God’s Got This: DeClue Family

“You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. GOD, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”  ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭MSG‬‬

This thing we call foster care has rocked our little world and tiny home greatly. We opened our home to a teenager who had aged out of foster care in September of 2014 working with Immerse Arkansas. We opened as a  foster home with The CALL on June 30th, 2015. We became adoptive parents on August 2nd, 2017. We became biological parents on January 16th, 2018. In this seemingly short span of time listed we have had just over 20 humans enter our home to shape our house and lives for the better.

God has been evident in everything. I have continued to cling to the statement, “God’s got this. He has a really cool plan. I can’t see it, but He has a plan.” Even when those words were uttered through clinched teeth and tear soaked cheeks.  – Chrissy DeClue

Worth Our Time: The Hirscheiders

My call to foster care came at a point in my life where my faith was weak. I was profoundly missing the close relationship with Christ that I knew I needed and kept hearing his gentle invitation through the words of James 1:27. I was seeking the “pure religion” described by James and nothing seemed to draw me closer to Jesus than to care for his children.

My husband and I fostered for a few years while our biological family grew, mostly providing respite care. During this time, a handful of foster families and supporters at our church, Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, held a small brainstorming meeting to explore new ways to expand our reach. We began by just acting on the needs God revealed to us. We hosted a Pride training, began trying out new ways to show support to our families, looked into how we could work with existing ministries at our church, and created more fellowship opportunities to build our community.

My role as the CALL church advocate served us well as we planned our efforts. The CALL has provided an enormous amount of support and encouragement over the years and continues to do so, as we navigate the system, learn how to reach out to our church body, and decipher the most practical next steps to take at each point.

Since that initial meeting, about five years ago, God has grown our ministry from about ten households to over 80. I have been immeasurably blessed to get to see Jesus in each of them. The vast majority are not foster parents, but they support in more ways than I can count, and I continue to see love and care for orphans spreading through our church body.

My family and I also grew quite a bit during that time. Both physically and spiritually. My husband and I have four children. Their ages are nine, six, four and two. One came to our family through adoption, and all have been positively affected by our involvement in this ministry. Ministering to children has taught our children more than we, as parents, could have ever accomplished on our own. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for each of them!

Of course, this road has not been easy. There is always a level of chaos and stress lurking below the surface – and more often than I’d like to admit – coming to the top. But working together as a family in this ministry brings us closer together as we all draw closer to Christ. I could not begin to put in the time I have in this ministry without the support and help I get from my husband, and the understanding from our children that this work is close to the heart of God and worth our time as a family.

– Courtney Hirscheider

Sowing Seed: The Turners

Tameka and Timothy Turner of Jacksonville began their journey of fostering and adopting nearly nine years ago. With three biological boys, Timothy, Calen and Cameron, Tameka knew she wanted to adopt a little girl. After attending an adoption picnic hosted by “Project Zero,” they found and fell in love with a five-year-old little girl in July 2009. Six months later, Kennedy officially became a Turner.

Now with a daughter, Tameka and Timothy thought that their family was complete. They had never considered fostering because they “didn’t want to take a kid, invest in a kid, and have the kid taken away.” They felt if a child would come into their home, that child belonged to them. However, God changed their hearts and minds, and they opened their home and became foster parents just a few years ago.

Tameka says God spoke clearly to her and told her fostering is “…sowing generational seed. No matter how long a child is in my home, we can plant seeds in that child that God will grow.” Tameka now understands that even her biological children are not hers, but God’s. With that in mind, the ultimate goal of reuniting foster children with their biological family is just part of God’s plan. Tameka prays for her foster son, as well as his mother, and prays for reunification. The Turners frequently reach out to her foster son’s biological mother to let her know that she is loved by them and by God. Tameka emphasizes to her foster son’s mom that “God loves you so much that He allowed us to take care of your son until you can take care of him.”

The Turners help their foster children learn and grow, but ultimately, they want them to reunite with their biological families. They often show their foster son photos of his biological parents and teach him, “this is your mom, this is your dad.” Tameka has used the story of Adam and Eve with her daughter to explain how sometimes God’s perfect plan gets derailed, but he can still make something right out of something wrong. “God’s plan is for us to be with our biological families, but sometimes, things happen, and the plan is thrown off. Now it is His plan for adoptive and foster families to take care of children in foster care.”

