The life of an adoptive or foster parent is anything but easy. Rewarding, yes, but often difficult. Sometimes, the best form of encouragement is the simple, straightforward kind.

That’s what hosts Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber provide for those listening to this episode. They charge adoptive and foster parents to be relentlessly consistent in loving on the children in their homes, especially during the hard times, while also trusting God for the best outcomes.

Resources:

Find out how to give to the Ministry Adoption Fund—to help families like the Browns— by visiting sendrelief.org/foster-care-adoption/.

Transcript:

Tera Melber: Welcome back. It’s so good to be with you guys again today. I really, really love our community and doing this podcast and the support that we get from one another. Did you know that the adoption and foster community is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States?

Lynette Ezell: Wow, I heard that and it’s like, okay, I believe it. All my people do it.

Tera Melber: That’s right. That’s right. We want you all to know that you are a brave and selfless tribe and it’s such an honor that you share time with us. We’re just really grateful for you. It encourages us to hear how God is moving among the body of Christ.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, you really are an encouragement to us, and we love hearing from you. We love hearing your ups and your downs.A few weeks ago we got this email from a church staff member and she was just super concerned for her senior pastor. It seems that the pastor and his family had adopted almost 10 years ago, and their adopted child was now a teenager. Everything had been going pretty well and this child seemed to be moving forward and healing until one day. Life turned on a dime. The walls came tumbling down. Now that the child is becoming a young adult, the trauma, Tera, and we’re seeing this over and over as they enter adulthood, is really rearing its ugly head and inflicting deep pain upon the entire family. She’s violent, she’s angry, she’s just mad, and the family’s exhausted. They wrote to us for prayer and for help.

Tera Melber: Well, unfortunately as we both know, that trauma does not tell time. We remember too, that in brain development, especially as they’re getting older, that our brain goes through these new growth sections at 8 and 12 and 16 and 18, so as they’re entering adulthood, they’re having to reprocess their story in a new way. The effects of that can be really overwhelming. The sweet adjusted child that you once knew can sink deep into despair and become stuck in past memories.

Lynette Ezell: When the brain develops like that, like you said, at 8, 12, 16 and 18, even though their body is developmentally 18, it doesn’t mean that that’s what their mental age is.

Tera Melber: Right. Correct. Which is really why it’s important for us to have a professional or a person that over time, when we hit these new areas where we’re getting stuck, that we can say, “Hey, you know, we haven’t been to see Ms. Carol for a while. I see you’re really struggling. Let’s just go back and talk through some of these issues that we have.” Because it’s going to pop up again and again. As they leave the nest, then all of a sudden, the fears of being alone or insecure can easily rise up, and that can really wreak havoc in their mind if they don’t have anyone to really process through with it.

Lynette Ezell:
So true. Do you remember playing the game, Capture the Flag?

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: My kids love it. When we lived in Louisville and we had those woods, our kids played it all the time. Loved to have friends over and play that. If you’ve ever been in a youth group, you’ve played Capture the Flag. But the idea is to capture the enemy’s flag. Well, that’s kind of how I see this calling. I’m thinking about it the other day. Every time a child is placed into a home where they will be loved, introduced to Jesus, it’s an eternal change here. The enemy loses ground. We’re capturing the enemy’s flag. War is declared against us personally and against our families because he’s just not going to sit back and let that happen.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: I believe I’ve known this: That the Lord is raising up an army and the enemy is just not going to stand for it. I truly believe that Satan also knows that his time is limited.

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: That he’s running out of time to ruin lives. He’s calling a full court press to ruin and discourage as many families as he can.

Tera Melber: It really seems that many foster and adoptive parents that I’ve spoken to and worked with lately have really all been in a deep struggle. It’s really almost sometimes discouraging for me. I’m like, is somebody doing well? This is hard.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, it is hard.

