Love Nation 2016 (Day 18)

Love In the Fight

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (ESV)

Let me preface this message clearly. I have never experienced combat. I don’t presume to know what it is like and I don’t want to falsely express the feelings, views, or thoughts of those who have experienced war personally. Still, I want to talk about the things I’ve noticed about war and the people who’ve fought it. And while I want to glorify some actions, I don’t want to broadly glorify war itself. That would be foolish I believe. However, I think it is wise to learn from the hardest things we have to experience in life. Even if we’re not the one’s who’ve experienced those things personally.

It’s been said over and over that war is hell. And the sentiment is absolutely true. It’s real life and real death sharing the same air and sometimes the same breath. It brings out the best and the worst in people. It makes friends and it builds enemies. At the same time that bonds are broken, some are also being made. It’s life made ultra serious and spectacularly real. Mistakes can mean death and decisions can give life in an instant. War is unimaginable.

War is filled with blood and guts and hate for sure. But what strikes me more than the hate is the love that can also be seen. Generations pass and still an old man will shed tears for a fallen friend left behind in battle. Stories of heroism can be told unending. Stories of people who gave their lives for their friends just feet away. Friends who are loved by many.

Lives matter. All of them. It’s one thing to pick up an unknown body. That’s hard enough. It’s another thing to see the pictures of his loved ones at home. People aren’t just people. They’re sons and daughters and wives and husbands. People are loved. And there’s something in us that recognizes that love and respects it; sometimes more than we respect the person. So for a man or woman to sacrifice themselves for another means that they aren’t just sacrificing themselves, they’re sacrificing a relationship of love too. Someone is going to mourn the loss of that veteran, and that causes us to mourn alongside; even if we never knew the deceased.

It seems odd to be talking about love and war mutually because we generally see them as exclusive. But war is one of those things that forges love. No matter the side, men and women carry out harrowing tasks because of love for one another. It’s often said that once the battle begins, you stop fighting for whatever it is that brought you to the fight and you start fighting for the person next to you. The fight in essence becomes an act of love.

While it’s good to honor our heroes and their valor, how do we translate that wartime love into our everyday lives. In 1968, U.S. Army C Company, 52d Infantry, entered the Vietnam War with 160 men. Of those original 160 just 31 returned home unhurt by the war. That’s not something that can be equated to a normal life of peace. Still there is something honorable in paying tribute. And maybe that’s all we can do. Many of those men who fought in Vietnam still hope they did some good. I believe they did. Not because the war was won and liberty prevailed. Not because Democracy was shown superior or our ideas deemed best. But because they chose to love in the fight. And that’s what we can do everyday. For many of us everyday includes a fight. Can we love in that fight? Because in reality, when the fight is on, that’s what love is all about. I pray that while we may hate the fight itself, we can learn to love in it.

Love in the fight,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 17)

Loving Well

Not a lot is known about Nancy Hanks. Unless you’re really into history, her name probably doesn’t even mean a lot to you. And why would we know a lot about her? She died when she was 34 years old, leaving behind an 11 year old daughter and nine year old son. She hadn’t done anything notable to others in her life. She had simply married and raised two children. But there was however, something special about her. I’m not sure anyone knows what it is, but I’m sure it was her love for her children that made her special.

I wonder if she knew the legacy she was going to leave behind? I doubt she did. I wonder if any of us do? I doubt we do. But legacy is something we should all think about. Not in a way that causes us to live for ourselves, but in a way that causes us to live more fully for others. How much would we love a child if we knew that our love could be the difference in that child becoming President of the United States some day? Maybe we wouldn’t love them more, but I bet we’d spend more time thinking about it. Nancy Hanks was the illegitimate daughter of a poor man. She married a poor man too. She raised her children poor. And I wonder if she held a lot of hope for them.

Whatever Nancy Hanks Lincoln did as a parent, she must have done it well. And to do parenting well you must also love your children well. I believe that she was no exception. Because her son said this of her. “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Again he said, “I owe everything that I am to her.” That’s high praise when you consider her son was Abraham Lincoln. You never know what loving well will accomplish. It’s something that can only be measured in past tense. But just in case we could change the future, I pray we learn to love well.

