I recently shared our desire to be foster parents with a close family member, to which her response was, "Kristy, Why would you do that? You have three kids of your own to raise. That is hard enough." It made me think...she is not the first person who responded that way, we have gotten that response several times. Each time it causes me to pause and catch my breath. With all of the grief resurfacing with Asher's birthday I have really thought hard about my answer to that question. Here is what I came up with.
Howard and I are determined to take God at His Word. He TELLS us to care for the orphan. While that may not mean EVERYONE should take in orphans, it does mean we should ALL be doing our part to care for them, no exceptions. God's children are not burdens. They are gifts. Each of them. EVERY.SINGLE.CHILD, in the system and out is a gift. ALL OF THEM, no exclusions. How do YOU think God would have us care for His gifts? I am certain he would have us take them in and love them like our own. EVEN and especially when much is at stake and it is inconvenient.
We have a small home. The foster children will have to share rooms with our own children, and we have chosen for that reason to take only children under Luke's age for now. Only small children because, our children are also gifts and we don't want to put them in harm's way nor do we think it is appropriate to ask a teen to share a room with a four year old. We do have limitations and we are looking out for the best interests of everyone involved. We have chosen an agency that we feel very confident in and we are nearing the end of the process and can't wait to have more kids in our tiny home.
Another comment I keep getting is "You guys have already been through so much, maybe it is time to just rest and take it easy." My response is, "I don't think so." I don't think God calls us to sit and bask in our own comfort. He asks us to step outside of our box and live our lives in a way that honors him. We have been through much. God has prepared our hearts for this very moment. He has. I have no doubt that having children come and go will hurt. I have no doubt that it will stretch us to our very limits. In my experience, when we are stretched that far, we have no choice but to lean hard on God, and that is when blessings abound. God has given us five children and taken two away. We know all too well the pain of losing a child. That is not to say that it ever gets easier. Our hearts will break. I can only assume losing a child you have loved even when they are not your own flesh and blood will sting. We do know and stand firm in the fact that God has been good to us. He has picked up the shattered pieces and put them back together one chard at a time.
I know that sometimes we will have to give up a child who will be going back to a home that is less than ideal. I know it is going to be hard. I also know that no matter who you are, if you are a mother who's child has been taken, by death, by a social worker, or a stranger, your heart has to break. While it will be hard to let little ones go back to their homes, I have to take comfort in the fact that when a child is able to return to his or her mama, that is one less mama's heart that is broken from loss. Sometimes, that situation won't be good, and God will still be in control. We live in a broken world where awful things happen, our system is full of children who are living that reality in a way we cannot even imagine, God calls us to love them, not to ask the cost. The cost is high, but these kids our the future.
Why would we do this? Because we trust in the One who tells us to. Because we have seen first hand the gift that comes in each and every child. Because we know that there is beauty and blessing in pain and letting go, and simply because He commands us to. Obedience is not something we can do half way...either we obey or we don't. God is calling and we are up for the challenge.
Only our Lord could write a story where a grieving dad sits up for hours the night before his dead son's third birthday pouring over bunk bed plans so that the can, on his son's birthday begin to build the beds that will hold "the least of these". A dad who wants more than anything to honor his son and obey his Father. This family will spend this day, Asher's third birthday cleaning and preparing our home for His gifts that will bless our family as much as we hope to bless theirs. We have big hopes, big dreams and big plans, and his Word tells us that whatever we do, if it is His will, we will succeed and we know he is calling us to this. We know it will be hard, we know our hearts will break and we KNOW that he is ABLE!