A Tribute to My Foster Parents
Arthur Adolph “Art” Schmidt and Ruth Elizabeth (Unrau) Schmidt
By Dewey Donald Neufeld
One day, I was ushered into our living room (in Moundridge, Kansas) and was presented to some strangers. I was told, because my father was out of work and times were difficult, our family could not stay together any longer. My grandfather (Jacob H. Neufeld) told me the other children would go to stay with relatives. I was to live with these people, on their farm (near Walton, Kansas), until my father (Herbert Arthur Neufeld) could come and get me. My father never came and the strangers became my foster family. This is meant to be their story.
The wonderful family who took me in was Ruth Elizabeth Unrau and Arthur Adolph “Art” Schmidt. They had three children. I was welcomed, as another addition to their family. They offered the gentleness and feeling of security which had been missing in my home. Much of the inner conflict disappeared, as this new family quickly won my loyalties. My heart was captured by their understanding and affection. They became an integral part of my life. The farmer and his family took me into their hearts and by doing so, unlocked my heart to them. A boy with a jaded outlook on society and few belongings was accepted into their household. It must have taken a great measure of courage to accept such a challenge.
I was given new clothes, plenty of good food and my very own room. In fact, we stopped to buy me some clothes on the way from Moundridge, Kansas, to their farm outside Walton. But more important, I was given the compassionate understanding and sense of belonging to something permanent. I no longer had the fear of being separated from the security of my home. Now, the somber lad learned to laugh more freely and to enjoy life as a boy should.
The regime of farm life agreed with me and the steadying influence of the Schmidt family gave me a strong foundation in achieving the attenuation with society, required by anyone assuming a position within its organizational structures. For the first time in my life, I attended church regularly, learning to respect its spiritual aspects in the shaping of a person’s character. I had many examples to follow in the conscientious responsibility displayed, in an everyday manner of daily living, by this wonderful family. This family’s influence in molding my character will be appreciated and felt for as long as I hold a position among the other members of the society in which I reside.
This wonderful family shaped the lump of frustrated fears and insecurities, to mold a boy into a responsible person, better equipped to deal with the demands of society. They accomplished this transformation by providing plenty of hard work, though none was beyond the capabilities of a boy’s willing young hands. In addition, the formula included loving care, a sense of belonging, a moral guidance of regular church attendance, and the essence of having good examples to follow as I grew up. These subtle influences did much to erase earlier prejudices and directed my steps toward a favorable character development. I spent some of the most impressionable years of my life in those beneficial surroundings, so it is not without reason this wonderful family will always hold a place of endearment and gratitude in my heart.
The subject of my adoption came up in the course of a conversation, to see what I thought of the idea. I gave it some consideration. It might have been nice, except for the nagging hope, someday my family would still be able to reunite. It did not seem right to consent to the adoption, when my parents were still alive. My life would have been different, had I consented to the adoption and stayed a part of the Schmidt family. It is unlikely I would have chosen the military service as a career had I been adopted.
Thank you for the letter informing of your mother’s death. I did not write often, but I tried to let your parents know how greatly they influenced my life and how much I appreciated your family’s support, love and kindness. Perhaps, we never know how much influence we have on the lives of others. Your parents, and your family, were such a profound effect on my life. I hope they understood, and understand, a tiny part of what they meant to me and how much they affected my life.
You may be aware of some of the story, but your parents gave me the love and stability of a loving family, when I needed it most. My father was an alcoholic, could not stop, keep a job or provide a stable environment for his family of wife and five children. His problems led to a failed marriage, re-marriage and more children. My grandfather was living in Moundridge. He borrowed money, built a small house for us, trying to keep his son’s family together with the second wife. It was a dysfunctional situation where nothing seemed to help.
My father could not stay away from alcohol. Needless to say, he could not keep a job for very long. He left Moundridge to try to find work. After a time, my grandfather and stepmother decided they had to try to find foster families for us older children. I do not know how my grandfather contacted your parents. I am guessing it was through Tabor Mennonite Church, because he was a member there.