So far, the Turners have had three placements. The first for four months. The second was a very short two-week placement. Now, they find themselves fostering a toddler who has been with them for a little more than a year. With a house full of teenagers, Tameka never thought she would take in a small child, but she wouldn’t change the experience for the world.

The Turners are Church Advocates for The CALL at Emmanuel Bible Fellowship Church, 6012 General Samuels Road in Jacksonville.

by Whitney Holman, Church Partnership Coordinator,
The CALL in Pulaski County

Spencer’s Giving Story

How fitting that this sweet boy donated diaper and wipes to The CALL on Giving Tuesday!!
This is Spencer Sugg’s giving story! Like last year for for his birthday, he asked his friends to bring diapers and wipes instead of presents to be donated to The CALL!!  So on GivingTuesday, he made a special deliver to The CALL Mall!!
Spencer – We THANK you for your giving heart and wanting to provide for foster children at such a young age!!

Unsung Heroes

“A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strengths, but by the strength of his heart.”

Have you ever started something assuming you knew what you would be doing and what you would get out of it, and then, to your surprise, you learned so much more, and took away more blessings than you ever could have imagined?  That is how I would describe my family’s journey as a foster family here in Northwest Arkansas. No one could have prepared me for what we would learn, the people we would meet, all the many services we would become aware of, and, most importantly, all the unseen heroes that we, unfortunately, had never given much thought to. You may not know it, but there are so many amazing men and women working with “at risk” families in our area. These men and women are the caseworkers working hand-in-hand with children and families through the Department of Human Services. Today, in Arkansas, there are 5,104 children in DHS custody, and every one of those children is assigned a caseworker that advocates and speaks on their behalf. Though often overlooked, no one can wear a superhero cape more deservedly than these men and women.

The first time I met our caseworker was the night we took our first kiddo. That night will always be one of my most endearing memories. I’m not sure what I expected, but the cute little blonde-headed boy with his honor roll ribbon pinned to his shirt wasn’t it. His little world had been completely shaken that day. He was scared, angry, and had no idea what was happening, where he was going, or what to expect. Thankfully, he had a great caseworker! She was there in that scary moment when he was taken from his family–she was a smiling face, and a warm hug. She reassured him that he was safe. She brought him to my home and walked alongside him, his siblings, his family, and our family for months and months until his case was complete and a safe resolve for his family was reached. That one case would keep a single caseworker busy, but this superhero had 15+ cases happening much like it at the same time.

When someone asks me who my heroes are, at the very top of my list are caseworkers. They fight on the frontlines for families. They are often hated, disrespected, and mistreated because, in their job, they have to do hard things daily.  They care deeply and are genuine. They believe in second chances and that people can change and rise up when they are given hope and support. They fight and advocate for the children who often have no voice. They start work early, leave work late and take frequent on-call hours at night and on the weekends. When a family needs them, someone is available.

I was curious what the best part of a caseworker’s job is, so I asked Benton County caseworkers Maria Taylor and Sarah Harper what they thought. Sarah said, “Getting to be part of helping families, working for reunification and seeing successful reunification.” Maria said, “Seeing a family reunified. Seeing parents successfully battle their demons, do HARD work and completely change their lives and become a better, happier, healthier family is THE BEST.” The kids they work with become their kids. They worry about them, they pray for them, they lose sleep thinking about their case and their families. These kids all have pieces of their heart and I’ve seen firsthand how hard they work to help these kids and families have healthy and happy lives. I’ve seen them rejoice when things turn out well and families are reunited, I’ve seen them be heartbroken when they don’t.

Maya Angelou said, “I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” This perfectly describes every caseworker I have ever met. Even though it often seems impossible, like there is no way to get it all done and complete everything that needs to be completed, they work hard day in and day out to see it through. They give families hope! Casework isn’t just a job–it’s about helping restore the broken, holding hands with those fighting the fight of their life, and being the person whose lifting them up, encouraging them, and cheering them on. Casework isn’t just a job–it’s a life changing career calling. If you happen to know one, give them a big hug and say THANK YOU! They are truly unsung heroes in our society and here in Northwest Arkansas we are blessed with some of the best!

Stephanie Laney, CALL Foster Parent