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What I’m Reading – Tales of the Defended Ones

10 Apr
My Thoughts

Tales of the Defended Ones is the second book in Beth Guckenberger’s Storyweaver series. I loved the first book in the series – Tales of the Not Forgotten and couldn’t wait to read this one. Beth has written this collection of stories for children 8 years old and up with each story pointing to God and how we can see Him in the stories, even the hard ones to read. The children’s stories shared are heartbreaking, yet filled with hope.

I love that Beth includes pictures, facts about the places where the children live, and insight into the culture where their stories begin. She also shares something to remember at the end of each story and a space to write down thoughts as well as snippets from her own journal.

Beth shares these stories of children to let others know that our stories are all interwoven and God is our Storyweaver. She invites us to hear how God is working in people’s lives and to get involved. Not only are both books in the Storyweaver series great reading for individuals, but are fantastic to read together as a family.

You can purchase this book here:


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About the Book

Ben and Joseph lose their mothers, but find a family looking just for them. Antonio is rescued from what seems like a hopeless situation. Caitlyn dares to trust that truth will set her free. Jorani is delivered from slavery into the arms of grace.

Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to foreign places and extreme struggles. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver – our Defender God shielding and defending the defenseless in the amazing ways only he can. These are the tales of the ones left wounded and weak-ones made whole and strong.

About the Author

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Guckenberger travels and speaks regularly at women’s and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. In addition to her children’s releases in the Storyweaver series, Guckenberger has written two mission-minded books. She has also partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program. The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico.
Find out more about Beth at http://www.bethguckenberger.com/.  


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

A Friend’s Journey in Fostering

7 Aug

One of my best friends, Nicole, and her family have opened their hearts and home to children through foster care. We often talk about what it is like for them while on this journey and I wanted to share part of her story with you today.
Life as a Foster Mom
It’s 2am and the phone rings. “Ms. Hawker this is Jill from the Dept of Children Svc and we are looking for placement of 3 children.” As I try to wake up and understand the information being presented I have to process what it will be like to bring in more children into our home.
In 1996 we accepted our first foster child with a couple more to follow. After moving a few times, and receiving my MA in Marriage and Family Therapy we decided it was time to open our home again. So in 2009 we signed up for the call. The process of becoming a foster parent was a 12 week parenting course that covered everything from child abuse, cultural diversity, working with birth parents and the legal system. My husband and I learned so much about what it means to be parents, even though we already had three birth children. Since our training classes in 2009 we have fostered about 20 children in our home. And have provided respite(temporary care) for several others.

When we receive a call to accept a child or a sibling group, we know very little about the children. We are told their age, sex and race. If medical issues are known by DCS, we may find out however some families are very relunctant to share. Children have come to us at all hours of the day and night. They generally come with the clothing on their backs and maybe one other change of clothing. They come hungry, tired and scared. Several children have come to our home with lice, roaches, scabies, foul language, aggressive behavior and most without appropriate discipline. Each child is different and each situation has called for grace, humility and a goal to love the child.

When the paperwork is complete and goodbyes are done by the state worker who brings the child to our home, the child is left with strangers. As a foster family we do our best to let the child know they are safe, they will be fed and no harm will come upon them. The first night especially for little ones is tough. One time we had a 7 year brother lay next to his 4 yr old sister trying to comfort her all the while needing to be comforted himself.

As the days pass there are initial court hearings that I and the children must attend. This is generally my first meeting with the parents. I have had some good experiences and some pretty sad experiences meeting the birth mothers for the first time. If the children are in school, they must be enrolled within about 5 days. Next comes the medical and dental appointments that must be completed within 30 days. After about 2-3 weeks the state will help with getting clothes.

Real life everyday living. Our home is approved for a total of 6 children, my three plus three. Some days get a little wild and crazy. Waking up six kids for school, getting everyone bathed and fed requires an extra dose of coffee in the morning. Homework, afternoon sports, dinner and baths become like a revolving door; it just keeps moving. Our grocery bill increases a bit, our water bill goes up, but God always provides. One year my friend Tamara showed up in the middle of the night with a box of food and toiletries. Others have lent us car seats, given us clothes and provided a listening ear.

