Monday, April 27, 2015


A few things have happened that have seemed to hijack April, and so, here I am, less than a week out, joining in with this year's Walk for the Waiting.  But - it's never to late to join this party.  I can't believe its the third year for this amazing event, and I am so looking forward to Saturday!  In honor of this event and as one reminder of why we do it, I thought I would share this story.

Remember back at Christmas time when my amazing babysitter turned dear friend shared her mad Christmas crafting/decorating skills with us?  Well, Lindsay wrote a post for our church's adoption ministry's newsletter and graciously said I could share it here as well.

And - so you can put some faces with this, here are Lindsay and Dave, some of the world's cutest people.  Plus their dog Wrigley, who is also cute.  Must be a family thing.



Hi everyone! What a joy to share a bit of our story with you. Foster care is something that we, truthfully, never envisioned for our family, but the experience is one that now, we know weʼd never trade.

Before we were married, Dave and I had the typical “these are how many kids Iʼd like to have and when Iʼd like to have them” chat like couples do. We settled on 2 children and that we should wait 2 years before thinking about having any. You know, in the way that any precious, mid-20s, married for 3 months newlyweds decide the way their lives are going to play out. Kinda like that. Our second anniversary came quicker than we imagined, as anniversaries are prone to do, and we concluded that we still werenʼt ready to try for babies. I think I underestimated how much fun marriage was and adding a tiny at that time felt like it would cramp our style. Because weʼve got so much of it. So again, we agreed to revisit the conversation in another year or so.

The fall of 2013 (our second anniversary was in May 2013) is when our hearts and lives began shifting. Dave works at Fellowship and sometimes church work is messy and hard and hurtful. Some things happened that really made me stop and consider what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. One of the hardest pills for me to swallow has always been the way the world views Christians. My heart has always been a little extra sensitive to nonbelievers and some of my deepest heartache has come from watching people who claim to follow Christ treat each other and people who think differently than they do. We (myself totally included) have done a fairly awful job of representing the message of Jesus and I knew I didnʼt want to be lumped in the category of “another uncompassionate Christian.” Wading through all these hurts and emotions felt more like drowning.

But looking back from the other side, I feel like those moments were probably more formative than I could have realized. It was out of that time that I began to read the words of Scripture differently, more literally. Specifically in the passages that spoke to social justice and the role of Believers in the world around us. I began to look at the life of Jesus, where He went, who He went to, and what He did. I had always explained away my inactivity of Gospel work with statements like “well, no one has leprosy in my world, so I donʼt know who Jesus wants me to seek out.” Or “Jesus speaks in metaphor quite a bit (which He does when reiterating important points), so surely the prisoners and prostitutes that He hung around with are metaphors for something else, too.” Am I the dearest? Donʼt you just want to punch me? As I began to peel back the layers of His word, I realized more and more that Godʼs heart for the Church was to love Him and give Him away to the world. Jesus came FOR PEOPLE, and if I wanted to be like Him, I needed to be for them, too.

Like I mentioned, Dave works at the church, and has worked at churches for a while. He leads worship for students and does it so genuinely and sincerely. I would always watch him and teaching pastors and missionaries who have “obviously spiritual” gifitngs and feel like I missed out. Like some people got gifts they could use “for God”, and some didnʼt. And I definitely didnʼt. I love to throw parties, laugh, create, bake, and decorate my home. It felt shallow, in light of “all Dave was doing” with what the Lord had given him. During the course of this season, I read a book called Restless by Jennie Allen with a group of dear friends. The book talks about embracing our own gifts and passions and experiences, rather than wishing for someone elseʼs. I learned that my gift and love of hospitality had SUCH an important place in Godʼs plan for His world; I just wasnʼt clear on how that looked in my life.

I just love how the Spirit aligns hearts together when He wants to make His will clear. So many times I am blown away at the confirmation the Lord gives and our story really is no exception. At that time, we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. I think it hovered just over 1000 square feet, and the ability to have people in our home comfortably was not really there. Dave is by nature very introverted and refuels by being at home. He would tell you, for quite a while, he used our small apartment as a means of disobedience. Despite clear commands in Scripture to live closely in community and bear each otherʼs burdens, he hid behind the excuse “we just donʼt have the room.”

Dave began to feel the Spiritʼs leading to look into home ownership, not just because it was the “American” thing to do, but truly as a step of obedience. We purchased our first home in March of 2014! We knew that we wanted to view our home differently and that we truly wanted it to be the Lordʼs. We didnʼt want to be weird about creating “our sanctuary” or a place to “retreat to”; rather, that God would have His way with whatever He wanted to do with those 1700 square feet. We prayed over every inch of our home that it would be a place where Kingdom work was done, where people would always be safe and welcome, and that they would walk out of the door knowing more of Christ because of what happened in that space.

So armed with a desire to live very literally how Jesus did, a renewed sense of passion, and a brand new home, we set out to put our feet to our words. If our home was to be a place of safety, refuge, and love, we had to take actual steps toward that. We knew a few families from Fellowship who were involved in foster care, so we decided to start asking some questions. We attended a CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime) information meeting and began working our way through the steps of becoming an open foster care family.

We officially opened in September and got our first placement a couple weeks after! We became first time parents to the cutest, happiest, most precious 8 month old boy. Even though he was only in our home for about a month, he filled it to the brim with a joy we really didnʼt know was possible. Each day that he was with us, I felt like I learned a new facet of Godʼs character. I experienced such a deep communion with Him and those were some of the most precious moments I think Iʼll ever have. I know we provided our little guy with a safe and loving home, but Iʼm pretty sure he gave us more than we did him. There really arenʼt adequate words to describe the overwhelming grief that came when he left. Despite the thankfulness for another familyʼs restoration, ours felt like it broke in a thousand pieces. Everything in my life has pretty much “gone my way” and I naively assumed that the trend would continue. Weʼd adopt him, have our cute little family, and that would be it. Because thatʼs how my life should go. I guess I was hoping I could skate through life without a huge amount of suffering. 

Learning how to grieve really is a life skill and what I have gained in the midst of it is a deeper sense of compassion for those who suffer. For the world. For the people that God so desperately loves and came for. Suffering is universal and Iʼm surprisingly thankful for the new kinship that I feel with the world around me. Iʼd always had a fairly “hands off” approach to peopleʼs hardships, but now, we know names. We put faces to drug abuse and domestic violence. We can never unsee or unknow that real heartache exists in our world and in our city. And even though thatʼs tremendously hard, I am so humbly grateful that the Lord has allowed us to be in community with this new extended family.

Jen Hatmaker describes our calling as “the place where our burdens meet our passions.” After years of confusion on what my calling could be, I really feel like Iʼve hit my sweet spot. Jesus has graciously allowed me to learn how to leverage my gifts for His kingdom and itʼs been such a privilege. We continue to pray about what our family might look like, but, unlike 4 years ago, we hold any plans for the future so loosely. We want our family to be a reflection of heaven, and we want to be obedient in however the Lord chooses to do that in our lives. Dave and I feel so fortunate to be on this journey with all of you and are thankful to sit at the feet of and learn from those who have gone before us!


Thanks so much for sharing, Lindsay!  To sponsor Lindsay and Dave for Walk for the Waiting - click here!


whitney burger said...

Lady Hassell, thiiiiiis. You really ARE just the dearest and have the most gifted way of confronting others with truth that's only born out of the deepest kind of love. So moved by the way you first love God and how that changes the way you love others!