Tera Melber: It’s very hard work. But we do hear so many stories of despair and discouragement, but we have to rest in the assurance of knowing that the enemy wants nothing more than to monopolize our thoughts, crush our hopes and push us to quit or walk away. But, as the caregivers, as we find ourselves weary and worn and asking God, “When is the pain and the hurt going to let up? When is this going to get better? When is there going to be laughter in my home again?” Sometimes we just get to the despair of Elijah. When he says, “Lord, I just can’t live like this for the rest of my life,” but we have to rest assured that God is in control and we can rely and rest in him.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Today I just want to talk about, keep showing up.

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: And reiterate the reality that, how can you not expect to have hard seasons?

Tera Melber: Right, it’s a broken world.

Lynette Ezell: Our lives have entered this deep brokenness of others, and our families have been built, think about it, from loss, trauma, neglect. We have also been faithful, led by the hands of Jesus for just this time. But like you said, it’s just hard.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: It’s difficult. Now he could have placed us, you and I, and everyone listening. He could have placed us on planet Earth at any other time in history, but he put us here right now.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: When the need to love the fatherless, and really care for the vulnerable has never been greater.

Tera Melber: That’s right. So for the next few minutes, can we just encourage you to keep showing up for that precious soul that the Lord has placed in your home? Let’s just lock arms and face our weariness together, and not allow the enemy to gain any more territory.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely, and just to be transparent today, like many others, we’ve been in a very challenging time at our house. Our kids are entering adulthood. That can be tricky. It really can, especially for kids from trauma and neglect. If you’re like me, Tera, I can find myself expecting things, like I want better things, right?

I’m always hoping tomorrow will be better, or it’s going to get better. I think things like, “Man, we’ve been pouring into our family for so long. Lord, these things should be better by now. It should have turned, or trauma should be further down the road of healing by now. Or things should be…They just should be better.” When people aren’t where we think they should be, I’ll be honest, heavy despair and disappointment can just choke the joy out of living.

Tera Melber: Especially in light of prosperity gospel, where everybody just says if you have enough faith all of this is going to be perfect. Well, we weren’t promised any of that.

Lynette Ezell: No, none.

Tera Melber: We weren’t. I get it. All of those feelings though, are valid feelings. Unfortunately, there just aren’t easy answers, but there are things that we can do to ensure that we keep showing up and fighting for our families.

Lynette Ezell: That’s half the battle. We could do a book, Showing Up For Dummies, just really show up, get up. During a time of intense struggle, one of the first things I have to do, I have to talk to myself. I have to remind myself that I’ve been handpicked for this assignment. I tell you guys all the time, I came from nothing. I really did. I was picked for this.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: This painful season, it hasn’t caught my Lord off guard. It hasn’t caught him by surprise. I have to go back to my “why,” and remember why we started this journey. We were led by the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t given a, like you said Tera, a promise of a victorious outcome this side of heaven, but I am promised the Lord’s victory.

Here’s what I’ve had to resolve: Maybe the goal isn’t the outcome, but more of embracing life today, of living in the hurt, of choosing to live in faithfulness for this day. This very difficult, challenging 24 hours is an opportunity for me to choose Jesus. Instead of falling apart, I just don’t let myself do that. There have been times, but I fight it. Instead of falling apart, I take those thoughts captive and I choose to fall in step with the Lord’s presence and his sovereignty. Now I stress that “choose” part.

Tera Melber: The choosing is the most important word in that sentence.

Lynette Ezell: I had someone challenge me one time to just climb in his lap and rest. I don’t have to be productive every day.

Tera Melber: No.

Lynette Ezell: I don’t have to see movement every day.

Tera Melber: No.

Lynette Ezell: To just sit in his lap and rest. Even when I can’t understand the hand of God, I know I can trust his heart. The Lord really reiterated this to me when I was taking care of my dad when he was dying. He is good and loving toward all he has made. Man, we got to remember he made us. He chose us for this time, this short span of time. We’re not here very long. Scripture says we’re a vapor and to embrace and flourish in this calling, he knows exactly how and why. I do believe the means… He knows what he’s doing to help me navigate this.

Tera Melber: That’s right. One day all of this ends, and we’ll be victorious because Jesus, the risen one, is eternally victorious.

Lynette Ezell: Amen.

