“I was wrapped up in the party scene, alcohol, and jumping from one unhealthy relationship to another with men trying to find validation,” said Emily Utz. “At 27 years old, I came to the end of my rope. Although I learned about Jesus through Young Life in high school, I didn’t know how to apply the Bible to my life, so I found myself in a cycle of sin patterns.
“When a job opportunity with my company opened in Dallas, I was quick to say yes. Looking back, I can see that the Lord pulled me out of my life in North Carolina to give me a new start in Dallas – an opportunity for real change. A friend, who invited me to Young Life, now also lived in Dallas and encouraged me to get involved in a local church. The Lord was helping me say yes in little ways to different opportunities so I could grow in my relationship with Him.
“God changed my life and taught me what faithfulness looked like through community and participation at Watermark and The Porch, Watermark’s young adult ministry. It was such a fun season, but things shifted as I got older. My personal faithfulness and serving Jesus didn’t look like being in a ‘fun’ ministry, it required small daily obedient actions. Again, God gave me time to be quiet and ask through prayer what He wanted from me next.
“I consistently told God my desires to be a mom and be married. I asked Him more and more how He wanted me to be obedient in this new season. My community group helped me prayerfully consider the possibility of fostering a child. I kept pushing this idea back to God and my community group out of fear and uncertainty, but it became clear that I was stalling on something the Lord was calling me to do.
“I specifically asked in my prayers to God, ‘Have I defined ‘motherhood’ incorrectly?’ I wanted to make sure that my definition of motherhood matched God’s definition. I always thought motherhood was getting married and having biological babies. But I realized that I was defining motherhood by the world’s standards and not by God and His Word. My intentional time with the Lord helped me see other areas I was defining on my own terms and not from Scripture. How do I define ‘love’? How do I define ‘fun’?
“Fast forward after prayerful consideration, conversation, and trainings, and I became a foster mom. Foster parenting doesn’t make sense on paper for me. I am 37, single, working, and welcomed a newborn into my home. I didn’t have everything perfectly planned out. It was all new to me, but God knew every detail. This process has helped me grow in my faith and trust with the Lord, and He has reassured me time and time again that He has everything covered. Finally, I said yes in obedience because I trust Him.
“Eight months later, the baby was able to go back to her family. Her biological mom is fighting a life of addiction, but she is healthy and sober now. As our story unfolds, I am seeing what an honor it was to foster for this family. I loved the baby and being a mom, but the more I’m learning and reflecting, I can see this whole process served the biological mom more than I ever realized it could. There was a woman who needed someone to help take care of her baby and to encourage her, and I was able to step in and do that. It is amazing how God turns things around to show the bigger picture to His plans.
“My prayer is that God will continue to be clear with what He wants of me moving forward. I’m asking God what further investment in this family will look like or if I should take in another foster baby. Through it all, I know He will bring peace (Haggai 2:9).
“In my time with my first foster child, the Lord taught me so much. For so long I wanted to be married and have biological kids because I just thought that’s what everyone did. God taught me that fostering wasn’t and isn’t second best. It wasn’t God’s backup plan for me. He showed me what my gifts are and that I am exactly how He created me to be.
“If you feel God has put something in your heart, pray about it, seek biblical counsel, and act on it. Obedience to the Lord can be scary. You need people that know God’s Word, know you, love you, and care about you to say, ‘Go! You need to move forward.’ As I am learning and understanding the beauty of God’s plans, the more I am affirmed that they are never second best.”