Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seeing the Heart of God

Years ago when I was Base Chaplain at Naval Communications Station, Stockton, California, we wound up being adopted by a beautiful Orange Point Siamese cat. The reason I say adopted is because we were not looking to have a pet. On this wonderful island base, separated from the city of Stockton by a network of delta waters, we lived in one of two Navy officer houses. It was idyllic.

An Orange Point Siamese is an all-white cat with faint stripes of orange much like a tiger. The tips of the ears and tail also have the orange coloring. I failed to notice these markings until a friend stopped by one day. She said, “Did you know this is an Orange Point Siamese?” I confessed that even though I grew up with Siamese cats (Seal Point and Chocolate Point), I had never heard of an Orange Point.

Anyway, we found Snowball sitting on our back step one day shortly after we moved in. The yard was huge and was a haven for gophers. I had mounds of dirt every few feet. After checking with folks on the base about a lost cat, I decided that if we kept her, she’d be my means of eradicating the gopher population in my yard. She rose to the occasion. I watched her patiently wait at a gopher hole until the varmint stuck his little black nose up through the dirt to take a sniff for danger. Too late! Snowball had a claw in that nose, ripping the poor critter out of the hole and up into the air. As it fell back to the ground, the cat was at its throat. Game over. I got my yard back!

Snowball also delivered a litter in my front yard, followed two months later with yet another litter. I had sixteen kittens! I jokingly threatened to bundle them up and drop them into the delta. The housing officer was not happy with me. Base policy was two pets. Fortunately, both my wife’s brothers are dairymen. The kittens would have a new home.

Not long after Snowball adopted us, Jenny, our youngest, who was about seven, came home from school one day with a kitten she found in a trash barrel. She has a big heart and asked if we could help this little ball of fur. It had obviously been neglected. The kitten seemed to be of the same size as the other kittens. I explained to her that we could try to encourage Snowball to nurse this kitten along with the others, but there was no guarantee that the kitten would be accepted by the momma cat. This kitten looked nothing like the other kittens. Yet Snowball took her into the brood as if it was her own. This homeless kitten snuggled in with the other kittens, looking for a nipple to nurse from. The kitten was now adopted into the family.

My point in retelling this story is to emphasize that the month of May is “Foster Parents Appreciation Month.” My wife, Isaura, has been working with Agape Villages Foster Family Agency for the past eight years, finding families that would take in children who were neglected, abused, or otherwise not properly cared for. Foster parents step up to the plate to care for these children who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own. Their parents may be hooked on drugs, or have been abusive physically and/or emotionally, or who may have consistently demonstrated an irresponsible lifestyle that necessitated the removal of the children for their safety.

These foster children find themselves plugged into another home with strangers, all the while wondering if they will be accepted and loved. Will there be a place for them at the family table? Will they be treated equally with the blood-born children? Will they ever get back with their biological parents?

Foster parents do the yeomen’s work of caring for these children who are already carrying the burden of rejection. The foster parents know that despite their best efforts, these young children struggle with accepting being accepted. They often expect to be rejected. This cycle often repeats itself, not only in foster homes, but in all of life’s relationships. I am always awed by the level of dedication and commitment demonstrated by foster parents.

The action of these foster parents demonstrates godly character. They willingly accept foster children into their homes, realizing that these children are frequently “damaged goods.” They pour their hearts and lives into these children, praying they will know that they are loved and valued, just as God in Christ has loved and accepted us into his eternal family.

God bless our foster parents! They show us the heart of God.

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