DIY Bible Study
Last year, my family fostered two children who'd just lost their single mother. There was no amount of Bible knowledge that could have prepared me for the first night I tucked them in at my home. Foster parents are not trained counselors. We get training, sure, but nothing that would give you words to say to a child whose entire life imploded. I couldn't offer my usual foster parenting lines:
"You'll visit your mom this week." or "We'll go see your siblings this week."
Baby Brother was sufficiently exhausted by the day's chaos blissfully unaware his entire life just changed. But, pre-teen Big Brother was lying in bed looking at me...a stranger. I went to him and and sat down on the bed's edge with nothing but love to offer him.
"I am so sorry. Do you want to talk about your mother?" I said.
His reply was mostly about how his baby brother would feel when he understood things. He told me what she was like and how she was sick, and I told him he was so loved by her I could already tell. He said he'd been to church before and shared that he heard a song about God there that he thought was good. So, I played it on my phone. And we both cried. I offered my home and family that night, but I also shared my faith...the tested kind...not a script...not words on a page...the kind you had to live out in hard times and offer others for it to be really true...
God loves you. He is sad with us tonight.
God still has a good plan for your life.
God will be there for you.
We will be there for you, and we will get through this together.
This night was one of the deepest Bible studies of my life. I had to put on the faith I professed and offer it, hoping and believing it's grace and hope was indeed enough like I said it was in other less devastating times. I had to believe His grace was enough and trust Him that he'd give me the words to just show up there in that space and say what I could to usher in some peace and comfort.
I cried when he wasn't around for two solid days. I cried for him. He didn't cry enough I felt.
The next weeks we did counseling and he looked so handsome and strong for his mother's funeral, and the following weeks he began to know and build a relationship with family he didn't know he had but that agreed to raise him. And, his BIG, funny personality came out. It was beautiful to watch him smile and walk into the unknown so bravely, so sure of who he was. It was both humbling and tragic that I was the one at his school's Awards Day that spring to see him take the stage making Honor Roll, Most Improved Student in Language Arts, and proudly making honors chorale at a school he'd never get to attend.
It was our joy to spend some time in June taking him to see the beach for the first time at Hilton Head Island. He strutted out on the sand, looked up and down the beach, and smiled so big I think I saw his teeth sparkle quipping, "Mrs. Abby, it smells like sunscreen and paradise out here." He spent hours playing in the ocean on that trip, relishing time in the pool, bike riding, and he was beside his gaming self with our condo's "free, unlimited Wi-Fi" he kept repeating. Shortly after our trip, he transitioned to his new forever family, but my faith will never be the same again from our Bible "study" talks together those weeks.
Oh, and my kids still laugh heartily and boisterously about how he tubed out of his swim trunks at Lake Jocassee! We have some fostering rules about taking older kids, but we broke them again to keep these two together. It wasn't an easy placement, but I'm still glad we said yes to knowing and loving these two boys during a difficult transitional season of their lives.