Archives For Worship

(by Elizabeth)

Our girl is leaving this week.  Remember her? I’ve been processing this in a million ways since we initially found out about her move and thought I’d share those with you.  When the finality of the decision for a child to leave your home happens, there’s this sharp exhale like you just got kicked in the stomach.  We were told a little over 2 weeks ago about this decision and it took us by huge surprise.  It really shouldn’t have though, because when she came in late July we were told it would be only a few weeks until a home for the entire sibling group could be secured.  But when days turned into weeks and months, our hearts didn’t remember that it was only temporary and we invested in her as our own and dared to hope she might stay forever.

There’s the initial grief and numbness.  This time it felt like the miscarriages we’ve suffered where a part of you gets taken without your knowledge or permission and you feel so hollow.  After a while of this I kick it into high gear and try to compartmentalize my feelings.  People offer their sadness, prayers and concerns about how we’re doing and I’m able to smile and say “it’s fine and for the best”.  I can move through each day without thinking about how I really feel about it all. The whole house is eerily quiet about it.  Our boys never utter another word about her leaving and change the subject when anything does come up about it.

My heart learns to build walls to protect itself and cope by letting myself feel how utterly tired I am of caring for other’s children.  Every tantrum or difficulty from her has me saying inside my head, “It’s good you’re leaving, I didn’t want to raise you anyway.”  I start to think about how life will be easier when she’s gone and relish in the thought.  These are terrible, guilty thoughts. I cry out to God, saying “I don’t want do this anymore.  I want to be done”.  It’s hard not to question when He’ll release us from this calling and so hard to remember the immense joy we get out of caring for His kids.

And then I think about her and agonize over how her entire life as she knows it is about to change in a few days and she has no clue.  She’ll be totally caught off guard by night after night of sleeping in this new home and wondering where is that mama and dada she grew attached to.  That’s probably the hardest.  It’s more than I can handle sometimes.

When I lament like this, I find that there’s always a turn.  A friend encouraged me to write a lament and commented that inevitably there’s a point when you see the “but God” and you can see His faithfulness.  She’s right.  With every cry and disappointment, confused thought, all my anger and brokenness – it is all met in Him and in His sovereignty and goodness.  Matt Redman has a song I could just about put on auto play:

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

There is the truth!  I know He is faithful to us and to our girl.  And His plan didn’t change for her the moment we were caught off guard by her move.  When I feel like I’ve totally lost control on her future, I remember that I never had it in the first place and she’s in His best care no matter where she lives. So I move on to celebrating this.  I’m able to celebrate all the progress she’s made here and the joy she’s brought to us.  I remember her coming to us, hardly a smile and mostly unfeeling eyes, totally insecure. She’s leaving us a mischievous, giggly girl who hugs everyone and bravely walks through the day.  I celebrate my family and friends who have risked our hearts for her and I’m proud once again that we said “yes” to God in this calling.

Finally, there is a lot of prayer, which ties all of these feelings together.  I beg God for His favor towards her all the days of her life. I always ask that He put someone in all my kids’ paths at every step of their lives who knows Jesus and shares Him with them.  I pray for her safety and for her to know security through her caregivers.  I ask Him to hold us while we cry and keep sending His faithful promises to us.  I ask Him to help my boys with their feelings and beg Him to let Conor and I lead them wisely and lovingly through their own grief.  I pray that He will keep using us in His Kingdom and keep proving to me that His way is the best for us to follow.


The Fight

October 24, 2014 — 2 Comments

I’m have been learning a lot about fighting lately.  I’ve never seen myself as a fighter. I avoid conflict.  I call spats with my husband “discussions”, not “arguments”.  I don’t enjoy movies with fighting and think it’s strange that people watch wrestling as enjoyment. The fight I’m learning about it one within myself.  And it’s all because of this 23 lb little girl who crawled into our lives in late July.  This girl….whew, she’s something else.  Her scrunched up nose with a delightful cackle and smile endears your heart to hers, and in next moment, her screams and tantrums make you second guess that same endearment.  She came to us broken, scared, uncertain, and because of that, she tests our love and devotion to her.  She can’t help it.  Due to a short 10 months of history prior to us that contains multiple broken attachments and the trauma of drug exposure, her brain fights to protect itself until we can prove ourselves to her and can help her form new and healthy neuro-pathways.

