Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes the Doctor is Wrong

        (This is a story of a family in a church where my husband was pastor from 1960 to1965. The last name of the family is changed, but all other facts are true.) 
       Kathryn and Earl Foster loved God and desperately wanted to have a family. However, they had been married three years and had had three miscarriages. Each time it happened, both of them cried at the loss of a baby that might have been theirs. They wondered what God was up to in their lives, because it was beginning to look as if that might not become a reality. The last time Kathryn miscarried, the doctor said, “You two had better begin to think about adoption.”
            Earl disagreed with that. He said, “I thought God was in charge of babies. We’re going to pray harder.” Kathryn, too, began to pray. She promised God that if he would let her become a mother, she would have as many children as God gave her.
            It was not too long until Kathryn was pregnant again and this time she carried the baby to term, hoping for a boy. They planned to name him Earl, Jr., but it turned out to be a girl, so they named her Earline. Then came another girl. Again, they hoped for a boy, and their plans were to name him Charles, so they gave her the name Charlene. The third child was a boy and he was named Darrel Roy. Earl and Charles had already been taken for the two girls, with slight variations, so they had to come up with another boy's name for their first son.
          In subsequent years, they had three more girls, another boy, another girl, and a boy. Nine children, after the doctor had made his comment about having a family through adoption!
            Kathryn loved being the mother of all those children, and Earl doted on them. He held them on his lap, loved them, and told them stories. Both Kathryn and Earl taught the children to work hard and to be proud of what they did.
            The family, with their nine children, moved into a little farming community in Northern Missouri, in mid-1960. Members of the German Baptist church, they attended the Methodist church where they had previously lived. Since neither of these churches were in their new location, they began attending the Southern Baptist church where my husband was pastor. The attendance went way up when the Foster family came! A family of eleven members, ranging in age from teen-age to toddler, boosted the attendance in our little church by a long shot.
           But becoming Baptists with all the organizations—G.A.s for the girls, R.A.s for the boys, Sunbeams for the pre-schoolers, Sunday School, and Training Union (each with its own literature for every family member) required the Fosters to go to the nearby county seat town and buy a bookshelf to keep everybody’s Bible and literature where they could easily find it. That caused less confusion as all the kids were trooping out of the house to go to church several times a week.
            The local Catholic priest heard about the Foster family with all their children. He was sure they must be Catholics who had not yet visited his church, so he went to welcome them to his parish. Earl and Kathryn invited the priest in, and then laughed as they explained, “We are not Catholic, we are just passionate Baptists!” 

            My husband and I became close friends with Earl and Kathryn. We were at their house a lot and of course, we all were at church for dinners and meetings. I learned a lot about cooking from Kathryn; she frequently shared recipes with me. When an emergency came in our lives and I had to go back to work, she kept our youngest child, who was the same age as their youngest for awhile. Kathryn was the calmest person I had ever met. Nothing seemed to faze her. Both of the Foster parents were quiet and soft-spoken, and they taught me a lot as I watched them relate to their children and to others. They were wonderful Christians, always faithful in attendance at church and always presenting a witness for Christ in their daily lives.
             The Foster kids were all hard-workers. They all graduated from high school and most were able to finish college. Earl and Kathryn are now in Heaven, but their faith and teachings live on in each of the kids. The greatest tribute to this family is that the children have remained faithful to God. One of the girls, along with her husband, has served for more than twenty years as a Baptist missionary in a foreign land. Six of the nine siblings are grandparents. They continue as their parents did, teaching the little ones to love God, to pray, to be faithful in church attendance, and to live in a manner pleasing to God.
          When families put God first and teach their children to love him and to call upon him often in prayer, great things can happen. The greatest of all is the influence a family can have on a community when they stand up for God. Everyone in that little town in Northern Missouri knew the Fosters, and they knew of their faithfulness to God. The doctor was wrong when he told them to think about adoption, but they continued to trust their heavenly Father. They wanted a family. God gave them one, and they were faithful to raise their kids to love and honor God.

Picture from the internet; not an actual picture of this family, but indicative of what this family did.


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