A Legacy of the Word

Today, I had a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something pretty amazing. The church that my parents are part of is building a new worship center, and chose to honor my Dad in a fairly unique manner by using a bible that belonged to him for many years in the dedication ceremony. They dug a hole that is in the approximate location where the new church pulpit will reside, and my Dad’s Bible was placed in that hole and essentially buried there as a literal and figurative representation that the church’s foundation is built on the Word of God.

I happened to be in town this weekend so I thought it would be pretty awesome to go observe that dedication ceremony. So there I was, about to watch my Dad do something not many men are given the honor of doing, ever.

And then he turned to me, handed me the Bible, and asked me to do the honors.

I can’t think of a more visible way to demonstrate the godly, biblically centered legacy that has been handed to me by my Dad. It was truly humbling, and a memory that I will always think about with great fondness and reverence.

This legacy is in sharp contrast to what my Dad’s father handed him. Three words paint the picture: abuse, alcoholism, and abandonment.

But God.

No man on earth has ever gotten fatherhood totally right. But my Dad gave his heart and life to Christ in his mid-twenties, and that made all the difference. I have countless memories of my Dad studying scripture, sharing what he’d been studying with me, and passing along his pursuit of Christ and his desire to let the Word of God be his guide. It really has changed his life. Is still changing his life.

And mine.

And I pray, my children and theirs – for generations to come!

Unless the Lord build the house, those who build labor in vain” – Psalm 127:1

Byrds
Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)

These are the familiar title and lyrics to a song made popular by The Byrds in 1965. A little before my time, and yet a song that is as applicable today as then. You may not know,  it wasn’t actually written by The Byrds, but by a guy named Pete Seeger, in the late 1950s – a little more before my time. And yet in truth, the words of the song were not even original to Mr. Seeger. Those honors go to “the writer” of the book of Ecclesiastes (chapter 3), who many theorize to be King Solomon. Wayyy before my time.

And yet, as a Foster Parent, and especially as a Foster Parent of teens, this song/scripture has some key truths. Simple truths, really, that can be hard to live out.

Let’s face it. These teens are fairly set in their ways. I can try to bend them toward “my way” of doing things, but often that option can be disastrous. I can drop hints and take the passive aggressive approach, but that practically guarantees I will have a very lousy relationship with them. And with little or no relationship, I will be a very ineffective parent.

A time to keep silence, a time to speak.

Proverbs 19:11 states “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (NIV). As a foster parent, and I think especially as a foster Dad to two teens, there are many times when I know I have the “right” to correct my foster kids, when I know I have a better, healthier, way to “do things”. But it would be better for everyone if I just kept my mouth shut. I’m not perfect in this, but I’d say it’s an area where I’m learning, growing.

A time to plant, a time to reap.

So much of what we’re doing as foster parents to teens is about planting. At this point, it’s not gonna be so much about what they’re taught, but what they’ve caught. A consistent example through the way we live is more important than the words we say. Being humble. Taking on an attitude of consistent servant leadership. Deferring my way, my wants in order to make peace. And this lines up with scripture.  Jesus said that the peacemakers will be called children of God (Mathew 5:9).  The Apostle Paul instructs believers to be at peace with all people, as much as is within our power (Romans 12:18).

My wife and I started our foster care journey almost two decades ago. Time has born out the truths of these lyrics, these words of scripture. We still have relationships with some of the “kids” (kids no longer) who were in our care at that time. We did a little planting then, we’re seeing God do the reaping over time. And they don’t so much remember anything we ever spoke to them, but sometimes they come to us and ask us to speak into their lives now. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.

THOSE CRAPPY DCS CASE WORKERS

I appreciate our Case Workers. And I won’t even pretend to know all they go through. But not everyone does…

The Foster Life

BY JILL RIPPY                   INSPIRED BY TODD HOUGH

Being a foster parent for a number of years now, I have run into the good, the bad and the ugly regarding DCS Case Workers. My complaints have been many and my crap list is long.

If you are a foster parent, you know exactly what I am talking about. Among my most memorable Case Workers are the following:

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

The preamble of our country’s constitution states that it is self-evident: all men are created equal.

And yet…

I went out for a run during my lunch break today. As I was running, I passed a pickup truck with a large confederate flag sticker plastered on the back windshield.

On this day – the holiday dedicated to celebrating Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, the life he lived, and his dream of racial equality – seeing that sticker on that truck seemed grossly inappropriate. Even more, it made me sad.

I grew up in a town that was, for the most part, racially divided. There were two high schools in town. One where mostly white kids attended, the other where mostly black kids attended. Every year, during the week before the big cross-town football game took place, many of the students from “my” school would drive around town with monstrous rebel flags waving out their windows or truck beds. The kids at “the other school” would often vandalize those very vehicles and destroy those flags. Fights would inevitably break out. Riots sometimes. It was horrific. Yet it was normal behavior for the time. And I didn’t really see anything wrong with it. Nor did I consider myself a racist. I had friends of multiple skin colors, and always endeavored to treat all with respect. But in the name of school spirit, I was willing to overlook the clear racial bias that still existed all around me. Even though I knew the origin of that flag and what it stood (stands) for. I was behaving in a very racist manner. Today, that flag reminded me how “easily” racial bias can be justified. But that does not make it right.

I’ve made a few trips around the sun since high school. In fact, it’s been almost a quarter of a century since I graduated. I’m different now. These times are different. And yet I was reminded today that we are still far from realizing Dr. King’s dream. Or even upholding our own constitution.

We still have much work to do.

Breaking Glass

To all the Foster Parents…

Dropping Anchors

I’ve known Rachael for almost seven years. For the first part of those years I had no idea that she was part of the foster care or adoption community. When I found out she had first hand knowledge of what a child goes through when placed in foster care I found refuge in having someone with real childhood experiences help me in my journey as a foster mom. How I react, the things I say or don’t say all have dramatic impacts on my children’s lives. I have asked for her advice before, for things such as “what do you wish your (adoptive) parents would have done or said differently?” “What were the best things they did to help you bond?” Each time taking mental note of the things I could do similarly or differently for my children. This is the first time I asked her to share her story. I’ll…

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