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We’ve talked about trauma resources before on the blog, but never specifically for the church. Church ..read more
As I walk this parenting journey, I grow more and more thankful for teachers who lean into my kids. The student-teacher relationship can be a sweet one. For some students, teachers may be their only trusted adult. Needless to say, the impact of a caring teacher has the potential to be huge. My guest, Amanda Van Allen, is one of those teachers that loves her students in big ways. So, when she saw not only one student’s educational needs, but a greater need as it related to family, she knew her own family could do more to care for this student. Today, we’re talking about jumping into the role of fictive kin—taking on the characteristics of a family relationship for a child in the foster care system. It’s a role that more teachers are being asked to consider, and Amanda had some incredible insights about what she learned from going from teacher to parent in a matter of days.  HERE ARE MY 3 TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR CONVERSATION: 1. Caring for people starts by seeing their needs. As teachers dive into caring for kids, they’re aware of information and insights that otherwise might be unknown. They see the needs of their students like Amanda saw when she noticed one girl’s intermittent attendance record. She knew there had to be more to the story since the girl ordinarily seemed engaged with the class when she was there. When she learned more about the girl’s story, what she found out was heartbreaking. She saw such potential in this girl’s future, but something had to be done. She didn’t know what that meant or where to start, so she just started asking questions—to God, to her husband, then to the school counselor, and anyone who could help her determine the next step. “I prayed, ‘God, what can I do to help this child?’ and He said, ‘Just do something! Just take the next step.'” 2. Learning how to exist within a healthy family can be hard for youth in care. We all want to be part of a family. And yet, to be pulled from an unhealthy environment to a stable, loving one does not mean that instantly old habits will cease to exist. That’s not true in my own life, and it’s certainly not true in the lives of children in foster care. I thought Amanda captured that thought perfectly when she shared her experience with a family vacation. As they pulled into town after a trip where they made intentional time for new fun experiences, the teen they were caring for asked if she could just go back to her old neighborhood for 24 hours, a neighborhood where drugs and prostitution were a part of normal life. She wanted what was comfortable, even if it would be considered dangerous to most people. She had learned how to survive under a particular set of rules. Experiencing love was not in that set of rules. “Her saying was ‘you either get or you get got.’ And we experienced that. And we tried to show her that’s not how you have to live when you are in a loving family.” 3. Being faithful is our highest goal, no matter the outcome. Outcomes are unpredictable in this world of foster care, but we can always choose to be faithful. I’m learning this more and more each time our family decides to walk alongside another family. As much as I desire to help others move towards places of stability and healthy rhythms, I cannot do that for them. Just because we can’t guarantee the outcome we desire, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t step in. It will be uncomfortable at times to support others, and I think that’s good and right. It stretches us in ways we need. I loved Amanda’s perspective at the end of a hard journey. She would do it again. Yes, maybe she would ask more questions. She would be slower to act and seek out more resources to help equip her for what her family was stepping into, but she would still do something. And, she’s still praying that God would put the right people in that girl’s path so that she would have more opportunities to know God. “When we do love others—even when it means sacrificing comforts at times—it’s better than being self-focused.” RESOURCES FROM TODAY’S SHOW Connect with AmandaListen in to S4E11 as public school principal, David LaFrance, shares more ways to connect with and support students with trauma histories. MORE RESOURCES FOR YOU The TFI StoryWho Loves SeriesFind a TFI Advocate Near YouBecome a TFI Advocate SPREAD THE WORD! We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others? Share this post or rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and leave us a brief review.  Meet Our Guest Amanda Van Allen dreamed of being an architect until she discovered she loved history and working with teenagers. Now a high school social studies teacher, Amanda has an up-close view of teenage life and is using her role to let her students know they are valued and cared for. When the need to jump into the role of parent for one of her students came up, she boldly stepped in as fictive kin despite little knowledge of foster care. Amanda loves Jesus, her husband, Dave, and her kids. Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours! Special thanks to Resonate Recordings for their knock-it-out-of-the-park podcast production services! If you have a podcast or want to start one, reach out to our friends at Resonate! Get encouragement and updates in your inbox. Be the first to know about new episodes, posts, resources, and stay in the loop about what’s coming up. Email* Name This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Other Episodes You Might Enjoy: S2E9: Navigating the “Messy and Complicated” Path of Foster Parenting Mitch Nelson Podcast No Comments Brittany Lind and her husband, Joel, didn’t overthink the idea of becoming foster parents. Adoption was part of the church culture she experienced in college—it was preached and lived out on a regular basis. When… Advocating for The Foster Care Community with The Forgotten Initiative – S7E3 Jami Kaeb Podcast No Comments When Josh and Liz saw a need within their foster care community, they knew they had to do something about it. Instead of launching and fundraising for a new nonprofit, they joined up with The… Honest Questions about Foster Care and Adoption and Answers You Need to Hear – S7E4 Jami Kaeb Podcast No Comments Whether you’re just thinking about foster care or adoption and want to know what it’s really like or you’re in it and you need support, today’s guest, Mike Berry, offers a picture of the good,… ..read more
Foster care has a way of completely rocking your world. Am I right?! Recently, my world has been so ..read more
Even though it is definitely still winter here in Illinois, once January passes us by, a new season ..read more
