I had the privilege - and I chose that word carefully. I had the privilege yesterday to stand by the bedside of a woman as she left this earthly life and entered into eternity. Her 80-year-old body could not take the ravages of leukemia and pneumonia any longer. As I stood there in awkward silence, I began looking around the room, and I was touched and amazed by what I saw. Gathered around her was her family. And there were a lot of them. Both she and her husband had been widowed before they married nearly 8 years ago. Sons and daughters and in-laws and step-children ... They were all there.
Here's the thing - life is about family. So many people invest all of their best energy, all of their best creativity, all of their best effort in their jobs, in their toys, in their hobbies. But, really, what does it gain you? A wise man once said, "You can gain the whole world and lose your soul."
At the ends of our lives, we will want big families, rather than big houses. We will want an abundance of love, rather than an abundance in our checking accounts. We will want the presence of people we care deeply about, rather than the broken-down, out-of-style stuff that can so easily consume us.
Another wise man said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." None of us who are foster parents are in it to get rich. In fact, there are sacrifices that we have to make everyday in care, comfort, and convenience to offer a family to kids who might otherwise be alone.
But, in so doing, we gain things we will never lose: the love of a boy who is learning to trust again, the joy of a baby's smile, the excitement and zest for living in a little girl's eyes, hugs and tears and mountaintops and valleys, and a family.
I know it's easy to lose focus and forget about why we do this. But, at the end of our lives, we will be able to gather around us a vast family of people whose lives we have impacted and who have impacted us. That's not a bad trade off, if you ask me.