Guest Post by Nikki Hertzler
Some of the most rewarding things I have found are connection and community. Earlier this year, I connected with fellow Christian author Nikki Hertzler. Nikki is an author, speaker, educator, and foster parent who’s work is a testimony to others as she has embraced God’s calling for her life. Her blog and writing offers help to other navigating the foster care world and what it means to follow God’s calling.
In today’s post, Nikki Hertzler will be sharing a creative non-fiction article, “Journey Into the Unknown.” It is a beautiful piece that demonstrates the quest children in foster care are forced to take (and the role foster parents play in helping them overcome challenges).
After reading, be sure to connect with Nikki Hertzler through her social links at the end.
Journey Into the Unknown
Nikki Hertzler and her husband are on a journey of obeying God’s calling by being foster parents. Step with her for a moment into this realm.
Imagine a fantasy world far removed from your own. A world where you cross a threshold and suddenly everything is foreign to you. Your parents have stayed in your old world. Your siblings have crossed other thresholds to enter more foreign worlds separate from your new one.
You wonder What is happening? What is real? What is true? Do I need superhuman powers to navigate this new world? What path do I take? Where is God? Is there a God in this world?
In this world, there is an older woman to guide you. She is called Caseworker. She knows the path through this world and has the power to talk to the Judge.
Caseworker tells you that you will remain in this foreign world until Judge tells you it is safe to return to your former home. You ask her, What can I do to hurry this process? She gives a gentle smile. Do not worry, it is not up to you. Events must happen in your old home and you are powerless to affect them. After these Events, however, you may return. After telling you this, she enters her white vehicle and leaves you behind, promising to return later to update you on the progress of the Events.
Magic in the New World
And then you find an element of magic in your new world. In this house, the Mother and Father smile at each other and say kind words. The adults don’t scream at each other and at you. You want that power and feel compelled to begin a quest to find it. You’re not sure that you’re up to it.
The Mother and Father in this new place want to hug you. You shy away, because touching is a powerful thing and not to be shared easily. You will walk this quest alone. You will navigate this strange place and find your way home.
But then every day, the Parents talk to you. Every day they provide you what you need. Food and a little screen time, yes, but also instructions on navigating this world, instructions that they call Life Skills.
You learn how to tell time and count out change. How to operate a clothes washer. The Parents smile at you. They teach you ways to speak kindly to others. You’ve learned a bit of that in your old world, but they have a supernatural power that they can plug into and they want to share with you how to plug into it too.
The Power of Jesus
They call this supernatural power Jesus. The Mother and Father describe His love. They say that Jesus’ love is unconditional and never-ending. His love is powerful. He loves everyone so much—He loves you so much—that He died for you. As you start to feel sad about that, the Parents rush to say that Jesus did not stay dead but rose again and is alive. What a superpower.
And this god loves me? Does he love my parents back home? Yes they tell you. He loves your parents. He watches us all and loves us no matter what we do. He wants us to love Him back but He won’t force us.
As you live your new life over the threshold of this new world, the Parents continue teaching you of this powerful Jesus. You see how He can help you walk your path in life, whether it leads you back to your old world or takes you to new ones. Caseworker updates you every month. Judge is always in his court watching. But you know now that the real power comes from Jesus and you’re going to be guided by Him.
Navigating the Foster Care World
Navigating the foster care world is an adventure for all the people involved. For our kids in the system, they have entered a scary foreign world that has different ways of doing life. I’ve had children who needed to learn even simple things like how to sleep in a bed instead of the floor and how much shampoo to squeeze out for one wash. But the scary parts for them are wanting to be with their mom and dad and siblings, and wanting their normal back.
All of them need an all-powerful God. It is our mission to introduce them to Him. What they do with Him is not up to us, but we obey by being ambassadors for Christ to their lives. To their worlds.
We the foster parents are also in the midst of adventure. I have a lot to learn from the kids and from God too. Each placement is always an adventure into the unknown, with more quests to journey through, and more challenges to conquer.
But we do have a supernatural strength to help us walk this journey. In our weakness, God shows His strength. We lean on God’s almighty strength and His wisdom. We can pray for Him to send people to help support us. All of this can keep us strong and continuing the quest of obeying His call to foster.
More About Nikki
Nikki Hertzler resides in northern Nevada. She and her husband have lived in several states before settling with their three children in Nevada. Nikki is an elementary teacher and as a speaker, she speaks on the importance of early childhood development as well as on foster care.
Her family enjoys participating in their church ministries and being on outdoor adventures. A few years ago, with their biological children on the brink of leaving home, the Hertzlers felt God calling them to foster. Since then, they have been introducing their foster children to the fun of hiking, skiing and Lake Tahoe.
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