Running toward the chaos

Lindsay and Shawn's story

By Lindsay Holten

It was a late summer evening in 2011 when I received the call. My husband, Shawn, was phoning from his work in the ER department at Alberta Children’s Hospital to see how my evening was going. Our kids, then ages seven and four, were sleeping soundly already so all was good in my world. My husband went on to tell me that a baby had just been apprehended and would probably be sleeping in the office as they had no home for the child to be placed in. Half-joking, I said “Well, just bring it here.” I knew full well that there were rules, but in that moment my heart was breaking and transforming.

After we hung up the phone I started searching the Internet for information about foster care in Calgary and how to become involved. I found the government website and contact information. I called the next day and found out about an upcoming information session and asked what else I could do to get started on the process.

After I had spent a couple of days researching, Shawn and I had more opportunity to discuss how fostering would impact the nice, tidy, simple life we enjoyed. It became clear to me that the only way to quench this desire was to run toward the chaos. That Sunday when I attended church there was an ad for an event sponsored by our church and Focus on the Family Canada. It was an invitation to come hear about the calling of God’s people to care for children from hard places and how to be involved. Now God really had my attention!

A couple of weeks later I attended the event and my eyes, mind and heart were opened even more to the desperate need for children to be in safe, stable, loving, permanent families and that this is clearly very dear to God’s heart. It was amazing to hear from Sandi (Focus on the Family Canada’s Calgary-based foster care/adoption consultant) about her own journey. She was so encouraging and gracious to answer my questions. Knowing that there is a greater community of believers working together to bring healing to these children is such a huge inspiration and comfort.

Shawn and I began to talk about our fostering idea with family, trusted friends, neighbours and our small group, and we were continually affirmed and encouraged to follow God’s call. I started putting out requests for baby furniture, gear and clothing as we had given away the majority of ours years previously, knowing that we were not planning to have more children. (I can imagine God chuckling even now as I write this!)

Then Shawn and I attended an information session put on by Calgary and Area Child and Family Services and found out that the next training session would be in a month. We were so blessed to have family and friends step up on short notice to care for our children, as well as Shawn being able to get the time off from work. That was in November of 2011, and by March 2012 we were approved and expecting our first placement. We welcomed that happiest little guy into our home when he was just a week old and continue to be blessed by his presence in our lives.

I continued to work part time, but by the fall of 2012 I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my work. At the same time, Shawn was taking on a new role that would see him working all daytime hours during the week, which would not make it easy for me to continue working.

Looking back it seems so clear that God was behind this, but in the moment it took some time to process. Eventually we took another step of faith: we bought a second crib and called our support worker to request another infant in our home, and I gave notice to my employer that I would be stepping down.

We have had one child who was able to go home after a month, and we currently have a sweetheart who has just started his time with us. It’s amazing to see how God is working in the life of our family. When we first started this journey, Shawn and I were clear that we were only fostering. We were not intending to adopt because we “wanted to help a lot of kids.” God has used a beautiful little boy to change our hearts to be open and excited about this possibility, as well as the wise words of our nine-year-old: “But we’re the only family he has ever known!” It’s hard to argue with that! 

It has blessed my heart to watch my children embrace these children as their own siblings, loving on them as well as getting annoyed by them, but at the end of the day thanking God that He brought them to us. That’s not to say it’s always easy; there are days when I tire of changing diapers or am frustrated with a mom who has not shown up for a visit – again.

God has been gracious enough to allow me to have compassion for women I have never met but who, like me, do the things they don’t want to do and don’t do the things they want to do. And He reminds me that I didn’t accept this call to continue living the same tidy life as before, but to be crazy for Jesus and those He holds dear. And in this chaos I am finding more peace and joy than I have ever known.