Carol and her husband Ralph have raised their own biological family; five children, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, each possessing a robust sense of humor, a group who don’t take themselves too seriously. To them, life is an adventure to be lived—lived to the fullest.
While raising their family, they have been foster parents to over 200 children; children from every walk of life. They fit in, but it was not without its problems. This couple with their extended family developed an honest, straightforward approach to life. It is a joy to watch this group in action. Work was accomplished, discipline handed out, all covered with prayer and a sense of humor, genuine humility and love.
Carol wanted the summer off, a vacation of sorts from the continual demands that are placed on her life when you are a Mom. She wanted a break from the foster children just for the summer. As we age, the reservoir for strength for the battle doesn’t refill itself as fast as it did in our younger days. Carol had visions of coffee with friends and family; she looked forward to days she could stay in her nightgown until 1:00 p.m. (or later) if she wanted and just doing things without having a group of little ones underfoot.
Carol was two hours into her long awaited summer vacation when the phone rang. Three young children needed a home; no one else would take them. You know what’s coming—Carol accepted them. Carol’s summer vacation has turned into another summer of work, meetings, doctors’ appointments and driving many miles for parental visitation. Carol said it’s the constant demands placed upon her that drain her physical and mental reservoirs.
Carol complained to friends in her small group at church. Their friend Arnie, a retired dairy farmer who lost his wife about 15 years ago, reminded her that there are many people who live alone and wish someone would be around to “bother” them. Carol felt guilty.
A life of service to the Lord is a busy life. Ralph and Carol see their work as foster parents as a ministry. This ministry has been tiring, frustrating and draining but it is has also been rewarding.
Serving the Lord in such a way brings about attention from Satan and his demon buddies. Jesus tells us in John 10:10a: “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” That is Satan’s goal—to kill, steal and destroy. The life of a foster parent is front-line trench warfare against sin and Satan and his buddies. Carol and Ralph know this—they are not rookie soldiers wandering through life with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. They know the purpose of the battle is the salvation of people’s souls. Remember the rest of John 10:10 where Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
They are called to minister and they minister unselfishly. If they read this, they will be uncomfortable; uncomfortable because foster parenting is what they do—it’s no big thing. But they must do this, not everyone can do it. God has chosen them to do foster parenting; God has provided and protected them. May the Lord be praised.
So Carol’s summer vacation only lasted two hours. She looks forward to time off but I doubt it will ever happen in this life; she knows that. Thank you Lord, for people willing to sacrifice themselves for others and for Your glory. Thank you Carol and Ralph for your Godly example; a life of service well lived. Remember what Jesus says in John 10:11: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Thank you Jesus, for loving all of us wayward sheep. Amen.