Several weeks ago I was rocking her in the night, holding her writhing body that thrashed about in my arms, trying to stop her screams.  She would calm herself, slow her breathing down for a few seconds, and then jerk against me and start all over again.  This went on and on and on.  Holding someone like this is exhausting and in the middle of the night when I’d like to be sleeping, my patience was growing extremely thin.  I kept thinking, “If you’re going to fight me, then I’m just going to put you down and let you figure this out on your own.”  I was getting so agitated and angry at her.  In that moment, I sensed I was in a battle, invited into the one she is fighting.  I felt sick at the thought of all she’s been through, that she doesn’t even understand and has no words to describe. I felt the ugliness of sin that had wrapped its claws around her life and left ugly scars. And I heard this – “Fight for her, not against her.”

Ever since then, that’s been my mantra.  Multiple times a day I remind myself of it.  It’s a terrible battle to be in, but she’s showing me it’s worth it.  Some days I think I’ve lost the fight and it’s easier to give in and treat her as the enemy.  Then I get a glimpse of hope and gain the perspective God wants us to see.  He says through the words of Paul, our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Eph 6:12)

I will fight for her.  I will fight for her future, for her capacity to love and attach.  I will fight for her chance to be a healthy girl who is secure.  I will fight for her so she has the best chance of knowing Jesus and the healing He has for her.  I will fight for her heart.

I will fight against injustice.  I will fight against the lies of hopelessness.  I will fight against the cycle of sin in her family. I will fight against my own feelings of resentment, bitterness, and anger towards her.  I will fight against the pull to give up on her, and be no more than just a caretaker of her basic needs.

Some of the greatest battles ever fought have brought about the greatest freedoms we enjoy.  She is worth the fight.  We’ll both come out with battle wounds, I’m sure of it, but someday I believe we will raise our hands in victory together.

We’ve been fostering for over two years now.  Long enough for the honeymoon period to wear off, the original excitement and anticipation is gone, and now we’re into the hard years where my joy is tested.  The happy feelings aren’t enough to sustain me and I have to go back and remember my commitment, much like a weary wife remembers the vows she made to her husband in order to survive a hard spot in her marriage.  Oh, don’t misunderstand me – I still wouldn’t trade it for anything and I have never regretted our decision to foster children. It’s just hard and sometimes I’m tired of caring.  But again, much like a marriage, the hard years are the ones that bring lasting joy and prove the strength of the relationship.

Lately I’ve been struggling with judgment toward our little girl’s parents. Their decisions, over and over again, are poor and unhealthy and not moving in a positive direction, yet it seems like the state keeps withholding consequences and instead, rewards them.  Many people have shared with me that the reason they could not – would not – foster is because they would not be able to comply with the state’s decisions for any particular case.   In my head I know that judgment is not mine to hand out.  God is the keeper of justice and I’m just a tool he uses to support the case, not execute the decisions. But my heart and thoughts struggle to line up with that.  Last weekend I was reading in Exodus 14.  There was a battle raging against Pharaoh and the Egyptians and God tells the Israelites to stop and be still.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (v14)

Or for the thick-skulled like some, this may be a better translation in The Message:

God will fight the battle for you.  And you? You keep your mouths shut!

I knew as soon as I read that, that God had given me that verse for our current kid’s cases. He is the sovereign Lord of all, and in charge of the state, the commissioner, the parents, and of my kids.  And quite frankly, he will fight just fine without my added comments of anger, sarcasm and judgment.  Should I advocate for my kids? Yes!  But under the authority of God and in the appropriate ways.

Yesterday I reached out to a sister for prayer.  My anger towards the situation was brewing and I felt the strong hand of God on me, reminding me of that verse and telling me to be silent.  This was her reply to my plea for prayer:

I just prayed that you would have eyes to see C’s parents were made in God’s image as hard as it is to believe.  God is just, He’s for us and not against us, and He has all of C’s days planned out for her.  I praise Him for that!