God Loves You,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 16)

A Child’s Love

Up to this point I’ve tried to bring stories of love that have changed the world in big ways. Even though we may not have been aware before. But the world isn’t always changed in big ways. Often it’s affected in small ways that make big differences. And I want to make it a little personal today. You probably realize by now, if you’ve read most anything I’ve written, that I strive to make a relationship with God central in my life. So when my wife and I struggled to have a child we turned to prayer. And prayer… And more prayer. For years we prayed for a child. Along the way we decided that we should not only try to bless our lives with a baby, but that we could also bless a babies life with a family. So we decided to adopt. A couple years into the adoption process Whitney got pregnant. It was the greatest answer to prayer I’ve ever experienced. We unwittingly named our daughter Cora Fae Summers. We didn’t know when we were choosing her name that it literally means maiden faith. And that is what she is. That’s what she has. A little maiden with more faith than I have ever seen before.

I preface this story with our faith just so that you know the roots of where this story is coming from. I want you to know that our daughter is raised in a family with faith in and love for Christ. But having expressed that I want you to know that we’ve never made her, or expressly taught her where we believe God is and what He’s done. We haven’t tried to teach her specifically what Jesus did or why we should love Him. Because as I write this, she is barely two years old.

The Bible says that, “God’s invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” – Romans 1:20 (ESV) But here’s the thing. It’s easy to take for granted the things around us. It’s easy to forget how special a blade of grass is and how amazing our world is. It’s relatively easy to start believing that it could all be just a coincidence when we forget to see creation in awe. Babies however, don’t know anything about the creation story or the theory of evolution. But without knowledge, I saw a simple faith in my daughter I’d never seen before. At six months old I could ask her “where is God?” and she’d simply raise her hand. Not to point, but as if to indicate He was all around and above us. Whenever she’s been asked if she loves God she’s always said yes. In her I’ve seen what it means to have faith like a child. (See Matthew 18:3) Her’s is not a faith founded on doctrine or knowledge; rather, her’s is a faith of obviousness. It’s as though if she could express herself she would say, “Of course I believe in God, He’s right in front of me.” When I witness the faith of a child I understand more clearly the worlds of Christ when He said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:10-14 (ESV)

It’s a small thing. The love my daughter has for God isn’t world changing now, like that of Mother Teresa or David Livingstone, but it has been life changing for me, because my child’s faith has demonstrated what the Bible says faith is. That it’s not belief in something that can’t be proven, but rather, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Faith in God to a child is akin to the faith they have in the love received from a loving mother. It can’t be proven, but it is undeniably apparent. My daughter’s love for God is simple. But it is in its simplicity that it is so profound. So when my daughter, after waking up from a bad dream about something hurting her mommy asks simply to talk to Jesus for momma it leaves a dad like me amazed at the love of God and the love of a child. It’s a reminder that love doesn’t have to be complex and world changing to be life changing. Just simple acts of faith and love can change the world too. Maybe it will never win an award or gain fame for itself, but you never know what it can do for another person. And if it can change the world for one person, it’s impossible to know how much the world will be changed in generations to come. It’s likely that the world will never know my daughter’s name, but her simple and great love has changed the world for this daddy. Can anything better be said of a thing than that?

May You Know Love Today,
Jake

P.S. Right now I’m fortunate to have an opportunity to spend over a week with my daughter, just the two of us, because Whitney is in Ethiopia picking up our adopted son Israel. Who by the way, has a big sister that can’t wait to hold and take care of him.

Love Nation 2016 (Day 15)

Where the Heart Lies…

Where does your heart lie? Is it in the things you have or want? Is it in keeping a rule or two? Does it belong to your family and friends? I ask because it is where our heart lies most that we will expend our greatest efforts.

“You may have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa.”

That was the note that accompanied the body of Dr. David Livingstone when it returned to England for burial. Today he has two grave sights and two memorials. One with his body in Westminster Abby and one under a Mvula tree where his heart is buried in the village of Ilala Zambia.

David Livingstone wasn’t a great politician or leader of armies. He wasn’t a conqueror or warrior. He was a man who knew where his heart belonged. His heart belonged in Africa. And whatever David Livingstone was, be it explorer, missionary, or doctor; he gave his life for where his heart was. But while his heart was for Africa, it didn’t belong to that continent, it belonged to Jesus. His mission was that people would ultimately get to know Jesus in far away places unseen by anyone who’d ever known Christ. Mile after mile, agony upon agony, he moved forward. He explored a continent for a world who’d never seen it and he gave Christ to a world that never knew Him.

