What are you giving up for Lent? It’s a question that we often hear this time of year. But I think it may be the wrong question. Traditionally Lent is a 40-day season of spiritual reawakening prior to our celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection at Easter.
Kristi Fry knows firsthand what a good, safe home means to a child, especially to a child separated from her parents. Just 10 years old when her mother and father passed, Kristi was adopted by a family that took her in and raised her as their own. It made all the difference in her life. Her own loss opened an empathetic space in her heart for children like herself, alone and struggling to make sense of their experience.
The Shidelers have always known that if they want a family, they must adopt. So, early in their marriage they decided that they would adopt as many children as God provided, trusting that he would give them only as much as they could handle. Yet, Kristen proffered a stipulation: that her family fit in a vehicle no larger than a suburban or a minivan. “Andy’s from a large family, one of 10 siblings, so we’ve always been fine with having lots of children,” said Kristen. “But, growing up, his family had a 15-passenger van, and I wanted no part of that. That was our rule.”
José and Margarita started fostering about six years ago after looking around at their large empty nest and lamenting all the unused space they now had. Their two daughters had grown and left home, and it seemed a shame to let their rooms remain unused. A friend told them about foster parenting, so they decided to check it out.
Kristen Greene met the 2- and 3-year-old girls who would become her adopted daughters in February 2013 in a mall parking lot, in front of a Sears store. The toddlers came to her and her husband, Nick, with all their belongings in a trash bag. Broken toys, torn coats and no personal items made up the pitiful collection the toddlers clutched.
Bill Troester began driving for the Saint Francis Transportation department just over a year ago, leaving a “mind-numbing” job driving an airport shuttle bus to begin driving children throughout Kansas. “It’s been impactful. It’s been a godsend to me,” Bill said. “I spent my adolescence as a juvenile delinquent and later on went on to become an alcoholic and drug addict. I’ve been clean and sober for about 24 years. Now when I see young people starting to tread down the road I went down, I do my best to let them know that is a nowhere road. I let them know that God gives us all the drugs we need at birth – adrenaline, serotonin, endorphins – all you have to do is know how to trigger them.
Saint Francis Ministries and Grutza Consulting put on a webinar Nov. 21, 2019, entitled "Family First: Opportunities for Program Populations." The event was part of a focus by LSA's Sheila Weber, Director of Strategic Initiatives, to offer robust supports for successful implementation to LSA members.
The view through the Kishpaugh front window rolls clear to the horizon, over ochre Kansas hills lit by autumn sunshine. Chad’s eyes glisten as he recalls another “bright and sunny day,” when he and Amanda lost their son among these hills, in a collision with a truck and trailer at an unmarked rural intersection just a mile from home.
Travis and Marie Clem received their first foster care placement just days before Thanksgiving, and they doubt they’ve had a full night’s sleep since. But that’s just fine with the Shady Point, Oklahoma, couple because they believe the blessings they’ve received through foster parenting more than make up for a few lost ZZZs. For the Clems, fostering is both a family and a community effort, as well as a Biblical mandate.