Serving while waiting - and hoping.

Last night I had the opportunity to spend four hours with seven of my sisters who daily love and serve foster children and orphans. After four hours of conversation, encouragement, confession of sin, details of the brokenness and fear these children endure day after day, and tremendous conviction, I was so stirred up I felt like I could charge the towering inferno of "the system" with a plastic squirt gun - and win!

I could not settle down after they left. My mind was racing, trying to figure out how to shatter the barriers that stand between us and certification for foster care. We want the babies! One after the other to keep them out of hospital basements, police stations, and social worker offices while they wait for their forever family through reunification, long-term foster care, or adoption. How much longer, Lord?

Though the Lord quieted my heart and mind and blessed me with sound sleep, I woke up this morning with the same feeling of intensity and drive. Lord!? And in the still, small voice He so tenderly uses with His children, it felt like I heard Him say, "Remember. Go back to where this all began, trace My hand, and remember."
So, I did.
The result? Perfect peace.
I don't know. But I know the One who DOES! And that is enough.

I share our journey here to encourage anyone who is feeling the pull to pursue foster care, adoption, or lovingly support those who do. We are all part of a story the Lord began writing. The question is - what role is He asking each of us to play? May we all be motivated to respond quickly, and with joy.


Two years ago we received our quarterly report from the missionary we support in India. I usually glance through the letter, but for some reason, I felt compelled to read every word. It gave the usual updates and announced an exciting new ministry. A group of believers serving in a leper colony. They clean wounds, cook meals, and bathe the people afflicted with this disease. I stood in my kitchen with the letter in my hands. Stunned. They are washing the wounds of lepers. What did I do today?!?

Later that night while Dennis was shaving I asked him, "What did you do today?" He responded, and I asked, "Do you want to know what other people were doing today?" I read our missions letter.
He dropped his head back and groaned, "Do you want us to move to a leper colony, Michelle?"
"No," I replied with a grin, "but I am asking ... how are we using our time to serve the Kingdom? How are we serving 'the least of these'? How many people know Jesus because they know the Eastmans?"
Silence. From both of us.

The following evening we called a family meeting, shared the same story, asked the same question, and spent an hour discussing our family life.
We are a family of eight able-bodied people with strengths and passions the Lord has placed in each of us, yet every one of us squanders, at least, three hours per day. 
We asked the boys to think about their skills and interests because they do not need to wait until they are adults to impact the world for Jesus Christ. They can serve Him NOW. Right where they are - and affect eternity.

We talked about our family motto:
Soldiers for Christ
Protect the Innocent
Defend the Weak
Fight the enemy
Stand firm in the faith
"He has shown thee, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

It sounds great.
Are we LIVING it?!?

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2

Fast forward a week.
I sat in a chair on the beach with my toes in the sand while listening to a dear sister share her struggles and sorrows, her victories and joys. And as I listened I grew uncomfortable.
How have I served her? Have I been a faithful friend?
Lord, You have been stirring me up to do MORE. Now, here I am, looking into the eyes of a hurting, desperate friend who happens to have three rescued orphans living in her home, and this family needs a life ring the size of Kansas. Is this who You want us to serve? Is this who we have been waiting for?

I asked if I could tell her a story. The same story described above. When I finished, I looked her square in the eyes and said, "I think you are our lepers!" And she started to cry. Before the month ended, we were taking care of her children one day a week, and we just passed our two-year anniversary in March. ♥

However, the Lord was not finished stirring up compassion for orphans in the Eastman home.
He burdened my heart to have our family watch this movie together. To be honest, I avoided it for quite a while because I knew it was going to break me. I wasn't wrong.
We watched. In silence.
I soaked up every scene, every word, and shed several tears.
When it ended, I needed a moment alone. I stepped into our bedroom, grabbed a pillow, sat down on the bed, and began to weep from the depths of my soul. I could not reconcile the reality I knew with what I had just seen.
Dennis entered the room and said quietly, "I knew this is how I would find my wife."
He held me until the sobbing stopped, at which time I looked at him and asked, "There are just too many lepers, aren't there?"
He nodded solemnly and said, "Yes. Yes, there are."
"So what are we going to do? We can't be people who watch something like that, see the need, say, 'Oh, how awful,' cry, and then do nothing. What are we supposed to do?"

We didn't know the answer to that question.
We didn't know why the Lord was stirring our hearts, making us uncomfortable, and convicting us about how we spend time as a family, but He did. And He still does.
We did know one thing: Ignorance may be bliss, but once we are aware - we are accountable.
And as believers, we have no other choice but to DO.
"Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me." Matthew 25:40
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Dennis and I have fully surrendered our marriage and our family to foster care and/or adoption if it is the Lord's will. He has not delivered an orphan or a foster child to the Eastman home yet, and He may never do so, but there are dozens of ways we can minister within the orphan and foster care community while we wait. For the need is great.

We do not have all of the answers.
There are obstacles in our way.
The Lord has not shown us the who/what/when/why/how of Eastmans and orphan care.
But, He doesn't have to! He has a reason for the passion and desire that is growing, not abating.
We don't have to know.
HE knows. 
All we have to do - is obey.

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