A Dream Come True

By Fern Horst

During her own growing up years, Louise Witmer often found herself reading stories of children who had been abused and neglected by those who were supposed to care for them. Her heart went out to these children who so much needed someone’s love. In many of these stories, the child grew up to live a normal life as a result of someone rescuing and loving them.

Louise determined that when she herself grew up, she would work in an orphanage and take care of all the abandoned children who had no one else to love them. As she grew older, she realized that foster parenting had replaced the orphanages of days gone by. Her dream grew into a new one: to some day be a foster parent.

At age 22, after volunteering at a home for mentally handicapped children for a year, Louse approached her mother for permission to fulfill her childhood dream. At the time she lived with her mom, two older siblings, and one younger. Knowing that this was a long-time dream, Louise’s mother consented.

Within one month of completing all the preparation and paperwork required, an eight-month old baby girl was placed in Louise’s care. Little Tamara had been abandoned at a truck stop by her parents, and was in bad need of medical attention and – you guessed it – love. Louise and her sisters poured out all the love they had to give to her – which was just what little Tamara needed! When she left Louise’s home several month’s later, she was a healthy and happy baby.

One month after Tamara left, Louise received a sibling pair. Daisy (2) and Tommy (eight months) were with her for one-and-a-half years. They were eventually adopted by a couple who also adopted their two older siblings.

While she still had Daisy and Tommy, Louise soon received a phone call asking her to take another sibling pair. It didn’t take long for her to realize that these two precious children needed to be separated for a time. Having been left alone much of their lives, they had developed their own language, and between the two of them knew how to get into a lot of mischief!

And so Andrew, age three, stayed with Louise while his older sister was placed in another home. Eventually their uncle got custody of both of them when Andrew was four. In the meantime, Louise taught Andrew how to love, and she taught him the importance of obeying.

Although Louise had asked to have only one child at a time, for over a year she had three small children in her care, all very close in age. She found this to be a challenge and a dream come true, and gave them all the love she had longed for years to give to children like Tamara, Daisy, Tommy, and Andrew.

But it was difficult when they left, all within a week of each other.

By this time Louise could see the effects on her mother from saying good-bye to children that she’d poured her grandmotherly heart into. Although she didn’t take any more foster children, she soon became nanny to four children who lived alone with their father. For almost eight years she provided much of the nurture and care that a mother would have given them. Again, she poured her heart and soul into them.

As Louise looks back over her experiences as a foster mom, she finds a lot of comfort in knowing that she provided a home for at least a short time for some of the many children who needed to know what a loving home was like. “If I hadn’t taken care of them, where would they have been during that time? What would they have experienced?” At least for a short time, Louise’s children knew what love is. In her heart they are still her children, and always will be. She often wonders where they are, how they’re doing, and tries to imagine what they look like now.

The worst part about being a mom to someone else’s children? “Giving them up,” was Louise’s immediate reply. “But I’d still do it all over again.”

Does Louise feel like she gave up having her own life for the sake of the children she took care of? She says it doesn’t matter if she did. To rescue a child from a loveless childhood, to see them have the care they would not have had otherwise, to impact their lives and sow seeds in their hearts was not giving up her life. It was fulfilling her dream.

Louise’s Tips for Successful Foster Parenting

  • Take into consideration the child’s past.
  • Be consistent in your love and in your discipline.
  • You will likely need to teach the child how to love.
  • If you live with someone else, establish your authority so they know that you are the one who is their caretaker and whom they need to obey.
  • Remind yourself often that they’re leaving some day; acknowledge that this pain is part of the whole package.
  • Comfort yourself with the knowledge that you have chosen a task that rescues a child from possible abuse and neglect.
  • Find encouragement in the fact that you have sown seeds that may not otherwise have been sown.
  • Find income that you can earn from home, or make sure that at least for the first month you can be at home to establish your relationship with the child. Find a reliable and loving babysitter if you need to work away from home.
  • One final encouragement — even though I lived with my mother and siblings, I carried the full responsibility for their care and discipline, and did not depend on my family for babysitting when I needed to go shopping, etc. So I believe it’s feasible for a single person living alone to be able to fully care for a child, though single parenting is not God’s ideal.

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Giving Up Sex

By Fern Horst

For 55 million dollars, would give up sex for the rest of your life?”

What a question! It invoked some interesting answers from listeners to a radio talk show I was listening to recently. Some who called in said they would be more than willing to forfeit sex forever for this amount of money; others said, “no way!”

While this was not a Christian program, it made me think of a similar question posed by my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. He has asked me and every Christian single, “Out of obedience to Me, will you say ‘no’ to sex if marriage is not my will for you?”

Before you answer, remember, there’s no 55 million dollar “reward” for an affirmative answer to this version of the question! There are rewards, definitely, but they aren’t easily measured and aren’t always readily seen or felt. In fact, we sometimes have to struggle to convince ourselves that it truly is worth the wait for God’s perfect timing – and perhaps even the possible complete forfeiture of this pleasure for the rest of our lives.

But the rewards are long-lasting, even if not immediate: wholeness from not being torn asunder after becoming one flesh with another, freedom from the guilt of going against what our Lord has commanded, healthy bodies free from sexually transmitted dieseases, the respect of our family and friends, and perhaps most importantly – the guarantee that a child will not be born into a situation where his parents have not commtted themselves to each other for life. God obviously has good reasons for His commands.

But aside from any “reward,” our answer to Christ’s question is obvious when we realize it’s part of a larger decision we’ve already made to follow Christ.

It’s this focus on our devotion to Christ that will enable us to say “no” when the pressure is on. Do you think the guy who accepted the 55 million dollars will continue to refrain from sex by focusing on what he’s missing? Probably not. It’s what he gains – the 55 million bucks – that will continue to motivate him.

As Christians, we have a much greater motivation: a love relationship with the God of the Universe, a God we will spend eternity with, a God who loves us more completely than any human being can. Many around us – the media, our co-workers, friends, even at times other Christians – make it sound as though giving up sex is an unnatural and impossible thing to do. But we’re not giving up sex just to give it up. We’re giving up sex because we love the Lord and want to be obedient to His will for our lives.

The rewards, though we can’t completely comprehend them all now, are even greater and longer-lasting than 55 million dollars.

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