Have you ever noticed that there are certain types of questions people ask when you meet them? I have noticed this more starkly this summer. Probably because I have met a lot of new acquaintances and re-met old acquaintances many years later as I take classes with them, etc. But I think I have also noticed it because questions that should be easy to answer are not so easy for me to answer…
The hardest question for me is “How many kids do you have?” That sounds strange, right? The answer is a number…. But here is my situation: I have 3 birth kids who are with me here in Colorado. I have a foster son in Davis who is staying with another foster family so he can visit with his family each week while we are away. We will be getting him back when we go back home, but probably not for very long… I miss him a ton and feel bad that I am missing this time with him—we had him since he was a couple days old, and I want to keep nurturing and caring for him—but he probably isn’t too aware of us being gone (even though I do know he was bonded and felt secure with me).
So, how do I answer the question? I don’t know. I only have 3 permanent children, but I do still see the baby as part of our family, and my hopes and dreams are still that we will get to adopt a foster child at some point, Lord willing. Yet we don’t have any evidence of that part of our lives here, the part where precious children keep coming in and out of our family, as my children, yet not my children—noone can see that part of my heart or my life because I just have three white kids that look like me trapesing about with me. All I am learning and processing about ethnic diversity and what it might mean to be a multicultural family long term (if the Lord grants it someday), and how inadequate I would be at it, etc.—that is all hidden from view and not fully processed.
And I don’t want to seem like I am tooting my own horn by mentioning we have a foster kid back home. Of course there isn’t pride involved for me; just a desire for people to know my reality, to know a little bit of me. But I am afraid that they won’t understand or that they will take it the wrong way. I am thankful that the Lord knows my heart and that I can process it all with him, but I nevertheless feel a little emptiness…
Another complicated question for me is “Where do your kids go to school?” Simple right? We have been at our neighborhood public school, and that is where Bethany is going to continue to go, and Judah is starting out in Kindergarten—very exciting! I have decided to home school Isaiah though, through the district’s independent study program. I think it will be fun and a new adventure for us, though I am a bit nervous about my time management and fitting all my responsibilities in… The complication in answering comes because people inevitably ask why I am homeschooling just him? I don’t totally know what to say, because it has been a long process in coming to the decision—all positive, but many-faceted. I mean, if it is someone who knows our family well, then they know Isaiah and can understand why we think it will be best for him right now. He is such a beautiful kid inside and out, but he has his quirks—he thinks a bit differently than most kids his age. He actually was doing pretty well in the school setting, but also felt a little stuck by the structure and limitations inherent in the education of the masses. I want to give him more time to think about faith and philosophy, to develop his both his academic mind and his creative side, and to develop in his character in certain ways (letting God’s Word transform our hearts). I also think he may get along really well with some of the other boys in the independent study program in the smaller setting of the enrichment classes they offer, and think he will enjoy soccer more when it doesn’t mean he has to go from school to practice and lose all his free time (the cause of much emotion last year).
It is not a cliché to say that all kids are different. Anyone who parents more than one child can attest—it is so funny how much Bethany thrives in a classroom setting. She is aware of everyone around her, loves to help other kids learn as she learns herself, and loves participating in group activities. She makes friends with everyone, and feels the weight of their emotions and struggles very deeply in her own heart too. She likes to read and does it well, but is nowhere near as obsessed with it as Isaiah. Yet they are both so creative and love creating imaginary worlds together. As for Judah, he is very social and imaginative too—it will be interesting to see how he likes the “every day” school experience of Kindergarten. Bottom line—I am getting old! My little guy is entering Kindergarten. Time flies.
Finally, a less-than-simple question for me is “What is your job?” I think this is mostly awkward because the majority of people in Cru can answer with a short mention of the ministry they serve with—I just feel long-winded when I try to describe my role without it seeming like I am doing more than I really am. I mean, I could just say I serve part time with the Legal team. But that isn’t complete because my nametags always say I am part of the Campus Field Ministry, serving on a college campus (in our case, UC Davis and surrounding schools). And that is true—I am part of an awesome team working on campus. But then again, I don’t do a ton there—just discipling some students and supporting the team however I can; more of my “work time” is spent on legal issues.
So I end up mentioning my full time mom job and my two part time roles within Cru, and say that I am very blessed to have the opportunity to serve in diverse and varied ways. Most likely I am just overthinking my responses—no one is counting how many seconds it takes to respond. Ultimately, I really want to get to talking about the person asking the question (you are probably thinking—hm, this smacks of insecurity and people pleasing how she is writing—and you are probably right). Nevertheless, I am authentic in my interest. I learn so much every time I talk to other people in ministry—their experiences and insights are so fun to draw out and often encourage and bless me as I continue serving in ministry myself.
And then there are other questions, like “What is your favorite ice cream?” Seriously, who can answer that? Too many choices. Just kidding. Or “where do you think religious liberty is headed in this country?” OK, not a simple question…I don’t think I will try to answer that one here… Or “How do you explain the Trinity?” Haha, not simple—though it has been fun to study it in one of my theology classes.
Anyway, you get the point. Life is complicated. But God is good.