Burn Your New Year’s Resolutions

Just stop.

You won’t keep them anyway. You’re wasting your time.

You know it. I know it. So just stop, all right.

Newness

I love newness. I cherish rebirth.

This time of year speaks of newness, of rebirth.

Like a Monday on steroids, the imminent new year beckons. I can scarcely imagine all that the Lord will accomplish.

He will change a life. He will save a soul. He will heal. He will make something ugly beautiful. He will use someone unworthy. He will turn something wicked into good. He will change a heart, mend a relationship, free someone from addiction.

How do I know these things. Because this is what He does.

The Bible states it; reality affirms it. I’ve seen it…in my own life and the lives of others. His sovereign hand moves in every facet of existence, constantly working all things according to the counsel of His good will.

My Resolutions

I’ve kept exactly two resolutions in my entire life.

In January 2005, I resolved to quit chewing tobacco.

As a can-a-day Copenhagen dipper for over 14 years, I became aware at some point that it was going to kill me. I began to have crusty white spots on my gums which I learned were likely leukoplakia, a precancerous condition.

I also began to have stomach issues.

I’d have a big ‘ol fatty in and then suddenly, I’d have to spit it out or I’d puke. Some kind of reaction with my stomach. Envision driving down the road, spitting into a coke bottle, and then having to get it out as quick as possibly, into the coke bottle with the narrow opening, without spilling it, without getting it on you, trying not to puke, and also, not to hit the car in front of you.

I’d throw in another immediately, as soon as my stomach settled.

As my quit date approached, I became depressed at the thought of life without Copenhagen. How could I live?

But I set it down, for good. January 7th, 2005. My wife quit smoking after 14 years the week prior. We both went cold turkey and we both stuck with it. It was hell, but we made it. And 13 years later, I’m still alive. It hasn’t killed me…yet, anyway.

That same year, my wife and I resolved to go to church.

I hadn’t been to church in my entire adult life, having fled the institution almost immediately after leaving home. Our oldest daughter had begun to drift a bit and we wanted the church to ‘fix’ her. Some good old fashioned church morality was just what she needed.

God had a much different plan.

We are still in church.

Some Guidance

You have anxiety, yes?

Maybe it’s not clinical yet, but you worry. You fret.

How are you going to pay your bills? Where will the money come from? Will your wife or your husband walk away? Will your children have it better than you? Will your car get you to work tomorrow without breaking down?

Will you ever have peace?

Right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, the most famous sermon ever preached, in a section on anxiety, Jesus utters these words, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Three times, He exhorts, “Do not be anxious.” Do not be anxious. Do not be anxious. Don’t worry about your life. Don’t worry about food or drink. Do not worry about what you will wear.

Tomorrow will have enough worry of its own and God already knows what you need…

…but seek first the kingdom of God.

Jesus well informs our priorities.

Our Priorities

Priorities drive resource allocation.

All of us have an internal set of priorities from which we apply our time, our money, our thoughts, our work, our emotional and intellectual energy. In fact, our resource allocation will often betray our publicly stated priorities.

Claim what you will, but where you spend your time and your money speaks volumes about your priorities.

New Year’s resolutions are an attempt on our behalf to realign our priorities in a manner that we deem to be more suitable. I’ve made the same ones as you.

I am going to get ripped, I mean really hit the gym hard this year.

I’m not going to eat any junk food or fast food.

I’m going to go home and throw away everything with sugar in it.

The whole 30!

I’m going to get out of debt.

I’m going to spend more time with my kids.

I’m going to read more.

I’m going to be happy.

I’m going to focus on me.

Maybe these are good things but you know what happens. Three weeks later, you’re sitting in front of YouTube one evening, watching stupid cat videos, scarfing an entire can of Pringles as quietly as possible so your kids won’t hit you up, while the t.v. puts them to sleep in the next room.

Wait, crap. That’s me.

Back to You

Let’s get back to you.

Get ripped, but does it matter? Maybe you’ll see an ab or two. Maybe you’ll hit a PR on a lift. Maybe you’ll finally look how you feel you ought to look in your favorite pair of jeans but does it matter? Does it have eternal significance?

