Friday, March 25, 2011

In the Beginning

"He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing." Deut. 10:18

Facts and Figures
The Foster care system in the U.S. is quite a unique system. While other nations have orphanages the U.S. focuses on putting children in actual families. The concept being that children function better when they have connection with parent type figures in their lives. While the foster care system is far from perfect there are amazing revelations that can be gained by understanding that God never intended for children to grow up without connection. We as humans were created to be connected into a family. It gives us identity, worth, values, boundaries, and most of all creates a platform of love where in we can full fill the fullness of who we were created to be. I've heard arguments for orphanages and I agree if done correctly it can be quite effective in creating community and strong individuals but for now I wanted to focus on what they States have chosen to do.
I believe with all my heart that God blesses America because we take care of the poor and the broken. I know our system is far from perfect and sometimes it just perpetrates poverty but as I've walked through this journey of being a foster/adopt parent I've seen how much support has been given to protecting and providing a place for these children. Below is a link that shares the history of foster care in the US. It's really interesting that the religious groups where the ones who initially thought of putting children into homes instead of keeping them in orphanages. Family is important and the States have made it possible for people even if they have a low income can have the opportunity to take a child in. Basically the government takes care of all the needs of the child so that the family focus on taking care of the emotional and connection needs of kid placed in their care.
I believe that the original mandate of taking care of the widow and the orphan was given to the Body of Christ but because we didn't step up and take it, the government did. While we know there's been a lot of corruption over the years we do know one thing our government was established on the Word of God. The States are blessed because it's stepped up where the Bride has not and now accesses the promises that are outlined in Isaiah 58. While many try to refuse the foundation of our nation the reality is is that it was founded on Christian beliefs. Yes we have separation of church and state but in reality the core beliefs of those who set up this nation were ones grounded in Biblical principles. That being said our nation is one that carries the foundation of justice, grace and mercy towards the poor and broken.
I want to inform the Church of what the government has set up not to criticize it but to stir up passion about how much more God has strategy to come along and build up the structure that's in place for taking care of the orphans in this nation. I'm coming across a lot of people who have no idea how the foster care system in the US works. Besides seeing headlines in the newspapers about how children die and are abused in the system there really hasn't been any good information out there of how agency's and the county lay down their lives for their jobs. So many of them are passionate about children in their care and make unseen sacrifices to get these children in healthy, safe homes. It's time to talk about the good side and sing the praises of the unseen heroes. I will talk about the problems but I want to bring hope to those who don't know anything but the negative side of the system. Check out the link below and get educated about the history of they Foster Care system in the US.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
March 2010-July 2010

I love the children of the nations. Being in Thailand in March just ruined me for the children all over the world. I know that it's not my time to go yet I still have so much to do in LA. I've been created to do the radical things of the Kingdom and yet I feel a deep quiet waiting within my Spirit. What is that? Why am I to stay in this city when I feel the pull of the nations on me so strong. I know that this city is desperate for the Spirit of Adoption. The level of broken and hurting people in this city is staggering. I feel Thailand was easier than LA in some ways but doesn't mean I love LA any less. People are who I'm called to so wherever there is people that's where I'm to be. In the secret place with the Lord 3 years ago He asked me if I would lay down music to be a foster mom. I couldn't answer Him in that moment but I knew what my answer would eventually be. The long and short of it is I want Him. The thing I long for above all else is the Heart of God.
What's in His heart? Many people are looking for the face of God, the hand of God, the favor of God, which are all amazing. Anything about God is incredible and worthy of being desired. I want His heart. I love doing the crazy stuff, praying for the sick, prophesying, preaching, teaching, doing the works of the Kingdom but something is missing...something that I've been meditating on that I don't know how to do is walk out what love looks like. I know many profess to know how to love but I suspect none of us really do. We still put conditions on it, we still define love as the world defines it. I want not only His heart but to learn what love looks like. The verse that runs through my head constantly is John 15:13 ,"Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends,". Do we lay down our lives for each other? We aren't suppose to love like the world does. What does loving beyond comfort look like, laying down ones life for another? This is the journey I want. This is the legacy I want to leave to know Love, the person.
I had a vision today, I saw in the heart of God. Not surprising really I saw two things in His heart, the widow and the orphan. He holds them in His heart desiring as a father and husband to love, protect, and take care of all them. I want take care of what's in His heart. Bill Johnson said one time, " A servant only does what his master tells him but a friend does what's in the heart of a friend with out having to be asked." Did God ask me to be a foster to adopt mother not in so many words it is more like He showed me His heart and I knew that this is what I wanted to pour my life out doing. I've seen where the orphans and widows live around the world and I know that I can provide love to a child. God is our Father and He will provide. Am I scared? Maybe, but the love that I have for Him out weighs the fear I may have by choosing to be a single mother. Is this radical? Is this revival? I don't know I just know that I will lay down my life for Him no matter what it costs me.
I've kind of wrapped my head around the fact I've started my journey of being a mother. Initial paperwork is starting and I'm arranging my life to fit a baby. The Lord has told me that it's going to be a Hispanic, infant girl. I'm open to any race and who knows what I'll actually get but I just feel so strongly that she's coming. There's sooooo much destiny on this little girl my Spirit is already fighting for her. Some of these obstacles seem so huge, I need a new car, I need space in my apartment because I share a room with my roommate. I don't know how God is going to work out all these details but I'm taking a step into the unknown. I see a dark ravine and the Lord asking me to step into the seemingly bottomless darkness...I've been at this place before. Faith is spelled R-I-S-K. one great revivalist said once. Here I go just going to jump and pray God catches me...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Justice in the Kingdom