I’ve wonder what his last prayer consisted of. It happened on May 1, 1873 in what is now Zambia. He was left alone in his tent to rest, suffering from the effects of a long fight with malaria and dysentery. Upon return, his workers discovered him on his knees. It wouldn’t have been an unusual sight, he was a praying man. But there was something different this time. This had been Livingstone’s last prayer. He had died on his knees. With love, his friends, the African’s he had given his life for, cut his heart from his body, dried his corpse in preparation, and sent his body back to England. They buried his heart close to where he had died and put up a memorial that still stands. And England entombed his body alongside kings.

When we die, what will be our hearts memorial? Will we have made a difference because of what we gave our heart to? David Livingstone loved Africa with all his heart. He never saw his greatest dreams for Africa come true. But because of what he did, the slave trade eventually ended on the continent. Because of his actions, many people came to know a Savior able to surpass all their needs. Because of him, many have been inspired to the mission field today. My prayer is that we learn where our hearts belong. But first I pray that we know to whom our hearts belong. Because when our hearts are captured by God our lives are forever changed. Our goals become adjusted and our priorities realigned automatically. Only God knows where our hearts will be most effective. Maybe your heart belongs to your children, or maybe to somewhere far away. Whatever it is, I hope that Christ captures our hearts and takes them on an adventure of love where nothing will ever be the same. That adventure is our ultimate purpose on earth. I pray we go on that adventure. I pray it becomes our mission.

God Bless You,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 14)

Legacy of Love, Part 4

The Beauty of Love

Sometimes it is impossible to see the beauty that love is providing. When Casper Ten Boom died shortly after his capture it was probably hard to see all the good he was doing. Some of it yes, all of it, probably not. When Casper’s son Willem Ten Boom lay dying from Spinal Tuberculosis he had contracted while a prisoner I’m not sure he could see all the good he’d done. When Willem’s son Christian died in a Nazi concentration camp it may not have been readily apparent the good he’d done. And as Corrie Ten Boom watched her sister become more and more frail and eventually die in prison for helping Jews, it was probably hard to see all the good their love had done. But love has its results. Love leaves its beauty behind.

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write …, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent …

And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! …

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me!

When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? — Anne Frank

I doubt Barbara Ledermann (A family friend of Anne Frank) imagined the effect her work for the Jews would do while she was running scared through the streets of Amsterdam. But it was what she had to do. It’s true, Anne Frank did not survive the Holocaust. She was captured and eventually died in a concentration camp along with millions of other Jews. But before being captured she and her family had been housed by people willing to sacrifice everything to love people they probably didn’t even know. There were many people who let Jews into their homes during Holland’s Nazi occupation. And I can’t tell you whether there was any connection between the Ten Booms, Barbara Ledermann and the people who housed Anne Frank. But what I can say is that their decision to live and die for love made a difference. Without those people this world I know would be a lesser place. We would know no diary of Anne Frank. Perhaps Barbara Ledermann’s future husband Martin Rodbell would not have won a Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps…

What you’re doing today to simply share love may not be showing any reward you can see. Maybe you’ll never see the reward. Maybe it will be after you die that someone you knew, loved, or raised will change the world because of your influential love. No one can say for certain what the effects of your love will be but God. But here’s what God has to say about love.

When asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) When God created us He created something beautiful, and I can’t help believing that He gave us love as a tool to sustain the that beauty. Are we sustaining His beauty in our lives? And what are we leaving behind? This I can guarantee, love will leave the greatest legacy.

Leave a Legacy,
Jake

Quote from Anne Frank is taken from:

Marcuse, Harold (7 August 2002). “Lessons from The Diary of Anne Frank”. history.ucsb.edu. University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 17 April 2012.

Love Nation 2016 (Day 13)

Legacy of Love, Part 3

Stay In Love

It’s not always easy to remain in the places our love is needed most. Sometimes we want to escape. Sometimes even our very lives may be in danger. But this is war. And in war we must risk our lives at times. But this isn’t a war of hell, it is a war of heaven.

It wasn’t just the Ten Booms that stayed in Holland, risking their lives to protect the Jews being hunted down by the Nazi’s. Thousands of others from many walks of life stayed as well. They stayed despite, or perhaps because of the danger. Many stayed even though escape was possible. Why? I can’t say for certain that everyone stayed for the cause of loving one-another. However, many stayed for just that reason. And perhaps God was working His love through other motivations as well.