Eat better. By all means, take better care of your body. Feed your children better food. Pursue health but understand the reality.

No matter how hard we try, our bodies will one day fail. Steadily we march to the grave, to our predetermined date with the Maker. We may arrive in better condition, but arrive we will.

Don’t be misled. We ought to be good stewards of our bodies as the temple of the Spirit. Our bodies carry our mouths that we might proclaim, our hands that we might work, but to what end?

Our money, our time, our resources: it all belongs to Him. We can accumulate. We can redistribute. We can save and save or spend and spend. Either way, though we may temporarily possess some things, they will all rust and decay and become as if they never existed.

Again I ask, to what end?

The harshest reality is this…no matter what you do, the second you die, the instant you are in the ground, the world will begin the process of forgetting all about you. Don’t believe me? Who was the richest man in your town forty years ago? Thirty years? The most popular? The most successful?

They are long since forgotten, erased from memory, a specter from the past.

A Worthy Resolution

But the kingdom of God, that is forever. That is eternity.

The King, King Jesus, He is forever. As is His grace, His mercy, His love.

As He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, He inaugurated His kingdom, assuming the throne over all things. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him, but all things are in subjection to Him.

His kingdom, the invisible kingdom of His majesty, advances across the world. It cannot be stopped. It will not be hindered. God’s purposes will be accomplished.

And one day, He will return in power and glory, visibly and it will be the most recognizable event in the history of the world. No man will doubt what has occurred. It will unmistakable, undeniable, both terrifying and awesome.

At that point, He will consummate His kingdom as He sets all things right and His people will rule with Him into eternity.

Won’t you seek after this, the kingdom.

Allow me to invite you.

Burn your New Year’s resolutions. Yes. Burn them. Write them down and then rip them to shreds and set them on fire.

This year, let us resolve boldly. Let us resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and really, to seek first the King, King Jesus.

Let us seek Him, pursue Him, strive after Him. Let us meditate on Him, dwell upon Him, think about Him. Let us preach and teach about Him. Let us study about Him, prayerfully, through the word of God that reveals to us the Word of God. Let us magnify Him. Let us worship Him. Let us praise Him. Let us know Him and let us follow Him.

Let us be resolute in this regard.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford’s third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

I Hate Autism…but I Love It

It’s personal.

I just don’t recall an autistic kid growing up.

We had this one kid in high school who, in recollection, must’ve been autistic based upon how he acted. He was just strange, peculiar in an autistic sort of way and of course the kids, me included to my eternal shame, were just awful to him.

I don’t remember another.

We had mentally retarded kids. Lots of them. Is that even appropriate terminology anymore? These kids had obvious mental and oftentimes physical limitations. They had their own class in school and even their own bus. Do they still have that?

But autism wasn’t a thing like it is now.

About Autism

It’s personal for me.

It’s easy to speak in a sterile fashion concerning a particular affliction.

Autism rates have skyrocketed over the previous decades, doubling in the last 20 years. Today, roughly 1 in 100 children will be diagnosed with autism, depending on the source. The CDC has estimated as low as 1 in 68.

Scholars differ over the cause. Is it due to increased awareness and diagnoses or is there actually an increasing prevalence. Most assume both.

Anecdotally, I’ll affirm the latter as children today are afflicted from conception.

Though it’s not entirely established, there is a clear link between between autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as prenatal drug exposure. If a child is lucky enough not to be murdered in the womb, many are subjected to a full scale chemical assault that changes the very nature of their future existence. I’ll abstain from the vaccination debate for now.

The foster system has afforded us a front row seat to the struggle. Prenatal chemical and alcohol abuse afflicts all of my sons, some more than others. The only thing more shocking than its effects is its prevalence.

So for me, it’s personal. My son has autism.

And I hate it.

Why I Hate It

He showed up on our doorstep at two months of age and we immediately suspected something was amiss. His hands and feet rotated in a continual, rhythmic fashion, never at rest. He had other behaviors I’d just characterize as odd.

He flapped. I don’t know how else to describe it.

