“Can I show you something?”, a foster-mother asked as I entered her home to check on the teenager living with her. “Sure”, I said. She ran to the kitchen, grabbed a letter, and handed it to me. “It came in the mail today”, she said in a soft tone and gentle smile.
I unfolded the hand-written letter, and began to read it. The letter was written by a former foster child who lived in her home for less than one year. He told her that he had gotten in serious trouble since he left her home, and had to pay for his crime in the local jail. He told her about his baby girl, and fiance, and how he wanted to be a good father and husband.
He also spoke of the impact she had made on his life in just the short time he was there. “You showed me what it is like to have a family”, he said. He then reminded her that he witnessed the devotion she had to her family, and to her faith. During his time in jail, he thought a lot about his time in her home, and realized that the life he was living was not one that would support his child, his fiance, or his desire to be the man he desperately wanted to be.
He ended his letter by telling her that he was about to get out of jail, and looked forward to being different from when he went in. As I finished reading it, I looked up with tears and said, “Wow.” She said, “You never really know what kind of impact you make on someone’s life.”
The memory of this moment was on my heart today after I witnessed my son, age 6, choosing to put his extra change in our family’s “Blessing Jar” instead of keeping it for himself. You can read about this jar, and why we have it, by clicking on the link: Blessing Jar. After he decided his change should go into the jar, he looked up and said, “Why are you smiling?” I said, “It just made me happy when you made this choice.”
Tonight, I was unfortunately reminded that the choices we make to better someone else’s life are not always supported by those closest to us. A visit from one of my in-laws revealed this person’s opinion that we do not have support regarding our taking in my infant cousin who was in need of stability and security. This person’s complete disregard for this child conflicts greatly with the stated faith this person believes in. It is disappointing, and a little infuriating, but it certainly does not dis-sway us from doing what we felt led to do.
I’m sure that the foster-mother I spoke of earlier was confronted with opposing opinions about her desire to do foster care. It would not surprise me if people questioned why she wanted to bring in “troubled” children and teenagers. They may have provided her with multiple reasons why she should not have become a foster parent, and maybe even, distanced themselves from her. There might have even been moments when she doubted her ability to get through to the toughest of kids. She probably questioned from time to time if she was making a difference in their lives. But….that short, sloppy-written, but significant letter came, and it reminded her of the reason she chose to invest in the lives of others.
The Lord gives glimpses of goodness, and reminders that our decision to choose life-affirming and love-giving actions matter. I’ve seen it when watching my daughter nurture her older brother when he was not feeling well, or when watching the kids interact and love on the baby. Today, I saw a glimpse of goodness when my son chose to give up his change with the knowledge that it will be used to bless someone else. It seems the Lord gives us these glimpses in order to encourage us to keep on doing what we feel in our hearts is right to do. He also gives us these moments to affirm how our choices, whether good or bad, affects others, and can be mimicked by the little ones in our lives.
If you have made a choice to do something that will affect others around you, or if you are being confronted with a situation where it would be easy to think “let someone else handle it”, then I want to encourage you to consider prayerfully and with wisdom what the right thing is for you to do. Don’t let the blurred vision of others, or self-doubt, stop you from doing what your heart is leading you to do.
After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the incredibly humbling, and sweet glimpses of the goodness of life.
Acts 20:35 – “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner, you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
1 Peter 4:10-11- “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Caroline is a mother to three children through adoption, and a strong advocate for foster care. At the age of eleven, Caroline underwent an emergency hysterectomy in order to save her life. Since then, she has known that she would never have biological children.
In 2006, Caroline and her husband, Bruce, became foster parents and quickly accepted the placement of a newborn baby boy. Through their journey of foster care, they learned so much about the needs of children, and were greatly humbled by the experience. They went on to adopt their daughter after fostering her, and recently adopted their youngest boy in 2013.
Currently, Caroline works for a Christian child welfare agency in Missouri. Caroline shares her life experience about foster care, adoption, barrenness, and faith on her blog: www.barrentoblessed.wordpress.com
Caroline has been a guest speaker at churches and conferences regarding adoption, and is currently working on a memoir about her life growing up as the youngest female known to have a hysterectomy.