Thank you for your very kind replies and care.

The words stick in my fingers these days, tangled. I have no public statements to make, and the private ones are wails.

The people of God prayed for us, and I was such a mess afterward that I hid in the bathroom and wiped tears and snot for many minutes, until my sister found me. Every time I try to write about this I get stuck. The prayers were too holy for me to share here, and they changed us, and they won battles in the heavenlies.

But the pain keeps coming, in inescapable pulses.

From a termination hearing scheduled two weeks out, we have turned a one-eighty toward rapidly increasing visits with bio family, in a final effort at reunification, scheduled soon if all goes well. I feel utterly incapable of saying long goodbyes to three of my children in as many months. I did not know that anything could hurt so much and be survivable. But pain is not lethal; some say they wish it were.

Some days my heart is full of hatred, rubbed raw by living. I hate the weather glowering at me and I hate the muddy kitchen pawprints the dog is making at me and I hate the sound of a child in a tantrum, long and messy, at me. Hate is easy. I always thought its antidote was love, but that is well-nigh impossible.

The opposite of to hate is to forgive.

And everyone on earth must do it frequently, repeatedly, regularly – or go mad.

From a distance, it is easy to see romance in the stable and the straw-filled manger. I imagine celestial light reflecting in the eyes of the cattle, and a warm glow surrounding the Mother. But it must have been hideous, up close and for the very first time.

Mary may have been an inexperienced country girl, but in no way did her fantasies and fears about this Baby lead her to imagine a lonely emergency birth in a barn. She must have felt like she was ruining everything. She must have fought panic as she failed to arrest the birth pains coming stronger and stronger at the worst of times, alone with a man she had not slept with and what kind of a mother was she, anyway? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, all dirt and cold and racking pain in the night, far from home and her mother, with strangers in and out through the banging door and a cow that kept sticking her big lumpy drooling head over the partition. The precious Child lay streaked and sobbing in her arms, with nowhere clean to put him. She must have wondered if God was furious with her for treating his Son this way. Should she laugh or cry?

(She would have laughed if she had known that two thousand years later, people would still be singing about the cow.)

When you use different words you can feel it.

The point of Christmas is that Christ entered. Here. He is the last person in the world to be upset with a mess, or rattled by the unforeseen. He is acquainted with grief.

His name is called

Fantastic – the scarcely believable miracle

Advisor – with wisdom upon wisdom

The Powerful Ruler – waving baby fists in the air

The Father Who Never Changes or Leaves – in the midst of all that is uncertain and upside down

The Sovereign of Serenity and Well-Being – vulnerable to woe, yet utterly unshaken by it

In every wrong and broken part of this world, we wait for him. He is here: in my hysterical weeping, in every bloody death, and birth. Soon he will show himself.

O Christ, our hope is in you.

Where do you need him most this season?
I am wishing you joy. I will be back after the holidays.

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5 years ago

I love Rom. 8:24a, in more ways than one. Sending ❤️ and ? your way!

5 years ago

Oh, Shari . . .

5 years ago

I’m wiping tears… Love you sis! ? All shall be well someday. ❤

5 years ago

My heart is aching for you..❤❤

5 years ago

I love reading your blog..we have been fostering for 11 years… we have grown very attached and the pain and tears that go with fostering, I understand… We were fostering a little girl for 18 months and we went to mediation thinking mom might relinquish… but CPS decided to return her in the near future… Several months later, after much tears, heartache and prayers Mom relinquished… she remained with us and she is now our daughter… I realize this is not near always the outcome when fostering… praying for you and your family.

5 years ago

Love the new words you found. ?
Where I want Him most? I can hardly whisper it to myself, let alone the world wide web.
Hugs to you, my dear.

5 years ago

Love you.

Edna Yoder
5 years ago

“Oh, Christ, our hope is in You….” I’ve read your last two posts with tears in my heart and sobbing in my soul. If it’s any comfort to know that there are other pilgrims wandering with you, seeking to embrace joy in this land of unanswered prayer, know that we are here. “All of our longings come home to You.”

Regina S
5 years ago

Sweet Shari! I cannot imagine the pain you are going through right now. But as we know that we are all here for you. Many of us, if not most you have never met in person. We are all praying for you.

Regina S
5 years ago

Oh and in respond to your question about where I need Him most is when I start to feel abandoned. We are dealing with some health issues and it’s scary not knowing where all this is going. But God is still there for us just like He is for you and your family. Sending hugs!

5 years ago

I need Thee oh I need Thee… Like Anita, I can’t share it with WWW but He knows. I admire your bravery to even foster. My heart caves before I even begin. I’m lifting you in prayer. One thing you can be sure of is that Jesus WILL be with you all the way. He wants to carry your pain. World English Bible -Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted.

Priscilla F.
5 years ago

Oh dear Shari, I will continue to pray for you and your family in the weeks to come.

Jeanie M
5 years ago

This has been echoing around in my brain…He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found….the weary world rejoices….comfort ye, comfort ye my people….He shall speak peace unto his people…. We are so wretched in our grief & sorrow…we wail from the deep down depths of our souls. We are living in a cursed world. Oh God, a spark of hope would be so welcome, so refreshing…this I ask. For my sister Shari; for myself.

5 years ago

He came to bind up the brokenhearted… Isaiah 61:1.

5 years ago

“Between darkness and light I will always walk; and where I may go. I will open the windows of light. And will plant the seeds of love.” Shari and Ryan, and so many others writing on this thread – perhaps this is where the pain lies – the knowledge of the space between darkness and light. I share this phrase from a family favourite song – perhaps you can find the link somewhere on WWW and perhaps it will be a small comfort in the pain.

Shaunda Stoltzfus
5 years ago

Love you and your tribe. ❤?❤ You all are on my heart and in my prayers always.❤❤

5 years ago

Oh Shari. I’m so sorry.

And your closing words…how many times have I thought in this last year that without Christ I would have despaired of all hope. There is just nothing hopeful in this world. Nothing. Just more mess.

(Except, of course, those like you, and the wonderful people that have surrounded us this past year, who remind us of that Hope.)

Clinging to Him.
Along with you.

Sarah Beiler
5 years ago

Yes, Janelle, you’re right. The pain is in the difference for between what is and what we know is meant to be. The more clearly we understand how life was meant to be lived, the more we are grieved when we see things so far different from that. I feel a great need of courage to continue seeing life as it should be. Sometimes I want to avoid everyone who is happy and loved in order to minimize the pain I feel for friends who are neither.

5 years ago

? how am I only reading this now? This brings back such awful memories. O Jesus, have mercy! I will pray for you as I think of you. ❤️

5 years ago

Oh Shari! My heart aches for you, with you! There are no words! Just wish I could give you a big hug and cry with you! You are in my prayers, that is my hug!

Tabitha Schmidt
5 years ago

Shari, I just breathed a prayer for you and your loved ones.
In your pain, your words have touched my heart. Praying for Him to meet me where I need Him most.

Rachel Newswanger
5 years ago

In all the pain, I hear strength & beauty. Only through Jesus is this possible…may He continue to hold you close.

Christine Weaver
5 years ago

Prayers, so much feeling in your posts, so many hard things. I just keep reminding myself that He loves them more than I do.

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