He also piked when excited, stiff as a board.

Diagnosis after diagnosis followed as the wholesale prenatal assault of illegal drugs had left their indelible mark. Epilepsy. Developmental Delays. Tourette’s just to name a few. And of course, autism.

We learned. Autism is a spectrum, a processing issue manifesting itself in behavioral, relational, and sensory issues.

My son thinks differently. His brain works in a different way.

And he acts weird, often strange.

He has ticks.

And meltdowns.

At a pool party, my son’s popsicle fell to the ground and he lost it. I mean, he lost it. For those who have never dealt with an autistic meltdown, know that no amount of consoling, cajoling, comforting, even threatening can preclude the meltdown. In front of everyone, my son melted into rage at the fallen popsicle…and everyone stared at him, family, friends, other parents. And he knew they were staring at him, and he raged that much harder.

Never mind that another popsicle stood at the ready.

We finally found a sport he enjoyed, soccer. Well, he really didn’t care about the game, but he liked to run and he liked to talk, so he would frequently run alongside his teammates while playing, chatting up a storm, moderately oblivious to the game itself to the ire of his coaches and teammates.

Autism is not something a kid ‘grows out of’ either. The older my son becomes, the more obvious it is that he is not a normal little boy.

Every parent worries about their child, desires a better future for them. For my son, I wonder.

  What will his future hold?

          Will he hold a job?

          Will he have a wife?

          Will he be loved?

I feel an intense need to protect him from a cold and uncaring world.

Because he is different, because he often acts strange, others notice. Kids instantly realize he is different. Interestingly, most girls treat him with intense kindness. With young boys, some do and some, well, you know the deal. You don’t have to teach kids to be mean.

Adults either.

My son has autism. I hate it.

And I love it.

Why I Love It

My son is peculiar and wonderful in a peculiar way.

He is truly God’s gift to us.

I asked him the other day teasing, “Who do you love more, Moe or Titus?” speaking of our dogs. He just looked at me, puzzled. “What about Dexter or Gideon?” speaking of our other two dogs. Again, a puzzled look.

“I love them all the same,” was his most serious response. He simply could not fathom the concept of loving one more than the other. He loves them all.

I frequently walk into the bathroom to find two cats lounging around a stopped-up sink full of water, evidence of his care for them. He is the only one who routinely wakes as early as I do. Some mornings, I’ll sit and listen to him carry on a conversation with two of the cats in the next room. Maybe the most precious thing I’ve heard.

He plays with hilarity and exhilaration with friends who accept him as he is.

His ever rotating catalog of ticks, Tourette’s-related, always bring a smile to my face. One week he stretches his mouth as wide as he can. Other weeks he stops frequently to touch his toes. The one where he rolls his eyes in an exaggerated way while being spoken to is probably my favorite.

He is a comforter, an encourager.

One of our tutors at school had suffered an intense personal issue that grieved her soul. As she sat softly weeping in a dark room, my son walked by and saw her grief. Without hesitation, he went in and gave her a gentle hug, the sheer sweetness of the act a boon to her spirit.

God made him perfect, my son.

And it’s just like God to do such a thing.

God is not the author of sin. The relationship between God and evil is a mystery and anyone who professes to understand it completely is either a liar or deluded. Yet, of this I am certain. God works all things to the council of His good will. All things serve Him and accomplish good in His people.

Not that all things are good in and of themselves.

You see, God made my son exactly who He meant him to be.

And he has changed me, my son has. God has changed me through him. Autism is hard. Autism is painful. I hate autism. But, my son has autism, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. He is perfect just as he is.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Do NOT Become a Foster Parent

Don’t do it.

Don’t adopt either.

You will thank me. This I promise.

The System is painful.

Okay, that’s a lie. The System is excruciating, frustrating.

Light yourself on fire and extinguish it with a ball peen hammer. Punch yourself repetitively in the genitalia until it stops hurting. Fling yourself down a flight of concrete steps into a kiddie pool filled with thumbtacks.

Okay, I’m being dramatic, sort of.