Tera Melber: We can all be okay today because he has already won the battle for tomorrow. As much as we love these wonderful people that the Lord has placed in our homes, we can’t control the outcomes. He has called us, in our sanctification, to be obedient to him today. But we can be faithful and we can rest in his victory because one day, Revelation 21:4 says, He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or trauma or pain.”

Lynette Ezell: It’s hard to imagine life without tears.

Tera Melber: It really is, because there are a lot of them.

Lynette Ezell: There are.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. I can sit and cry with a foster mom any day of the week. The stories are so hard and so heartbreaking, and reunification is hard on both sides. Adoption is hard. It comes from great loss.

Tera Melber: As we recognize that and know that he’s growing us into the likeness of his son and that he loves our children more than we love our children, and even in all of the hard things, that he has a purpose and a plan. He knew us before we were even formed. He created us in our mother’s womb. He appointed us for such a time as this and he is going to grow us into the likeness of his son. That growth and sanctification is not easy.

Lynette Ezell: No, it’s not.

Tera Melber: I’ve found, Lynette, that being really faithful in community really spurs me on when I get tired and weary.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, it really does. Any groups at your church help. I know my church does a monthly time where foster and adoptive parents get together. My pastor preaches from the pulpit.

Tera Melber: We have a Wednesday night group and we don’t meet in the summertime. Last night was our first week back.

Lynette Ezell: Oh, I bet it was great.

Tera Melber: It was like a family reunion. We were hugging and there were new people in there and they’re like, “I’m really excited about being a part of this. Y’all like each other a lot.” We have prayed together, we’ve cried together, we’ve celebrated victories together, we’ve encouraged one another. Being in the same room with all of these like-minded people through all of these ups and downs is one of the most encouraging parts of my week.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. It’s imperative to my wellbeing. I miss Sunday night church now. I really do.

Tera Melber: I know.

Lynette Ezell: It’s a dead art. Even here at NAMB, at the mission board, we know our church planters thrive and do better when surrounded by faithful community. That’s just how we’re wired. The enemy knows if he can isolate us-

Tera Melber: He can weaken us.

Lynette Ezell: Oh man, he can, and defeat us. It always encourages me to join in and serve with others. If I make myself get past my feelings in serving and sharing life with other people, it really energizes me. It does. It reminds me that I matter, I’m a part of something and that I’m loved.

The early church laid this foundation. They did. This model, for strength through community. When I purposely take the time to care for others, go out of my way, do something for others, and pray with them, because I told them I would and to follow through about their pain, I find that our burdens seem lighter and I feel closer to people. Our joy deepens as we share this life. It’s in community that we learned to help carry one another’s burdens.

Tera Melber:  Disappointments happen in life to everybody at some time or another. We really need a tribe of people that we can trust and depend on. It’s how our maker molded our souls. We were never, never, never called to do this alone. Our struggles in times of suffering, they really prepare us to help others. How could we ever truly feel the pain of another person if we’d never experienced it ever ourselves.

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Tera Melber: We have to remember that the Lord wastes none of our experiences, no matter how painful or difficult they may be, that he is a God of order and he’s a God of purpose and he’s working for our good and for the good of others.

Lynette Ezell: Suffering leads us to reach out to others. It really does.

Tera Melber: Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It’s good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.”

Lynette Ezell: Wow, it is good for me to be afflicted. It sounds like the apostle Paul.

Tera Melber: It does, doesn’t it?

Lynette Ezell: It really does. I really struggle to remember this at times. Do you?

Tera Melber: I do.

Lynette Ezell: In the midst of it, because it hurts.

Tera Melber: In the middle of it you just want to say, “Come on Lord, you parted the Red Sea. Get us out of this.”

Lynette Ezell : Yeah, because you can do all things.

Tera Melber:
Right.

Lynette Ezell: Our trials truly do, as you said earlier, have meaning and purpose. There’s always more to it than what we see on the surface. Pain can promote maturity in our lives.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: I believe that pain, for Kevin and I, has prepared us for ministry.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: It really has. The Letter of Philippians is just a clear example. I love Philippians.

