Many nights before bedtime, Moriah will climb up onto her stool so Mommy can prep her hair for bed.
I spritz her head with water, apply a fresh layer of coconut oil, detangle with my fingers, and flat-twist sections that end in bantu knots. This process takes about 40-60 minutes. While I work, she watches a movie. (We have worked up to this point! It’s not easy convincing a two-year-old to sit still for anything, let alone to have her hair tugged.) In the morning, the twists are taken down and I can style her soft curls.
Often we skip this nighttime process because it seems time-consuming since I will re-do her hair in the morning. But if I skip it several nights in a row, her hair gets dry and more difficult to manage.
Last week, as I prepared her hair for bed, I thought about other aspects of life that require deliberate labor only to be undone for another purpose. The temporary “end” isn’t the end at all. The labor was not in vain; moreover, it becomes a step in the process.
Foster care is actually a lot like that.
Last week — within a few days of one another — both of the babies we were caring for returned to family. Since then we have been thinking about them and praying for their families as they transition. This morning I received a text message from a baby’s family member (and new caregiver). She said, “This is the best no sleep ever!”
Yep, that about sums up the last 3 years of my life.
I regularly think my mind and body cannot withstand more sleepless nights with another newborn. After a few weeks of 6 hours of frequently interrupted sleep, I think neither clearly nor quickly. I no longer have energy to [insert any daily task]. AND YET, I somehow love my kids and play and cook and soothe and train and get to appointments on time anyway. That kind of strength does not come from me.
I was moved when I read a quote from W.R. McChesney:
“We pray not for lighter tasks but greater strength.”
I pray for greater strength to live in and navigate this broken world, especially when encountering hurting children who may not know a home with a safe bed nor a table with regular and nutritious meals.
I pray for greater strength as I strive to be a godly parent and caregiver. Parenthood–no matter the path to this position–is often filled with joy and also sorrow.
I pray for greater strength to affirm dignity in difficult people, who may be living with consequences of poor choices.
I pray for greater strength.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! –The Bible, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (ESV)
Thanks be to God!
He supplies the strength for the tasks He has called us to.
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Elaine and her husband, Joey, are licensed as an adoptive family and foster home in Ohio. Learn more about Joey and Elaine.