Being the oldest, I was the first child to go to live with a foster family. There is only twenty years difference in age between myself and your father. It must have taken a lot of faith and great courage to bring a dysfunctional child into your family. I am certain, I brought more problems than anything else. Your parents had to stop to buy me some clothes on the way home. Your parents had to teach me everything about adapting to my new family. I was not a bad kid, just one that had been left to grow up on his own. I can be difficult and obstinate most of the time, so we all had a lot to adapt to and, for the first time, I was exposed to a serious religious influence in my life. I came to love and appreciate your family so very much.
The thing I appreciate the most was the fact, their religion was lived out in your parents’ lives. Jesus was real to them and affected everything they did, even how they treated the strangers they met. For two and a half years, I was exposed to the love, stability and spiritual reality in your family. Jesus was not just an abstract concept, but was real for your parents and thus became real for me. This was the base foundation, in my life, that provided a sense of stability, even when I was running away from accepting Jesus as my personal Savior. I knew Jesus was real, but I tried to keep Him on the fringes of my life. I could not discard my belief system; I just did not want Jesus to come too close, because He might ask me to do something I did not want. Being shy and introverted, I thought being a Christian meant being a missionary or preacher, neither possibility was very appealing. Even in the Navy, I could not get rid of the reality of what your parents had instilled in my life. Religion was real to them and finally became real to me, although I was a slow learner. I was forty-four before falling in love with Jesus to the point where I wanted to give my life to Him.
When my mother divorced my father, she was given custody of her five children. We stayed with each parent, until things became difficult and then we went to stay with the other one. This was part of the instability I brought with me. For two and a half years, I found the love and stability of your family. I loved your family! Thanksgiving holidays of my sophomore year of school, my mother decided to try to get her family back together in Texas. Your father asked if I wished to be adopted. Both of my parents were still alive, so it did not seem right, in my mind, to be adopted. In children of divorced parents, it seems the unrealistic hope of the family being reunited is there. It was for me. I realize, now, that doesn’t happen. While I did not accept the offer to be adopted, I deeply appreciate the offer. Had I stayed on the farm, my life would have been much different. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. We took some tests in school, and that was one of the choices, I qualified for.
Your parents have long been my heroes. They were a God-send to me. Your family provided a sense of love and stability, when my world was falling apart. I was not doing all that well in school. In the eighth grade my teacher, Mrs. Ruth Spangler, had a contest to see who could read the most books. I started off with easy books, becoming fascinated by the vistas presented in books and developed a love reading that has served me well my entire life.
We seem to be the product of the decisions we make in life. The decisions end up making us what we are. The decision to go and live with your family had far reaching effects I never dreamt of until I got older. I will always be grateful for the effect of the years I lived with you. Your parents were dearly loved and appreciated the older I get. I hope, I was able to communicate a tiny portion of my sincere and deep regard for everything they did for me and their influence upon my life.
The quality of the children, are a testimony to the greatness of your parents. They must have been wonderful, their children turned out to be really neat people. I regret not having been around when you were growing up. I missed out on a lot. It must have been difficult on your parents when Elaine died. I know your mother and father must have been proud. You all turned out to be really nice people! I know your mother’s death must have been a shock. We are never prepared for it when it happens. There are never any wise words for such a time. It does seem easier, when there is a faith-based belief system to fall back on. With God, death is but a little sleep. There will be a time, when the sin-experience on this planet will be finished and God will get on with the creation process of a universe where sin will never be another problem for His people again. For the Christian, there is a hope of the reunion, when we will never part again. Our faith in Christ is a comfort at times like these. I know my sadness is tempered by the joy I was able to share in having your mother (and father) in my life. They changed my life for the better and will always have a place in my heart. I thank God, for bringing them into my life and for showing me the great love they shared with the Jesus I came to love, because of your parents. My hope is, I was able to communicate a tiny portion of the great love and respect I have for your parents.
Thank you again for letting me know what happened. I am sorry you were not able to get in touch with me in person. Thank you for enclosing the Life Sketch of you mother. Please give my love and condolences to the family. With deep love and respect,
Thank you for the sad note concerning your father. Your father put his faith in our Savior into his daily life. Like you, I feel he was ready to go. This does not mean his death won’t leave a huge hole in our lives. The tribute of his life is the emptiness we feel from his death. Both of your parents had a profound effect on my life. They brought me into your family, at a time of chaos and crisis in my life, providing the stability of love, acceptance, family and Christian belief-system lived out every day in the way they treated others, many of whom they did not know.
