I don’t even remember how I met Jesika Knight and it really doesn’t matter. Her life has forever marked mine because this girl lives like Jesus. She does hard things with great joy. She stewards her resources well so that her neighbors can live better lives. She loves big and she inspires me to live a more sacrificial life.
Jesika is this month’s What She’s Doing Now featured guest because her One Thing, Right Now is changing the world, one family at a time. Hope she inspires you to do #onethingrightnow. My husband and I adopted our daughter when I was 6 months pregnant with our son.
We had only been married a year and the opportunity to adopt literally dropped into our laps. It was, in fact, as crazy as it sounds. We weren’t intending to write our story quite that way, but God, in His perfect plan for us, did.
I was all Okay Lord-we’ve been obedient. We have filled our ‘hard stuff’ quota for a lifetime and it’s time to get comfy now. You’re welcome, by the way, Jesus. Be blessed.
But serving Jesus is not a one and done kind of thing.
I must tell you I have always been really great at being a good church girl. I say yes to nursery duty and I volunteer for VBS like a boss. And all of that is important and wonderful but somewhere amid all the serving, a few years ago I began to feel like something was missing. Serving wasn’t giving me the intimacy with Jesus that I knew I was longing for, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it.
So being the good church girl I was, I began to study the life of Jesus. I studied the way He lived out his time on earth and I realized that my life looked nothing like the life of Jesus. I was blessing the well-blessed, serving the well-served, and loving the well-loved.
And Jesus wasn’t doing that stuff.
He was blessing the outcast, serving those who were deemed undeserving of service, loving the ones that society called unlovable and I wanted to do that. I wanted to widen my circle and love those on the fringes.
Enter Safe Families.
Safe Families for Children is a national movement that offers hope to families in crisis. As a host family, we help parents who need temporary care for their children due to hard circumstances. Sometimes we get calls about single mothers who need help for a couple of days because they are hospitalized and have no extended family to help. Sometimes a child needs a home for a couple of months while their family works to achieve stable housing after homelessness. Because Safe Families is not foster care, parental rights are not in jeopardy while the hosting is taking place and parents continue to be involved in their child’s life until they are ready to be reunited.
When we bring a child into our home, we bring their parent into our lives. We are not just changing diapers and rocking babies to sleep. We are connecting with socially isolated parents, seeking out resources for them and showing them unconditional love. We are forging our families together, inviting them to church and having dinner together. After the hosting has ended, we continue to be a support system to the family, visiting from time to time or texting to check in.
In September of this year, we will have been serving with Safe Families for 3 years. In that time, we have had nearly 20 children come and go. Some have stayed a weekend, some have stayed months. Some have needed hosting one time, others have visited repeatedly. Every hosting has been a blessing. Every hosting has done the work of growing us in Christ-likeness. There have been many tears and many sleepless nights, but God has been so near. It has been a privilege to walk alongside my brothers and sisters and put my actions where my words are.
We have watched a homeless teen mother become a confident young lady with a career and an apartment. We have seen joy grow in a woman when she realized that she didn’t have to place the baby she longed to parent for adoption, because we could offer her time to get on her feet. We have seen relationships restored and we have watched babies thrive. We have also gotten the occasional 2:00 am frantic phone call and spent mornings picking nits out of hair. We have wept bitter tears watching the fear on a little girl’s face who was afraid to have a bath because of past abuse. But we also watched a little boy who refused to make eye contact and only screamed bad words begin to smile and laugh and cuddle. There have been ups and downs and it has been anything but neat and clean. But we have been forever changed in the very best way.
There is a closeness that happens in your relationship with God when you live in a way where you will absolutely fail unless He comes through. It’s a place of full dependence on Him. It is hard but it is beautiful. I can’t even tell you how much we need the Lord to do this work…because we are no saints.
But His grace has been sufficient over and over again.