I read a book years ago about what “doing church” should look like. The first chapter included several scenarios of daily life. At the end of each scenario (which described a scene where someone was serving someone else in the church by repairing their car, babysitting, taking meals, etc) a line would read:
This is church.
I had decided earlier in the week to write a blog post today. It has been a pretty good week. I have seen some changes made. I observed the boys’ hearts turning toward God’s love. But it’s always amazing to see how God works in our lives to keep things real. Genuine. Authentic. and DAILY. 🙂
What I’m saying is: This is foster care.
This day started well. On most Saturdays, the boys wake up fairly early. Thankfully, Daddy B is always willing to do the morning routine … he’s even cheerful about it. Sometimes all the boys get ready and are gone for the morning before the girls get up. And yes, I do know how blessed I am!
Today, though, the big boys had some plans of their own. So the girls took on the Saturday morning “keep ’em busy” duties. Our first stop was Goodwill, where the boys have been begging to go for a couple of weeks. We purchased some clothes and toys and had a fun morning before coming home. The boys were pleased with all the purchases and laughingly jumped back into the car with their bags.
Yes, this is foster care.
As she often does, Lauren very graciously began making lunch for everyone. Then it hit. The middlest (we call him T) lost control over too much ketchup on his hotdog … the very hotdog that someone else had worked for, bought for him, cooked for him and served him! He instantly became a victim. As he spiraled out of control, ran out of the room, screamed out in anger that he hated us all and hoped we would die, we all watched and waited. The other boys became silent and eventually went outside to play. But his big sisters were crushed. The same little boy who had earlier asked for a piggy back ride, sat in their laps giving hugs and kisses galore, and couldn’t stop saying how much he loved them was now crushing their hearts with his words. Oh, the sting. The sister, who had made the lunch out of genuine and heartfelt love and care, couldn’t contain her heartbreak of all that was happening. The tears began to flow.
This is foster care.
I gradually talked him back to the land of the living (from his hiding spot behind the couch downstairs), but he was still angry and lashing out. I reminded him that love is more than a word. That kisses are more than a show. And that being a family is more than just the fun times. He was mostly quiet and listened. But even now as I type this blog post (hours later), he has left for the park with Daddy B and was still pouting when he slammed the door on the way out. He called us not long after he left to apologize, but I’m pretty sure it was prompted by a dad who doesn’t like rewarding such disrespectful behavior. An afternoon at the park doesn’t automatically follow such hateful words, spoken to people who have spent a morning giving.
And so, I’m kinda sad. For all of it.
Yet, this is foster care.
I remember something Beth Moore said years ago when speaking of her adopted son who came into their lives with lots of issues. She believed that she could “love him to wholeness.” But she couldn’t. Whether it’s running away and hiding behind a couch or sitting in silence at the table when your little brother is having a meltdown, “I guess sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks…” And there aren’t enough hugs or kisses or new clothes or toys. When there has been so much fear and hiding and running and stealing, there is hardly enough emotional space for learning to genuinely receive and give love. It most certainly doesn’t happen overnight.
So, here I sit.
This is foster care.
Parenting is never easy. But there was no way they could have prepared us to become parents to kids we did not know. Fixing what they’ve seen, heard and felt for most of their growing up years goes way beyond my own abilities … and reach. I clearly recognize that I can’t just love them to wholeness.
I remember a song sung by Debbie Boone years ago, and it’s my prayer often for the boys who have come through our home:
Can You reach my friend?
You’re the only One who can.
Lord, I know You love him,
so help him understand.
Can you reach my friend?
Bring his searching to an end.
Help him give his heart to You.
Like every single person in the world, they need Jesus. And it’s our job to love them to the One who brings healing and hope.