‘Tis the Best Gift We Can Offer {a few lessons from reading home studies}

A part of my job is to read home studies for prospective foster and adoptive families. I have probably read somewhere in the thousands of studies. Although each one has a unique perspective on life and various layers of the human story, there are a few themes that run with each one.
 
1) People do not recall the “things” they were given as children. Instead, they remember vacations, family game nights, traditions, meals around the table, going to their grandparents’ house for family gatherings, feeling loved and knowing they are wanted.
2) People recognize that chores were good for them. Some had way too much put on their plates, while others did not have enough. Because of both experiences, the importance of appropriate chores is appreciated.
3) People recall the tempers of their parents and the fighting that occurs. Looking back on their childhoods, they are able to talk with detail about how fighting between their parents affected them and in some way, affects their current relationships – both in a good way and a bad way.
4) There is usually at least one solid adult who meant the world to them. For some, it was their mom. For others, their dad. For several, it was a relative or neighbor who mentored and loved on them when they needed it.
5) Children, who are not allowed to freely express their emotions, remember it as adults. They recall feeling stifled by not being able to show anger or being fearful if they showed anger.
6) Even in the worst home situations, most people walk away with a set of values taught to them. They can tell the difference between authentic values and false living.
7) Most people are forgiving towards their parents. Even as adults, people tend to still crave a decent, healthy relationship with their parents.
 
Reading home studies can be quite tedious. Interesting, but tedious. Each time I read one, I’m like, “Oh…yeah. I totally could be handling that issue better” or “Man, wish I could be as wholesome and loving as that mom.” Needless to say, reading the stories of others can be quite humbling!
 
However, with each study (basically a story) that I read, I am reminded that none of us are perfect. We each have our own insecurities, challenges, talents and imperfections. What is important in life is that we connect with our children, we give them experiences, and we never abandon or pull away from them.
 
Just a few reminders as we head straight into Christmas. Children will not remember each gift they open on Christmas morning, but they will remember us and the love we give.
‘Tis the best gift we can offer.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and connection with friends and loved ones.  Here is a picture of my crew as we were “trying” to take a decent picture.  As you can see, my husband and I just gave up on getting the kids to take the process seriously, and just went with it.  And, I’m so glad we did!  Merry Christmas!

Bailey Family 2015-38
photo credit:  www.freedom-photography.com

Four Things Every Child in Foster Care Needs This Christmas {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding things that every foster child needs this Christmas.  Honestly, it was hard to narrow down to just four things as children in the system need so much.

“The fact that foster care is needed and necessary in our communities should not fall lightly on anyone’s heart.”

To read the article, follow this link: 4 Things Every Foster Child Needs This Christmas

Blessings!

Caroline

The Real War on Christmas

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Okay, full disclosure here –

I get annoyed by the Facebook posts, and other media sources, regarding the “War on Christmas” that seem to be so present during this time of year.  They all seem to be so wrought with media hype, and offer yet another way to draw a line between “us” and “them”.

If anything, these types of things cause me to consider a bigger picture of what the war on Christmas really is.  As Christians, we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus, and the birth of hope, love, and sacrifice to our world.  In my opinion (and I may be completely alone in this), the “War on Christmas” is present every day, not just in the month of December.

Let me explain.  When we eliminate forgiveness of others from our lives; yet, claim Christ as our Savior, then we are at odds with the very reason we celebrate this season.  Through Christ’s birth, life, and death, He set the ultimate example of forgiveness, and the model to which we should mold our lives.

When we fail to speak of Christ and share how He has changed our lives, we completely diminish the truth of the reason why He was born into our world.  It seems we tend to get more riled up about a Starbucks red cup, than we do at sharing our passion for the blood of Christ that ran red down the Cross.

When we get caught up in the verbiage of whether it is proper to say “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays”, we miss the opportunity to speak these precious and truthful words:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.  -Isaiah 9:6

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:30

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. -Luke 2:11

The energized quests for sales during this season, the stress of whether we should stay home or go somewhere on Christmas day, and the worry about whether we have done enough, bought enough, or decorated enough, all seem to be polar opposites of Christ’s humble birth.

When we hate simply because we think we should, our witness of the love of Christ grows dormant.  His love is not sewn when we choose hatred.

Personally, I have never been told not to say “Merry Christmas”, nor have I ever been offended by someone saying “Happy Holidays”.  I believe there is real Christian persecution going on in this world, I really do.  However, I refuse to believe that purchasing overpriced coffee drinks in a plain red cup (which I am totally guilty of) is far from persecution.

The “War on Christmas” (or so it is called) that media outlets seem so driven for us to consume is much less troubling to me than the real war on Christmas that we struggle with each day.

Jesus is not found in a red cup, nor is He represented by whether we choose to wish someone “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas”, or not.  Christ dwells within our hearts, and in Him, we are rooted in love.  Let us not forget that.

The real war on Christmas is on full display in the battlefield of how we treat other people, how we fail to forgive, how we focus on things other than Him, and how we silence the opportunities to share the redemption of Christ.

 

 Author’s note:  So, I know some of you who have taken the time to read this might be a little bothered by it.  That is okay.  I stumbled and stewed over my words and reason why I felt the need to express my opinion.  I am FAR from a theologian, and I struggle daily with being a good and faithful servant.  This is just my own rambling thoughts of something that has been on my mind for a while.  Thank you for reading it, and I am open to learning from you and your opinion!