Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Foster Parenting Means Dying to Ourselves

Leslie Basham: One Revive Our Hearts listener was moved by Nancy’s teaching series on the Song of Solomon. That series is called “How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” She got a copy of the study guide that went along with the series.

Woman:

Thank you for this amazing booklet! I have never thought of loving Jesus in this way. This is the first time I’ve studied the Song of Solomon, and I’ve a deeper love for my husband now!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Did you catch that? This woman wrote, “This is the first time I have studied the Song of Solomon.” I love that, because it shows how Revive Our Hearts is pointing women to God’s Word, showing them how to study it, and helping them cultivate an appetite to enjoy God’s Word for themselves.

Just think what God can do as women get into His Word, understand it, and do what it says! But the only way Revive Our Hearts can continue introducing women to His Word is through listeners like you who support this ministry financially.

As we’ve been sharing with you recently, this month is the end of our fiscal year, which means we’re putting one budget to rest and we’re making new plans for the coming year.

Those plans include releasing three new books, hosting a True Woman conference, hiring some key staff in areas of expanded ministry, and spreading this teaching in even more languages. But none of that ministry can continue without support from our listeners.

So as we come to the end of this fiscal year, would you join us in asking the Lord to provide at least $680,000? Yes, that’s the amount we’re trusting God to provide in order to keep our current initiatives moving and to make it possible for us to keep bringing this teaching to you each weekday.

As you pray for us, would you ask the Lord if He might want you to be a part of helping to meet that need? If He prompts your heart to give at this time, you could make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Thank you so much for your prayers and for your generous support at this important time.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe, for May 8, 2018.

Throughout Scripture, it’s clear that the Lord loves the fatherless, and He calls us to love the fatherless, too. Today, Nancy and our guest will help you consider a way the Lord might have you show that kind of love.

Nancy: My husband and I are in Little Rock, Arkansas visiting for a few days—some ministry, some recording, some meetings—and a really special thing is connecting with some . . . well, I started to call them “old friends.” They’re not exactly old, but friends from years ago when we were recording Revive Our Hearts here at the studios of FamilyLife.

These are some of the friends who were involved in my life at that point, and we’ve been able to reconnect with this week. One of those dear friends is a woman you’re going to get to meet this week. Her name is Christie Erwin. Christie, welcome to Revive Our Hearts!

Christie Erwin: Thank you so much, Nancy! Thanks for having me.

Nancy: When I knew I was going to be here in Little Rock I contacted you and said, “I’d love to have a conversation on Revive Our Hearts about something you have a real passion for—something you’ve been involved with for many years—that we have never talked about before on Revive Our Hearts. Shame on us!

I don’t know why we haven’t; it’s about time! But, for the first time in seventeen/eighteen years, we want to talk about this whole subject of foster care, fostering children, and adoption. This is something that God has put in a deep way in your heart.

So thank you for coming and sharing your story. It’s God’s story of what He’s been doing in your life in this area.

Christie: Absolutely! Yes, thank you.

Nancy: Before we jump into that, let me just say you were involved in the very early days of Revive Our Hearts—helping us with hospitality, helping with a lot of practical needs and things we had here in Little Rock.

We didn’t have a staff here, so you jumped in—as did a small handful of others. What are some of your memories about those early days of Revive Our Hearts?

Christie: Oh I think, just the women. Oh my goodness! Just to see the enthusiasm of the women coming—for a lack of a better word—to sit at your feet and to hear what God had laid on your heart, and to see them fellowship and just enjoy.

You could tell they were refreshed and revitalized and renewed when they left these recordings. We got to sit around the table and just visit with them and hear their stories and hear about their children and their lives.

It was just an amazing opportunity for them to feel special and to just hear words from the Lord that they might not hear otherwise. It was just a great time!

Nancy: You were a very practical part of all of that. You have a servant’s heart. You have an organized brain and serving hands. I just want to say—all these years later now—thank you for all you invested in helping to get this ministry off the ground in such practical ways!

Christie: I loved every single minute of it—I loved it! It was just a blessing to get to be a part of it. It was a blessing and just an honor to get to serve.

Nancy: One of the things that I remember, as you would come sometimes to my condo that I had . . . I was living part-time here in Little Rock, and you were running errands, picking up things, and helping in some real practical ways.

You had fairly small children—or young children—at the time, and then occasionally you would have a baby carrier over your arm with another child I’d never met before. You were doing this thing of fostering babies.

I didn’t know a lot about it, but you just showed me a picture of your family with one of those foster babies from back in the early 2000s who’s now a beautiful eighteen-year-old young woman!

Back in those days you had a stream of new children you were bringing into your home—you and Jeff. I’d like to talk about even before that, in the early 90s, how God started all this.

As I’ve read some of what you’ve written on this . . . you always loved children!