Bless her.  I could have wept right there.  She prayed what I was not strong enough to, but oh how I’m asking God to make that true of my thoughts and petitions too.  Conor has said it before on this blog: Love trumps all. Simply put, I forgot to love.  What Jesus said was radical 2,000 years ago and it’s still radical today:

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

Fill me up with love, Father, and fill me with the sweet of aroma of Christ to tickle the nostrils of all I encounter, even those enemies.

Raising Caterpillars

July 15, 2014 — 1 Comment

(by Elizabeth)


We have a budding scientist in our home now. Our 7 year old son is fascinated with all things that have to do with the scientific world. He’s like a little encyclopedia, soaking up facts and spitting out random, “Mom, did you know______?” I love it. When he was four he became obsessed with rolly pollies. He would find them, declare that they were lost without parents, and put them lovingly in his (many) bug catchers. Often he would ask me to babysit his beloved find. Let’s just say some of those endeavors didn’t turn out so well. This year we have moved on to caterpillars and butterflies. For anyone who doesn’t know this about Conor, he has an extensive entomology collection that contains numerous preserved butterflies. Our son’s never-ending pursuit to be just like Dad has made him a lover of entomology as well.

Last week Caleb found a wooly bear caterpillar hanging out in our front lawn. Excitedly, he brought it inside and put it in a bug catcher with leaves for the caterpillar to munch on (no slice of cherry pie available…sorry, Eric Carle). We then decided to put it in a more suitable place so that he could raise it to become its intended tiger moth self. So a shoe box has sat on our kitchen table for the last several days where we all take peaks at the caterpillar to see how he’s doing. On several occasions he has escaped and we’ll find him somewhere else on the table top, searching for the outside world.

Last night I got to wondering about how long this process would take. After a few internet searches, Conor and I discovered that wooly bear caterpillars take several months to make their cocoon and transform to a moth, most lasting all through the winter with their transformation in the spring. That’s at least 9 months from now and Conor and I knew immediately we could not keep the caterpillar that long. The website also urged that even though this idea of raising is quite tempting, it’s best to observe the caterpillar from a distance and not rob it of being in its natural habitat. Our home is simply not the best place for this caterpillar to live. So this morning we broke the sad news to Caleb. He protested and tried to find solutions but in the end was quiet about it.

This afternoon I saw him staring at the caterpillar, still in its box. Quietly he said, “I think it’s time to put the caterpillar outside.” I watched him take it outside and when he came in he followed up with, “I think it’ll be better for him to outside because every time he escaped and I would put him back in his box, he curled up and tried to get out of my hand. I don’t think he liked being trapped.” He was worried that he would get cold and lost and I explained that God made the caterpillar to know exactly what to do during winter and how to take care of itself so that he stays safe and becomes a beautiful moth. Still trying to resolve all this in his head, he said with his voice thick with tears, “I just wish we could raise him and keep him forever.”

And in that moment, I knew we weren’t just talking about caterpillars anymore.

(by Elizabeth)

Saturday night my family was welcomed into a friend’s home for a great evening of dinner and conversation. Our friends specifically wanted to have us over because they wanted to ask us about our experience fostering, as they themselves are praying through beginning that journey as well (I’m giddy about this because we LOVE it when our fostering community gets bigger!)  They asked us pointed questions.  They wanted to know the nitty gritty and the heart of what we do and why we do it.  At one point one of them asked what the hardest part was.  I’d been thinking about this a lot in the recent weeks and that night I had my answer.  You see, the hardest part of fostering you would think would be letting go of the children we’ve cared for, or exposing our biological children to things that are less than desirable to them. You’d think it would be the constant wondering what the outcome will be for this particular child who is no longer just a case # to us, but a family member, or saying no to that placement request when you know the homes available are few.  You’d better believe all those things are very difficult, but honestly, the hardest part about fostering for me has been the outside world around us who looks in on what we’re doing.  

This post is not intended at all to offend or belittle anyone.  I’m writing this because I once lived in ignorance like so many of you.  Never would I have dreamed my eyes would be opened like they have been.  I don’t blame anyone.  I’m not mad. But it does get wearisome to bear and I want to bring you to a place of understanding as I too have been.  Here are some key things I have noticed and experienced that can be helpful. 