We pursued our son, Tevin, for years. He was 13, a resident of a group home, and had been in foster care for most of his life. We wanted him. He wanted to be adopted. It took nearly three years to make it a reality, three long years of absolutely critical developmental time, missed.

Two of my sons, brothers, had also been in foster care for most of their lives. They were our foster sons for four years before we could adopt them, four years of uncertainty, trepidation, and angst…for them and for us.

Overworked and underpaid, DCS workers manage intense caseloads and as with any system, there are good ones and not so good ones. Their bottom line is placement, not profit. At the end of the day, they have to get the kid placed, somehow.

          He’s healthy, sure!

          He’s well-behaved, no red flags at all.

          He is just the nicest young man.

I’ve spent enough time in court, we actually recognize repeat offenders. No joke. And each time, it’s the same. We expect the judge to issue the decisive ruling we’ve been waiting for aaannndddd, “Let’s hold off and set another court date in three months.” Hear me sighing.

Mountains of red tape, frequent and inconvenient supervised visits, ungrateful and sometimes even hateful birth families: expect this and more. Did I mention the hours and hours of mandatory classroom training?

Don’t do it.

Spare yourself. Trust me.

Not to mention that the kids are bad.

They are. You just won’t believe it.

They lie without hesitation. They take whatever they need with no qualms. They have unsafe premarital sex. They smoke anything they can get their hands on.

We’ve been cussed at and cussed out. We’ve been threatened. We’ve been stolen from, repeatedly. I own nothing of value and haven’t for many years and don’t intend to for this very reason.

Get the fairy tale out of your head. I know what you’re thinking. You’ll just love them so much that they’ll fall in love with you and everyone will just live happily ever after. Puppies and rainbows.

It’s a ruse.

What will happen is you will love them, pour into them, give of yourself with no guarantee of reciprocation. In all likelihood, they may hate you. Doesn’t make sense does it? None of it does.

Here is what will actually happen.

They will leave.

And it will hurt you.

Badly.

A friend of ours was gifted with a beautiful foster baby. For nearly three years, they loved that baby like no tomorrow and it looked like she would be theirs. At the 9th hour, a biological parent surfaced and the courts sent her home.

Our friends were beyond devastated. They were crushed.

They System errs on the side of the biological family as it must, to the point of insanity. Reunion is almost always the primary goal and biological parents are afforded every single opportunity to get their children back.

This is right. This is good, but it’s at your expense. Oftentimes, you must send the children home to a situation you know is not good, that you know is lesser.

We had two young girls for a couple of weeks before we had to send them home to their birth parents, a couple of local meth-heads. Well, at least they had their pit bulls to keep them safe.

Listen. You have a nice life. Go ahead and turn that spare room into a man cave. It’s what you really want to do anyway. Imagine a sweet 88” HD hanging on that wall, maybe a kegerator.

You don’t need this hassle.

Do NOT become a foster parent.

Do NOT adopt either…

…unless you want to obey God.

God doesn’t mince words.

Care for the orphan. Make disciples of them.

Take them into your home, love them as your own, and bring them up in the ways of the Lord that when they are older, they will not depart from it.

God is a God of justice, a Father to the fatherless and He commands justice for the fatherless. He commands it! What else could he mean by justice for the fatherless…than a father? The fatherless did not choose their plight, it was given of them by the sins of another. God speaks clearly, from Genesis to James, care for the orphan.

A true disciple of Jesus follows His commands, obeys Him, up to and including the willingness to deny self, to even suffer on behalf of the name.

The fatherless suffer at the hands of a cruel and unrelenting world. They grow into afflicted adults with little hope for advancement and most of all, they will likely never know Christ.

The biblical mandate is clear, much more clear than you’d like to acknowledge.

Otherwise don’t do it…

…unless you want to practice Christ-like love.

The love of Christ is this.

In eternity past, He set His affections upon His people. He decided to love a people who did not love Him and He died on the cross for their sins, that they might be reconciled to Him. He gave them new hearts that they might believe Him and love Him, but still they betray Him, every single day.

Still He loves them.

