin blanket while his world falls apart all around him. And He does more than look. God reaches out, providing a solution in His Son, Jesus Christ. And He’s asking us to join Him–to be conduits of His love by offering a smile that says, “I see you. You don’t disgust or frighten me. You aren’t worthless or to be avoided. In fact, you’re a child of God who’s deeply loved.”

This problem of poverty, abuse, and homelessness isn’t going to go away any time soon, and as my daughter reminded me yesterday while I wept over the children working in sugar plantations in El Salvador, I can’t change the world. But I can share Christ’s love and change faulty thinking. I can lay down the judgement and allow–no, invite–God’s love to flow through me.

And in each attitude change and expression in love, God can use me to sprinkle His life-changing love, grace, and mercy over a hurting world.

Because here’s the thing, those teens we see huddled outside the mall today will soon grow into adults. More than likely, they’ll have children of their own. Without role models in their life, what kind of parents do you think they’ll become? And what kind of children do you think they will raise? Hurting children grow up to raise hurting children who grow up to raise hurting children. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves countless wounded.

But God wants to flip it. Grace-filled children grow up to raise children surrounded by Christ who raise children surrounded by Christ. Love creates an equally powerful and long-lasting cycle, and each day we have the opportunity to create one legacy or the other.

On Wednesday I’ll share two stories to illustrate how we’ve seen this play out in our own lives and in the meantime, I challenge you to do one simply thing: When you encounter others throughout your day–the woman who cuts you off on the freeway or the scowling teen or rebellious child–build a bridge instead of a barrier. Offer a smile instead of a scowl. And take the time to pray for them and their family.

Before you go, I invite you to stop by the Literary Momma where I talk about the importance of laughter in marriage.