1. Please don’t ask if we’ll get to “keep this one”.  Many know we hope our ultimate goal of fostering will be adoption but we also see the beauty of the here and now needed for these children and want to provide a haven for as long as they need. While this can be a battle of constantly wondering if adoption will become their goal, we aren’t effective day-to-day if we operate under this mentality.
And they’re not a puppy or a watch we received as a gift. They’re a child.  

2. Please don’t ask us all the details about the reasons they came into our care.  Not only are we not allowed to share this information with you, it really isn’t any of your business and should not affect how you feel about them or treat them. In some cases when it’s necessary for you to know something to more effectively care for them, we’ll share that with you…privately. 

3. Please don’t assume they are so much better off with us than with their birth family.  It depends on the case (because that may, in fact, be true) but sometimes these kid’s parents are able to work through their issues and provide a good home for them, even if it doesn’t meet our high standards.  And for sure do not tell my older foster child that they will never know more love and safety than they will have with us and how blessed they are to have us.  This is confusing for them.  All our kids know is that they were taken from their parents and in most cases, that’s the best love that they know and they don’t think there’s much wrong with it.  

4. Please do not assume every foster child’s birth parent is a horrible person who should be banished from the Earth and never gain rights to their child again.  They are human and deserve to be treated with respect.  Yes, they are faulty, but you and I could be there if not for God’s grace and a lot of other factors. Don’t assume they don’t love their child.  More times than not, a lack of parenting education and role modeling is the issue, not a lack of love for their child.  

5. Please do not tell us continually that you don’t know how we do what we do and that you couldn’t ever give a child back after caring for them.  It’s not a cake walk over here.  We’re not saints and don’t have any kind of giftedness that you don’t have. If you can give love and safety and structure, you can do it too.  Maybe you just don’t want to. And that’s ok, but don’t tell me it’s because you couldn’t do it.  Besides, that’s really not helpful for us to hear.  Instead, why don’t you tell us that you see how difficult it is and ask us how you can pray for us.  


Now after all that I’ve got to say, the community that surrounds us in the form of our local church and family and friends, has been unbelievable through this journey.  If you’re one of those people reading this, please know we love you, we feel your support and you are our lifeline some days. It would be unreasonable and unfair for me to expect total understanding from anyone who has never fostered, but I hope this helps bring a little bit of new insight and understanding to you. Foster care is an unfortunate reality.  It’s a terrible, ugly beast.  Little by little, child by child, we will conquer the beast. Thank you for joining us in that. 


Today, my post is about something different.  It is about celebrating a milestone that I believe in, that I am humbled is possible, and that blesses every part of my life.  Today, my post is about my wife, Elizabeth.



10 years ago today, I married the woman I loved.

I had no idea I had the capacity to love someone as much as I love her now.  And in 10 more years, that will be even more.

We have walked through joy, suffering, celebration, pain.

Together.  Sometime on the same page, sometimes not.  But together.

I have watched her mature into a strong, independent, thoughtful woman.

I have watched her become an extravagantly beautiful, amazing mother and wife.

Every morning, I wake up next to her and thank God for blessing my life with her presence.

Every morning, I wonder what in the world she sees in me, and thank God anyway.

As we have journey through ministry, whether in music or in fostering, she has been a source of joy.

Let’s be honest…she is the only sane person in our household, and she’s incredible.

When I hear the song “When Love Takes You In” (which I know she loves), I think of her

My goal is that as we continue in life, she will think that of me.

So why all this mushy stuff in a post?

Love is a choice.  Marriage is a choice.  Choosing to make your spouse and your family a priority in your life is a choice.  As we have struggled (and sometimes not) through our first 10 years of marriage, we have realized that choosing to make our relationship a priority is easier said than done.  I remember my Dad telling me once that we wouldn’t always be at home, but Mom would, and so she took priority.  God first, then her.  I still remember that, and when I get things out of wack, I harken back to it.  So no matter how many children we love, how many successes we encounter professionally, our goal is to remember to make each other a priority.  To support, cheer, encourage each other, and to correct, challenge, and remind each other to follow hard after Him.  So I write this to say that I love my wife with all my heart, I am beyond blessed to be married to her, and I look forward to the next 10 years, and what the future holds in our lives!


