Songs of Salvation – Chrissy M. Dennis

Posted March 3, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Songs of Salvation /

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And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:11 NLT

I can tell you my “how-I-got-saved” testimony in one sentence: I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was five years old at Sunday School. I don’t remember that moment, to be honest, but I have spent my teenage and adult years seeking after God.

So instead of that story, I’m going to share a small snippet from my journey.

There were a lot of times as a kid when I just wanted to escape. I loved watching movies and TV shows. Somehow in the midst of some of those shows or movies, I learned about foster care. I was drawn in, fascinated, intrigued. I don’t really understand why, but either way, foster care became something of an interest to me at a young age. It stuck with me.

Then I grew up.

Did you ever set goals for yourselves when you were young? Make yourself promises? For example: “By 25, I’ll be in a job I love” or “by 30, I’ll be a millionaire.” Well, when I was young, I had it all figured out. I’d graduate from University at 22 and be married right after. Then I would have a kid at 24, 26, 28 and 30, because I wanted 4. Of course, I came up with a backup plan, but I wouldn’t need it. My plan was going to work out, of course. But…just in case, I told myself if I was still single and childless at the age of 30, I’d adopt.

So, then I turned 30.

I started to wonder if adoption was in the cards for me. I struggled with the idea of being a single parent – was it fair to adopt a baby when there might be a couple who could instead? Was it fair to deny a child a father?

Enter foster care – maybe I could be a mom to hurting kids when they needed me, for however long they needed me.

So, I sent out for an information package and ended up ignoring it. I was not convinced this was the path for me. How could I ever be a foster parent? How was I supposed to do that on my own as a single woman? How could I ever give kids up when it was time for them to leave? Nope, too hard. I give up.

Except the thoughts wouldn’t go away. Some nights I lost sleep over it. I started to wonder if God had put this on my heart so many years ago for a reason. Was He really calling me to be a foster mom?

Around this same time that I was obsessing over this and praying for wisdom, I met Yvonne. She was a lady at my church I didn’t know, but one day I noticed that she had two little girls with her that hadn’t been with her before. Week after week, I felt myself growing curious about who these kids were. Eventually, I asked somebody who knew Yvonne and I found out she was a foster mom.

It’s not very often I believe two people can cross paths by divine appointment, but this one was, I’m sure. Not only did Yvonne share her story of foster care, but she shared her own story too, and the two of us discovered just how alike we were in so many different ways. Yvonne became one of my closest friends and she has been tremendously supportive of me in this journey – we are each others’ sounding boards when it comes to fostering, and she has been a huge blessing.

After hearing Yvonne’s experiences, things started spiraling and becoming clearer every single day. I was still trying to decide if this was God calling me or not. I wanted such clarity, such a forceful conviction, especially because of how big a deal it was. This wasn’t a decision I wanted to take lightly. I wanted a sure sign from Heaven that this was what God wanted. I wanted lightning and rainbows and massive voices and angel visitations.

I had all of those…Just kidding.

God did make it clear to me, but not like that. He was very gentle.

During my Bible reading around this time, James 1:27 popped up: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” It definitely wasn’t the first time I heard that verse, of course, but this time, it meant something very personal to me. Even so, I wasn’t convinced.

But within a week of reading that verse, I shared the passage with two separate people – two separate people who didn’t know each other. Within a day of each other, they both told me that maybe instead of waiting for God to tell me to move forward, I should move forward until He tells me not to.

Maybe I could take a step of faith and start the process. I started to believe that if it truly wasn’t what God wanted me to do, doors would close and the process wouldn’t work out.

So, I started the application process, and God affirmed and reaffirmed and reaffirmed.

I spent a lot of time praying into this whole thing, and a lot of affirmation happened, but for the sake of time, I’ll share one in particular.

It happened when I was praying about fostering. One day, I felt an eagerness and readiness to move forward. In the midst of praying, a shocking phrase erupted out of my mouth, something up until that point I had never been able to say. I told God that if this was the call on my life, I was ready, and would give up anything if it meant I was doing what He wanted. I said, “even if it means I’ll never have a husband or kids of my own.” I froze after I said those words. You need to understand – since I was in my twenties, marriage and children was something I constantly tried to bring to the Lord and lay down, but could never do. That was the one thing I was NEVER okay with letting go. Marriage and children were my dream. But now, I was okay with letting it go. I laid it down at God’s feet and knew those things didn’t matter if I was doing the will of God. The peace that settled upon me in that moment was so real. I was willing to give up those dreams to follow the Lord. That had to be of the Lord, because up until then, I’d never been able to do that, and I’ve never felt that desire well up inside of me again. It’s amazing how God can change your heart, and at just the right time.

I was starting to get the hint that this was of God.

All kinds of things made it clearer and clearer to me: dreams, other believers speaking into it who didn’t know I was even pursuing it, getting set up with a social worker who happened to be a believer, money being provided at just the right time to prepare for children, and the list could go on and on.

So, I became a foster mom. How could I say no after all that?

That’s how I felt called to foster care. Now, I am in the thick of it with two little girls, ages 4 and 7. I have been fostering off and on now for two years. If I’m honest, some days I really doubt this call on my life. Being a parent is very hard – parenting little girls who are not my own is very hard – parenting on my own is very hard. Some days, I fall to my knees in anguish and ask God, “why me?” I suspect that’s a little of what Moses felt when God called him, too. What I am learning in this very challenging season of my life is to look back and remember these stories. Feeling called to foster care was a vibrant time in my faith, feeling God’s hand constantly pulling me toward this calling. Now that I am here, I sometimes wish God could take it back, or that He never called me in the first place, or I find myself wondering why He chose me. Because I am not good at this, trust me.

But a gentle whisper this week reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And I realized I don’t have to have it all together. Sure, I can work on myself everyday and ask God to strengthen me where I am weak, but God can still do amazing things in and through me, in the midst of my weaknesses. I don’t have to be perfect at this, and trust me, I’m not, but God is.

Besides, as I always remind myself when I feel like I have to be the perfect mother:

HE is the hero of my girls’ story, not me. HE will go with them when they move on, not me. And you know what? They’ll have no better companion to walk alongside them as they grow up. I am just a supporting character who can love them the best I can and hope that God will use me and my weaknesses however He wills.


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