Sitting down to talk with Sandra Stanley this week was a privilege! She and Andy have journeyed down this road of foster care for the past ten years and have so much wisdom to share because of it. Much like my own story, they became aware of the need to care for children in their own backyard, and this awareness led them to action. We see this all the time at TFI—awareness leads to action. Sandra shares that the road has been bumpy, filled with moments that have left their hearts both broken and encouraged. As foster parents, we come to this journey so hopeful, so ready to help and love, and yet when there is no margin— when the uncertainty overtakes you—it is easy to feel hopeless. Sandra offers hope in our conversation. We can create space in our lives so that we are not overtaken by this hopelessness. We can live and serve with joy. HERE ARE MY 3 TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR CONVERSATION: 1. Learning to create and maintain breathing room helps sustain us as foster parents. The need for breathing room is universal, but as foster parents, we can get to that place of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and even depressed very quickly. For me, I found myself dealing with depression during our early months of foster care. And it was so discouraging! That’s why I resonated with Sandra when she shared more about what breathing room is. When our pace falls short of our limits, then we have extra. This is breathing room. We can have unhurried conversation, play with our kids, give generously, and make wise calendar decisions. But when we struggle to have breathing room, that’s where the depression and anxiety sets in. We feel chronically behind—like we’re always failing. I thought it was so helpful that she shared the effects of having a pace that is at the same level as your limit, because I think some of us live here too. We’re not necessarily feeling behind, but we’re at risk of everything falling apart. “Even if my pace and limit are neck and neck, I’m just one bad calendar decision or spending decision or opportunity decision away from tumbling over that line of frustration.” 2. Foster parenting isn’t for everyone, but there is something everyone can do. Yes! I loved this part of the conversation. We absolutely need the whole body of Christ to work together. It’s a blessing to be able to let people come around your family if you’re fostering, but it takes vulnerability. It’s hard to say I need help, but when we do, we often see the Church rise up. So, find your people and let them surround your family so that you can have breaks and take care of your marriage and your forever kids too! And, if you’re someone who isn’t fostering, then ask your foster family friends how you can help. Be specific. Could I help with your housework? Could you use a gift card? Everyone is needed on this journey. “We shouldn’t be a thief of what God wants to allow someone else to do in our [foster care] journey. It can be a calling for everybody. It can be the way that God wants to use His body to serve these kids. If we’re too stingy with it for whatever reason, we rob somebody else of an opportunity.” 3. We must notice the warning signs of limited breathing room and create space. Are you finding yourself exhausted? Do you get to the end of the day and feel like you have nothing left? Are you irritable, responding quickly and harsher than you’d like? Are you feeling relational strain because you’ve taken on too much? If this is you, there is hope! Remember these three things: Recognize this is not a race, and don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. Evaluate your calendar and schedule. Take action to give yourself breathing room by looking at and changing your schedule. Learn to graciously say no. You have the option to say no. “Embrace the fact that we are absolutely dependent on our Heavenly Father to sustain us in this journey. We get going at a pace, and we get going with all the details, that we just forget to pull back and say, ‘God, You’re the One that has called me to this, and I’m going to depend on You to sustain me, and I just need you to fill me up today with what I need to make it through this day.'” RESOURCES FROM TODAY’S SHOW Breathing Room DevotionalsComparison Trap DevotionalNorthPoint ResourcesSandra Stanley’s Website Connect with Sandra:FacebookInstagramTwitter MORE RESOURCES FOR YOU The TFI StoryWho Loves SeriesFind a TFI Advocate Near YouBecome a TFI Advocate SPREAD THE WORD! We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others? Share this post or rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and leave us a brief review.  Meet Our Guest Sandra and Andy Stanley founded North Point Ministries in 1995. She is a Georgia native and has lived in the Atlanta area since graduation from Georgia Tech in 1988. Sandra and Andy have been married 31 years and have three children, ages 27, 25, and 24. They also have a daughter-in-law, Danielle, and a 19-year-old foster daughter. Sandra is the author of two women’s studies—Comparison Trap and Breathing Room. Her ministry passion is promoting foster care in the local church. Much of her time these days is spent in seminary classes through Dallas Theological Seminary, working on various writing projects, and continuing her involvement with Fostering Together – the foster care initiative at North Point Ministries. Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours! Special thanks to Resonate Recordings for their knock-it-out-of-the-park podcast production services! If you have a podcast or want to start one, reach out to our friends at Resonate! Get encouragement and updates in your inbox. Be the first to know about new episodes, posts, resources, and stay in the loop about what’s coming up. Email* Name This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Other Episodes You Might Enjoy: S1E9: The Difference a Grandparent Can Make in the Life of Your Foster or Adopted Child Mitch Nelson Podcast No Comments Marla Ringger talks about what it’s like being a grandma of many, including the unique dynamic of loving and bonding with children who became part of her family through adoption and foster care. You’ll love hearing the story… S2E11: Through the Eyes of an Investigator—Working to Protect Children Mitch Nelson Podcast No Comments Molly Evans knew working with kids was what made her heart beat with excitement and purpose. In college, she interned in a DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) office and took a class in… S2E3: Getting the Local Church Involved in Foster Care Ministry Mitch Nelson Podcast No Comments Chris Shandrow will encourage you to get your church involved in serving the foster care community. Chris is the Lead Pastor of Compass Church in Bloomington, Illinois. Compass was planted in 2013 with the goal… ..read more
Oh friend, if you are here, if you are in this place of getting ready to say goodbye or recently have, ..read more
First Response Program : This programs meets the need for beds, bedding, car seats, and more.  This is a ..read more
Prayer changes things! Prayer is an incredibly powerful tool to gain access to God’s listening ear, ..read more
We’ve talked about what the role of a foster parent is during court before on our podcast, but I ..read more
UPDATE FROM JAMI Are you feeling stretched? Do ..read more

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