Last week, we took all eight kids to the beach. Kristi and I did not anticipate this trip being much of a vacation for us. We were determined to go to the beach with 8 healthy kids and come back to the desert with 8 healthy kids.
When we first got our newest three foster children, I noted that if you go to Target with eight kids, “you will get stares. And comments,” so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that we got stares. And comments. I mean, we could literally see people counting with their fingers in the air (. . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . 7. . . ) I would spot them as we walked by and help them finish: “Eight. We have eight kids.” This, of course, was always greeted with a look of astonishment and a chorus of WOW! That’s a lot of kids! or Well God bless you! or, Well you’ve sure got your hands full, don’t you?! Like I don’t know I have a lot of kids!
How have we come to this, that a large family is looked at like some sort of spectacle. Now, I’m not saying every Christian family should be a large family. Not by any means. We never intended to be a large family. But, what I am saying is that there is something very backwards, very idolatrous of a culture which frowns upon large families. Have we really lain so low on the altar of self-worship that we can’t imagine being put out by raising the next generation? But I digress.
Each time (and it happened more than once) we got the looks, the stares and the counts, I have to confess: my first thought was something along the lines of Yes, I know it’s a lot of kids, but if only a couple of you gawkers stepped up and helped the orphans, I might not be such a spectacle! Hear me: I am not defending my initial thoughts. Nor do I believe that every single family is called to foster or adopt. I’m just saying that continually strikes me as odd that we have opened up our home to help with one of our modern blights and we are continually rebuffed by society for not fitting in.
I mean, come on. It’s not an easy thing to even get licensed to foster. It takes months and lost of intrusiveness on the part of our government. It costs; time and money. And you don’t stop sacrificing once you have the foster kids. That’s only the beginning. You are literally opening your home in ’round the clock service. You have visits by “first responders.” Visits to pediatricians. Visits from CPS. Visits from your licensing agency. You have continuing education hours. You have to re-certify your license. You have to feed the kids the state has asked you to care for. If you’re lucky, the state will help pay for food. If you’re lucky, the state will help pay you to keep the child(ren), though they will look for every opportunity to not pay.
And yet, none of that matters. We are compelled to serve in this way, so we are compelled to sacrifice in order to sacrifice. It would just be nice if we weren’t gawked at in the process. It would be nice if we didn’t have to seek people’s approval because of our sacrifice. And, thankfully, we don’t.
Thankfully, we have all of the approval we could ever hope for, and more. Do you remember when Jesus went out to his crazy cousin to be baptized? And, as He came up from the water, the Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove and a voice came from Heaven, saying “You are my Son in whom I am well pleased?” What if we knew that, when God looks at us, He says the same thing of us. What if we trusted that Jesus was, even now, interceding on our behalf? That we were free from seeking man’s approval, so we are all the more free to love sacrificially. Because we now that e have everything to gain and nothing to lose?
Then, and only then can we walk along the pier, under the lighthouse, and, without pause, say, with a smile: ”Eight. We have eight kids.”