I Won’t Forget You 

As a former foster mother I often wonder about the children we sheltered for a season. A few I still have contact with and I’m so glad. Seven we adopted and I’m glad about that too. But the others, those are the ones I wonder about. 

How are they? Are they happy? Do they have children of their own? Do they remember us? Will we hear from them one day? I wonder. 

One of those was a young boy we loved very much. His name was Carlos. He was not Hispanic and so many people asked him why he was named Carlos that he asked us to start calling him Chuck. He said he liked that name because of Chuck Norris. 

He made us laugh with his slow drawl and his matter-of-fact attitude. He was with us from the time he was 8 until he was 10. He adored Daddy Henry. 

When DHR managed to make contact with a birth family member who wanted to take him, we tried to be glad for him, but it was a sad time for us all. 

About eight years ago, he called us. We were thrilled to hear from him after so long. We encouraged him to come see us. He declined. He said he didn’t want us to see him as he was. He said he had made some mistakes. He said he had been arrested. He said he was struggling with drugs. He told us of the harsh treatment, neglect and abuse he experienced at the hand of the family members who had taken him in. I cried. 

And then as suddenly as we had been reconnected, we were disconnected. We lost touch. Since then I occasionally check social media and google his name. Just hoping and wondering. 

This morning was one of those times and I finally found some information. It was not what I expected or hoped for. It was his obituary. He had passed away at the young age of 24. I don’t even know how. We didn’t even get to say good-bye. 

Now my heart grieves for a child I have lost twice. I have told myself I should have done more, better, tried harder. When I shared what I had discovered with my husband, he was deeply saddened. He told me he should have been more diligent in praying for him. He said he was so sad to think of all the potential he had that was never realized. 

I wanted to remember him and the best way I could do that was to write these words. We love you Chuck! You’ll always have a place in our hearts. We are thankful to have known you. Farewell sweet boy. 

James, a Friend During Difficult Days

After so many years of reading the book of James in the Bible, you’d think I’d have it memorized by now. I don’t have every word memorized but, I am familiar enough with the letter that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote that I often turn there for correction and guidance and comfort.
Do you know what often causes me to turn to James? Difficult people. Do you know a few of those? I sure do. I first became best of friends with Brother James about ten years ago. My son who is about to turn twelve was a toddler and still our foster child at that time. Difficult times were upon us. I had developed a difficult relationship with his birth mom. It was complicated and it was difficult. 

I wanted to reach out to her and help her. I did. I sometimes kept her other children. I sometimes ran errands for her. I tried to help her because I loved my son, her son, our son. I tried to help her because I loved Jesus. 

On days when I felt that my best efforts were frustrated and realized there were no easy answers, I would turn to James. On days when I felt foolish for so diligently helping the one person who might take my son from me, I turned to James. On days when I felt trapped or resentful or weary, you know it, I turned to James. 

James became my mantra, my plumb line, my consistent go to when I needed reminding that my first allegiance was to my Lord and doing His bidding. It helped me to set aside my personal feelings of feeling a bit taken advantage of at times. It helped me trust the Lord with the eventual outcome when I worried about losing my son who had come home straight from the hospital into my arms. It helped me to see beyond the often irrational, unreasonable actions of a young woman who seemed to be her own worst enemy. In short, it helped me be what I claimed to be, a Christian. 

As a matter of fact, the book of James became so important to me during that time, when the day finally came for our adoption of our precious son, we gave him James as his middle name. I never wanted to forget the struggle and subsequent relief that those difficult days provided. 

Today, I found myself turning once again to James. I am once again facing a difficult situation. But, truthfully, that’s pretty much how things are in this life. Whether it’s a difficult co-worker, a difficult fellow Christian, a difficult family member or even a difficult stranger, people are often difficult. 

So, the real question is, not whether they are being difficult but how will I respond? Will I hold my tongue? Will I extend mercy and grace? Will I maintain my Christian testimony? Will I remember whose I am and the mission before me?

What if I truly try and my best efforts are treated scornfully? What if I am worried and concerned about the eventual outcome? What if it seems to make no difference at all. 

Well, then, my friends I will remember the many times before when there have been difficult days. I will remember that God was enough then and He is still enough now. I will do my best and I will trust God with the rest. And so should you. 

“Do any of you think you are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself. What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:26-27‬ ‭GNT‬‬