September 20, 2015


We are just finishing up the busy morning of errands, loading the back of the car with all of the items we had purchased.  “Why don’t you take the cart back to the store entrance,” I suggest, “while I get the little ones buckled in.” 

A few minutes later I pull the car around to the front of the store where she stands waiting, and as she settles into the seat beside me, she pretends to be getting into a taxi.   “If you would be so kind,” she says in a fake British accent, “please take me to the corner of 5th and High Street.”

I laugh at her sense of humor, and then ask, “Have you been to London?”  I cringe inwardly for being so insensitive.  What a stupid question to ask!  Of course she has never been to London!  What foster child has ever been to London?

“No,” she responds with a sigh, her shoulders drooping slightly.  “I haven’t been anywhere.  I’ve never even been on an airplane.”  I am humbled, reminded yet again of her painful childhood, a childhood that was spent, not traveling the world, but just trying to survive.

In an effort to lighten her spirit, I ask, “So if you could travel, where would you want to go?”

“Paris”, she answered instantly, the light in her eyes returning.  “I’ve always wanted to go to Paris!”

“Paris is beautiful,” I agree.  “I do hope you get to go there some day.  If they offer French classes at your school, you should take them.”

“No, I probably won’t,” she mumbles.  “I probably won’t ever get to travel anyway.  I probably won’t do anything.”

Alarmed at this attitude of defeat from someone so young, I ask, “What do you mean?  You have your whole life before you.  You can do anything you want.  You can be anything you want!”

She stares at me as if I am speaking a foreign language.  As if she has never heard such nonsense before.  “Not really,” she says.  “I’ll probably just end up like my mother.”

My heart breaks for her.  Where are the people who were supposed to encourage her to follow her dreams?  Why hasn’t she been told that the world is full of opportunities and possibilities for young ladies like her?

I have heard stories, hundreds of stories during my years as a foster parent, of children who get “bounced around the system,” moving from one foster home to another without ever forming attachments, without any form of stability, without anyone to cheer them on and nurture their abilities.  And I have read the statistics: every year hundreds of youth “age out” of the foster care system without a family.  Without one single person in their life who is concerned about their physical, financial, emotional, spiritual, or social well-being.

But until now, it’s always been just that:  stories and statistics.  This girl isn’t a story or a statistic!  She is a lovely, talented, spunky young lady who has recently become a part of my life, and I love her like crazy.  With everything that is in me, I hate that she has faced such difficult circumstances.  I hate that she is a part of “the system” and that she has already given up.  With everything that is in me, I want to restore her hope.

I want to take her in my arms and speak truth into her ears - the ears that have heard and believed so many lies.

I want to speak love into her heart  - the heart that has known so much anger and pain.

I want to give her opportunities that she has not ever had before.  I want her to experience family vacations and birthday celebrations and Christmas mornings with people who adore her and know the perfect gift for her.  I want to take her to Paris, for heaven’s sake!

I want to fight for her - this child who has known only loneliness and fear and chaos and instability.  I want her to know that I am on her side, and I will do everything within my power to help her feel safe and loved and treasured.

I want to speak life into her shattered dreams – the dreams that lie broken, kicked to the curb, gasping for breath.  I want her to believe that anything is possible.  

I want her to have a mother who will have unwavering belief in her.  A father who will protect her and challenge her, and will do everything within his power to help her succeed.  Siblings who will be her lifelong companions, and will champion her pursuits.

We, too, know what it means to have hopes and dreams. . .

It means seeing potential, and dreaming that she will reach it.  That she will be given opportunities to learn and prepare for the great tasks the Lord has planned for her.

It means seeing the brokenness, and dreaming that she finds healing and wholeness and restoration.   That she will understand how much the Lord loves her, and will allow Him to comfort her wounds and give her new life.

It means seeing the anxiety and the fear and the uncertainty, and dreaming that she finds peace and security.  The assurance that comes from knowing that the Lord will always be with her.  That she can absolutely trust Him to be good.

It means seeing the loss and the loneliness, and dreaming that she finds belonging and acceptance.  Not just belonging and acceptance in a family, but relationships with grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles.  Attachments with a church family, people who will surround her with encouragement and support and guidance.  Stability.  Connections.  Friends.  So much love that there is no room for heartache.

You are not going to be just like your mother, Sweetheart.  She made choices along the way that led her to where she is today.  Choices that you do not have to make.  God has great plans for you, and we want to do everything we can to help you become the woman He designed you to be.  And if, even if you do some day become just like your mother, we will never stop loving you.  We will never stop fighting for you.

Please don’t give up.  It’s much too early to lose hope.  God has a purpose for your life, and even as we speak, He is working to accomplish it.  We love you with everything that is in us, and believe it or not, God loves you even more than we do!  Infinitely more! 

Don’t allow discouragement to trap you.  Don’t allow your past to define you or your fear to paralyze you.  Don’t settle for anything less than God’s best for you. 

Take those French classes, my love.  Don’t be afraid to dream.


  1. Belinda,
    These are the words I've always wanted to say to my 14 year old... actually all 3 of my girls! Thank you for such beautiful stories of encouragement and inspiration!

    1. Sometimes our dreams for our children are even bigger than the ones they have for themselves. I'm sure the Lord feels the same way . . . "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." - Ephesians 3:20