Even when I was trying to run away from making a personal commitment to Jesus, I could not escape the testimony your parents lived out every day I was with them. I knew Jesus was real to them and because of that, I knew He was real for me. I tried to keep Jesus on the fringes, but I ever had the witness of His reality lived out in your parents. Your parents treated me with love, and not just kindness, even when I must have been a terrible trial. There were times, when I deserved a spanking, but I never received one. Just knowing I had disappointed your father, by doing something stupid or not thinking before I did something, was worse than a spanking. I hated that I had caused your father the pain of disappointment by my actions. The discipline, I experienced from your father, was talking to me about what I had done wrong. Just knowing, I had disappointed his expectations was something I really hated and tried not to disappoint your parents again.
The effect your parents had on my life was great. It was something that stayed with me all though my life, always in the background as an example of how a person should live in the vicissitudes life threw my way. I tried to tell your parents how much they had affected my life, although I wish I could have been more eloquent in my attempts. I suspect we never quite know the extent we effect those around us. I think this may have been the case with your parents. Your father tried to apologize, for being strict. I tried to tell him, I remembered life much differently.
Your family provided the stability, love and acceptance, when my family had come apart. I never felt like a “hired hand.” From the first, I felt as another member of the family. Your father was a parent-figure to me, but more than that, he was a combination of big brother and friend. There is only twenty years between us, in age, which meant your parents were young and had a young family. I cannot imagine the faith and courage it must have taken to bring an unknown element into the family, especially with two young children. Your parents’ faith must have been great to contemplate such a move, but it must have taken a lot of courage to actually provide the help and support I needed.
The grief is tremendous, when people like your parents die. Our lives feel the loss keenly, the greater the character of the ones passing. Your parents touched a lot of people’s lives. I suspect there is much emptiness, in the hearts of those they left behind. There are no words of wisdom or comfort which can ease the grief in your heart, but when the Christian belief-system is real, there is comfort of reunion and a time, when there will be no more pain and suffering. We suffer now, but as the Scriptures say, “… joy comes in the morning.” There is a reunion to look forward to, promised to those who accept the promise of God’s loving salvation offered to us.
More than anything, I desire to see the face of Jesus and God, the Father. Because of Their promises, I can desire to see the faces of the loved ones who have died in our pilgrimage here. Your parents lived out their faith. There seemed no doubt in their minds, concerning the reality of Jesus and His Father. They seemed to follow a course, in their lives, in accordance with their belief-system with an eye on pleasing God’s desire for their lives. I know, how they lived their lives, had an effect on my life. I feel the way they lived their lives pleased the God they showed me was real. That God still comforts us now!
I suspect you already know, your parents were proud of their family. You can tell a lot about the parents by the quality of the adult children and grandchildren. Your family is amazing and I regret not having been around to get to know you better. We are a result of the decisions we make in life. If I had accepted your parents’ offer to adopt me, life would have been much different. It was not any negative feelings for your parents or family. As a child of a broken family, I had the unrealistic dream, somehow the family would be reunited again. It did not seem right to be adopted, when both my parents were still living. We never know what might have happened if we had taken the “road not taken.” We cannot do much about “the road not taken,” but we have what we are today.
What I am today, is the result of what your parents shaped and nurtured in the short time they had to work with what I brought. I would say they did a pretty good job. I hope I was able to communicate a little of the gratitude, love and respect I feel. I know this cannot ease the pain you feel, but just know, you are a part of a very special family, who have affected the lives of a lot of people around them.
Thank you for information concerning the funeral. It is getting more difficult to travel, so we won’t be able to make it. Please know my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. Please give my condolences to the family, especially to ____ and yourself. I miss Elaine also. It seems a lot of people have to die. I mentioned in a letter to your father awhile back, it was difficult to be “the last man standing,” when he mentioned the death of his brother. I lost my brother, Gerald, several years ago and my parents quite some time before. I could say, I know how you feel, but that is never the case. Grief is always personal and always individual with each of us. Just remember there are promises, for the Christian, of a better time to come, when all the tears will be wiped away. Until then, know you have my deep love and great respect. Love,
Extracts of letters written to my foster parents:
The following are extracts from the letters written to my foster parents, attempting to tell them of my great appreciation for their care, during a traumatic time in my life and the tremendous love and respect I have for them. Perhaps, the reader can understand a tiny portion of these wonderful individuals.
