A Short Catechism

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?

Yes.

And?

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.

Amen.

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Admin
4 months ago

Congratulations on being married for half your life!

Julie
4 months ago

It’s so good to hear from you again, Shari!

Ruth Anna
4 months ago

This was a fun update! I still have NO IDEA HOW you go to college with that many children and a house and children to look after. I teach full time and am a college kid part time….and still about can’t keep up.

But then. This isn’t about being overwhelmed. What do I wish for? I wish our churches understood that forgiveness and trust aren’t the same thing. I wish we were more trauma informed so we wouldn’t end up saying hurtful things to trauma survivors. I wish we understood narcissism and their tactics and how they use flying monkeys to accomplish their purposes and how they make life all about themselves and live in alternate realities. I wish we could respect each other’s healing journeys instead of being Judgy Judy.

Wendy W.
3 months ago
Reply to  Ruth Anna

Ok, I’ll just second this second paragraph here, because it’s exactly what I wanted to say!
And I’m so glad you’re blogging again!

Lisa
4 months ago

♥️

Violet
4 months ago

So very good to hear from you again, Shari! I am also studying psychology. Really good n deep stuff.

janelle
4 months ago

That was fun to listen to. :). I am with you in the “mothering and learning” club. In ten minutes I’m going to listen to a free on-line trauma workshop on the differences in treatment for PTSD and moral injury. Should be enlightening. I hope for the increased light and love and peace of Christ to bring us all home.

Lucy
4 months ago

Enjoying hearing from you again!!! Alot going on.. Wow! Glad you have your people. And not to be weird, but I love hearing your affirmation of your husband. I have been shaped by the words you’ve shared on marriage through the years… The good, bad, and ugly… and know such unity is hard-won. We’re behind you somewhere on the path of healing… At least I hope we are. Long processes are frought with despair. But I also have my people. ♥️

Godspeed on the return to school! That part resonated alot with me. Due to 4 consecutive pregnancy losses, our youngest child here on earth with us is starting school next year and I’m struggling to find a new life direction. My passion is to help children who, like my oldest son, struggle academically. College is on the radar but still in that shadowy, formidable giant sort of way. I need to ask alot more questions and pray alot more prayers before I’ll be ready for that. I wish you a clear path to both your adoption and academic goals. 🙏

My wish for the world is the blessing of 2 Corinthians 5:16. To lay aside superficial judgements and prejudice, look deeply into each other’s hearts and see the image of God in each person. Second only to the “Well done! Enter in..” from God Almighty, it is my fondest anticipation of Heaven. To see people wholly and purely, without any blindness and messiness of sin, for who they are in Christ.

Bethany
4 months ago

Hi Shari, so happy to hear from you again! College and three foster/potential adoption placements. That’s a lot. But also sounds like you are being held and supported. Blessings and prayers extended to you and yours.

What do I do and what do I hope for? I am a wife and mom to three, 2 bio and 1 foster daughter. We have fallen deeply in love with our foster girly and are trying to prepare for her possible return to her mommy. I also have a little side hustle/hobby in updating thrifted items and selling them in my Etsy shop. I take great joy in being creative with paint and brush.

My husband and I hope for clarity and a path forward in growing our family and being more active and involved in the local community.

Thank you Shari for using your voice and advocating for the needs around you. God bless.

Bethany

Judy Roth
4 months ago

Love seeing posts from you.

4 months ago

I’m so cranky because I wrote a nice long comment and then lost it when I went out to copy the link for my blog.

Let me just say that I can’t think of anyone I respect or admire more than you. Maybe later I’ll come back if I get over being mad.

Elise
4 months ago

I do teach. And I do hope my children complete all their homework. 🙋🏽‍♀️ I live far away from my family and I dream of a day with no more goodbyes or decisions on where, or how long to live in a place. 🙂

Rachel
4 months ago

My wish for the world is that someone would do something about it. (I’m totally talking about fall cleaning.)