What could be more Christ-like than setting your affections on one not yours by birth, deciding to love them, even if they are unlovable, just as you were when Christ died for you?

Could you love one who offers you nothing in return? Could you love one who returns your love with hate?

Foster care and adoption fully demonstrates the heart of Jesus to the fatherless. Imagine being betrayed by those who were supposed to love you the most. What a bitter pill it must be, so imagine the surprise, the fear even.

You have nothing, no one, and then all of a sudden, you do.

What an amazing witness to the orphan.

What an amazing witness to your biological children.

As I seek to make disciples of my own children, perhaps nothing has better demonstrated for them the heart of Christ than our family’s ministry to the fatherless. I fail daily. I make mistakes, damage my witness with them, but the fact of adoption perseveres.

My greatest testimony resides in my daughters’ love for the orphan as all are active in caring for the fatherless.

What an amazing witness to the world, a world that has cast aside the powerless and left them at the hands of those who would exploit them.

So definitely do not foster…

…unless you want to change a life.

Drive-by ministry makes me want to vomit. Truly.

I despise ministry which costs men nothing. We must be willing to pay a cost, to sacrifice, to give of ourselves. Caring for the fatherless demands sacrifice. It cannot be done on the cheap.

But if you truly want to change a life, foster. Adopt.

Decide to love a child and then pour the grace, mercy, and love of God into them, as you ought your own children. It will change their lives. Irrevocably. Irreversibly. It has to.

At a minimum, they will be safe from the hands of those who would exploit the helpless and powerless. Maybe they’ve never had that, never had a home or a family. Maybe they’ve never actually been loved.

They may even reject your love, but nothing can change the fact that they will have been loved, they will have seen Christ in your love. No amount of rejection, hate, or affliction can diminish that.

Adoption and foster care will definitely change their lives, but most all, it will change yours.

You will never be the same…and that is a good thing!

Or you could just carry on as you have. It’s probably best that you do. Besides, I’m sure someone else will do it.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

FOLLOW THE 413!

Foster Parents—When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

Most days, I love my son greatly. I’ve become increasingly patient, responding to hostility with gentleness. I listen. I try to understand his perspective, taking into account his past affliction while holding him accountable as he needs.

Other days, I want to punch him in the face.

I’m not the perfect foster/adoptive father. Are you?

Parenting is hard work, no doubt. It always has been. Yet, our age presents unique challenges. Culture, media, the internet, the descent of our entire nation into godlessness— all conspire to mold your children into disciples of Satan.

Now, add a healthy dose of trauma.

System kids need perfection. Their trauma demands it.

And I’ve screwed it up, a thousand times.

I’ve been lenient when I should’ve stuck to my guns. I’ve been harsh when I should’ve shown mercy. I’ve lost my temper, been too dogmatic, focused on the less than important, not followed through, demanded more than necessary, expected too little. You name it. I’ve messed it up…and I’m tired.

Perfection is exhausting.

They Look So Normal

My sons look like any other kids.

In fact, they are handsome boys. I know I’m biased. Several of them look like the typical All-American kid— sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, the whole bit. The others sport year-round tans with mops of dark, curly hair—cute or handsome, depending on their age.

The trauma remains hidden…until it’s not.

It has no choice but to manifest itself in their actions.

I will never understand their trauma. I am only now coming to terms with its existence.
Consider, as a child, having your entire life ripped to shreds, repeatedly. A stranger shows up in the middle of the night and takes you…to a stranger’s house. The trauma of forced separation alone is stunning to consider.

They lack certainty and assurance. Who will love them? Who will take care of them? Will they ever see their parents again? Each move sets them back months in development. What happens after the fourth move, the fifth?

Physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or the fallout from drug abuse—all prevalent in system kids—darkens the reality further.

Episodically, all of my sons have been betrayed by those supposed to love them the most. Several suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or prenatal drug exposure. They witnessed violence, against their mothers. They were exposed to rampant drug abuse. They suffer physical, psychological, and emotional conditions.

And I expect them to act just like any other kid?!?

What About You?

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair to the kids. They didn’t ask for this hand. They were dealt it by the sin of another, through no fault of their own.

