There is a Cost to Being Used by God

“There is a cost to being used by God.”  Aaron Couch

At a recent speaking event, I talked with the adoptive mom of two young children from foster care. With grown kids and now in her early fifties, she and her husband didn’t go into foster care hoping to adopt, but they loved these kids, and when it became clear the children would not be returning to their family, they said, “Yes,” to being their parents forever.

And you know what? It’s beautiful.

And it’s really hard.

Research tells us trauma shapes the brain and interrupts normal development. We know healing the brain takes far more than love, although that’s essential. It takes time and often intense therapeutic parenting. This healing commonly requires help from a team of professionals. And it’s long – loving kids from “hard places” is a long journey.

Adoption looks messy, especially to people outside our families who don’t understand our kids’ unique needs. In fact, it looks and feels messy to those of us on the inside too, but we’re no longer surprised. It’s become our lives.

This mom told me people have questioned whether they made the right decision. Did they really hear God? After all, this appears to be a bit of trainwreck.

My response? The folks asking questions need to read the Bible.

Time and again in scripture, we see people follow God with all their hearts and yet suffer. Hardship is their companion.

There are so many examples, but today, the apostle Paul comes to mind. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, sleepless, hungry, and thirsty. Following Jesus did not make his life easy. It cost him everything.

As my pastor says, “There is a cost to being used by God.”

You cannot enter into a child’s suffering without suffering in some way too. Trauma is messy and spills over onto the ones willing to come near. Yet you have immersed yourself in it in the name of love.

Foster and adoptive parents, you are being used by God. You are a shelter for children needing to know they are precious, valued, and loved. When they look in your eyes and see warmth and acceptance, they begin to trust you, which is foundational for healing.

I know many of you face hardships as a result of saying, “Yes,” to caring for vulnerable children. Don’t lose heart; hold on.

The apostle Paul said it himself, “Your labor is not in vain.”

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:58

You are good parents, doing good work in hard circumstances. God sees you and is near.


Each week I send, 3 Thankful Thoughts, a short email you can read in a minute or two with encouraging words and links to posts and resources. I’d love to include you! I’ll send you a free parenting guide filled with hope as my welcome.

With courage and hope,

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

31 Comments

  1. Pamela Greene
    December 10, 2018

    Lisa
    You have answered a prayer that has been heavy and hurtful on my heart for many weeks.
    I feel this post was written for me.
    And I thank you.
    Thinking of you and your family with love always
    Love Pam

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 10, 2018

      Pam, I love hearing from you so much and it makes my heart very happy that this post speaks to you.

      Reply
  2. Regina
    December 10, 2018

    Part of my verses for today:
    12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
    13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
    and sinners will return to You.

    That “then” really struck me this morning…there is always a “then” when God restores us to His joy and I love that the writer points out “…and sinners will return to You.” God restores us so “then” we can reach out and lead others to Him…beautiful.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 10, 2018

      That’s beautiful, Regina. Thank you.

      Reply
  3. Michele
    December 10, 2018

    Thank you Lisa for sharing. Even knowing all of f this intellectually it is so good to be reminded that we do not labor in vain. God sees and He knows and I could never do this without leaning on Him.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 10, 2018

      Right there with you, Michele. Love to you.

      Reply
  4. Joanne Peterson
    December 10, 2018

    Lisa,
    The timing of this post is perfect. We’ve had a long stretch of difficult circumstances. This is very hard raising young kids in our 50’s, and closer to 60 now. This is a very good reminder of the cost of following Jesus, and to be used by Him. We’ve known we heard from God very clearly to adopt, and then with this long stretch, we’ve questioned if we did hear from God by our own “agenda”. I realize how, it’s still God’s will, but being used by Him is costing us. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      The apostle Paul and all he went through for the sake of loving Jesus and serving Him – truly incredible. Good to hear from you, Joanne.

      Reply
  5. Debra Young
    December 10, 2018

    Today! This is exactly what I needed. We are in a hard place with one of our four adopted children (12 yo daughter). I too feel this was meant for me. Thank you Jesus that I stopped to look at this…. It was from You through Lisa. Thank you Lisa for following God in what He prompts you to write as well. The struggle is real! Much love – The Young Tribe of 7.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      I love hearing from you, Debra. Thanks for encouraging me too.

