Kari was feeling under the weather today, and she went to bed early. It doesn’t help that Simon and Jonah (are two littlest ones) are also sick. It’s never a fun thing to have sick family members, but it’s especially stinky when you’re on vacation!
I told Kari she’s not allowed to get sick, she’s done enough of that over the past year! Literally, my wife has been sick for the vast majority of the past year.
It started when she got pregnant. All eight months (Jonah was born a month early) of her pregnancy were very hard on Kari. She was sick for the majority of it, and it was extremely hard. On top of that we were (and still are for sure) getting used to what it’s like to have 2 years of parenting experience and yet have 5 kids ranging from 14-2! That brings its own very difficult and very unique challenges every single day. As a matter of fact, even today I was feeling down because I had no idea how to parent my child through a situation because I don’t know much of their past, but I digress.
On top of pregnancy and learning large family logistics, we also had our name in the bucket for being available to do foster care. And wouldn’t you know it, Kari got pregnant, and we got the call that we had a placement (the cold, uncaring term for a foster child). We had our little foster daughter for 6 months, and they were easily the hardest six months of my life, and Kari’s too, yet even more so. Our little girl was more trying than any of our older three had ever been. Our foster daughter made me realize that I do in fact have a temper. I’d never struggle with anger at any of my other children, but I would frequently have to catch myself when dealing with Skylee. Though as I’ve thought back on it, I know that part of my frustration was tied up in how often Kari was sick, and how hard everything was being on my family during that time. I battled resentment, but often didn’t know who or what I resented. It was a long 6 months, which simply added to an already long 8 months, which were just part of a very long year.
We eventually had to give Skylee back to the state, because the state won’t allow you to have more than 5 children under 18 living in your house, regardless of whether or not they’re yours or foster children. So Skylee left us the week before Jonah arrived. My family still hasn’t really gotten to grieve Skylee, and it’s been hard to know how to deal with that. It was good though, as all things always are for God’s people, because we couldn’t keep it all going anymore. We were burnt out, and our family was really struggling. As a matter of fact, the day after Kari had Jonah, I looked at Kari, and realized that I hadn’t “seen” her in 8 months. She was completely different. She glowed. I had my wife back…at least for a little while.
She still battled sickness for the next couple months, and has only recently begun to feel better, which is why I berated her for even starting to get sick! But it has been so good to have her back.
It was a long storm, and it was actually all part of a longer storm that we’ve been going through for about 2 years. But that’s for another post. I am sharing this piece because I was reminded of all of it today as I watched Kari and my two littlest boys battle stuffy noses and sore throats. I also share because I want to say that I am thankful for all that we went through, and, although I would probably hesitate at first if someone were to ask me, but if I could go through it again, I would.
Romans 8:28 teaches us that as christians, nothing that happens in our lives is wasted. Everything works together for our good. Oftentimes, we don’t agree with God on what “good” is, but it is good nonetheless. The past two years have been good for me. The past year, battling sickness with Kari, have been good. They’ve been good because God always uses storms to sanctify us. They’ve been good because God has taught me a greater dependence on him. The six months that we had Skylee were good because God used her to strengthen and push us, and he used us to (Lord willing) eternally influence her. We received a message the other day that said that Skylee has been singing songs that she learned at “Karwees church”. I miss Skylee.
I was reading today and came across a quote from David Livingstone. It was about whether or not he viewed his time as a missionary as “sacrifice”. As foster and adoptive parents, and even just parents in general, we can often view our lives as lives of “sacrifice” (the self-pitying kind) all on behalf of God. We can catch ourselves saying “look at what I’ve given up for you God.” But this isn’t the attitude that we should have. Firstly, because we must remember that God is using all of this for our good, so in reality, we are not sacrificing anything, but instead “getting” good gifts of sanctifying power and grace from God. Secondly, we are not sacrificing, because none of this is ours to begin with. Thirdly, we are not sacrificing, because anything we call sacrifice would only pale in comparison with the amazing sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. So I want to close with Livingstone’s quote. It’s about missions, but you could easily put parenting (or a host of other callings as well) in there.
Here it is:
“For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blessed reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waiver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these things are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I NEVER made a sacrifice.”