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He First Loved Us: Bradshaw Family

Long before the Bradshaws became involved in foster care, they would tell you, “We don’t do that”. God, in His unsearchable grace and mercy, changed that for them. God entered in and spoke to Sarah at an information meeting a few years ago. She would tell you that she couldn’t unhear the things God had told her that night. She knew that the only way forward was to care for these children, and walk towards God, or to reject these children and backaway from God. Sarah knew this would be too much for her, but God encouraged her heart, “I will care for these children!”. Since the Bradshaws stepped out in obedience, they have had the opportunity to love many children, children they call their own. In January 2017, they had the opportunity to provide a forever home for a young girl who had come back to their home. that girl is now officially their daughter. Read about God’s great love, grace, and mercy below!

In August 2017, our daughter officially became a “Bradshaw”. Despite being in our home for over two years, we felt this official document would grant us a fresh start. It would prove to be a new beginning for us and a new beginning for her. Until we realized that wasn’t the case at all. You see, a “new beginning” meant that her previous story was over…null and void. Yet, the characters in her story remained unchanged and the previous pages could never be erased. So, we began praying. We sought God’s direction on how we could honor her story and all those within it. And we found that God led us to bring her mother back into our daughter’s life.

We knew that God was leading us back to her, so in January 2018, we reached out to our daughter’s mother. It was with fear and trepidation that I dialed her phone number and choked out the words, “She is my daughter, too.” Completely unsure of how that phone call would end, we stepped out in faith to carry out what God was clearly instructing. He was faithful, just as He is always is. We ended the phone call in tears and with a mutual understanding that “our” girl was worthy of both of our loves.

Our daughter now has two mothers. One didn’t replace the other and whether we liked it or not, both held the title “Momma”. We realized that there was a place at our table for anyone who loved our daughter. Our daughter was worth that and so much more. So, we began talking with her and explained that although a new chapter had begun, we never wanted to erase or rewrite her history. Our daughter immediately took a deep breath and began to confide in us all of her fears and heartache. She missed her mother. She longed to return to the life she once knew. Yet, she never wanted to leave us. No child should ever have that struggle, and we never wanted her to have to choose.

Since that phone call, our daughter has reconnected with her mother. Healthy boundaries were established and understood, and we continue charting the unknown waters before us. Our family hardly looks like what I envisioned five years ago. It’s complicated and messy. It’s hard and often confusing. It’s chaotic and many times, uncomfortable.

But, it’s full of grace and love, full of healing and trust, both for our daughter, her mother, and us! It’s a beautiful song of forgiveness and redemption. And we have no better example to follow than the grace-filled love our Father lavishes on us.

“We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:19

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!!