I love you, Elizabeth!

(by Elizabeth)

There’s a lot of things you learn through foster care trainings but one thing I was not prepared for last year is how difficult Mother’s Day is for a foster mom. Last year, to be honest, Mother’s Day was terrible for me. I grieved for the 3 children I had mothered throughout the year who were no longer in my care, and for the one I carried in my womb for a precious 8 weeks before losing. No one told me how hard that would be and how it would sneak up on me and surprise me, like the nasty prank of getting water doused in one’s face.

Here I am a year later and the water’s been thrown in my face again, just as surprising.  Not much has changed, except this year there are 3 more little lives I have mothered and no longer care for.  The babe I hold today, I am reminded, is not really mine to celebrate either. There is painful awareness of the “real mom”.

I have friends who are foster moms without biological children and they often tell me that they aren’t sure whether they can really embrace the title of “Mom” because their status seems so unsure and wishy washy, sometimes literally changing weekly or monthly.  Though I have two biological children, I feel their pain with each child that comes and goes.  The Enemy sneaks in and taunts us, saying we’re not really their mom, like it’s just a childhood game of “house”.  The lies are countless and if we are not careful, so easily believed.  The dream of one day celebrating Mother’s Day with children who are truly ours forever is so strong that it wraps around me and chokes me sometimes.  I press on towards that day, but I also know that in part, the Enemy would love for me to be so fixated on it that I neglect the ones who are just passing through here.  It is important that we are mothering them, and we’re not just playing “house” – we are participating in a holy war and calling.

Fellow foster mom, I celebrate you this weekend.  I see your thankless job and am proud of you. I know your heart of pain and fragile hope.  I know you are remembering all you have mothered and are aching for them.  Though your arms may be emptier tomorrow than you’d like, wear the title of “Mom” proudly.

Happy Mother’s Day.


(by Elizabeth)

As a foster parent, you must keep up your licensing with a certain amount of training hours and quarterly visits from your licensing worker.  Last week our licensing worker came to the house to do our quarterly visit, but this was also time for us to begin preparing to renew our license for another two years.  Hard to believe it’s already been two years. She asked us a series of questions and among them was this: What has been the most rewarding part of the last two years?

Conor quickly spoke up with a steady confidence, “Watching our (biological) boys learn and develop through our fostering.”  While I have many other rewards to add to that, I do agree that reason likely tops them all.  I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit since then.  To unfold my thoughts on it, I need to take you back a few years.

3 years ago, when my boys were nearly 2 and 4, I felt the stirring in my heart to be involved in missions.  I remember a conversation with Conor where I was struggling with the joy of being in the throws of raising two small children, and yet wanting to be able to leave and be part of a short-term mission trip. Conor encouraged me to go on one, which I did, but in the process we also spent time dreaming about a day when our entire family could engage in a mission trip together.

10 months later, after our initial interest in fostering had been expressed, a supervisor from MBCH came to our home to discuss what that meant (i.e.: what in the world we were getting ourselves into!).  I will never forget what she said when we asked her about her thoughts on fostering with young biological children in the home.  She said, “You tell your children about missionaries all around the world who share Jesus with people.  Your family is going to get to do that inside the walls of your own home.”

I hear some people say they would like to foster “some day when the kids are older”.  God’s timing is certainly unique for all, and if He has in fact called you to fostering, He will have the perfect timing for you to engage in that. But I would like to share with you some reasons why fostering while our children are young has been one of the best things for them.