Dear Art and Ruth,
I thought I would write a few lines to let you know I am thinking about you and that I love you both so very much.
I wanted to tell you I love you; that I am thinking of you and am praying for you. I will share something we did in prayer meeting. We were studying a workbook called “Experiencing God.” We had an assignment to rewrite the 23rd Psalm. Since some people have a problem relating to what a shepherd does, we were to write it as a praise of God in our own experience. I wrote mine to my heavenly Father. I hope you like it because it describes much of your effect upon my life. God has provided me with some wonderful “father-figures,” of which you had the most profound effect on my life. Also the example of your Christian deportment, as you lived life for your Lord, also dramatically influenced my life for our Lord Jesus Christ. Because Jesus was real in your life, I could not escape the knowledge of His love for me, even when I was trying to run away from making a commitment to my Savior. I may not know much about shepherds, but I can understand a Father’s love, because you were my father for a little while down here. Thank you!
Psalm 23―a Psalm of Dewey
1. The Lord God is my Father; He loves me with a love so great; it can only be equaled by His love for you.
2. He knew me in the vast millenniums before I was born; He created me in spite of all the heartaches my rebellion would cause Him.
3. He yearns for me to walk in the fullness of His will; Even when I disappoint Him, the desire of my heart is His will for me.
4. Because He knew how much I would need it, the plan of salvation was prepared for me; He knew how difficult it would be for this “prodigal son” to find his way home, so He sent Jesus to show me His great love; He watched over me in a war-weary planet and protected me in the presence of mine enemies.
5. He provided “father-figures” to show me His tender care; He set my feet upon the path of His will, by the example of sincere Christian deportment; Even when I was running away from Him, I could not escape the knowledge of His great love for me.
6. To love Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity will be my sweetest joy; To be in His presence and whisper “Abba Father” will be heaven for me.
A thousand psalms of love could not adequately express my feelings for our Heavenly Father, nor could they express my feelings for both of you. I can only pray God will bless you more abundantly than my feeble words, for your love for Him expressed in taking me into your lives has so richly blessed me. God has been so good to me. He has set my feet on the pathway of righteousness, because of you! Your love for Christ, lived out in your daily life, was the example that made Christianity real. Even when I did not want to accept the wonderful gift of God’s love, I could not escape the knowledge of His great love for me, because I had met you. Thank you!
So while a thousand psalms cannot express my gratitude and love to you, I hope these words will start. You opened your hearts and your home to me, at a time, when I so desperately needed both. Our Lord tells us, “if you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” I pray He will provide the blessings in return for how wonderfully and graciously you have blessed me! Your love for Christ Jesus has made you really neat people! You have raised a really nice family as well! Our Lord also tells us, that you can tell the tree by the kind of fruit it bears. Your family seems to show the depth of your commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ. They also seem to love Jesus supremely. Thank you for letting me be a part of it!
I will close for now. I trust you are both doing well. Eternity with Jesus will give us time to visit, if we don’t get much chance here. God bless you both! Give my love to your family!
As you celebrate your birthday, I pray it will be filled with the knowledge of how deeply you are loved, by all the people who have been so greatly influenced by your life of dedicated service to our Lord Jesus Christ. When you took me into your family, it must have been a tremendous act of courage and faith. You had no idea of what you might be getting yourself into. You also had children to consider and protect. Many would be reluctant to take on such a challenge, of a boy from a dysfunctional family, and with good reason. Still, you opened your heart to me, at a time of instability and insecurity in my life, to offer an oasis of love, a fortress of security and a mountain of stability. You offered me a family, when mine had disintegrated. My life was indelibly marked, by the magnitude of your love and the steady witness of your practical application of Christian principles, in every area of life. I sincerely pray our Lord Jesus Christ blesses you more abundantly than you can even imagine, because my feeble words can do so little to express my deep sense of gratitude to you and your family.