In a panic Barbara raced through the streets of Amsterdam. Gentiles weren’t supposed to be out. Only the Jews were supposed to be on the streets at that particular time. The Nazis had gathered trucks and men and were rounding up people—more specifically Jews—like animals and they didn’t want the gentiles getting in the way of the process. It was supposed to be a clean operation. Everyone on the street was supposed to be wearing a yellow Star of David and everyone was going to be picked up. But Barbara had to get across town and she didn’t have a star. Bridges and checkpoints lay between her and her destination. She was afraid.

Eventually Barbara successfully made it to her destination. Helped along the way by the kindness of a young German soldier who took pity and let her continue. However, the reason for her journey wasn’t usual. She wasn’t trying to get home to her worried mother like she told the soldier. Rather she was escaping. She was a Jew pretending to be a gentile out on the streets of Amsterdam when only Jews were supposed to be outside their homes. But her mission was greater than her own escape. Her mission was to also help others escape. Barbara Lederman, a Jew, would spend the rest of the war in Nazi occupied Holland helping other Jews escape.

Do we have the courage to stay in our places of love? In the face of a Holocaust, could we stay to help others escape? When we’re in a hurry to get home from the grocery store, do we have the patience to help someone in need? When our mission gets hard, do we have the strength to stay in love? I pray that we gain the courage; that we see the time we have to slow down and help a need; that we are strengthened for the fight of love. I pray, because it’s nearly impossible to do it on our own. We need a higher power, a strength that can make the sun stand still (Joshua 10:13); we need a loving God.

The night before His crucifixion, Christ went to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed. He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me…” But He stayed in love submitting Himself fully to the mission when He said, “Yet not My will, by Yours be done.” – Luke 22:42 (NIV) Jesus is our ultimate example of love. He lived His life for love. He taught and commanded us to love. And He stayed in His place of greatest love, even when it would take His life. But Jesus isn’t just our greatest example of love, He is our greatest strength in love as well. It is through Him that we are given the ability to go to the hard places in life with love. It’s only with the help of Christ that we can pray at the deathbed of another person and be thankful for the opportunity to share a little of God’s love. Love can be hard, but it is always necessary. My we know the Strength to always be able to share it.

Stay In Love,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 12)

Legacy of Love, Part 2

Plan to Love

We talked often, Father, Betsie, and I, about what we could do if a chance should come to help some of our Jewish friends. We knew that Willem had found hiding places at the beginning of the occupation for the German Jews who had been living in his house. Lately he had also moved some of the younger Dutch Jews away from the nursing home. “Not my old people,” he would say. “surely they will not touch my old people.”

Willem had addresses. He knew of farms in rural areas where there were few occupying troops. Willem would be the one to ask. – From The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

If your name, your home, or your business came up in conversation. If you were the subject of a hypothetical game about who would hide and protect the innocent. What would the answer be? Corrie, Betsie, Willem, and their father Casper knew the answer because they lived it. They opened their door to need. And by the end of the war a little movement they began by just saying yes, turned into an underground resistance. They didn’t fight with guns, bombs, or blades, they fought with their love. It was love for God’s people that drove them to sacrifice their own livelihoods and lives for others. Hundreds of Jews escaped Nazi barbarism because of their decision to let people in.

It wasn’t just a knee jerk gut reaction out of the wild blue that caused the Ten Booms to open their home. It was a deliberate plan to love that had begun in the Ten Boom family when the patriarch Willem got on his knees and decided to pray for the Jews over a hundred years earlier. He taught his children to love and his children taught their children to love. And they followed through. Even today, that same Ten Boom watch shop in Haarlem is open. And do you know what they’re doing in there? They’re still praying. And they’re still loving.

Today let’s make a plan to love. Whether it’s a person on a street corner or a neighbor across the road. I pray we never see something like the Holocaust ever again. But if we do, we need to be ready to open our hearts and doors and let love in. Because if we don’t, I’m afraid we won’t. However, it doesn’t take tragedy to find opportunities to love. We were created to love. The opportunities are all around us. They’ll become readily apparent if we’re brave enough to sacrifice a little of ourselves to give love. But it takes a commitment beforehand. The Ten Booms had been unknowingly preparing for the Holocaust for a hundred years, through their prayers. Are we preparing today? Let’s plan to love. Let’s pray for love. There’s a good chance we’ll never know the difference we’ll make, but I guarantee we’ll make a difference.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 3:2 (ESV)

May God Bless Your Love,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 11)

Legacy of Love, Part 1

Will You Open the Door?