Christie: Yes. Always, always . . . and babies probably the most. I was one of those people that, anytime a baby was near, I was there. “Could I hold them? Could I help? Could I babysit?”—those kinds of things.

Jeff and I, early in our marriage, knew we wanted a family and we—at the point when God began to speak—had three children that were preschoolers. Our oldest son, Chase, was five, our son Caleb was two, and our daughter Cara was one.

We had moved away from Little Rock for kind of a “desert time,” because Jeff was in banking. Right after we moved to another city, that bank was bought by another bank. So for sixteen months we were in this desert of not knowing whether we were going to stay there or move back, what was going to be the end result of that whole mess, really.

And during that time God did some amazing work in our lives through the church we were in. It wasn’t really surprising to me that that was the time He chose to speak to me about this issue.

Nancy: I’m just going to interrupt you right here, because you just said something so profound, and that was: in this midst of what you felt was a desert experience with uncertainty and things that you wouldn’t have scripted and you hadn’t planned, that’s where God met with you and gave you what became a life-long ministry and vision and passion.

Christie: He did.

Nancy: So, for somebody who’s listening who’s in that desert place right now, just know this may be the place where God meets you.

They say you can see the stars the most brightly in the desert. It’s dark, but that’s where you experience some of God’s presence in ways.

Christie: Absolutely! It sounds easy to say on this side of it, but don’t waste the desert! Don’t waste that time. Be ever present, ever looking, ever wondering, What is God going to say to me today?

Though I wasn’t doing that on this particular day (it was a January day). Everything was normal—except for the fact that my two preschool sons were asleep at the same time, which didn’t normally happen!—and I was rocking Cara.

As I sat there, God just put into my heart the words to a song, and I just began to sing it. He just clearly spoke to my heart at that moment, really these profound words, and it was this:

“It’s time for you, My child, to do more than say you’re pro-life. The world has seen enough of the marching and the judgment and the criticism. It’s time for you to put some action behind those empty pro-life words.

Nancy: Is this something you had been thinking about?

Christie: No. I think I did struggle with the legalism of the abortion debate, honestly, and I did feel there needed to be some hands put to the good work.

Nancy: So you were pro-life philosophically, theologically.

Christie: Absolutely! Never any question. But it was if He said, “Enough is enough.” You know, “Quit marching, quit holding up posters, quit . . . Just put the hands to the good work.”

Nancy: What did you think that meant?

Christie: I didn’t know. I actually really thought as I got up and actually wrote down the words to the song . . . Jeff came home that evening, and I said, “I want you to hear something.” I honestly think he thought, Oh my word, she has been with preschoolers a little too long!

I sang this song to him, and I just said, “God’s calling me—calling us—out to something.” We really thought it would be birth mothers, because we had three small children.

Nancy: So, ministering to . . .

Christie: Ministering to birth mothers who were going through an unplanned pregnancy. I didn’t know. We moved back to Little Rock about two or three months later, and I went to an informational meeting at Bethany Christian Services, which is an amazing nationwide adoption agency. It’s a non-profit Christian adoption agency.

They sent me the packet of information, and I read through the birth parent packet—where you would have a young mom come to live with you. I loved that, but it wasn’t me. I just told Jeff, “I can’t make rules and set rules for this young woman that I would want to hug all the time. I just cannot.” That just was not me.

Then I picked up the foster care packet, and I began to read what that would look like. Back in those days, which was about twenty-five years ago almost, the foster care looked more like interim care [when an adoption was pending].

In other words, there was a waiting period for the birth mother to change her mind. So Bethany filled that gap with foster parents who would keep that baby for ten days or two weeks or whatever it was until they would move to their adoptive home.

When I read that, it resonated with me. I said, “This is it!” Well, that sounded like a totally insane idea because I had a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old. Even to the people closest to me, it did not sound like a good idea.

I am not a woman of confrontation. I really do not enjoy confrontation at all, but it was as if God said . . . There was a resolve in my spirit that just said, “Sorry. This is what He’s called me to do.” And so about six months later . . .

Nancy: I assume you talked to Jeff about this.

Christie: Oh my word, yes, Jeff was totally behind it. I know a lot of times it is the wife—quite honestly—who is moved because of our motherly instincts and the fact that we long to make right what is wrong, with children especially.

And so even though at that moment it was not his “calling” per se, he trusted God and me, to know that I would not just say, “This is what we need to do,” if I wasn’t beyond sure that it what was God wanted.

Nancy: But he was willing to support it.

Christie: He was willing, and in amazing ways supported it. So we began that process.

Nancy: And the process, what did that look like?

Christie: Well, with Bethany back then it was much shorter than what you deal with now with the State, or whatever. It was filling out a lot of forms and a lot of paperwork. We still get a kick out of it. They wanted to know about your whole life, and so being the verbal person that I am, I would write these dissertations about how things happened and how we reacted when things happened.