We live in such an incredibly busy world. There seems so little time to express even the most basic appreciation to those around us. Jesus tells us you can tell the tree by the fruit it bears. I have been around your children and grandchildren for such a short time, but what I saw demonstrates they are from “good stock.” They seem fine Christian men and women which reflects back upon their parents wonderfully. Even when I was running away from making a personal commitment to Jesus, I could not run away from the consistent Christian witness of your family. As I get older, I treasure the memory of your testimony of life even more, for it helped plant the seeds of my own relationship with Christ. You showed me, a love affair with Jesus was so delightful that even when I was running away from God, I wanted to be close to Him.
I do not know how to explain this paradox of emotions. I can only say, I am ever so thankful to our Lord for bringing us together. God must love me a lot, to have given me such a wonderful blessing at a time of such crisis in my life! You and your family have been such a blessing to me! Try as I may, I am unable to communicate the wonder and the awe of the bounty of God’s blessings, through you and your family. I pray God will bless you so magnificently to make up for the inadequacy of my feeble words.
One of my fondest memories over the years, is the faithfulness of your worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot remember a Sunday we did not go to church. There may have been one, but I don’t think so. I remember, when the roads were drifted high with snow; the car was parked in the pasture clear of the snow drifts. We all loaded up in the milk trailer, pulled by the Ford tractor, went through the corral to the car and drove across the pasture to the highway to get to church. I remember times, when I did some really dumb things, but I cannot remember being scolded for them. I guess you were able to tell how much I hated what I had done, because I felt I had disappointed you and Art. Because I felt such a deep sense of love and belonging from your family, I hated disappointing you. It was hard for me to come tell you I had done something dumb.
I remember, Art asking me if I wished to be adopted. I think most children of divorced families have the unrealistic hope their family will be miraculously reunited. Anyway, with both of my parents still living, I hoped our family would get back together. That was an impossible dream. Still, your offer to adopt me into your family was a wonderful gift which has touched my life more than I can ever begin to tell you. Because I was almost adopted into your family, I can better understand how desperately God wants all of us to be adopted into His family. He sent His only Son, to pay the high price to adopt us into His family and so many of us turn Him down. I have accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I want to be a part of His family, because you are a part of His family. I am so thankful our Lord Jesus sent you into my life. God is so good!
Life seems to be made up of the choices we make. The decisions―good or bad―seem to shape the destiny of our lives. I am what I am. Had I made different decisions along life’s pathway, I might have turned out differently. I am comfortable with myself because God loves me and you and your family love me. Thank you! Jesus knows what it is like to be human. He keeps on loving us, even when we make some wrong decisions. Jesus understands our feebleness, so He asks us to remember to take Him along as we live our lives. Thank you for taking Jesus along, in your life, and showing Him to me. It did make a difference in my life! Your consistent Christian commitment made a wonderful difference in my life and I suspect in many other lives as well.
The quiet, unceremonious way we live our lives for Christ does make a difference. The love we experience in our relationship with Jesus, does show to those around us, even without our trying. The dignity and respect we show to others, because we have discovered the good news of God’s great love for us, bears fruit to the glory of our Lord. I have thanked our heavenly Father, so many times, for allowing me to witness the daily expression of your faith in the gentle manner you lived each day. God has blessed me. Now, I can only pray He will bless you, with the knowledge of my gratitude, for the guiding influence you had on my life. Thank you. You did make a difference! I believe, with all my heart, Jesus will soon return to take us home. Because of you, I want to be ready to go with Him. I also believe, Jesus will be especially pleased with your life-long witness for Him. Jesus said, when we have done good to the least of these, we have done it unto Him. You have done so many nice things for those of us who can only pray a special blessing from our Lord for you. Thank you and may God richly bless you and your wonderful family.
With profound love, utmost admiration and great respect,
Dear Art and Ruth,
I think of you both often and thank our God for bringing you into my life each time I think of you. God has wonderfully blessed me through you. I regret not telling you how much I appreciate all you have meant to me. You have been a great blessing to me and I pray God will abundantly reward you for what you and your family have given me. Until then, I can only say, Thank You!
