What if there is another way than worry and anxiety?
It seems barely plausible when we are living in what some are calling the “Anxiety culture.” With our early on-set gray hairs, our nervous habits, our crazy long to-do lists, our difficult relationships, and our ever-expanding list of ways to improve, worry has become a friend to all, stopping by for visits all too often and for some, it has actually moved in and become our roommate.
In our newly released Bible study called “The Birds and The Lilies,” women are led to engage Scripture, reflect on questions that invite them to new places in their faith, and read personal stories from other women who have collided with Jesus as He teaches them how valuable they are to Him.
We are pleased to share with you the third and final post from our three-part series highlighting some of the personal stories that can be found in the book, in hopes of encouraging and inspiring you out of your own posture of worry. We hope you enjoy these words by Shelley Knebel…
Eighteen months ago, I was sitting in a meeting about our foster daughter, who was 20 months old at the time. I was there just to listen in, to perhaps see the progress of her mother, who was very pregnant at the time, and hear where the case was headed. During the course of the meeting I learned that the unborn baby would be removed from her mother’s care when it was born. There had been no progress. I was shocked. I was not expecting this news at all. Neither was she. There were tears. Confusion. Anger. And by the end of the two-hour meeting (during which I was unable to reach my husband!), I had agreed to be the temporary placement home for the newborn.
I was 50 years old at this point, with four children ranging from the age of 15 years old to 22 years old, plus our 20-month old foster daughter who we had cared for during the previous six months. I was trying to wrap my head around it all. We were leaving that night for a conference and wouldn’t be back for six days. I told my husband on the way to the airport (straight after the meeting) that I had agreed to take in the baby for two weeks to two months. He told me to call and cancel my agreement. The offices were closed. I texted my small group to pray for this entire crazy situation. What had I said YES to this time? I didn’t want her to go into the system when her biological sister was with us. It was a pretty rough time.
So, we talked and prayed together for the next few days. I told my husband I was ready to do everything the baby needed and felt like God had confirmed my YES. I also told him I would do everything until God confirmed it in his heart as well. It was a whole lot of crazy and faith and trust and leaping into the unknown. We didn’t have baby things. We didn’t have a shower, or several, to welcome this sweet baby. We didn’t have a room ready. We didn’t have a car seat or outfit to come home in! What was I thinking? I was thinking that this man I was married to for 25 years thought I was crazy. And that he just may be right! But, I said I would keep my word and love the baby super well, like she was my own, for two weeks to two months. I would say YES and pray, pray, pray for PROVISION.
When we arrived home, I walked into my living room to find a bassinet, cubicles filled with baby clothes, homemade blankets, hats, diapers, wipes, formula, a swing, bibs, bottles… I cried. A lot. While standing there crying about the love of my small group who didn’t just pray for my new crazy (they DID something and they all said YES with their resources by shopping and preparing for the baby while I was out of town), I received a call to go to the hospital. Baby girl was on the way! Biological mama wanted me there. Whirlwind. Emotions. Shock. Provision.
I went quickly and in a couple of hours I was holding a sweet 6lb, 6oz baby girl. She didn’t look a thing like my kids. She was tiny. She had so much hair. She didn’t feel like mine. It didn’t feel like I should even be there holding her. But I knew I was supposed to be there. I said YES to showing up, and yes to loving her well. I took her home two nights later. It felt surreal to drive her home, to stay up all night and hold her and rock her and cry with her. But God had provided all I needed and I didn’t even come close to understanding how big of a deal that was yet. Everything is kind of a blur as I remember trying not to fall asleep as I prayed and prayed. What did all of this mean?
It meant, I said YES. It meant God was taking care of her needs through us. It also meant that He was taking care of our needs in ways I never dreamed. I bought NOTHING to bring her home. I bought no diapers for over a year. No formula for over a year. Diapers arrived on my doorstep and in the mail. New car seats in the mail. A crib dropped off. A rocking chair. More diapers. Toddler bed. Clothes and toys brought over or handed to us as we were out and about. More formula. Checks handed to us. I didn’t ask for anything. I talked to Jesus about this sweet baby and prayed and prayed His will for her life. I was praying for her heart and mind, and He provided every physical need as well.
We still have both girls and we still pray for them daily. God has provided again and again. He has opened doors to the school district for me to love on more teen mamas because of having these girls. He has brought so many people into our world that we would have never known. Our heart for foster care has grown. We still are “temporary” unlicensed foster parents, but we are ALL in. God knows what is best for these girls and He has been holding them so beautifully in His hands. We said YES to Him using our hands to change diapers and feed bottles. We said YES to our arms rocking and swinging and bouncing cute girls. We said YES to our sleep being interrupted. We said YES to our older children learning to love and serve like none of us ever dreamed. We didn’t even realize we were saying all of those YESES! God provided.
My husband is on board. He is passionate. He loves these girls deeply. He weeps over them. He rejoices with them. All of our kids are on board. We are all in. God continues to provide in crazy ways with daycare, clothes and other physical needs. I think we needed to see that physical, practical care in order to grasp the spiritual care He has for us. I don’t worry about tomorrow. I don’t worry about who the girls will be. I don’t worry about any needs of food or clothing we have. I have open hands. They and ALL of their needs belong to Jesus right now. My heart has been ripped open like I never dreamed. God provides. He provides things. He provides love. He provides a way to talk to other people we never knew. He provides a home for sweet girls. He provides before we ask. I am so thankful that we have learned to see it in such a tangible way.
Let us know in the comments below how this story impacted you and be sure to check out The Birds and The Lilies Bible Study. Books are available now at our store.