Tiff’s Story: Friendship, Marriage & Fostering

I realized going into this that so many of my feelings and attitudes towards James 1:27 are created by specific instances that I see happening around me. Maybe that’s true for everyone, but when trying to figure out how to write a blog, I’m always more inclined to tell personal stories. But again, maybe that inclination is also true for every other blogger.  As Julie mentioned in our last blog post, making lists of practical ways to get involved is what you feel like you need to do. I get that–I’m practical. I’ve decided that in this blog post, though, I want to share a story that is personal, and I want you to feel encouraged at the end of it. If you’ve felt like adoption or foster care are on your heart, I want this post to encourage you to go for it. If you’re a single mom who knows the calling that the Lord has placed on her life, but you’re having a hard time trusting, this blog is also for you. Most of all, I want this blog to testify of the overwhelming goodness of the Lord to restore and make a family whole.

Five years ago I was working as an office manager at our local grocery store. I had been there for about a year when we hired a new checker. She was tall, blonde, shy, and beautiful. For a reason that I wasn’t sure of at the time, I decided that she was going to be my friend even if she didn’t like it. And she didn’t. She actually didn’t even like me, so that definitely made the challenge a lot more enticing. Every time she would come to the office, I’d keep her there a little longer, talk to her a little more, and eventually slip my phone number in there so that she’d text me.

A few weeks into this endeavor, I found out that she was pregnant. We were both 17 at the time, she was new to town, and I knew that she didn’t have many friends (many good ones at least). Again, my goal of becoming her friend became even more enticing. Long story short, she finally starting talking to me and then finally texted me. I started picking her up from school, taking her home after work, and eventually got her to come to church with me. Six or seven months into her pregnancy she became a believer and was baptized a few weeks later. I wish that I could communicate via words just how exciting this was for me and my family, but I’m sure you can imagine it to some degree. Because of the instability of her home life, though, she ended up living with my Granny from about a month before her daughter was born up until just a year ago. This allowed Tiffany to become more a part of our family than she already was. As she said in her Maid of Honor speech at my wedding, “We became not only sisters in Christ, but true sisters.” The point of this blog, though, is to tell you about Tiff’s testimony because wrapped up in her testimony is the most incredible display of the Lord’s faithfulness that I have witnessed. At first I wanted to try to put it in my own words, but I think her words would be more powerful. It begins with a journal entry from 2014 and continues with a condensed story of how the Lord was near to her through it all.

“I know I’m right where You want me, God. So there’s no reason to be sad about this season unless… I don’t trust You. That’s what it boils down to. If I really trusted You, Your love for me and Your plan for my life… I wouldn’t be sad at all. So I choose, every day, all over again, to trust You. You are with me through all seasons including singleness. I’m not sure how long this season will last but I do know this… it’s what I make it. This season can be miserable if I want it to be. I might as well make the best of it- have fun, grow, smile!” –Journal entry from Sept 1, 2014 right after a breakup titled, “Trust in the Lord”.

Four short months later, I met my now husband, JJ. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t waste too much time being heartbroken. I knew Jesus could return any moment and I didn’t want to be caught throwing a pity party. I wanted to be caught living for Him. It was a season of healing for me. I found contentment in my time with the Lord. In His presence was my secret place; my favorite place. It turns out, my now husband was doing the same. He had recently been saved while healing from a divorce. He sought truth in the Word and spent crazy amounts of time in prayer. We were both content in our singleness when mutual friends set us up to meet. That is the beauty in our story.
Now we’re happily married and I’ve learned that this whole marriage thing isn’t all about us. It’s actually about the Lord and for the Lord! See, my husband and I had very similar upbringings and we know it’s not just a coincidence. We’ve both witnessed and felt the sting of several different types of abuse and addictions. And through Christ alone we have been healed from it all.

One night my husband asked, “Have you ever thought about fostering?” I replied, “It’s always been a dream of mine.”

On any given day, there are approximately 415,000 children in foster care in the United States alone. We both happen to have a heart for that. We are convinced that the Lord brought us together for a purpose and that foster care/ adoption is a big part of that.

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While Tiff wasn’t a widow and Addie wasn’t an orphan, Tiff was without a husband, and Addie was without a father. The beautiful part of this story is that when Tiff found her satisfaction in Christ, He satisfied her longings even more. Now, Addie will never remember life without a daddy and Tiff will have years and years with her sweet husband. The other incredibly beautiful part of this is that the Lord renewed and restored two families and made them whole again. And then beyond that, He placed a calling on that family’s life to continue that restoration in other children’s lives. That is amazing. It’s overwhelming to me. When we let the peace of Christ rule us, when we seek Him daily, when we surrender all we have to Him, He begins to work new life in us and through us! Am I saying that everyone is called to foster care? No. I’m saying that for those who are, you have such a unique and powerful calling. You have the calling of restoration of life and hope. To those who don’t feel that calling on their life: PRAY. Pray endlessly for those who do.

My hope for this blog was for you to be encouraged by a real story of a girl who didn’t know the slightest thing about the Lord 5 years ago, but who is seeing her dreams fulfilled through obedience to the Lord’s voice. My prayer for you is that if you feel the call to this ministry, you will obey.

In Christ,

Sarah Hartsfield

 

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