I’ve mentioned I have three children of my own. They are a vital part in everything we do as a foster family. As we are making decisions to accept children we consider not only the physical and emotional but also the spiritual impact other children will have on our birth children. My children have become very aware of some of the “baggage” that foster children bring. My children have learned to share not only their toys, their home, their parents but also their faith. My children enjoy helping to take care of, mentor and befriend each child that comes into our home. When certain children have left, my kids have asked how they are doing and if they will ever see their friends again.

It’s not easy being a foster parent.The kids don’t always receive love and discipline. The birth parents can be mean and blame us for taking their children. Well meaning friends have questioned why we have those kids in our home. Being a foster parents doesn’t really require any special skills or traits. It does require a few schedule adjustments and a few unknowns. Being a foster parent doesn’t require major financial burdens, the state will help along the way. It does require an extra couple meals and a few extra loads of laundry. Being a foster parent doesn’t require a big house with a big front yard. It does require space in your heart to love one created by God. Being a foster doesn’t require being perfect it just requires being a parent to a child.

I agree not everyone is called to be a foster parent. So you may ask how can you help. Pray for a foster family. The beginning of a school year tends to bring awareness to the plight of children and more come into the foster system. Consider helping a foster family with school supplies, diapers, formula, whatever God lays on your heart. Consider emailing or sending a card to a foster family. Consider making a special package for the birth children, sometimes they feel left out. There are so many ways to support foster families and the children they serve. With over 1200 foster children between Knox, Blount and Sevier County the need is definitely present to get involved.

Today I sit watching over 3 blond headed green eyed boys and 2 of the most compassionate children I have ever met.

Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them.
Isaiah 58:7 NLT

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows…
James 1:27 NLT 

I am also drawn to a small little word tucked in 1 Timothy 3:2..”hospitable.”

Thank you for letting me share my journey. It’s just a small part of who I am but I believe its making big marks on the hearts of the children we serve in our home.

A huge thank you to Nicole for sharing her heart.
You can read more from Nicole on her blog here and you can connect with her on Twitter here.

An Often Overlooked Opportunity

28 Jun

I absolutely love that there are men who gather to learn together and encourage each other, but I think that there is an opportunity for men’s ministry that is often overlooked. This is the opportunity to come alongside the next generation and pour into the fatherless children in our churches.
John Sowers shares in his book Fatherless Generation that fatherlessness accounts for:

• 63 percent of youth suicides

• 71 percent of pregnant teenagers

• 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children

• 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions

• 85 percent of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders

•80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger

• 71 percent of all high school dropouts

• 75 percent of all adolescents in chemical abuse centers

• 85 percent of all youths sitting in prison
 
John also shares these statistics:
 
Children with mentors are 46 percent less likely to do drugs, 33 percent less likely to resort in violence, 53 percent less likely to drop out of school, and 59 percent more likely to improve their grades. One-to-one mentoring has also been shown to lower the rates of teen pregnancy, suicide, and gang involvement in communities.

I believe that the men in our churches can change the future of our next generation by intentionally mentoring these children.

 

Missions Monday

4 Jun
It’s time for Missions Monday.

Every Monday I will introduce you to some great charities that you can get involved in. When I say get involved, I mean you can donate your money, time, and/or pray for these organizations who are doing amazing things to help people.

Today I would like to introduce you to
The Mentoring Project inspires and equips faith communities to mentor fatherless boys.
Here is a wonderful video to share the vision of The Mentoring Project:
The Mentoring Project is doing something different for Father’s Day. You have an opportunity to celebrate your Dad by making a donation that will help recruit and equip mentors all over the country.
Visit Don’t Buy the Tie to help make a difference in the life a fatherless boy. 

You can learn more about this organization and how you can get involved by visiting their website here:

You can connect with them on Facebook here:
and you can follow them on Twitter here: