Other children have entered my family's life over the years, and they are also precious jewels, dear to all of us. Each of our children brought home friends who sat at our table, consuming more sandwich meat than we could keep in the frig. Those friendships have lasted over the years and now we're delighted when they share photos of their children with us.
Mark and Chris were friends of our son Peter; due to special circumstances in their lives, they both lived with us for a year or more when in their teens. Chris and Peter have both died. When a grown-up Mark came in from the West Coast to attend Peter's funeral, we immediately asked him to be a pall-bearer. We all still saw a son and brother in his loving eyes.
Pat became a member of our extended family when she was a teenager, and her daughters, Crystal and Heidi, call my husband and me "Grandpa" and "Grandma." They are in our eyes our oldest grand-daughters!
Over the years, young people too numerous to count have been in and out of our house's and classrooms' doors, or part of our circle sitting on a rug playing games or praying together in a Youth Retreat House, or working beside us on stages for numerous plays. I could never remember all the names or the faces, but they are all remembered in my prayers, as I ask God to take care of every young person who has ever been part of my life.
If God has called you to be parents, you'll find your job description stretching over the years. If God sees you have that knack for gaining young people's trust and affection, He doesn't just say "Good job!" He says "Since you're good at it, here are more kids to take care of!" A truly mature family is so filled with love that their love naturally expands farther and farther into the community, to spread the light of love instead of keeping it just for themselves.
"No one who lights a lamp...sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light....To anyone who has, more will be given..." (Luke 8: 16-18.) Set out your family's lamp of love, and it will become a lighthouse, attracting countless, beloved children to be the most precious jewels of your life!!!