Tera Melber: I do too.

Lynette Ezell: I’ve been eating on the first and second chapters lately so much. It’s an example of suffering for faithfulness and Paul was suffering for the benefit of others. It was his faith that landed him in jail. He was doing the right thing. He was doing kingdom work and he ends up in jail. But from there he encourages new believers. I think about a 1:29. He said, “It’s been granted to us, to all of us, that for the sake of Christ, we will not only believe in him, but also suffer for him.”

Tera Melber: If he had not been suffering in that prison cell, think of what we wouldn’t have in the word of God.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely.

Tera Melber: His suffering brought great fame to the Lord’s name, even today, all these years later.

Lynette Ezell: Traveling to get our kids or when we’ve done overseas missions or gone to South America, they get it.

Tera Melber: They do.

Lynette Ezell: They get the suffering thing a lot better than we do here in America because in Western culture, we’ll do everything we can to avoid pain and suffering. We will go way out of our way and drive around the county to avoid suffering. None of us would choose it, but I just think it’s time, as families, as moms and dads, that we face the reality that there really is no way to avoid pain. If any group of people know this, it would be foster and adoptive families.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: We’ve declared, “Yes Lord, we’ve broadened our tents, we’ve opened our lives to the hurting world.” I don’t know of a group of people that have embraced brokenness more than adoptive and foster families.

Tera Melber: Knowing ahead of time that you’re walking into it. You may not know what that means, but you do know I’m walking into something really, really messy. It’s really in our pain that we are driven to the healing power of Christ. The one thing I think about too, when you were talking about Western culture versus other parts of the world not experiencing pain is, we have songs that tell us to go wipe off our crazy. We’re always saying, “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” What if we really all did just learn to sit in the pain.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah.

Tera Melber: Not sit in it to where you-

Lynette Ezell: Not wallow it.

Tera Melber: Not wallow in it, exactly. But to learn how to say it’s okay to feel all of that and to experience it and be vulnerable with another human being and say, “I’m really hurting. Can you walk alongside me with this?”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, and with the questions you said earlier, like Lord, I’m ready for all this to end.

Tera Melber: Right. Right.

Lynette Ezell: It’s okay. He can shoulder it. I tell my kids all the time, “Run to Jesus first. Mom’s here. He can shoulder all of this.”

Tera Melber: Right. When you were talking about that the enemy wants us to feel isolated and then he defeats us and weakens us. I was just reminded of this with a story of a young adoptive foster mom who took her life not very long ago, and she had eight children, because the pain was so hard and people didn’t even realize how much she was struggling because she didn’t share. We just want to tell you guys the, these things are hard, but you don’t have to end things like that. The body of believers can build you up. Even if today you’re struggling, we’re begging you to talk to someone and to get the help that you need, because God is bigger than today’s overwhelming problems.

Lynette Ezell: Yeah. Dr. Jeremiah’s been doing a great, great teaching lately.

Tera Melber: He has. On Joseph?

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, on adversity. One thing he brought out about Joseph… He said… It’s from Psalm 105, verse 17 and 18. To sum it up, it’s through Joseph’s suffering, iron came into his soul. I love that. When he came out of that prison suffering for something he didn’t do with Potiphar’s wife, he was an iron souled man. Dr. Jeremiah goes on to add that God needs iron clad souls.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: Man, I love that. I’m giving him all the credit, Dr. Jeremiah, I just love this teaching. Those who have suffered and have grabbed a hold of the hem of Jesus’s garment come out of this stronger.

Tera Melber: That’s right. That’s what he’s called us to. Suffering is the means to our maturity, to our perseverance, to our endurance, to our long suffering. Whatever word you want to put in there. The only way that we mature in that way is to go through very difficult times. I don’t want that for myself. It’s not fun. I sure don’t want it for my children, but I also don’t want children who aren’t iron-clad servants of the Lord. If that means, “Lord Jesus, take us through whatever you need to do, but help us to lean into you and be vulnerable with others so that we can come out on the other side and your name can be made more famous.”

