I've been wanting to update you all on our recent adventures in providing foster care. I really have. But at 9:30 pm when the last behavior has been corrected, the last pill administered, the last request for water honored, and the last fire (metaphorical, literal, whatever) put out I've just been too tired.
Here's the deal: God called us to do it, equipped us to do it, resourced us to do it. But it isn't always pretty. I haven't always been pretty. I can go from simmering resentment to boiling self-pity to basking in the warm glow of my own fine nobility in the matter of moments. I might hate that I have to change diapers again, but I love working it into conversation. Ughh. God's still got some work to do on my heart.
But what happens in the pastor's home has an effect on the church so I've wanted to update you on a few things.
1. Providing foster care makes me a much better pastor, but it also makes me a much less effective accomplisher of tasks. This has been eating me up at times, but I'm a shepherd whose example is the Good Shepherd who left the 99 for the sake of the one lost lamb. I tend to assign a lot of importance to the things I get done, but in the demands and stress of this adventure God is doing things in my heart and my home that will move our church much further in the right direction than any task might have. Still, I'm looking forward to things straightening out and to me spending more time in the office without my diapered intern.
2. We don't know how long this arrangement will last, but we're game for anything. I have an amazing wife and children.
3. Two year olds with runny noses don't have biological parents and legal guardians. They have biological handkerchiefs and legal napkins.
4. We can't all provide foster care, but we all have a responsibility to the orphan and the widow.
5. "Before the kids came we wasted so much time." This was an observation one of my daughters made in the aftermath of a long day. It has haunted me since she said it.
6. The songs we sing on Sunday will wreck you when you are standing next to a foster child. Good, Good Father? It's so meaningful as to be almost un-singable.
7. It's not all dutiful obedience. There is intense joy in this arrangement.
8. We have mentioned on many occasions that our prayer for Furnace Brook is that we would have a "messy church." What we have meant by that is that we want for the church to be the sort of place where broken people are coming, with all of their baggage, to look for redemption. And what God is showing me is that if I'm unwilling for the pastor's home to be "messy" I shouldn't expect that beautiful mess to be happening at the church either.
9. Before we're done I will have purchased milk from every store in the county that sells the stuff. What time is it? Get-more-milk-o'clock. That's what time it is, all the time.
10. I would hate for our current home life to make anyone feel guilty about the relative comfort and ease that he enjoys. But I would hate it even more if no one felt challenged by our example to take his own steps of obedience to minister to the "least of these."
God bless you all and please pray for us and the souls entrusted to us for this season.
*It's not really a parsonage (church owned housing provided for the use of resident clergy) but you know what I mean.
5/26/2017 06:59:51 am
Dear Joel and family, You just bless my heart. What ever you do for the least of these. I was a foster child and needed love and care. Thank goodness fostering has changed. I was in one home that made a difference by then I was 17 years old. Yes He is a good good Father and I am loved. These children are so special and the Lord has them placed with you for a time. You all will make a great deal of differance in their lives. Love helps us survive life and that deposit of love you give them the Lord will use. They will survive and come to know Him. After all He place them in your care. He has His hand on them even now. How beautiful is that. God Bless in Christ Ginney
5/26/2017 12:25:57 pm
Joel Tom Tate, it is good to read your words here. I can still hear your voice. You and Christine are living your ministry. It's not a light load.
6/11/2017 02:15:01 pm
Foster care, in the church, might be a metaphor worth pursuing. Foster kids are no less important in a family than biological or adopted kids, but do not have the same inheritance. As an adopted child, I have never questioned my adopted parents' love and devotion to m, not my position as their child. As a child of God, I am assured over and over of God's unfailing love and reminded of the sacrifices He has made for me. The metaphor breaks down when I consider my role in the family of God and that I cannot make the choice of who gets adopted. That is between God and Man. However, as "Foster kids" find their way into our lives and church, we can show the love of the brethren until each one has become a true brother or sister in Christ. Foster siblings can see this love in the family of God and long after this relationship. Let us show this love to one another and be the family of God that John talks about in his letters to the early church.
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