When we think of justice God style many of us instantly picture a violent angry God. This God that wants to punish us for being sinners but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus died to satisfy that punishment. We are covered in the blood of Jesus and God doesn’t want to hurt us because that would make him a child abuser and that isn’t my God. Jesus took everything on himself that we would be justified before the Father. God see us and sees His son. So what does justice look like in the Kingdom after the cross?

Jennifer Toledo puts it this way, “ Justice is returning everything back to love.”

Love is the standard. When we see children who are in pain, poverty, abused, or used there is no love there. 1Cor. 13 gives a detailed list of what love looks like. Whether we are fighting the sex slave trade, slavery, child soldiers, child labor, or abuse of any sort there’s not love in any of that. Love and God are the same. God is love!

We think of the story of Sodom and Gammora as one where God destroyed the city because of their wickedness but Ezekiel 16:49 says this “ Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and the needy.” The reason wasn’t because of the sin of perversion but it was because they had so much and didn’t take care of the poor. It’s just so interesting that we as the body of Christ focus on the sins of adultery and perversion and we preach from the pulpit against these sins when many of us are in the sin of having excess and not taking care of the poor.

So what does it look like to take care of the poor what is the alignment back to love? Well Isaiah 58 really describes in detail what that looks like. The whole passage is so wonderful to meditate on but we will start with verse 6-

Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Note that God doesn’t say go pay for them to have some fast food or your leftovers or even help them stay in a shelter somewhere else. God in this verse makes Justice an issue for our person. It’s a personal relationship with the poor and broken. Justice is getting low on the ground with those who don’t have homes or food it’s making everything that you have available to them. This is scary for many of us because we believe that we are entitled to the things that we have worked for. When in reality God is the one that “owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” Everything that we have is not ours it’s just instruments that God uses to bring His Kingdom on this earth. When we start making excuses for why we can’t give the best that we have to the poor and the broken we step out of the fullness that God has for us and we become selfish and miss out on the promises that are in the rest of Isaiah 58. We aren’t there in Love and it’s not an option to be selfish in the Kingdom because love is not about self it’s about laying down your life.

Love and Justice require and action. “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only son,”. Action requires us to move out of our comfort zones and face the reality that we aren’t called to be normal we are called to be radical. Whether that radical looks like jumping on a plane and flying half way across the world to rescue children from the sex slave trade or adopting from your country or participating in advocating for justice it’s our honor to be different than the world. Luke puts it this way in Luke 6:32 ,” If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” We get the honor of learning how to surrender to Father’s love for everyone and learn how to lay down our lives for those around us. That’s what makes us different from the world that is what will draw all men to Jesus (John 12:32). “It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” (Romans 2:4) What does that mean for justice? When we in love move towards laying down our lives the kindness of God through our lives will be a testimony to those around us. Repentance means “changing the way we think.” People will begin to change the way they think and turn towards God.

