Trying to convince women that a fetus is a baby seems redundant. Yet it’s the approach most Christians take in the pro-life movement. It’s assumed that women are ignorant about the facts of life. It’s common knowledge that what’s growing … Continue reading
Normally our 9yr old foster child is at her birth mother’s on weekends. Because of this, J has only been to church with us a handful of times. The last occasion was a total disaster.
When J decided not to go to her mom’s this weekend, I understood but was nervous about how she’d cope. Raine and Athena were singing in the children’s choir Easter morning. I worried J would prevent us from getting there because of a major meltdown. Happily, she rose and got ready without any issues. In fact, all the kids did so well getting out the door (usually our greatest challenge) that we arrived at church early.
J hadn’t eaten her bagel and pear during the drive. She and I sat down in the foyer while Raine and Athena went to their final practice. It’s rare for J and I to be alone. She loves my daughters and always wants them around.
Saturday, while we were waiting in line for pancakes at a local maple syrup bush, J ran through the nearby pine trees with Raine and Athena. The three form a neat little pack. I was struck by how special it is to find a place where you belong. J has shed much of her insecurity and found a place of joy. She is loved and she loves. It’s a gift to have a tribe to run with. I grew up with a sister and friends who nurtured my spirit and soul. That has been on my list of experiences I’ve wanted for my kids. I rejoice that Raine, Athena, and J have that.
As J and I sat in the foyer, people began wandering in for church. Many faces were familiar to me. They knew J was my foster child. Though most had not met her, they stopped to say hello. The grandmotherly women, put their hands on J’s shoulder. Looking her in the eyes they welcomed her. Some told her she was in a blessed home. Others told her she was lovely. Everyone had a smile and kind word for her.
She’d done nothing to warrant their attention. J was simply sitting there eating a bagel (or not eating since she’s been reluctant to eat after being at her mom’s over March break). The people knew her status and went out of their way to speak into her heart. They honoured her with kindness not because of anything she’d done. She has no connection to them. They aren’t her grandmother. They bear no responsibility to her. Yet, they made a point of connecting deeply with her. I watched J’s spirit and soul drink in the love and acceptance lavished upon her.
It took everything in me not to cry. Growing up in the church, I’ve known this kindness all my life. Until today, I’d not appreciated the magnitude. There are so many things I want for my kids – adopted and fostered. A home church has always been on the list. Growing up, that was my community. There were families in my neighbourhood who also went to our church. We spent time together during the week and saw each other on Sundays. I realize there are many other ways to build community. But I doubt there is another place where a dozen people will stop to speak to the heart of a child because they know she’s living a displaced life. Today, J received the gift of community. She was loved, accepted, encouraged, and affirmed simply for being there. It was beautiful and exactly what she needed.
I grew up in a large, lively church. My teen years were spent mostly at church where I was involved in everything from choir, youth group, weekly Bible studies, to putting on puppet shows for children’s church. When not at church, I would babysit for families from the church and cross stitch.
The boxes contained fabric and patterns that I used to make my own clothes and items for friends. And a great deal of cross stitching equipment. This is how I spent my youth.
I had a wide circle of friends from church. Some stayed on the straight and narrow, many veered off into another world. They drank, did drugs, and other things I dared not try. At the age of 10 I read the Bible from cover to cover. The verse in Ecclesiastes about remembering your Creator stuck with me. I wrote it in notebooks and on scraps of paper I put up around my room. This was the challenge I put before myself, to remember my Creator in everything I did – especially in my youth.
Looking back, I have no regrets. I lived a chaste life that others often ridiculed. I didn’t mind. My eye was set on a prize. I knew remembering my Creator would please Him. That’s what mattered to me.
I had a wide circle of eccentric friends. They were musical and comical. They were at times creative and serious. We laughed together a great deal. It was so much fun. Sadly, it was long before cellphones and social media. I was so busy enjoying myself, I didn’t stop to take pictures.
This is the youth I want for my kids. I realize it’s a different world today. But I think there’s still room for remembering and valuing the Creator.