I enjoyed this catechetical conversation. I would have asked just those things, with the exception of a second question about your writing and making you cranky. That was definitely someone else. 😂

Sylvia Horst
4 months ago

One of the things I do . . . Graduate student at Lancaster Bible College. I hope I run into you sometime when you come for class!
My hope for the world: for God’s healing miracles for all the traumatized people all over the world!

Julia
4 months ago

Loved this! What do I do? Right now, it seems that all I do is coffee dates with friends and comfort for a teary, teething baby. I hope for peace in each of the hearts I interact with. And my own.

J. S.
4 months ago

What do I do? I wash, cook, clean, and sew. I keep the house and spend the evenings with my husband. I continue to learn what it means to live in a community as a transplant, and to live with chronic illness. I call my mom a lot these days, she has cancer.
I dream of counseling women in hard places, of being brave enough to publish a book, I dream of sunsets, and picking flowers in my garden. And lately, I dream of having babies.

Laura
4 months ago

What’s happening with me? I just finished painting my dining room (with lots of help), I daily mother 2 beautiful little girls, I’m waiting on Baby #3, aka “Alphaeus,” and I’m getting ready to take a nap once the little people settle. For the world I wish less anxiety and more hope and joy… that each would know this is POSSIBLE! in Jesus.

A friend
4 months ago

What do I do? I mother 4 littles, help my hubby run our business, wash clean & try to talk myself into fall cleaning! (Hint it’s not working so far) I drink lots of coffee & run on lots prayers! I hope for the day when I will look forward to fall cleaning 😉

Anonymous
4 months ago

Having been-there-done-that myself, my sympathies about the church transition.

Jenn
4 months ago

I make a home for six children, walk with my husband in his pastoral role, teach a Sunday school class of delightful preschoolers twice a month, lead a weekly Bible study and a monthly mentoring group, and dream about college. These things (and others) keep me on my knees. Most days I feel desperately inadequate. I hope for the day when I can look back on this season and see God at work more clearly than I do now.

Your life sounds full and rich and BUSY. I’m happy for you that you’ve found a way to go back to school. And the hope of adopting the three siblings—what a gift.

Monica
3 months ago

Hey Shari! I absolutely loved reading your two newest blog posts and hearing the updates. Sounds like you are a wonderwoman! A busy mother and student at the same time.😉 I hope you are receiving as many blessings and more as you are giving and pouring out to others! I pray your fostering goes well and the three precious souls in your care, whatever the future holds for them, Jesus will have much compassion in their stories.
Feeling soul-stuck in church setting? I get you on that one, and wish yall the best in your changes you’ve made. I’ve been learning how much good it does and how healthy it is to be in a church setting that we feel revived and spiritually alive in.
What my wish for the world is? That we would continue seeking and searching for more and more, to be better and better equipped to help those around us. Not just be in our own box and be comfortable but push beyond what we “think” is our limit in a healthy way.
And also that Jesus will come quickly and take his broken children back with him to be whole again.🩷

Phoebe Wiley
2 months ago

I just finished reading your book, and all I can say is wow! I am teary-eyed and thankful for your courage in writing some really hard stuff. I grieved with you many times throughout the book, especially when you lost the two children you thought were meant to be yours permanently. I understood your deep anger and hurt and disappointment with God, and I marveled at how those children returned to your life when you were obedient. I am so thankful that you were able to find your second son the help he needed. I am also very thankful that you learned to ask for help! I know this book would not exist if you had not learned that you do not have to be superwoman. Thank you for your vulnerability.

2 months ago
Reply to  Phoebe Wiley

Thank you for your kind words, Phoebe! I am glad you connected with my story. Thanks for sharing, and God bless you.

Louise
2 months ago

So so good to come back to your blog and find you here! ❤️ And loved the life update. Wow. You are one busy mama! Bless you!! What do I do? I mother my 9 and my new daughter in love with all my heart. I have reached for my dream, and now catch babies in every spare crack and crevice of time. I teach multiplication and bake cookies and scrub toilets and wash innumerable loads of laundry. And date my husband. My wish for the world? That the Lord see fit to return very soon. And that he keep us all faithful and true until that day.

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