      Reply
  6. Shari mcminn
    December 10, 2018

    Yes. Yes. Yes!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      You know this so well, Shari.

      Reply
  7. Gabi
    December 10, 2018

    Thank you so much. Such a good reminder of what is true to my truly weary soul.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      You’re welcome, Gabi. Our help comes from the maker of heaven and earth – and He loves you

      Reply
  8. Carolyn
    December 11, 2018

    Wish I could have heard this years ago. Your sentence, “Trauma is messy and spills over onto the ones willing to come near” is really true for our family. And many times I questioned if I was following God’s will. Thank you for the encouragement!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      You’re so welcome, Carolyn. Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Reply
  9. Kara
    December 11, 2018

    Thank you so much for this post. Sometimes I question whether adoption was selfish on my part to have a child. We pretty much knew from the beginning that our daughter would not being going back to her mother and fought like heck to keep her but sometimes I question did we not fight fair even though I know we are giving her the chance to succeed in life.
    Thank you for the statement of loving children from hard places is a long journey… I need that.

    I hope today is a good day for you. We all need that in our lives.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      Kara, hold on through the long days. Many blessings to you.

      Reply
  10. Katie
    December 11, 2018

    The Lord knew I needed to hear this today. Thank you for the encouragement, and for being obedient to share vulnerably. The longer we do this, the more we understand how vital true community that understands is.
    Love to you from this tired, questioning, teary-eyed, but grateful mama…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      Love right back to you, Katie. I get the teary eyes and fatigue. God is with us.

      Reply
  11. Ashley Nabors
    December 11, 2018

    Thank you Lisa! Just love your honest, simple yet beautiful way of writing. It encourages my heart every time. 1 Cor 15:58 is a verse I love although I never have thought about it in the context of loving and parenting my adoptive daughter- but that indeed is doing His work, in Him because it’s what He has called me to. Thanks for that reference!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      You’re so welcome, Ashley. Parenting is definitely good work and your labor is not in vain.

      Reply
  12. Jill
    December 11, 2018

    I was literally crying out to the Lord today, saying how weary I feel ( as if He doesn’t already know) . I know the Holidays are a difficult time with our kiddos from hard places, but it still catches me off guard even 7 years after our older child adoption. I know God’s got me, but wow some days are still hard. Thank you for sharing this post! Merry Christmas and God bless 🎄

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 11, 2018

      Jill, I was just saying today that the journey of healing is so much slower than I expected – it’s lifelong. But at some point, you are the support and your child is responsible for their own healing. The weariness won’t last forever, joy comes in the morning.

      Reply
  13. Patti
    December 12, 2018

    Thank you. This is my story. After being widowed at age 51, I took in a young girl (9) for “60 to 90 days” who has become my forever daughter and is now almost 17. It is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I have asked myself at times if I rushed in, or didn’t hear God’s voice correctly. But, when I read scripture I so clearly see God’s heart for the orphans, and that’s the “voice” I followed. Being used in this way should be looked on as a great privilege, but sometimes the messiness gets in the way of that. Thanks for the reminder that we were never promised that it would be easy! (I saw you one day this summer at the Farmer’s market and wanted to talk to you but was too shy!)

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 12, 2018

      I love your story and your heart. I wish you would have introduced yourself at the farmers market! I love that.

      Reply
  14. Sammy
    December 12, 2018

    After adopting 12 kids (talked to you on Instagram) I am finding out healing can take a life time! But, I am very blessed because the Lord spoke to me and I know now 100 % this was His will!! Still hurts sometimes. Then, again it’s not only with adoptive kids. I have plenty of friends with biological kids with the same issues.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 12, 2018

      That’s a good point, Sammy. Children born into a family can struggle too. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  15. Jane
    December 13, 2018

    Thank you Lisa, that’s just what I needed to read right now!
    God bless

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 14, 2018

      So glad it’s helpful, Jane. Blessings to you.

      Reply
  16. Chantelle
    December 14, 2018

    Once again, you encourage my heart. <3 Thank you.

    Reply

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