One in particular said, “How did your parents react when they learned you were getting married?” And so I wrote. It took up all the pages that they had. I went to the back and wrote . . .

Nancy:. . . more than they were looking for.

Christie: Yes, more than they were looking for! And when Jeff handed me his to send in, he just had written, “Good.” And I thought, Well, that about sums up men and women, and the number of words that we need to say things!

But yes, that is critical [for your husband to be in agreement]. You cannot enter a ministry like this—no way!—when your husband is not onboard and, along with the Lord, carrying you. You cannot do it. Don’t do it!

Nancy: And that’s a confirmation if a woman has this in her heart. If it’s God speaking, God’s going to put it in her husband’s heart, too.

Christie: Yes, that’s right, it is a confirmation. There are many times when there’s a wait involved. I talk to many women who are frustrated with the fact that they know God has called them to foster or adopt or whatever, but their husband’s not there yet.

Well, that’s not the time. The time is to wait and the Lord will do what the Lord does.

Nancy: Yes, in His time. . .

Christie: In His time, which is not our time, so many times.

Nancy: So you filled out the paperwork, and Bethany took a month to read all of your long answers.

Christie: Yes, they did, and we were approved. Cara turned two years old, and the next month we had our first little newborn straight from the hospital.

Nancy: Do you remember the call?

Christie: I do remember it like yesterday. So much has happened since then. “We have this little baby boy,” and “Would you be willing?”

“Oh, yes! We would be willing!”

Our kids got to name the babies just for that little amount of time that they were with us. It was right around Columbus Day, and so Chase, our oldest son, had named him Christopher—for Christopher Columbus. So we had another “C”—all C’s. He came bouncing into our home—the most precious gift.

Nancy: You picked him up at the hospital?

Christie: We picked him up at the hospital.

Nancy: Did you meet the birth mother when you did that?

Christie: No, we didn’t.

Nancy: So they just handed you the baby?

Christie: They just handed us the baby. We had our supplies. And over the course of the next ten days we loved on him like I didn’t know was possible!

That was the beginning of something that I’ve been able to share with more people than I can count, and that is this: When people learn that you’re a foster parent, invariably the first thing they say is, “Oh I could never do that! I’d get too attached.”

And so after a time, that really started to grate on my nerves. I thought, Well, what do you think?! What do you think we’re doing? Then the Lord just kind of whispered to me that my response to them needed to be a little deeper, and that was: “Yes, we do get attached, but that’s exactly what these children need.”

                  They need a parent who’s going to throw open their arms, throw caution to the wind,

and love with abandon in a way that is unexpected. They don’t need a babysitter. They’ve experienced loss. Even if they’re coming straight from the womb, they have lost their mother’s voice.

Everything that they have experienced since conception, they’ve lost. Kids who are in foster care definitely have been through been trauma and neglect and abuse. They have experienced loss. The last thing they need is to come into my home and be babysat so that I can protect myself and my own emotions.

Nancy: So you were all in.

Christie: All in!

Nancy: So you had this first baby, Christopher, for ten days. Talk about what the attachment was like and what the letting go was like.

Christie: The attachment was just . . . it was remarkable! It showed me how it easy it is. You do not have to birth a child . . . I’m just sayin’!

Nancy: And you knew what that was like.

Christie: Oh, I knew what that was like. You immediately have this protection, this nurture, this deep unconditional love, this desire for this baby to live their life the way God intended, whatever that looks like.

I had no idea what was going to happen on the end of that ten days—and it’s better that I didn’t, because it was profound. We walked into the office . . . Back in those days the adoptive family would meet the baby one day—because they would learn about them that day. They would go home that night, do all their preparations, and then come back for a placement and a blessing-type ceremony the next day at the office. So we take the baby the night before, Jeff and I both go, we walk in, and we hear weeping. I’m thinking, What in the world is this?

We’re shuffled into one office and the adoptive parents—who have just learned that day that they have a son—are in another office.

Nancy: And they have been longing for a child, presumably.

Christie: They have been longing for a child! They were older, by standards at that particular time, and were told that they might not be selected, because birth mothers made the selection of a family for their own baby. That gave them some power to choose where their baby would go.

So Bethany just told them on the front end, “It may be a long time; you may not be selected.” So we hear weeping coming from that room. I told Jeff, “I don’t know if I can do this. What do we do?” And we later learned that . . .

Nancy: . . . the weeping is coming from?

Christie: From the adoptive dad in the other room. They had been praying for a baby, and they had been longing for this child. The birth mother was a fourteen-year-old who, in her innocence, had gone to Band Camp and come home pregnant. She hid it from everyone except her mother, and she gave birth to this baby and went back to her life.

The reason she chose this particular couple is because she had always wanted a baby brother and she never did have one. They had a fifteen-year-old daughter, and she wanted her [the couple’s daughter] to have a baby brother.

