Who are you, Shari?
I am the beloved daughter of God, fallen, redeemed through the mercy of Christ and held by him every moment.
What do you do, and what do you hope for?
I love my children and my husband. I live in the chaos and quiet of my home, and I study Scripture and psychology through Lancaster Bible College, so that when I am done being a foster parent I can work with children professionally and therapeutically.
Detour. What made you pursue that path?
I have always wanted to go back to school, but I thought that ship had sailed and left me behind. Now that my children are all in school, it seemed the perfect time. And I dipped my toes in the behavioral health waters last fall, before receiving our current foster placement, and became employed part time as a Behavioral Health Technician. I had to step back from working when my family grew radically, but I remembered how much I love both the science of child development and working with small humans. I hope to return to the field with more credentials, wisdom, and skill.
So you and your firstborn are in college together?
Yes! He is a year ahead of me, well into his second year at Penn State Behrend for software engineering, while I am well into my first. We like this interaction.
How many schools are represented in your family?
There are five. The two colleges, as well as a private school (11th, 8th, and 2nd graders), a public school (foster sons in 5th and 2nd), and a preschool (for our youngest).
I seem to have lost track. How many children do you have, exactly?
Seven, at last count. We received a sibling group of three almost a year ago. Two boys (now 8 and 10) joined us in November of 2022, and their little sister (4) was soon reunited with them in our home in December.
Okay, in that case why did you say “when I am done being a foster parent”?
This sibling group has been in foster care for years of their lives. They are rapidly (though always tentatively) heading toward adoption into our family. Which means we will close our home to further cases.
Wow. How do you feel about that?
Hopeful, excited, grieving, frightened. We love them very much and are lucky to be their family.
How do you manage?
I was hoping you’d ask. Prayer, coffee, and a lot of support. My husband is incomparable; there is no one I would rather be living and working with. We have a support community of four or five households, who collectively bring us a meal once a week, give us a date night once a month, and pray for us in between. That is how we survive.
Goodness. Any other big changes you’ve been keeping under wraps?
We now have three teenagers, can you believe that? They are such a joy to us. Our second son just began driving and hanging out with the youth group. Our daughter is thirteen, and our baby is nearly eight. How is this possible?
Also, we recently began attending the sister church of our original congregation. So we are at Shalom Mennonite, where we are finding hope after a long time of feeling soul-stuck emotionally and spiritually. Though I am sure we would all like to figure out reasons, causes, and double-sided justifications, no one is under condemnation or shame for this. It is one of the stories that Christ intends to redeem. With anticipation we watch for it.
Are you still writing?
I never discuss unfinished work.
Ah, I see. Are you being cranky because you shared about church?
No, I am being cranky because you asked about writing.
Are you reading anything good these days?
So much good. A Dorothy Sayers mystery novel, and a really good book on foster care, given by a friend. Maybe I will post about that soon.
I’m glad we had this talk, even though it turned less catechism and more conversation. So much happened in the past year that I felt we needed to catch up somehow.
Me too. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what’s been happening with you. You could start with the question you asked above: “What do you do, and what do you hope for?”
Last question from me. What is your blessing and wish for the world?
Now may the Lord Jesus continue to heal and redeem us all.