By Jayson Bronkhorst
Foster care and adoption have been on my mind a ton recently. This may be partly due to the fact that just over a month ago, our family adopted two sisters that we had in foster care for a little over a year.
My mom especially had an excuse not to take on any more kids, as she's still parenting her boys (major shout-out all the moms; you make the world go round)! But my parents took the plunge. My mom quit her job to devote time to it, and we were along for the ride.
For the last month or so, I've thought about this stuff more than almost anything else. I saw this photo the other day, which had some statistics that fascinated me.
It's 2014 data and the numbers are estimated, but the point still comes across loud and clear; for the problem to be nearly eradicated, less than a third of the church needs to say YES to our kids. In no way am I trying to guilt anyone into fostering or adopting, because for one, it simply doesn't work that way. Two, the only reason I'm even writing this now is because I had no say in my parents doing it.
"Wow," people always say. "I can't believe you guys do this. It takes a special kind of person to take care of and love all these kids."
And that's true... to a point. But you mean to tell me that if a cop dropped off a two-year-old boy in your driveway and his birthday was the next day, you wouldn't make him a birthday cake? Here's the only "special" quality you need to be a foster parent:
In Matthew 19, Jesus insists the children be brought to him to pray for. He says the Kingdom of Heaven itself belongs to them. God speaks to Joseph, Samuel, David, and countless other youth throughout the Bible. Why did he pick them? I have no idea, and they didn't either. But they were willing to follow the call, and amazing, crazy, impossible things occurred because of it. Another thing these stories make clear to me is that young people matter to God. If young people matter to God, then no matter what, no matter who, I believe God will take care of those working for this (his) cause.
When people pray for God to 'break my heart for what breaks yours' I'm not sure they understand the full effect. I am reminded of Exodus 33 where Moses is meeting with God and God tells Moses that he is going to show Moses some of his glory, but he cannot look at the face of God, because nobody can do it and live. It's comical, really, that we ask for so many things with zero knowledge of their full meaning, and if God were to answer some of them we would already be dead.I also believe in God's purpose being accomplished through people and things other than devout Christians: from non-Christian humans to talking donkeys to a phantom hand writing on the wall, He shows no bounds.
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
You can do it. I strongly believe in, and believe I have seen, God adminster supernatural strength and hope when the situation has seemed impossible to bear (and all the moms said amen). But even if you don't believe in that, fostering for me very quickly became less of "I have to care for this kid" and more "what can I do to let this kid know that they are worth more than diamonds?" The hardest part for me was learning to set aside my me-focused lifestyle and move my focus to the family--and do my best to welcome any kids we got the best way that I could.
To all those who work with youth and kids:
Youth/kids pastors and leaders.
School bus drivers.
And SO many more...
Your job is hard. It is not easy. Thank you for every good impression that you make. These are our young people, and they matter.
~ If this has interested you ~
By Jayson Bronkhorst
This is you, snoring away peacefully at 7:44 AM. But wait—you were supposed to be at work at 7:00! Your phone is next to you, buzzing away with your alarm and your boss calling to see if you are alive, but you sleep right through all of it, because you were up until 2:26 AM pwning noobs at Overwatch and finishing up "Stranger Things" on Netflix (not a knock on either of these, much love to both of them).
But staying up this late is not unusual; when you were younger, you had a standard bedtime enforced by parental units, and then one day it just became more of a suggestion. The freedom that came with that was incredible... but as everyone eventually discovers, that childhood bedtime was always for a reason.
It didn't really hit home for me until it hit home for a guy I know. He said one minute he remembered getting ready for work, and the next he woke up in the hospital. According to his girlfriend, he was walking into the bathroom, and then BOOM. His body crumpled and hit the floor, and he was out. The diagnosis when he came to? Extreme exhaustion, and the doctors say he may now have risks of stroke... in his twenties.
Tracing the source was easy; he knew his schedule. This was a normal day for him:
This had been going on for who knows how long, but the scary thing is that he didn't realize the severity of the bad habit and sleep schedule he had trained his body to. The doctors told him that if this happens again, he will likely not wake up from it. His story is just one marker of a deeper underlying issue of an entire generation of teenagers and young adults: the façade of invincibility.
A 2014 nationwide study found that in the United States, over one-third of U.S. citizens get less than seven hours of sleep per night, and it has been that way for over a decade now.
According to a 2011 poll, around 72 percent of teens use cell phones in bed when trying to sleep. Those who used their phone or laptop or played video games within the hour before sleeping were much less likely to say that they got a good night's sleep, no matter the amount of hours. This tiring of the body also led to other factors, such as worse grades and being more likely to drive when drowsy. Most of the effect these devices have is due to their backlit screens, which in essence communicates to the body's internal clock "it's not bedtime yet." (source)
Much of the blame here is of course to be placed on the individual; they are in charge of their own body and their own sleep. However, some of the problem can also be traced to high expectations from academics, athletics, and even parents. Many high schools begin at 7 AM or earlier, running until 2 or 3 PM, and then throw in a sports practice or after-school club for a few hours after that, and pretty soon the student isn't even getting home until 6 or 7 PM on a school night. Now there's homework to be done, all while keeping up with a social life and possibly a part-time job. The conclusion? Young people are busy. But they would much more rather cut out sleep than an activity or time with friends.
I know countless people who boast of getting three to four hours of sleep per night and being able to function perfectly. They very well might be functioning decently, but this is merely the body adapting and doing its best with a horrible schedule. A huge issue here is that many young people, when asked about it, will openly admit that they are tired—but they are not tired. They are sleep deprived, and accumulating sleep debt each day. The body will always fight back eventually if the issue is not addressed.
Now, do I get seven hours of sleep or more every night?
No. Kind of writing to myself here too. But I have learned (for the most part) how to cut myself off at a certain time each night depending on my responsibilities the next day. These are a few simple things I've put into practice:
Your body is the most valuable thing you have.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of yourself.
You should go and love yourself.
- The Biebs