This is a Guest Post by Nicki Olinde. She is wife to Chad, mom to Griff, teacher, leader and now foster mom. You can catch up with her on Instagram or contact her by Email at nicki.olinde
“You need to make sure you have a lice kit on hand; inspect any belongings they bring for tiny critters.” This was one of the warnings we received during our training to become certified foster parents.
So, we were prepared. Just like I was prepared before our son was born 16 years ago. I had cassette tapes recorded with perfect labor and deliver music and a well-thought-out birth plan. So, yeah, despite my preparation, NOTHING went according to plan, and I quickly realized that many things were out of my control.
Last week, the extra room was ready, all recommended supplies on hand, a new stuffed animal on the bed to comfort a nameless, faceless hurting child. Still, as we stood on the porch waiting for the caseworker to “make the drop,” we were overwhelmed with all of the unknowns, again things that were completely out of our control.
My mind raced with questions: Would he be sad, angry? Would he run to us or run from us? What is his favorite color? Would he like my cooking? Wait, I don’t cook.
Then, the side door of that mini-van opened, and EVERYTHING seemed to grow quiet and still. I remember the same exact feeling when I lay on the C-section table and heard Griffith’s muffled little cry for the first time. It was as though the world stood still and my heart was flooded with this supernatural love, joy, & peace in an instant. Last Tuesday, when I saw that little face grinning at me, when his skinny little five-year-old frame jumped from the van and raced toward us awkwardly in his shoes that were three sizes too big, time stood still once again.
Only one thing mattered: God had reached down and placed another soul into our lives,and He was entrusting us with this bruised little life.
This is our first foster placement. I’m not experienced enough to say if this peace, love, joy thing happens every time. However, I am confident enough in my God that I believe it can IF we continue to trust and obey him every step of the way through this process.
Our first week with “J-boy” has been a whirlwind. When the state brings you a child, there are forms to fill-out, appointments to keep. Honestly, I felt like I needed a small “maternity” leave! I’m not going to sugar coat it. It has been extremely difficult to do this first week AND continue to be effective in my job and other responsibilities. But, things are finally slowing down, and we are settling in to our “new normal.”
We are getting to know this little wonder-boy who speaks of things like “court” and “jail” like they are just a normal part of everyday life. At 5, he has seen and heard things most of us haven’t, even as adults. Still, he is full of JOY! He has come to us bruised, but not yet broken. He is not cynical or bitter or defeated. That is why we are doing this, to be able to intervene in a life and change its direction before it’s too late. To love him and lead him to the cross while he is with us.
We never know how long God will have these kids in our home, but I do know this: during the season that they are there, we are either planting, watering, or watching for a harvest.
I am learning that J-boy hates bath bubbles to get in his ears, that he loves ketchup, no, like REALLY loves ketchup. He asks for 20 packs at McDonald’s. He makes us laugh when he races us to see who can get the seat belt on the fastest in the car. But, if he’s losing, he says, “Pause the game,” until he’s almost buckled, then says, “Unpause.”
This is hard, but it is fun. It is tiring, but it is life-giving. It is sadness, joy, frustration, elation. It is all of those things, but it is, without a doubt, what God has called us to do. We knew nine years ago that God was calling us to love the discarded ones. We have had a few different ideas about what that would look like, and we have actually had many obstacles over the years that have slowed us or attempted to make us quit.
Never give up on a vision God has placed in your heart. God’s timing is perfect. He knows. He knew that at such a time as this, we would be at Family Church, where He is raising up families to walk this journey together, to be a community of people coming together to love these children. There are numerous FC families who have completed their certification. Others are still in that process. Then there are those that may not be able to foster or adopt, but who help those of us who can in other ways. They have given us toys, bikes, and clothes. They have loved on J-boy and checked on him from the day he arrived.
When I think about the possibilities here at Family Church of what we can do together for these children, my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest. If you would like to know more about how you can get involved, I would absolutely love to talk with you.
When discussing foster care with others, the statement people have said to me most often is, “I could never do that. I would get too attached and be devastated if and when the child had to leave.”
Can I just get real honest right now? When I really break that down, here is what we are saying: I could never help an abused or neglected child because I don’t want to experience pain or discomfort myself. Ouch. I am able to say that to y’all because I have processed this thought and been convicted myself.
You may not be called to open your home to a child. But I can promise you this, God has not called us to a life of comfort and convenience. He has called us to do hard things. He has promised we will have difficulty and pain. To try to avoid these, to insulate ourselves in the pursuit of happiness leads to a sad and empty life. I say embrace the hard things, the messy things. In them we find unspeakable joy and peace.
Matt. 16:25 “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”
James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”