The Anne Frank game was a somewhat popular hypothetical scenario game that some Jews played in the aftermath of WWII. It’s goal was to identify people who would shelter them in the event of another holocaust. “Where would you go?” Someone would ask. And the scenario would play out from there. The Jones’ might be one’s answer. Maybe the Smith’s for another.

Fortunately those questions never had to be answered. But if you could go back to 1944 Haarlem, in the Netherlands, that question would be as relevant as “what’s for dinner.” And a good candidate you might hear repeated would be a little watch store on 19 Barteljorisstraat. It had been founded in 1837 by a man named Willem. But watches weren’t the only spectacular things in his shop. The most spectacular thing in his shop had to be the love. In 1844 after being particularly inspired by a church service, Willem began a weekly prayer service for the Jewish people and peace in Jerusalem. In 1944 one hundred years after that weekly prayer service began it was finally being shut down. Not because the love was running out, or attendance was down, or people were becoming discouraged. It was being shut down by the Nazis.

Willem was, of course, no longer leading those prayer meetings. But his legacy of love and faith continued. Now it was his son, who by this time was often referred to as Haarlem’s Grand Old Man who was leading. A man who took after his father as a watchmaker and a peacemaker. A man who, being a gentile, chose to wear a yellow star of David in solidarity with the Jewish people who were systematically being exterminated by Hitler and the Nazis. A man named Casper, who’s gentle love inspired generations to live for more than themselves.

I wonder if we could identify ourselves with the persecuted in the way that old watchmaker could? The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, and I paraphrase, “If I’m ever put on trial for my faith, I hope there’s enough evidence to convict.” This old man of Haarlem saw people put on trial all around him for nothing more than being conceived. And he chose to be put on trial with them. He took seriously Christ’s command that we should love our neighbors. He was faithful to Jesus’ instruction “Take up your Cross and follow Me.” Eventually Casper, Haarlem’s Grand Old Man, was arrested for his work providing a hiding place for the Jews in Holland. After being severely questioned by the Nazis he was given the opportunity to go home and die in his own bed. He replied, “If I go home today, tomorrow I will open my door to anyone who knocks for help.” He died ten days after being arrested at the Hague Municipal Hospital. He was 84 years old. It would not be the end of Casper Ten Boom’s legacy however. More was to be written.

“Father! Those poor people!” I cried. The police line opened, the truck moved through. We watched till it turned the corner. “Those poor people,” Father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away. “I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God’s eye.” – From The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

This is the first in a short series of messages about how love like Casper Ten Boom’s changed life for people affected by the Holocaust. I hope you return to read more of the story.

God Bless You,
Jake

Love Nation 2016 (Day 10)

Guest Blog

Today I’m super excited to announce a guest blog. I came across this story that I believe captures perfectly how love can change the world. Please welcome this message from “Made to Mother,” a blog that does an awesome job sharing stories by moms about motherhood.

Please click here to see original post at Made to Mother

SAYING YES TO THE ADVENTURE OF FOSTER CARE

– EMILY’S STORY

The call came from a DHS supervisor at midnight: “We have a three-year old girl at the hospital. Her mom was shot and is not expected to live through the night. Her dad has been arrested. Domestic violence. All clothing was taken by police as evidence so if you could bring a blanket that would be great. Can you come pick her up?” Yes.

The call came from a CPS worker while I was making dinner: “I just came on the scene to find a four-year old boy sitting in the back of a police car. His clothing is soaked with urine from his mentally unstable mother; he may have lice, and he is filthy. Can we bring him to your house?” Yes.

The call came from another county as we were getting ready for bed. “We have a two-year old who is sound asleep at the DHS office now. She was brought to the ER with an injury. Her mom was so high on drugs she could hardly function. This little girl is adorable. We just need someone who can take her for the night. Could you?” Yes.

The call came from the placement desk while I was in the middle of a run. “We have a tiny, ten-day old baby boy. Things aren’t working out with his current foster home, and we need to move him. Do you have an infant car seat?” Yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My husband and I are biological parents to two young kids, as well as foster parents to a revolving crew of kids under the age of five. A friend, who also fosters, once told me that calls from DHS are like a Create-Your-Own-Adventure Game. Each “yes” takes your family on a wild new adventure you never expected. I always wonder what adventure we are missing out on with the calls we can’t take.

We say yes because these broken babies need a safe place to land. They need a mommy to wrap them in blankets and tuck them in at night. They need a daddy to hoist them up on his shoulders and gallop them around the backyard. They need clothing that fits and food that nourishes. They need to be tickled and trained and taken to the zoo. They need boundaries. They need love.

