A Masterpiece of Hands and Feet

26“hey lady i just wanted to say thank you so much for going to court with me … it meant so much to me.. and i will always keep u in my heart i promise and my husband and I cant wait to come to the cabin so just let me kno well i hope to hear from you soon love ya and email me back!!!

Just another email? – not on your life!
This is a masterpiece worth framing over the fireplace. It is the “rebirth” after 5 years of a child who ended up in foster care through no fault of her own— who spent years in group and foster homes.

I became involved in mentoring through our church’s Community Outreach ministry and answered a call for mentors at a group home for teen age girls in Cumming. After mentoring a few girls, I was assigned a 14 year old named Raquel. We clicked instantly.. Raquel sparkled, had a sarcastic sense of humor – yes! She loved kayaking and hiking, movies, shopping and just about anything our family did.

After a year of missing her brothers dearly, she— in her 14 year old maturity— ran away from the group home and joined her brothers in their gang, doing as she now says “everything wrong.” Where was God? How does He let a child be taken away from her parents and brothers, never given a time she can return or even given the real reason why? Was He actually protecting her? Would He now watch over her wherever she ran to make sure she will be ok?

Three years passed and I had no idea what had happened to her…no contact. It could not be good. I prayed. God please let her be alive, not sold in sex trafficking or caught up in gangs…you placed her in a messed up family, what are we to expect? “Dependency and Trust— that’s what I want,” came back loud and clear…

As time passed my heart was drawn stronger and stronger to God’s call to care for the orphans. It was clear to me that my path was to climb up another level of caring for orphans. I was drawn to the advocacy side of orphan care and took the volunteer training to become a Child Advocate for kids while they are in care. Upon receiving my first case, a little 4 year old girl, I also received a call to please mentor one last child. “She never talks and I know you can talk to a tree.” With a plug like that how could I resist? So, I caved in, and I finished what turned out to be my one and only CASA case (God rearranged my service plan there!)

One and a half years later, my “mentoring one last child” was once again given the “Do you Trust Me” questioning by God. So I lied and said, “Of course!” One year later I can say that dependency on God has grown to new levels as we have been fostering my “one last child” and her sister! Two teenage girls added to a house with 2 teenage boys and a house with only 3 bedrooms – was I Nuts?! Yes, if I assessed it by the comfort bubble of our society. No, if I assessed it by the promise that “I can do anything through Christ.”

A few more months and it was time for prom. Oh no— I need to buy 2 dresses and a tux – help! But God provided again with the Foster Foundation sponsoring a PromPalozza! (A volunteer heavy event that collects used prom dresses and gives foster girls the opportunity to “shop” for their perfect dress, shoes, makeup etc.) I attended the event with the girls thinking I was going there to see cute dresses. Instead, the real reason for my attending walked through the door… Oh did we scream! Oh God thank you! It was Raquel!!! I was so happy to know she was ok, in a group home in Columbus, GA, and ooh… maybe not so ok. A teen Mom!?!…Yes, Raquel was raising a 2 year old. The same 2 year old that the “system” recommended she abort. How could God be watching over her if she is a teen mother? How is she going to rise above the poverty and everything else associated with that?

But He did and His plan is good, and He sees beyond the scope of our little world…Raquel became a mom at 15, she was in ESOL, she’d been working 20 hours a week all those years while staying in high school. Now at 18 she was set to graduate HS – I was so proud. YES, very proud of what she was accomplishing. God’s plan was clear as I listened to Raquel tell the story of her last 3 years. God’s plan was her baby, Izzy. He gave her a reason to turn her life around and stay away from the family and old friends who kept her in trouble. Through Izzy, God kept her in school and at work and seeking career plans.

What a joy to have her over to our house again, to play with Izzy (who is THE most adorable, crazy, wired boy you can meet!) and to meet her new husband which once again confirmed to everyone that Raquel had trusted in God’s plan, as messy and tiring as it was, to receive the blessings God had been anxiously waiting to pour on her. And God’s blessing to us was for our own teen foster girls to see a success story that came out of foster care stronger than before she entered.

Did she do all this on her own – NO! Raquel is the first to tell you she hated the process of foster care, but she could not have done it without all the people who cared for her during this time: the 20-30 staff who cared for her over the years, her case managers (the last one is my son’s friend’s mom!), her CASA (my pal during CASA training!) her volunteers at the Civil panels, her volunteer tutors (Dennis Lee from Perimeter who introduced me to the group home and mentoring), and mentors (me), transporters, lawyers, Judge Jackson, the various foster parents (Izzy’s last are friends of Promise 686!) who took her and Izzy in, the communities who raised money to buy her Christmas gifts (Perimeter), school supplies(Perimeter), volunteers who taught her cooking skills (Community Outreach) and businesses who donated haircuts and clothes and food…it took a kingdom to raise this child…it took God’s kingdom.

Oh and my lunch that day before court was spent listening to FaithBridge Foster Care speak of God’s commission for the church to care for the orphans and widows. Yes, another one of those God’s timing is always right days. We can all serve. We have been given different gifts to bring together to care for His children. We are all in this kingdom to help the children like Raquel, to restore them and break their generations of destruction. Hundreds of volunteers helping one little girl like Raquel become a struggling teen to then become a beautiful Mom and wife…

God I am so grateful that you deem me worthy enough to serve you…my cup overflows!
Oh and our two foster teen girls are going through the adoption process as we speak – yup I got another “Do you Trust Me” question from God!