Sunday, May 20, 2012

Their Example

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
                                                                                          – 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

The number one thing I hear about foster care besides “I could never do that because I could never give the kids back” is about how it might affect other children in your house negatively. Now, let me start first by acknowledging that foster care and/or adoption affects everyone in your home and even other family and friends. It is an adjustment and there will be sacrifices (it is a word that our own biological kids have come to learn the definition of). We carefully considered our own children and talked at length with them for many months before starting the process. However, I have noticed not only in our own case but in other comments on people’s blogs or facebook or in casual conversation there definitely is a judgment that having a foster or adopted child is giving your own biological children (or other children in your house) the short end of the stick. After all, they are going to have less attention with all the attention and energy poured on the new child (that most likely has more physical, mental and/or emotional needs). Further, they are going to know about bad things (i.e. abuse of children, parents who go to jail, etc.); they are going to have to share their stuff, etc. It is often said with a sympathetic tone. Our poor kids!

Well this couldn’t be further than the truth. If anyone has met our family, you have seen the ministers that my children are. I don't say this in a way that says my kids are something beyond what others are or could be (and if you have met the Barkley children you know that I am not overlooking the fact that they can all be full of it and make my blood pressure rise at times). However, as a society we often don’t give kids the credit they deserve. Our children are little ministers, little theologians, little teachers, and the list goes on. They have something to teach us about perspective, about love, about joy.

As I’ve shared before, one of our foster children “J” has some sensory issues and A LOT of fears. We work with her to push past them. Sometimes you want to lose patience and say, “For Pete’s sake(who is Pete anyway??), it’s only ____, just get over it!” But that doesn’t do any good J Last night, we were going through the sprinkler for the first time since “J” got here. She wasn’t thrilled about the feeling of the dry grass on her bare feet, or the wet grass for that matter, or the wet cement and DEFINITELY not the sprinkler itself. I did all sorts of silly games to try and get her more into it; to feel the JOY of playing in the sprinkler. Well about an hour and a half into it, my daughter Mikayla got through to her and off they ran, back and forth through the sprinkler. This photo is from behind (to protect her identity) but let me tell you, she was ALL SMILES! Not only did she feel the fun that the others were having but felt the triumph of another fear!

So for all of the little ones or youth in our midst, thank you. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for loving others in the special ways that only you can do, thank you for your perspective on the abundant life that God desires for us (one that has nothing to do with fancy cars or houses but rather the joy of running through a sprinkler or noticing the special rock or beautiful leaf on the ground). Thank you for being you. May we never look down on the mighty things that God can do through you.

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