It was this past weekend that I was sitting downstairs in my basement apartment, knitting my heart out, and watching BBC’s Sherlock when I heard the familiar “ping” of a facebook message alert. I quickly toggled to the facebook message I had received and Tracey’s (my upstairs neighbor) message said “Get up here and give me a hug”.
I took my earphone off, searched for my hearing aid, put it in, stood up, and ran upstairs, abandoning my phone and keys. “What’s wrong? what’s wrong?” I looked at Tracey. Her face was white.
I ain’t never seen no black woman who turned white before, was the first thought that flitted through my head.
You see, Tracey and her husband James have two precious little girls, ages 5 and 8. For the past few months they have been on a long, arduous journey to become foster parents. This doesn’t mean you can just sign up with the government and you’re a foster mommy. NO! classes, trainings, home inspections, home visits, interviews, paper work.. and so much more that I don’t even understand is put into this process. This is what Tracey and James have been going through. A couple of days before Tracey turned white, they had finally gotten approved to be foster parents.
So when I ran upstairs like the night and faced Tracey’s sweaty, panicked face, I knew. I knew that they must have gotten their first call. “What is it?” I asked her. She walked over to me, taking my shoulders in both of her hands and lightly shaking me. “um. Well. Um. well. We just.. um.. got a call about a family of 4, but they may want us to take 2 kids and um… they are from somewhere else and don’t speak English. Well the 2 don’t and 2 do…”
And on went her panicked monologue. Her face turned brown again and then took on this strange shade of grey. Sweat dripped from her forehead as she looked at me. “What was I thinking when I asked God to use me?!” I stifled a smile and tried to think. What do I say? What do I SAY?! What fixes things? coffeee… cofffeee fixes everything.
“Tracey, do you want me to make a Starbucks run?” She looked up at me, as if i’d just startled her from stupor.
“YES. yes. I want. I want a green tea latte.” She paused and looked at me, “What If i’m not good at this, Sara? What if i’m not good at it??”
What if… what?! my thoughts swam. Tracey is so good with her two daughters. The way she and James portray the love and patience of Christ to their kids astounds me week after week of living with them. She is already good at “it”; whatever “it” is. I never thought she’d think she wasn’t good at “it”. I shook my head and told her my thoughts and went on to my mission of Starbucks….
As I started toward the door, it opened and James came through with a smile on his face. Tracey was still pacing back and forth rubbing her sweaty palms on her sides “oh my goodness, oh my goodness”. She kept going. He stopped in the hallway and turned and looked at her. He smiled with his eyebrows lifted. I could tell he had made a decision about fostering and he was excited… “What are you doing?” he asked, amused.
“I-I-I don’t know” she responded, shaking her head. He leaned his face forward causing hair to fall on his forehead. The level of love and commitment he has for Tracey clearly showed as he tried to calm her down with words, looking like an excited little boy. Does she see it?? I wondered.
Their family’s love, commitment, and devotion to God and each other continued to minister to me as I ran out the door to go get the coffee/tea before class and bring it back to her. Tears filled my eyes and blurred as I pulled up to Starbucks, so humbled.
Humbled by their willingness to be a light to children in their own community. Humbled by the care Tracey has and her willingness to obey despite the “What if’s?” Her willingness to say “Hey, we’ll take a child who speaks Spanish and learn some while we’re at it”. Her husband’s willingness to come home after work and work “second shift” with his kids and then pull “third shift” with his wife. This family’s portrayal of Christ’s mercy, grace, and love… I was humbled.
I drove back to the house and gave her tea. When I saw her, she looked more calm, but I know she wasn’t. I know her heart was racing, I know she was nervous, I know doubts and fears plagued her. I also know that Christ’s peace surpasses all understanding and as I went downstairs to do class in the basement, I knew things would be alright.
And they have been since, because He sustains, fulfills, strengthens, gives wisdom, love, kindness, compassion, patience… He provides. Jehovah Jireh, Yahweh.