Hi Immanuel, my name is Cassie. I was born in New York and grew up in the NY/NJ area, but moved to the Midwest for school in 2001. Even though I have lived here for almost ten years, I am a true Jersey girl at heart! Both my husband Toby and I are Wheaton College alumni and we will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary this summer. After graduating from Wheaton, I moved to the Westside of Chicago where I coached high school volleyball and softball and taught math for 5 years. I recently ‘retired’ from teaching to pursue my primary vocation, which is currently a stay-at-home mom.

My role as a mom looks a little bit different than most moms, I imagine. Toby and I are the unofficial guardians of Nicole (age 18), the legal guardians of Lawrie and Isabel (ages 11 and 6), and mom and dad to Stella (age 4 months). While Toby and I always wanted to be parents, neither of us could have imagined that our first three (!!!) children would come to us potty-trained and grown! My role as mom to our four girls is slightly different for each one, according to their unique needs and circumstances.

Nicole was a former student of mine who moved in with us halfway through her junior year of high school. My role in Nicole’s life is less mom and more big sister, I think. She is currently a freshman at North ParkUniversity. Lawrie and Isabel were placed with us as foster kids through Lydia Home’s Safe Families program in December of 2007 and we became their legal guardians in November of 2008. Although we’ve played the role of their parents for over two years, the girls still call us ‘Cassie and Toby’. It can be difficult to define our roles in their lives since we don’t know if or when their parents will ever be able to care for them (both parents suffer from chronic mental illness). Stella is the newest addition to our family. She came to the us the traditional way… by stork J In her case, my role is pretty easy to define. I am her mom.

Being a ‘temporary’ or ‘sort of’ mom can be really difficult. With Nicole, it can be hard to draw the line between friend and parent. My main goals are to encourage her in her walk with Christ, and to help her make wise decisions about college, future careers, finances, and relationships. When she doesn’t make wise choices, I often find myself becoming frustrated and even angry, not only because they will cause her heartache, but because she didn’t listen to me! With Lawrie and Isabel, my role is to nurture them and help them grow as healthy, well-adjusted, Christ-loving girls. Most days I feel like their therapist/babysitter more than I feel like their mom. Often I find myself losing my patience with them and forgetting that they have lots of issues because of their situation. I catch myself telling them to ‘get over it!’ more often than I’d like to admit!

When people hear about our family, they often ask, “Why do you do it?” My answer is, “Because the love of Christ compels us,” and, “to whom much is given, much is required.” As a Christian, I am called to love my neighbor, and to steward well the gifts God has given me. In my life, in this season, I’m using my gifts as a mother, biological and otherwise. Part of loving your neighbor includes practicing hospitality. This hospitality comes in many forms and definitely doesn’t call all Christians to foster parenthood; however, it does call the church as a whole to care for the orphaned and abandoned. If the church doesn’t step up to care for those in need, we miss out on huge opportunities for sharing and living out the gospel, and the huge blessings that come with it! We are salt and light!

The Lord has used this season to challenge me, especially as a task-oriented, people pleasing, type-A personality. It is really easy for me to look at these girls and say, “Hey God, look what I’m doing for you. Look how I’m serving you. Aren’t I so great and loving?” Or better/worse yet, to compare myself to those around me and reassure myself of my sainthood. Our current study of Galatians during our Wednesday night small group has been a sharp reminder that my salvation comes not by works, but by grace. Nothing I do can ‘earn’ me salvation. And nothing I do can ‘save’ Nicole, Lawrie, Isabel, or even Stella for that matter. Our salvation is through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. I know that God has blessed me with a special capacity for juggling lots of things at once and my role as a ‘sort of’ mom and as a ‘real’ mom has challenged me to use this gift to its fullest capacity. It’s also teaching me how sinful I really am! Working with kids who don’t have my perfectionist, driven mentality has been a lesson in humility and acceptance. Sarcasm doesn’t work on little kids! It has also taught me the importance of the church community. Toby and I can do what we do because of the support, encouragement, and prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ! I am so thankful for our IBC family and for the churches we grew up in on the East Coast who continually hold us up in prayer.

Thanks for reading! If any of you would like to hang out with our crazy family, you are more than welcome to join us for dinner sometime! Email me or come find me at church and invite yourself over!