1. My kids will likely not remember life before fostering.  Some of their earliest memories will be our home filled with kids, of all ages and races and backgrounds, that we are loving and giving a home to.
2. Children are a lot stronger and capable than we give them credit for. We explain to them, in terms they can understand and process appropriately, why we are doing what we are doing and they get it. I think they may even get it better than you and I some days.
3. Allowing children with other backgrounds to come in our home and be part of our family teaches them a lot.  We really don’t worry about them picking up poor behaviors. Most of the time they are the greatest teachers to those new kids about the “family code” in the Scholes home.  And if a poor behavior is repeated in one of our biological kids, they learn from Mom and Dad about what’s appropriate and what’s not, and the behavior can be corrected all around.  What a fantastic way to actively train our children to respond to the Word of God’s authority in our home in light of what others may be doing that goes against that.
4. My kids love fiercely.  They know what it is to stand up for family, to be a helper to their brother.  They know what it is to love another child and yet watch them leave, and they still think it was worth it.
5. Fostering has not been without challenges for us. Fighting, bullying, name-calling, unfair advantages have all been part of it.  While my mother’s heart would love to shield them from this, it isn’t the real world and they are learning how to deal with conflict right inside our home in a place where they can fall back on the arms of love, support and understanding.
6. My kids have witnessed their Mom and Dad on their knees, begging for strength from God when we had no more.  They have seen us turn to God’s Word for guidance and encouragement. They have seen us struggle to work out the gospel call.  They are part of God’s bigger story right here in their own home. 

Maybe God has not asked you to foster. But maybe He has and maybe having young kids is the only thing holding you back. If that’s you, I urge you to rethink that decision to wait. For us it has meant we’re on a mission trip together most every day, and it’s a wild adventure!

(by Elizabeth)

I’m the one who he snuggles into at night as I sing his song.

I’m the one who he gives his silly, giggly smile to first thing most every day.

I’m the one he follows around throughout the day and imitates.

I’m the one who held him and fed him at all hours of the night as a newborn. 

I’m the one who has cheered on every milestone.

I’m the one who makes his world all better when he’s been hurt. 

I’m the one who kisses his peanut butter and jelly face and gets sticky from his hugs.

I’m the one who is training and shaping him as his independence grows.

I’m the one he runs to when I come back from being away for a short time.

I’m the one he calls “Mama”.

But I’m not his mama.  I am painfully aware that I am not his mama, even though his own biological father encourages him to call me that “because I’m the only mom he’s really known”. 15 out of his 18 months I have been there every step, every day, playing the role of his mom.  Yet in 14 days that role will change in a second when the judge rules that he return home to his father.  I will be stripped of that role and responsibility in his life.  It is more than I can bear to think of how his little world will be altered.  It seems far from fair.
I have no resolution tonight, only weeping and grieving and real.

Praise the One who brings joy in the morning.



What you are looking at may just appear to be a panoramic view of a dusty bypass, a piece of property that looks like deserted land.  If you were with us yesterday at the Mai Aini refugee camp, you would have seen a beautiful piece of deluxe property that has high value in location, the complete blessing of the governing body over the camp, and came with the added bonus of being able to have the freedom to be in the unaccompanied minor refugee portion of the camp.  Not only were the meetings we had over the last two days a success, we were given the go ahead and a new, prime location to place the library within the camp.

When we arrived at the camp on Wednesday, we were informed that our reserved piece of land had been changed because they did not think it was good enough.  Cynics aside, we decided to take this as a sign they cared about the library project and would show us a better piece of land the next day.  Which they did.  Located at the center of camp, the vacant land is close to the educational spaces already provided, and right in the heart of the area of the unaccompanied minors.  Even more amazing was the reception that we received by being welcomed with open arms by the leaders of the camp, and being repeatedly asked to let them know if there was anything they could help with.

And so the planning has begun.  Jim and David, along with local leaders with good construction knowledge, have been working diligently to design the building according to what is able to be done locally.  The partnering ministries have pitched in to help with the engineering and purchasing side of making this project go.  And by the time we are back, the beginning of building the fence to go around the property will be in process.  

I am reminded of how wonderful seeing provision happening truly is when we allow God to work through us, in spite of us, and without us in control.  As we begin this season of building a library for Mai Aini, there will be challenges.  Money must be raised, and the building must be finished before the rainy season.  Logistics for shipping the container with the donated books that still must be sorted must be planned.  But those prayers and needs will be answered, probably in ways that we can’t imagine.  

And that, my friends, it the most beautiful part of it all.