I really treasure the times I had with you and your family. God blessed me by bring you into my life. I am sorry I have not told you this more than I have. I treasure your example of daily living for your Lord to the best of your ability. The way you treated me and the way I saw you treat others, has been a good example for me to follow. I know I must have given you a lot of problems. I am sure I was not very easy to handle, but I am so glad you did not give up on me any more than Jesus did not give up on me. I wish I had been easier on you, but I cannot go back. Now, I can only say, “Thank you!” I am sure God must have a very special blessing for you both for all the love you have given to those children who needed you so much. I pray God will bless you abundantly, more exceedingly than I can imagine.
Dear Art and Ruth,
I was sorry to hear that Ruth had broken her hip. Did they have to replace the hip or could they put pins in to hold it together? Those broken hips can be bad, sometimes. I pray things will work out good for Ruth. Being you guys have tried to stay active, seems a good thing. I think activity and a positive attitude about life can go a long way on our healing. Since I do not know what is going on, I will stop sounding like a worry-wart. Please give Ruth my love and best wishes on a speedy recovery and may the angels comfort her.
Christmas is a time for remembering―especially family. I am so thankful God brought you into my life. You and Ruth will always hold a special place in my heart. You and your family brought stability and love into my life, when there seemed to be only chaos. Thank you and may our God richly bless you more abundantly than you can imagine or wish. God has wonderfully blessed me through you. I cannot tell you that enough times. I hope you have some little glimmer of the joy both of you have given me. Please never feel you failed in the way. You raised me during the little time you had to straighten me out. You and Ruth were wonderful! There are not words enough, for me, to tell you how grand you both were.
The grandest gift you gave me was the example of the life you lived for our Lord and Savior. You showed me, by your example, how a person was to react to life when Christ was their Lord. I saw, in the way you treated strangers and the way you treated me, the life lived the way you thought Jesus would want. Whether you know it, or believe it, the example of your life for Christ stayed with me in the far off places of the world, until I finally gave my heart to Jesus and accepted Him as my Savior. You did good! One day, Jesus is going to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants!” Until then, please remember my opinion and my love.
I will close for now. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family. May God bless you all!
Dear Art and Ruth,
We have much to be thankful for: God has been so gracious to us. It seems each year we have more to be thankful for. It seems things break easier now, than when we were younger. I am glad Ruth is doing better from the broken leg. Falls seem to be a major danger as you get older. I can imagine the broken toe was quite painful. It is a hard place to immobilize so it can heal. Since you can wear regular shoes again, I guess the pain is not so bad now. It seems good health is the greatest blessing. Life can be difficult, when a person does not have good health.
One of the greatest blessings God has given me is you and your family. I cannot thank you, and Him, enough for what you have given me. At a time when things were looking pretty bad for me, you came along and rescued me. Thank you! You gave me the stability of a loving family, when mine was a mess. You took me to church regularly. In fact, I do not think we ever missed a Sunday of church even though sometimes we had to drive across the pasture and go out by the highway when the roads were drifted up. More than going to church, you showed me how Christians were supposed to deal with life. It took me a long time, of running away from making a commitment to accept Jesus as my Savior, but I could never run away from the example you set for me to see. Knowing about Jesus and seeing what He does in people’s lives was the most wonderful gift you gave me. Thank you!
Sometimes, we do not see the example we are setting for others. I feel it is that way with you. It seems, God does so much through the willing disciple, that he or she can ever realize. I think it is going to take eternity for God to show us all the things He did, when we didn’t realize He was even at work. You probably do not realize what you were doing, but thank you anyway. I remember, the kind way you treated a couple of strangers who stopped by for gas and how kindly you treated me, even when I did something foolish. I think back on some of the dumb things I did and marvel at your sense of composure.
I want to thank you for the offer you made to adopt me. It was one of “those roads not taken.” It was a wonderful and generous offer. Had I accepted, life would have been much different than what I made of it. I do not know if I ever explained why I did not accept. I guess every child, of a broken home, always hopes the family will somehow be reunited. Both of my parents were alive and I had the hope of the family getting back together. Maybe, I felt that, if I accepted the offer of adoption, I would not be able to get back with my family. Now that I am older, I can see some of these thoughts were foolish. I can also understand what a wonderful offer you gave me and thank you for opening your heart to me so completely. Your disappointment in my not accepting your offer of adoption is like what God must feel, when His children do not accept what Jesus has done for us. I think our experiences in life give us some tiny glimpse into the heart of God. Having once rejected the offer of adoption into your earthly family, I do not want to reject God’s offer to adopt me into His family. I want to be a brother to Jesus and tell Him how grateful I am for His many blessings. I also want to thank you for the many blessings you gave me. I have prayed, and still continue to do so, that God will wonderfully bless you, because He has wonderfully blessed me through you. Thank you so very much!
