Today there’s one empty frame on our wall of family photos.
Only a foster family truly understands what that frame represents.
Loss, grief, sadness, memories, joy, heartache, peace, and above all………love.
We have a photo wall which has the latest portrait of each of my children and we include our foster children on this wall to send the message that they are part of our family. Our family is whoever is living with us today. We include them in family portraits and on our wall. We would never exclude a child from a portrait unless they happen to be with us for relief for a short stay. But some days the wall has a frame that is empty; sometimes two, sometimes none.
When visitors see my wall of photos and there’s an empty frame or two they think it’s quite strange. There are days when it hits me that not every family has empty frames on their wall. When a little leaves our home, we take out their portrait and send it along in their lifebook leaving the blank frame. All kinds of other strange things happen too. We have an empty bed. We have an empty closet and dresser just sitting there in a room. We have an empty shelf in the shoe room. We have extra car seats on the porch. Strange questions arise. “What do I do with his Sunday School book?” asks the teacher. “Who do I send the bill to?” asks the dentist. “Do I change his contact information now?” asks the school. “When is the next kid coming?” asks our daughter. Strange questions not heard in a regular home. The whole process is very unnatural and often awkward. We live a life that must seem very odd to some.
Today I walked past the wall and see one empty frame. Tomorrow it could be two. Or we could get another child and all frames would be full. We have four frames for foster children which equal four beds for children needing a place to stay. Some of our frames will stay full for many years and others rotate more frequently.
When I think about how odd this must seem to other families, non-foster families, I can only imagine why people don’t want to foster. How strange it must seem to make such outrageous accommodations to your home, to your family, to your life. Who keeps an empty bed? I believe actually many people do! How many of you reading this have an empty bed? A bed that could be used by someone in need. A child in need of a family. A homeless person in need of shelter. A widow in need of love and support and assistance.
So many people think we are crazy to open our home, share our things and our lives with others. We think its crazy to have a house full of empty beds just collecting dust. People are missing out on the amazing things that happen when you share love.
Today I encourage you to think about how you can use your extra space, extra time, extra love and help someone this Christmas. Call your local Children’s Aid or adoption agency. Call your local senior home volunteer center. Call your local shelter and volunteer and make connections. You never know until you leap how blessed you will be by filling your empty frame.