Michelle’s Story

I’m really excited to bring you a guest post from my wonderful friend, Michelle. She and I taught English together for years, and she has always inspired me. She is a woman of faith, character, and conviction, and as we focus on supporting children in foster care this month, I wanted to allow her to share her story with you. I love the way that Michelle and her husband, Nader, have opened their hearts and their homes, and I hope her story will inspire you as much as it inspired me. –Kellie 

twal family

It was one of those weeks. You know, the one where all you want to do is drop your kids off in Children’s Ministry and run to church, just for an hour and a half of time to reconnect with Jesus. I knew I wasn’t the best mom that week. I hadn’t slept enough; although I can’t remember why, was it teething? ear infections?

Of course, it was my week to serve in the nursery. And boy did I have a bad attitude about it.

I grew up in the church and saw Children’s Ministry as a responsibility that I had to do, especially since I had two boys now, the older 2 years, the younger, 6 months.I tried to hide my bad attitude. I sat in the Newborn Room waiting for babies, silently wishing I could go to “big” church to meet Jesus and recenter before another long week of parenting started. And then, the first two babies were dropped off, Makai and Mackenzie, two new foster babies that a family in our church had taken in. I had already met these two babies and had taken great interest in Makai, because his name is so similar to my own son, Mekiah. I placed Mackenzie in the swing and began rocking Makai. Makai was special. At only about three months old, he had a large scar on the top of his head, with several staples in place. I could only imagine what had taken place to put him into foster care.

And then, in a moment that has shaped my heart, I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to me. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship” and “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress” I started crying silently as I continued to rock Makai. I cried because something awful had happened to this child, something I would never be able to comprehend. I cried, because the Holy Spirit had gone past my bad attitude and met me in a way that could never have happened in “big” church. I cried because my arms, already tired of holding my own children, were in that moment being a “spiritual sacrifice” that was “holy and pleasing.” This moment changed my life.

Shortly after this moment, my husband and I began trainings to become certified foster parents. It was an unknown process to the both of us, and therefore a bit scary. I often wanted to back out, because of fear or because my kids felt like “too much,” but the facts before me never changed. 400,000 kids are in foster care in the United States. 400,000!

Although the process to become certified can only take four months, we stretched it out to 18 months to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing. We talked a lot to our two biological sons about what was going on; we asked them if they would be willing to help take care of a little baby whose mommy was sick. And then when she got better, we would give her her baby back. My kids emphatically said, “sure!” It was really quite an easy answer for them.

twal boys

And so, in October 2013, when my biological boys were 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, we took in a little baby boy. And, being a part of his life has changed ours forever. This journey has been wonderful, emotional, hard, sleepless, and miraculous. We took in a little baby who had some serious issues to overcome in the first few months of his life. But, he has overcome! As I write this, I reflect on the fact that we’ve fostered our son Baby J for 18 months. His future is still uncertain. But I believe in the One who knows the future. So, on the days when I fear that my heart may be broken if I have to say goodbye to this little one, I rest in the fact that God loves the orphan and the fatherless far more than I ever could. And His heart breaks for them too.

baby j

As an outsider, I have loved watching Michelle’s family grow together on Facebook. Their boys seem to be having a blast, and I know that Baby J is thriving as he receives abundant love. If this post inspired you, check out our recent service project, Supporting Foster Youth, to see how you can help kids in the foster program. Not everyone can foster, but everyone can make a difference. Let’s all work together to make kids in foster care feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

About Kellie Van Atta

Kellie Van Atta is a wife, a mom of two, and a teacher of English. She lives in Southern California and is passionately dedicated to teaching her kids to love others.

1 comment on “Michelle’s Story

  1. What a great testimony! Thank you so much for sharing. I love how the Holy Spirit used that child to touch her heart. I have been in the same place of not looking forward to helping in Sunday school. haha!

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