When The Phone Rang
On November 1st, I got a call from Safe Families for our first hosting. It was in that moment that it became real to me. Prior to that moment it was nothing more than a “someday soon” in my mind. Now it was real. He had a name and a story – one that I was about to become a part of. It was a 4 year old boy with a mom who needed respite. I was both excited and nervous thinking about the reality of a child I didn’t know living with us for any amount of time. Even though we went through the training, in many ways we still had no idea what to expect. If I’m being honest. Although I knew that this was something that God was calling us into, I still had a million reasons in my mind as to why we shouldn’t do it. What if the family needs more than a month time, resulting in the child going into foster care? What if I get attached to the child? What if our kids and the child don’t get along? What if the child comes with inappropriate behaviors that my kids have never been exposed to? You name it and I’ve thought of it. Stepping into the will of God doesn’t always mean that it won’t be hard. The journey however will be amazing if you let it. Even when scary, the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will. It will change you if you let it.
Welcoming a Precious, Little Stranger
Five days later this precious little boy came into our home. With many unknowns and no prior experience in this sort of situation, we went all in and embraced this little boy as our own. For a first hosting it went amazing! Through Safe Families, we ended up having him a couple of times but for only a few days at a time. Since then I’ve kept in contact with the mom and have even gotten together with them several times!
That’s the incredible thing about Safe Families. They encourage you to have a relationship with the parent after the hosting, which actually happened to be exactly what this family needed. God definitely was on the move by connecting our two families! All the things I was worried about God took care of. It was a great way to start our Safe Families journey! We do know however, that not every situation we walk into will look exactly like this one. They will each have their own struggles and joys. We know that God has a plan, and we are ready to be a part of it!
Having People You Can Depend On
There are many things in life that we claim to know or understand, but don’t actually fully grasp until we experience it or see it first hand. One of those things for me is understanding that some people are actually alone. I knew that was true but I didn’t really understand how it was possible. This is why: I have at least 10 people in my life that I could call right now if I was in some sort of crisis. Out of those people there are definitely 5 or 6 that would probably drop what they were doing to help me even if it inconvenienced them. They are healthy safe people, friends and family, that would take my kids if necessary and bring them to their home. This is not the same scenario though for so many unfortunately. I see that in Safe Families, and I saw that in this family we met through our first hosting. It was hard to swallow, and is still hard for me to cope with emotionally. Many of us don’t have family near by, or we have family we are estranged to. Maybe that’s you reading this. Imagine if on top of that though, you also had no friends that you could count on. No good healthy consistent support of any kind that you could count on ever. That’s the story of so many that find themselves connected to Safe Families.
Did you know that a high percentage of people who end up placing their kids for adoption or having them put into foster care are people who are alone? They may face homelessness and they have no one to take them or their child in while they look for a job, so they put their baby up for adoption. Or they are a parent struggling with mental illness, the father is unsupportive, and they have no other support. They end up neglecting their child so the state comes in and takes them away. Mistakes and addictions can be a part of their stories absolutely, but doesn’t everyone deserve to have support and the opportunity to get help? The answer is yes. Many people’s lives and situations would look different had someone stepped in and said, “Let me help you.” These days we spend far too much time being “the judge” and not enough time being the hands and feet of Christ. We spend more time talking about how messed up the world is but not enough time thinking about how we can better it ourselves. We spend more time giving people unwanted impractical advice than we do actually listening to people and just being there for them. We spend more time connecting with people on social media and not enough time making real life connections with people who need our help and support. The reality of the isolation some people experience has really been revealed to me. Safe Families brings people from isolation into community. To do that though, we need to start making our circles a little bigger.
A Passion to Help
Since I was a little girl it was no secret that it was unintentionally my life mission to help people. My mom will tell you that even at the age of like 10 I was constantly bumping into people who had some sort of problem. These things would keep me up at night. I’d be lying in bed thinking about how I could help them or how I could give them the perfect advice. This has continued into adulthood, but I have too many times been taken advantage of while trying to help. I’ve learned the hard way that enabling someone isn’t helping them. Without the right kind of support or resources on our side, we can end up doing more damage than good in people’s lives. That’s why Safe Families is the perfect organization for me! Through them I am able to be a part of the reconciliation and growth that I live for seeing in people’s lives.
With every passion or calling however, there is a possibility for weakness and the opportunity for the enemy to step in. Our biggest strengths can also be our biggest weaknesses if we aren’t careful. This is all too true for me. Many things I have been feeling are simply my heart breaking for the things that break the heart of Christ – But some are lies from the enemy to overwhelm and frustrate me. We have already had to decline two hostings and it has shattered me. I have beaten myself up over having to say ‘no.’ The reality of me not being able to help every family that I become aware of is very hard for me to deal with. You can turn on the news and know that there are broken people in the world… But to have a staff member call you up and give you the details of a person’s situation is completely different. That’s when big time trusting God has to come in for me. I have to trust that God will open up the opportunity for someone else to help them. Saying no and not knowing how their story will end is close to devastating for me. God is working through that in me though, and I’m learning to focus more on who I CAN help rather than obsessing over who I can’t. That inner dialogue hasn’t been easy though…
To read the rest of Olivia’s blog post you can click here!
by Olivia Tocci
Olivia and her family serve as Host Families. You can visit her blog, Olivia’s Chatter, where she shares her heart on things like health, fitness, love, faith, relationships, mommyhood, and more! Blog: https://oliviaschatter.blogspot.com/