I have been surprised to find how much we need these little people, too. They are sweet and feisty and stubborn and funny. They keep us on our toes and teach us lessons we need to learn.

People tell me all the time, “I don’t know how you do it! I could never become a foster parent. It would be too hard to say good-bye to the kids once I’ve gotten attached.” And I get it, I do. I used to say the exact same thing. But now, I wonder what in the world I was thinking. Was I serious? It would be too hard for… me?

Make no mistake. It is hard. There are plenty of days when I feel like I just don’t have it in me to do this. My ideas and energy and patience fall flat. Some kids have night terrors, others have accidents. You wash a lot of sheets. You fold a lot of socks. You buy a lot of diapers. There are endless meetings and appointments and phone calls. There are false accusations and frustrating decisions. Foster parenting can be tough.

And yet these kids are forced to do hard things every single day, through no fault or choice of their own. They are abused and neglected and forced to fend for themselves. They are separated from siblings and shuffled from place to place. Kids in the foster care system have endured more hurt in their short lives than most of us will pause to think about, let alone experience, in our own.

The next phone call will come. And my husband and I will say yes. Not because we are some amazing poster family for foster care. We will say yes because these kids are forced to do hard things. The least we can do is look into their broken eyes and say, “Yes. I will do hard things with you. I will hold your hand and kiss your head and calm your tantrums. By God’s grace, we will figure this out together.”

When it is time to say good-bye, I will wash their clothes and pack their stuffed animals. I will ache and cry and wish it could be different. But I will never regret saying yes.

~~~~~

Emily is a foster mom in Portland, Oregon, who has been married to the love of her life for almost 12 years. They have two adorable kids, who keep them laughing and Googling. Emily also volunteers with Embrace Oregon.

Emily-foster-care  (Love Nation 2016 Day 10)

****If this story touched you, and you’d like to share your own, unique story of motherhood, please contact me and we can work together on it****

Love Nation 2016 (Day 9)

Don’t Forget True Love

“Frank talk, spirited debate, laughter, and love. If I could distill a brain trust meeting down to its most essential ingredients, those four things would surely be among them.” – Ed Catmull

Part of the creative process at Pixar includes something called a “Brain Trust.” It’s a meeting and melding of creative minds where projects, stories, and ideas are presented, sometimes debated, and hopefully, improved. But improvement is hard. It usually requires an admission of faults and often includes some pain. That’s why love is always needed. Because it’s love that can chamfer the sharp edges and smooth the rough surfaces we call relationship. Improving an inanimate object is easy. If it’s too long cut it. If it’s too short stretch it; maybe even remake it. Grinding it doesn’t cause pain. Destroying it doesn’t incur injury. You just do what needs to be done. Just use your brain and trust in the process. But get people involved and the whole thing gets all messed up and painful.

We’re all people. Duh I know. But we’re pretty good at claiming personhood when we mess up. It’s because being a person is synonymous with being flawed. No matter how hared we try, we could all always use some improvement. It often takes frank talk to actually get moving on improvement. Because it’s not always helpful or effective to be warm. But spirited debate often ensues. Because nobody wants to be improved without a fight. It’s important however, that we remember the humanity of the people around us. No one is perfect, but all of us need love. Even prison should be accompanied with love. And if prison should include love, why shouldn’t a co-worker, family member, or accomplice? They surely need love too.

That’s the key isn’t it? Love. Jesus didn’t come to this world to leave it unchanged. He came to make change for sure. But His change also came with the world’s greatest love. Ultimately He was crucified because of His love, but His greatest action of love also left the greatest impact the world’s ever seen. Speaking of how He was going to die He said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32 (ESV) Love often requires sacrifice, it involves pain, but it’s the only way to make true improvements. The good news is that through the process love also has it’s rewards. Because love is self sacrificing at its core it carries with it a core of trust. And trust unlocks the doors of honesty. And honesty allows truth to improve faults.

Without a “Brain Trust” yelling and disagreeing and improving each other and their projects we would not know the genius of many Pixar movies. But love is what allows people who are trying to improve each other’s dreams also be able to stay in the same room together. So let’s remember to love. Life is too difficult to live without it and people are too important to miss out on it. Let’s honestly care for each other in a truly loving way. That doesn’t mean accepting everything the way it is. It means sticking together and caring for one another through the hard process of growth, change, and improvement.

May You Feel God’s Love,
Jake