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Thank God everyday for the honor and ability to foster child | Faithful Living
When planning our wedding 33 years ago, Matt and I chose a Bible verse found in 1 John as the theme for our wedding ceremony and life together:
We love because He first loved us.
Over the years, our understanding of God’s incredible gift of love has deepened as we raised three kids and worked through the accompanying disappointments, struggles, grief and challenges modern life in America hands each one of us.
While gratitude has always filled my heart and profound contentment blossomed in response to the love that has surrounded me, I always believed that I exercised my love and served those around me in customary ways.
It bothered me that I might never trust God enough to lead me on a path to love in ways that were utterly scary and untested.
Two years ago, Matt and I learned there was an Oak Harbor High School freshman who had been removed from a chaotic home and taken into foster care.
For the first time in her life, she had lived in one community for an entire school year, bonding with school staff and making friends. However, the family she was living with was struggling personally and there was not one home in Oak Harbor available to take her in.
Scheduled to move off island, she was devastated.
We understood almost in an instant what task lay before us: to take a lifetime of gratitude and exercise the power of transforming love with someone we did not know.
To pay it forward. To model our faith in ways we had never before considered. Or talked about. Or planned for. To trust God in ways we never had and observe love in action.
When I walked into the local Department of Social and Health Services office and offered our home, they looked at me with great suspicion, as they should.
In time, after interviews and background checks, home visits, training and a period of time where social workers, court-appointed Special Advocates for Children volunteers and attorneys observed us interact, a spunky and motivated 15-year-old was placed in our home on a permanent basis through a court order from a local superior court judge.
While parenting our own children felt stressful and worrisome many times throughout the years, we didn’t experience the midnight terrors we did when we gained a “bonus” child and became “bonus” parents.
We had no life experiences for such a task and did not want to fail her. She longed to be accepted and understood; so did we. We were complicated puzzles to each other and our natural reactions were based on opposing life experiences.
Late into the night, my husband and I would replay conversations and strategize how we might better serve her.
And we walked this path without our usual crowd, as some of the people in our lives understood our decision to foster while others were respectful but concerned.
Each time terror or doubt kept us awake, I visualized taking our worries, setting them in a basket and handing them over to God. “Transform us, these worries and our lives,” I’d pray.
Today that basket is filling with gratitude.
Daily, I give God thanks for the honor of the task. The joy. And the opportunity to witness the gifts of His transforming love.
n Joan Bay Klope may be reached at faithfulliving@ hotmail.com