Lynette Ezell: Yeah, I love that. Something else just really simple and practical I have to do, music is just a balm for my soul.

Tera Melber: No kidding.

Lynette Ezell: It really is. Surrounding myself with praise and worship and the teaching of God’s word, it’s at our fingertips now on our phones.

Tera Melber: I listen to it every day.

Lynette Ezell: Every day. Yeah. If not, then your mind gets to racing. It helps me to move forward. My sweet Libby, she’s always sharing new praise songs with me, but I love this new song by Bethel Worship, Raise a Hallelujah. They actually wrote the song the night they got word that an enemy was attempting to take the life of a little boy in their circle, in their group, named Jackson. The words say, “I raise a hallelujah in the presence of my enemies. I raise a hallelujah louder than my unbelief. I raise a hallelujah. My weapon is a melody. I raise a hallelujah. Heaven comes to fight for me.” The Lord moves the world to rescue us. They continue to play that song and share that, “I’m going to sing in the middle of the storm, louder and louder. You’re going to hear my praises roar. Up from the ashes, hope will arise because death is defeated and King Jesus is alive.”

Tera Melber: You know the battle for our families and the hearts of our children is real and it’s intense. If we don’t keep showing up and choosing to walk in faith despite our feelings, who’s going to stand in the gap for them?

Lynette Ezell: That’s right.

Tera Melber: When we worship and we remember God’s character and we say it out loud, heaven invades our pain and we can see Jesus in the middle of the storm. We’re lifting our hands and raising it all up to the only one who can bring victory from our pain.

Lynette Ezell: Amen, that will preach. Some days pain and doubt really attempt to cripple us and fear. We can’t move forward, to just immobilize us. I’ve learned to put up stops.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: When I’m resting in God’s word or like you said, having preaching and teaching going on in my home, praise and worship, the enemy cannot control my thoughts.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: He cannot gain more ground. In worship, the father enables me to take back the time that fear has stolen, probably in the middle of the night.

Tera Melber: Right.

Lynette Ezell: And then I can bravely face this day. I’m not worried about tomorrow, but bravely facing this day.

Tera Melber: When we intentionally surround ourselves with all that truth, the have enemy loses. He doesn’t want any more. He wants nothing more than to monopolize my thoughts. He wants my hope to feel crushed and he wants my affections for this struggling child to wane.

Lynette, as you mentioned earlier, that he knows that his time is limited and he’s attempting to destroy every life he can. The word says he comes to steal, to kill and destroy. If we stay in the fight by continuing to work and sew in kingdom work, then we’re refusing to let him gain any more ground in our lives.

Lynette Ezell: Can I just end with something that I found in my Bible? I noticed it as we were working on this podcast. A while back, I had been in a difficult time. I’d kind of pulled back, and it was lonely. As I read in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in the Lord, it’s not in vain.” Beside that I had written, “Lynn keep showing up.”

Tera Melber: That’s right. I have that written on a chalkboard in my kitchen, that exact verse.

Lynette Ezell: Keep showing up. My questions then shifted from, “Why Lord?” to “How do you want me to use this in my life so it can count for your glory?”

Tera Melber: Yes.

Lynette Ezell: Everything shifted.

Tera Melber: That’s a totally different perspective.

Lynette Ezell: Not from my flesh, but from the word of God. I know that I can not predict how the promises of God will take shape nor cannot get control, like you said earlier, outcomes. We control nothing.

Tera Melber:  No.

Lynette Ezell: I can choose to be faithful.

Tera Melber: That’s right.

Lynette Ezell: There’s nothing predictable, easy or normal in this calling. As long as the Lord gives me breath, I can keep showing up in faithfulness.

Tera Melber: That’s right. We’re going to keep showing up, Lynette. We’re going to refuse to be at the back of the pack and alone in enemy territory. Our success is not found in the outcomes, but in our daily faithfulness.

Lynette Ezell: Absolutely. We’ll just add some things in the show notes to maybe encourage you along. But today, as Tera said earlier, let’s lock arms and continue as adoptive and foster families to keep showing up for those the Lord places in our life.

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