This requires us to not just talk about it but be about it. It’s more powerful to live an example then preaching ideas of an example. This is my journey for the heart of God. What’s in the heart of God? What is it that moves God’s heart? I believe with all my being that it’s issues of injustice.

At the beginning of this journey I had a vision. I ask God to show me the inside of His heart. Instantly I was sucked into His heart and there in the middle were faces of orphans and widows. This was in His heart, the ones whose cries He heard night and day, orphans aren’t just children it’s anyone who doesn’t understand who they are in God. A fully loved and accepted child of the King of the Universe! People ask me, “Did God ask you to adopt?” to that my answer is, “Servants only do what they are asked to do, friends do what’s in the heart of a friend without having to be asked.” To me I felt like God gave me an invitation to take this journey it wasn’t a requirement by Him but it was a requirement in my heart. I just want the fullness of Jesus whatever it takes. I love what He loves and that brings justice from heaven to earth. The message of Love will always be unpopular to servants but to friends it’s being lead by the heart that makes the relationship worth it all.

Come with me as I walk out this journey of love….

The Journey Of Love

It begins with surrender. When I started the journey I didn’t know what the cost was. I didn’t know that it was going to be full of love and full of pain. Even though the story started when I was born I will only go back to 2007.

I’ve worked with children for years now and because I’ve traveled all over the world I’ve seen some of the poorest conditions where children live, survive, and some how push through the worst environments to take their breath. In 2007, while I was interning for a ministry that fights for justice amongst the orphans and widows of the world my heart started getting stirred for the orphans in the United States. While I know eventually I will be taking care of many orphans all over the world I knew that there were children right in my country that needed the arms and love that I had to give. While my circumstances where not optimal for a child over the years I started to settle more into what I was called to do in LA. At the beginning of 2010 my heart started getting stirred to passionately pursue the heart of God.

The heart of God is so different then the face of God. Many I know contend to see the face of God. Moses asked to see the face of God and he saw the goodness of God pass before him but David was a man after the heart of God. David a radical lover of God went through it all. As we read through the journey of David we see the path that he went on for the heart of God was one of trial, pain, joy, and complete reliance on the love of God. Going after the heart of God costs everything. Jesus highlighted the 2 most important things that we have to go after One, Love the Lord with everything in you. Two, is loving others as you love yourself. The greatest thing that a man can do is lay down his life for another. What does that even look like? Are we as the western bride aware of how we go after those two things that God as given as the highest values of the Kingdom?

Knowing this, at the beginning of 2010 I set my heart to learn how to pursue the heart of God. I knew that it would cost everything. I knew it would be uncomfortable, and could not be done in my own strength but walking out the journey is a lot different then saying you know. I just want all of His heart whatever it costs me. So…I decided to go after being a single foster to adopt mother. I decided to journal my journey because I know there are a lot of myths and lies that we can believe about this topic and there are families that don’t know that they can give a child love and create a life giving environment for a child who is not able to stay with their birth parents and that it’s not that hard. As I’ve gone through my process I actually been quite impressed with the amount of support is given to parents who want to do this program.

The United States doesn’t have orphanages like other countries they put these children in homes trying their best to create places where they are in family structures as much as possible. The assistant for parents with the programs that are available are phenomenal compared to the rest of the world which, have no assistance for children or don’t even care about their abandoned children. I’m so proud to live in a country that over all doesn’t partner with the orphan spirit. Where we get to take our children and put them in home environments where at least they are fed and don’t have to prostitute themselves out just to be able to eat. I’m not saying there aren’t problems within the system and someday I’d love to be able to work at a governmental level developing policy that would greatly benefit the structure of care for foster children but we are doing a lot better then other countries.

Through out this blog I’m going to bring in statistics and current data about children in the system and break some of the lies out there about foster children and what they are really like. I even may go into what they taught us in the classes because I believe it will help to understand the benefits of what we are doing in this country for our children. Many people don’t adopt from the US because they believe something that isn’t true and I would like to bring some education to the matter. I strongly believe in education because of the awakening that happens when people understand what the truth is.

Please follow me through this journey and leave comments telling me your stories through being a parent or a child that has gone through the system.