Once upon a time, when I was twelve or thirteen years old, my father took me with him on a week-long speaking engagement to central Pennsylvania. The church was warmly welcoming, and I made some good friends, including an eighteen-year-old named Gloria who took me under her wing. She was so pretty and stylish, and she had two little foster sisters, African American, adorable, probably two years old. Their names were Brittany and Brianna. I think I can say that, after all this time. I just loved those babies, and seeing Gloria with them, and I wanted to hear all about them – how this one was born with this condition and how that other thing occurred at birth. I filled several pages of my journal with them. I didn’t know why they caught at my heart, or why I never forgot them.
It was the first time I saw foster care up close.
Much later, when I was married and had two children of my own, my husband and I agreed to babysit two of the children of some dear friends for a long afternoon and evening. Usually when we babysit, we stay home, but for whatever reason we took the children out that night, and paraded into the grocery store with a passel of boys: a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old. People turned to look and smile and comment. We packed a supper and took the boys to a park, and I felt a great yearning happiness swell my heart, mothering so many. I didn’t know why.
It was the first time I knew what it felt like, mothering other people’s babies alongside my own.
Do you know what a harbinger is?
It’s a foreshadowing, one event or person that announces the coming of another; Jesus tugging our hearts into what he’s preparing us for.
Perhaps we could foretell our whole lives if we knew which events were significant. There are little glimpses that seem merely confusing or happy or sad at the time, but later, in retrospect, seem to have been leading us steadily to the present point.
I didn’t know what it would look like, but my whole life has been tugging toward His destination. I didn’t know I’d foster someday. I didn’t know I’d mother twins for a time. I didn’t know I’d invite two African American children into my home and my heart in January 2018, and live with several ages smashed close together, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old. But that is what happened to me. We now have a little Oreo going on in the bottom half of our family: two round brown ones at the ends, and one skinny white one in the middle.
Today I bundled up four preschoolers to take out in the snow – including the beautiful little girl I babysit, who is also one year old. I felt so proud of myself and my little peoples.
I still don’t know what it will look like, nor where our fostering path will end. But for this I have longed.
I am so happy.