The more we talk about The Meadows, now known as Shiloh, the more questions we are asked. Some of those questions can be answered in these posts as I have shared some of our journey the past year:
The Beginning of Fulfillment
A Step Forward
Unwise Decision? Or Faith Move?
but I thought a post specifically devoted to the questions might be beneficial as well.
~ What is The Meadows/Shiloh exactly? How Did it come about?
The short story is:
Our home, a refuge for mentally and physically handicapped, and even terminally ill children, who need a Mommy and Daddy and brother and sister to love them, here, in this temporary home before they fly to their eternal home.
The long story? For the detail oriented, I have to back way up here, to give that.
1993 and 18 years old. I had just been turned down for mission school, due to having had several health issues while on the field of Papua New Guinea the summer previous. My lifelong ambition to be a missionary nurse was over in one rejection letter. I was devastated.
Of course, there was always the possibility of applying at a later date in time, but within a few days of the rejection letter, God showed me a new direction He had for my journey, with the destination of a home for kids. Abused kids. Neglected kids. Terminally ill kids. Physically handicapped kids. Mentally handicapped kids.
He was showing me this in a meadow I used to go to all the time for solitude. With pen in hand I wrote down everything as He showed it in my heart. From the layout of the facility to how it would operate. And being in “The Meadow” as it all took place that day–my private sanctuary–it seemed fitting to attach the name “The Meadows” to it.
The years passed. I fought myself with eating disorders, severe depression, self-injury, and mental illness. I never forgot the vision– I just didn’t see how it could be fulfilled when I was such a mess myself.
2004 I met my husband. By this time God and I had dealt with all the issues that were ruining my life and I was once again on the path I was supposed to be on. I told Chuck, soon after meeting him, what God ultimately called me to. “I didn’t know how or when it would be fulfilled”, I told him, “but it was in my future–and he needed to know it before we went any further in the relationship.”
He grabbed the vision with me and began talking about it as much as I did as we began to prepare for life together. “Someday, when we have The Meadows. . . “ became a re-current theme phrase in our conversations.
Diagnosed with infertility in 2007, The Meadows seemed even more what we were called to do.
We began foster training.
After three classes, the class was canceled because everyone dropped out and they wouldn’t hold it for just us. Yet again, my dreams were being detoured.
Then we got pregnant. Our daughter was born in the Fall of 2008.
The Meadows vision was not lost despite the gift of pregnancy and a child. It just began to shift and change a bit. Remembering a movie I had seen years earlier that had gripped my heart,
A Place for Annie
and because we now had a young biological child, taking in abused and troubled kids became a concern–for the main reason, our daughter’s safety.
I had grown up with a physically and mentally handicapped aunt and special needs foster cousins and as a result, developed a passion for that population. I also worked as a CNA for Hospice for several years, and found a special gifting with dying people, including children. I began to see The Meadows as a place for handicapped children and even terminally ill children.
I told my husband this the same year our daughter was born. His response? “You love to have your heart broken don’t you? Terminally ill kids? Do you know how hard that will be on you?!”
I answered that those kids must be in the foster system and I wanted to give them a piece of heaven on earth before they actually went to heaven. . . give them a home where they were safe and loved with a family surrounding them as they walked their valley of death.
(see “What is Means to be Loved” post for more behind this new direction the vision took)
My man wrapped me up in his arms that day and told me he supported me in this heart dream of mine. At the time, we still thought the vision was many years away and our main focus was to be faithful to live the lives God had given us in the present.
Fast forward to August 2010 when suddenly, during a random drive one night. we “stumbled” across the property that my heart knewimmediately was our place for The Meadows. Since then, things have consistently fallen into place for us to take one step after the other in pursuit of purchasing this property, and here we are today. . .
~ Will you be a foster home or a not-for-profit?
For now, it will be our home as a family and it will begin with foster children and Lord willing, children also available for adoption.
We will also seek to become a “medically therapeutic home”
(also known as a home that is able to take in “medically fragile children”)
apart from the foster care system, but I am still researching what that all means and what it entails.
My heart sees a not-for-profit in the future, though I’m not sure what direction it will take.
A not-for-profit foster and adoption agency that places special needs children with families who have also been called to what we have been called to?
A home, or series of Christian based residential homes, specifically for special needs children without families?
Hospice homes, again for children without families to love them as they die?
Residential homes for troubled children and youth where they can receive, not only a family-type atmosphere, but Christian based counseling, education, and job skills training?
I’m not sure. I just know that my heart tells me there is more to this vision than “just” our home being the total fulfillment of the dream. I also know He will reveal the rest when it’s time to take the next step and for today, I just need to focus on the steps in front of me today.
~ What foster agency will you work with?
We are still undecided whether we will be going with our County DSS or the not-for-profit agency Glove House. Again, we know God will clearly show us which agency to work with when we’re ready to take that step (see the time-line).
