Scared is the New Brave

The call came last Wednesday at 9:25 AM. Was I in town? Could I come talk to a young mother? Yes… and yes.


So began my journey down a new path. I was scared… yet I felt brave – and confident. I had no idea what I was walking in to, but I knew I wasn’t going alone.


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9


A short time later, I found myself sitting at a picnic table with (not her real name) Krystal, her preschool-age son playing on the playground nearby. I listened for a long time, ultimately encouraging her to temporarily relinquish guardianship of her child.


Even with all that’s happened since then, I still find myself feeling a bit numb as I type those words: relinquish guardianship of her childOh, how I do not take that lightly!


Nest 3


I hope someday soon to tell you her story, but today I want to share mine – and just how it is I found myself sitting there scared, yet feeling brave… and eerily calm.


I’ve mentioned Safe Families for Children to you here several times recently. The organization first came on my radar during a lunchtime missions event at The Moody Church in Chicago. Sitting next to Renaissance Man on the panel was Dr. David Anderson, founder of Safe Families. I’ll never forget his words: “Before the end of the day, I need to find someone to care for a baby who will be born tomorrow.”


It turns out the baby’s mother had one more month to serve on a jail sentence, but she was doing great and would be able to care for her child. There was no reason to lose custody of her newborn – or for the baby, even temporarily, to become part of an already overcrowded “system”.


This family had a short-term need and, fortunately, Safe Families offered the perfect solution during a stressful time.


That was over five years ago.


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Since then I’ve had several opportunities to visit with Dr. Anderson. I’ve watched Safe Families grow from a Chicago start-up to an international ministry. I’ve read stories of families – and churches – transformed because they were willing to practice biblical hospitality, stepping out of their comfort zones and providing respite for families in crisis.


For years I asked God to open doors to bring Safe Families for Children to my own county here in East Tennessee. I know the need is great, so I was perplexed when doors remained closed. I never felt the time was right to formally “start the conversation” – until three weeks ago.


And last week, there I sat…

having the Safe Families conversation not with agency or church leaders – or even prospective host families – but with a single, scared, lonely mother who needed to catch a break for once in her life.


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And there we sat…

almost three decades apart in age – and aeons apart in childhood memories. Two mothers whose present realities are the result both of choices we’ve made and choices others have made. Things we’ve done, and things others have done. Two mothers who would do anything to protect our children.


Five days ago, I watched in admiration as a young mother made the most courageous decision she’s ever had to make in her life. She was scared – and brave.


Today she’s hopeful… and grateful for strangers who extended hospitality to her son – and the chance to change the course of their path.


As Krystal told me, the people who should be here for her haven’t been for a long time – so God sent total strangers to take their place.


I’m privileged to be one of those strangers. I’m humbled to be learning a lesson firsthand:


If we truly love children, we will love their parents.


Last summer Dr. Anderson told me of a meeting with a children’s services worker he thought would give his blessing to the idea of Safe Families. Instead, he heard, “Don’t waste your time. Christians only protest things; they don’t do anything proactive.”


I had to stop and ask myself:  Are my choices proving him right – or wrong?  (I didn’t like my answer, so I’ve spent the last ten months making some major adjustments…)


How would you answer the question?



If you think this is a conversation worth having, why not click on the “share” buttons below this post and start it among your friends. Leave a comment here, too, if you will. I’d really like to know your thoughts…


Behind the scenes…  Ironically, the 9:25 AM call came just as I was about to hit “publish” on my last post – the one that challenged you to do something. Talk about having to put my money where my mouth is… and God holding me accountable.  Isn’t He faithful? 🙂


UPDATE:  Scared is the New Brave – Part 2


I’ll be joining:

Testimony Tuesday at Holly Barrett

Playdates with God at The Wellspring

Unite at Rich Faith Rising

Titus 2 Tuesday at Cornerstone Confessions

Tell Me A Story

#TellHisStory at Jennifer Dukes Lee

#RiskRejection at Amy Sullivan


  1. How sad and encouraging, all at the same time. I can only imagine that girl’s thought process. You must be very gifted, Susan, for her to put her trust in you. And what a gift it will be in return to both her and her son. Bravo!

  2. This so speaks to my heart! I cried. We spent 15 months caring for 13 foster kids, with 3 of ours and one other homeless boy. It is a heavy burden in my heart to see the church rise up and love hurting families and parents, step in to help prevent separation if possible, to foster and to support those who are fostering. Such a wonderful ministry! Thank you for serving. Thank you Lord, for working through this ministry. May many more come to your feet and find your love & mercy.

  3. This is heart stirring and sounds like an awesome organization. What a blessing for your courage to be used of God and the curage of this young woman and her son who needed you so desperately! Thank you Lord as doors open for more ministry opportunities for Susan.

  4. Truly inspirational. Thank you for your Courage & comminttment to make things happen. “Speaking to One Woman who needed to cathc a break for once” Amen! Just One is where it begins. Coming to you this week from TELL ME A TRUE STORY link up.

  5. What a blessing you are for speaking to this young mother, and for acting to protect children. Thank you for sharing your awesome post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.”

  6. I’ve never heard of safe families. thank you so much for introducing me to this much-needed ministry. this really spoke to me: “If we truly love children, we will love their parents.” Yes. Yes. Very good words, friend.

    • Laura, Safe Families is a great ministry. Just this week, my husband and sent in our application to be a safe/host family; guess we’re getting ready to see SF from a whole new perspective. 🙂

      I hope you’ll check it out and see if there’s a SF anywhere near you — or start one yourself like I am. We can do this for our kids and families in crisis! Think about i?

  7. As someone who works in the “system” I applaud what Safe Families is doing. I often feel that if the church as a whole was stepping us as it did in the beginning, there would be little need for our government human services system. Thanks for sharing this with us at Testimony Tuesday.

    • Holly, I couldn’t agree more about the Church not doing its part as in the past! My husband has a book coming out in August: Dirty Faith: Bringing the Love of Christ to The Least of These. The Church obediently returning to our God-commanded responsibility to care for orphans and to love our neighbors is its foundation. More at if you’d like to see.

  8. Safe Families ministry is new to me, but what a great and needed idea! It’s wonderful the way He works to orchestrate people’s lives to cross each other’s paths at just the right moment. May He give courage to Krystal to do the best thing for her child and herself. May He send others like you alongside her to love her and speak truth into her life. May He guide her steps in the paths of righteousness and draw her so very near to Himself.

    You linked up ahead of me at Playdates last week, but I’m just now getting around to reading this amazing story. May the Lord bless and arrange the rest of your week for His glory and your good.

  9. “If we truly love children, we will love their parents.

    I’m reminded of this again and again when I meet parents and become angry. They are the center of the world for some kiddos. Even when things are good. Love your passion. Also, YES! #RiskRejection is the first Thursday. I was a slacker and didn’t get it together to pull it off though. SO, SO glad you saw we were posting and jumped on.

  10. What good and needful work you are doing. thank you.

  11. What a great organization. Quick question- do they happen to have a branch in Southern California?