And now you have to deal with it. It’s not fair to you either.

They need a perfect parent. They need one who is compassionate, patient, loving, kind, understanding, steadfast, and firm. They need a parent who resonates with grace, one who emanates mercy.

They need a parent unlike you, or me for that matter.

In case you haven’t figured this out, you’re not perfect. Nor am I.

My son and I had a confrontation that went poorly. I prayed before speaking with him, but the issue became heated and before I knew it, he stormed out the door to the streets. In that moment, I failed him. He needed more than I had to offer. He needed something I did not give. This wasn’t the first time either.

After he walked, I retreated to the upstairs bathroom and wept bitterly. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. My failures, my shortcomings, my imperfections as a father, overwhelmed me in that moment.

I needed to be reminded of a few truths.

Academically, I know these truths, but in my desire to be what my sons need, I need to be reminded myself. Perhaps you do as well.

1. They don’t need perfection. They need advocacy.

My wife embodies the advocate.

There is no limit to which she will not go on behalf of our sons. She will move mountains, storm the very gates of hell, on their behalf. She battles red tape, the system, lawyers, and doctors on their behalf.

She took a catatonic, FAS baby and loved and advocated that child to health and vitality, to life. Woe be the person, system, or process that stands in her way.

When they lost their families, my sons lost their advocate. They needed another to champion their cause. They will never know the extent of her advocacy.

Yours won’t either.

They will never see the sleepless nights, the tears, the hours spent on the phone with uncooperative government agencies. They will never know the turmoil in your own life wrought by the turmoil of theirs, the uncertainty you deal with.

They just will never know.

And that’s okay. It has to be.

2. They don’t need perfection. They need love.

Can you love someone who doesn’t love you in return?

Can you love someone who cannot love you in return, who lacks the sheer ability?

They desperately need unconditional love, just like everyone does. Yet, their affliction will oftentimes render them unlovable. They lash out, they rage against the invisible constraints of that which they cannot understand. They misplace hate and anger, maybe direct it towards you, the very one trying to help them.

They run and rebel. They resist overtures and maintain baffling loyalties to those they ought to hate.

It doesn’t make sense. It’s hard. It’s frustrating.

Love them. You’ll respond inappropriately. I promise. You’ll get frustrated yourself. You’ll return anger for anger. You’ll make decisions in response to their aggression and then you’ll second guess yourself, maybe doubt.

“What am I doing? I’m not cut out for this.”

But love them. You must.

3. They don’t need perfection, they need Christ.

How could I father without Him?

As often as I’ve failed, as often as I’ve dropped the ball, I have Christ to rest upon.

Who embodies advocacy but Jesus?

He presently sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty interceding for us, advocating for us. (Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1) He is our voice, our righteousness. In the great transaction, He imputes His righteousness to us and we our sin to Him and forever, He is our champion.

Who embodies love but Jesus?

Really. Let’s talk about it. Imagine marrying a woman or man knowing that every single day for the rest of your life, they would cheat on you with another. When I was in my most unlovable condition, while I was yet a sinner, a hater of God, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8) He decided to love me, he decided to set his affections on me.

Your foster children need this, they need Jesus, desperately.

Like anyone, He is their only hope. Yet, their affliction denies them the one who was supposed to bring them to the cross, their parents. Their suffering builds a great callous upon their hearts. The hardness is astounding.

Let your advocacy, let your love, fully demonstrate the love and advocacy of the risen Lord Jesus.

And let Him be your strength. Let Him be your rest. Let Him be your comfort, your strong tower, your rock, your help, your happiness. Let Him empower you.

Let Him free your foster children with the burden of your happiness or satisfaction.

My son needs perfection. I don’t have it, but I do. He needs perfection, so I give Him Christ, as much as I can, as often as I can, imperfectly, but perfect in my imperfections. When I tire, when I fail, I go to Christ. When I sin against my son, I repent. I ask Him to forgive me and then I ask him to forgive me. I lift him in prayer, do my best, and trust in the Savior.

Take heart. This is all you can do.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

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