~ How will you support yourselves?
Foster children are given support via the agency they come from. For now, those funds will be sufficient for caring for these children. Care will consist of everything from therapy to wheelchairs to therapeutic toys to clothing and toys.
When we launch out as a medically therapeutic home that is self-sufficient
(i.e. children who do not come from foster care)
we have full confidence God will also provide those funds in ways He has determined before time, to help us care for the children He is bringing our way.
We believe the same for children we adopt and who will no longer qualify for state funds for their care.
~ What are the ages you’re focusing on?
Because of our biological children who are young, we want to stay with younger children in their age range. The ages will obviously grow older as our bio children grow up.
~ What about your biological kids and the impact it will have on them?
I answer this, knowing that no answer I give, will be fully sufficient for those who feel we are being unfair to our children to pursue this vision. All I can share here is my heart and the peace that has come to it regarding this as I have wrestled (many times) with this question myself.
Our bio children’s story has been written into our story by the very fact they were given to us. . . and our story has been ordained before time to include this vision. All of this, is a part of the story God has written for us as individuals and us as a family unit. God always enables us for the story He has written for our lives.
We will of course, constantly take measures to evaluate our biological, non-special needs children to see where they are emotionally, given the demands of our special needs children. We will seek at all times to be very purposeful about giving them the time they need as our children and avoid the whole, “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but the other wheels get neglected” syndrome.
Much of how we will balance our non-special needs children with our special needs children will purely be God-led sensitivity as parents, to give each child in our home, exactly what their hearts need. We dare not tackle this type of parenting without full, daily reliance on His guidance to us as parents!
~ Why do you call the special needs children “angel children”?
I became exceptionally upset one day as a young teen, when a group of kids made fun of my mentally handicapped aunt. An adult who stood nearby and saw the incident, wisely told me, “They don’t know that your aunt might be an angel that they are entertaining unawares. . . For that may be the very reason she’s been place on this earth. . . “ (Hebrews 13:2)
Ever since then, I see special needs people as God’s angels that mingle with us to see what is in our hearts as we respond to them.
~ I don’t think you have a clue as to what doing this entails. The demands on your time, children, and marriage. . . I think you have a harsh reality check coming.
This has actually has been addressed in If you Weary with the Footmen and somewhat in Everyone has Oceans to Fly and Surfing the Waves
No, we can’t fully know the reality until we’re living it, but I am thinking about the cost every, single day as we head in this direction.
~ What is your time-line for everything?
Spring of 2011: buy the church and begin renovating it into a house. I told Chuck I don’t need the bedrooms up to move in. I just need a washer/dryer hookup, a working kitchen (already there), a shower, and my cloth diaper sprayer.
It won’t be easy living in a sanctuary, that’s for sure, but there is no sense paying rent on one place and a mortgage on another, so I’m game for moving in once the bare necessities are in.
Winter (January/February) 2012: Once the bedrooms and handicap accessible bathroom are in, we will then begin foster training.
Fall 2012: Begin pursuing whatever we need to do to become a medically therapeutic home.
20?? Pursue the not-for-profit part of the equation that I don’t fully see yet.
~ What do you need for it?
This is hard for me to answer. I have been reading on George Muller the past few months and am intrigued by the fact that he never stated his needs or appealed for funds to support his orphanages. To do so, he felt, would be to rely on man and not his Heavenly Father. My heart is inclined to take the same approach. And yet, people continually ask.
For local friends, we will be able to use help with putting up the bedrooms and bathroom, painting, yard work, etc. once we begin renovations this spring.
To answer a specific question, no, we are not registered anywhere but yes, I do have a wish list. However, I don’t feel right posting it on here for the simple fact it’s more of a wish list, than a need list.
For those who do have their heart set on doing something, I am willing to provide the link privately upon request.
Although we do have a Paypal fund set up (per a very specific donation request that came our way) I don’t feel it’s right to post the link. Perhaps when we become an actual not-for-profit I will feel peace about doing so, but for now, I don’t. Like the wish-list, I can provide it upon specific request but as of right now, we are taking the mind-set that God has already made some pretty miraculous provisions for the purchase of the church and will continue to do so as we renovate it, without us having to put up an actual Paypal Donation button.
The greatest thing anyone can do for us, is uphold us in prayer. Whether we have one special needs foster child or 5 medically fragile children living with us or we’re launching a not-for-profit, every step of the way covets the prayers of God’s children. Our enabling and provision will come from Him and Him alone and it is the prayers of God’s people that will release the enabling grace and provision needed to live out our life calling.
I think that answers all the questions. If there are anymore, feel free to ask!
Thank you for sharing our vision with us. It’s exciting to share it as it unfolds. Our prayer is that not only we, but countless others, will stand back in awe and say, “God has done this!”
“. . . if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You will only find yourself fighting against God!”