So what was thought to be the thing that would keep them from being parents again was exactly the thing that brought them their son! We met them . . .

Nancy: And the man was weeping just because . . .

Christie: The man was weeping with sheer joy and sheer—just unbelief—at what God had done in their lives!

Nancy: So you had to hand this baby you’d had for ten days into the hands of this couple who were going to be his forever family.

Christie: Yes . . . forever family . . . absolutely!

Nancy: And what was that like for you?

Christie: I wasn’t ready. Looking back now, after where I’ve come, it seems almost silly in a way, because he was going to this amazing Christian home, this beautiful home. Yet I, selfishly, was grieving the loss of this little one that I had loved so well for ten days.

It just seems funny to say that now, but it was so true. It was where I was. And so we took him home that night—getting ready for the next day—the last bath, the last all of that, even just after ten days.

We got back to the placement ceremony, and it was just a beautiful example of God’s provision and just His power and His ability to specifically and with great purpose and intent, set kids in families. It was just amazing! But I left there grief stricken.

One of the things, I think, that was so difficult for me was to get back in my car with that empty car seat. Because obviously, you’ve got to bring them there in a car seat, and then you’re not going home with them.

Jeff made it his mission that if we would meet there over the years—the next eleven years—he would bolt out to the car and grab the car seat and put it in his car. If we went together, he would run out the door, grab the car seat, and put it in my trunk so that I was not driving home with that empty car seat.

And I began to realize, almost immediately after Christopher went to his family, that this call on my heart was not going to be fun and games. There was going to be cost, and there was going to be a sacrifice.

You know, there’s a passage of Scripture that talks about King David and a man named Ornan who offered David everything to make a sacrifice: the land, the animal, whatever.

Nancy: And said, “I’m not going to charge you for it. Just take it!”

Christie: Absolutely, “Just take it!” Because David was king, and he wanted to help out. And David says to him, “I’m not going to offer to the Lord something that costs me nothing!” (see 1 Chron. 21:24) That has been ringing in my ears ever since!

The cost to love with abandon comes in many ways: It can be sleepless nights. It can be financial. It can be time, but for me, I think the majority of it has been grief, has been the loss.

Nancy: Loving and then losing.

Christie: Loving and losing and absolutely, it’s . . .

Nancy: . . . attaching and then having to give that child over.

Christie: That is so true, and it’s unexplainable. I talk to a lot of foster moms who, there’s just comfort in knowing someone understands that, because foster care is not supposed to be!

I mean, families are supposed to be healthy and thrive, and kids are supposed to live within their families of birth and families of origin and be healthy and happy.

Nancy: So the fact that we have foster care is an indication that something’s gone wrong.

Christie: Yes, something’s gone wrong. It doesn’t make sense. It’s like a death without a death. Nobody comes, nobody visits, but it’s a death of a relationship that will never be again.

And so, learning some of those foundational truths did not make the grief any easier, but it helped me to understand that part of my calling was offering to the Lord something that cost me.

Nancy: And that God’s calling involved a grieving process, but that didn’t mean God wasn’t calling you to it. That was part of the calling.

Christie: Yes. I think that’s a word of encouragement to people who feel called and who proceed with fostering or adopting and then . . .

Nancy: . . . run into some of the hard things.

Christie: Yes, and then decide, “I’m going to quit; it’s too hard!” You need to fall back, and you need to go back to that stone [that calling from God] and say, “He did call me, and so He’s continuing to call me, so let me push through that with His grace and mercy.”

There’s a Scripture that hit me one time. (It was in my old teenage Bible.) It’s in Proverbs; it just says, “God sees the crisis in your soul!” (Ps. 31:7 LTB). I can’t tell you how many times there’s been a crisis in my soul!

Sometimes that crisis was easy to move through, and He guided me right out of it. Other times it was a faith crisis that took months of seeking Him and honestly questioning, “Are You there? Are you hearing? Why didn’t you rescue?” That kind of thing.

And yet He continues to just whisper: “I’m here. You can trust me. You don’t have to trust the situation.”

Nancy: So you didn’t quit; you pressed through. And we’re going to continue this journey talking about what the Lord has done—not only through you, but also in you—as you’ve accepted this calling from the Lord to care for these little ones who needed that kind of care.

We’re talking with Christie Erwin about fostering and adoption. Be sure and join us again on Revive Our Hearts tomorrow as we continue this conversation.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Christie Erwin about a huge opportunity to share the love of Christ with those who need it the most. How has God spoken to your heart through this conversation?

Would you let us know by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com? Find today’s transcript, scroll to the end and leave your comment. Again, you’ll find the transcript of today’s program at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow, Nancy will be back with Christie Erwin. She and her husband want to show their children the love of their heavenly Father. How can you effectively do that? Nancy will talk about it next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to remind you how much you’re loved! The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.