Because I felt Jesus was real for you, I found He was real for me. Just living for eternity did not seem so grand, but living for eternity with Jesus does seem like a wonderful blessing. Being able to spend eternity with the wonderful people I have met and known, in this life, seems like such a grand experience. I may not understand why, Jesus should love me so much, as to make such a sacrifice to adopt me into His family, but I am so glad He did! I do not know why, you and your family should love me so much, as to want to adopt me into your family, but I am so glad you did. By not accepting your wonderful offer, I must have caused you much grief. I am so sorry! Sometimes, we do not understand the pain we cause without thinking.
We can all look back and find a few things we might have changed given our understanding now. The important thing is we did the best we could at the time. You did the best you could. I pray God has and will continue to bless you so abundantly, more than you can even expect. What you did for me, during the time we were together, has stayed with me all my life. You built well, with the material God gave you to work with! The foundation of your work stayed with me, even when I was running away from making a personal commitment to accept Jesus as my Saviour. Even when I was running away from Him, I knew He was there and that He loved me, because you had shown Him to me in every aspect of your everyday living experiences. I could not run away from the foundation you had built, in my life. Thank you!
You might think you could have done better, but you did the best you could with what you had to work with. That is good enough! You were a faithful servant and your Lord Jesus will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.” It is hard for me to express how wonderful the example you lived out before my eyes. You probably do not remember it and may even doubt my words. Please do not doubt. You did good! Look at your family. You raised them well. You can see God’s success in them! You have a wonderful family and in this day and age, that is quite an accomplishment! It looks like, to me, you have raised not only a nice family, but a family of Christians. That is a wonderful heritage! It looks as if you will have your whole family with you in heaven. Can you ask for more than that? I think not, but God still has some blessings reserved for you. I pray they are wonderful, because you are wonderful!
I have learned to not worry about “the road not taken,” because I cannot go back to change the journey. The past is gone and we cannot do anything about it. Tomorrow holds some wonderful promises, especially when you put Christ Jesus into the picture. I am looking forward to many wonderful tomorrows with Jesus and some wonderful Christians in my past, but tomorrow is just a promise that gives hope. In the end all we have for now is Today. When we put Christ in our today, He gives us strength for whatever comes and the grace of His companionship to make the trip so much better! You might have done some things differently with me, if you had to do it all over, but you did pretty well considering what you had to work with. I am looking forward to spending eternity with you, because I know you are going to be there. I know if I do not let go of Christ’s hand, I am going to be there also! Eternity with you and Jesus sounds good to me! I am looking forward to being able to get to know your family. They seem like such neat people, I am looking forward to spending time with them. Maybe the true measure of a man is not what he has accomplished, but rather what God has accomplished through him. I believe God has done well through you! Enjoy today, because God will give you eternal tomorrows and at His right hand is pleasure forever more and in His presence is fullness of joy!
May your Christmas holidays be filled with joy and may you feel the sweet joy of communion with your Lord Jesus Christ. Please give my love to your wonderful family. I love you both so very much!
I have trouble finding a Father’s Day card that expresses how much you mean to me. You are the most important “father figure” God placed in my life at the time, when I needed your influence so much. Your influence on my life has been profound! Even when I was running away from making a personal surrender to our Lord, Jesus Christ, I could not escape the memories of your steadfast Christian witness. You and your family were wonderful to, and for, me. You provided stability and love in my life, when it was sorely needed. Thank you!
God has blessed me so wonderfully, by bringing me into your family. Until we get to eternity, and our Lord Jesus takes us back over our lives, will we know the extent of our influence on those around us. I do know, your witness to me was great. The steadfastness of the quiet witness, of the way you lived your life day-to-day, had an effect upon my life. I can understand better the plan of salvation because of you. God wants to bring us into His family. Jesus has paid the price of our redemption. If we will accept God’s offer, He wants to adopt us into His family so we can be brothers and sisters of Jesus. Because of you and your family, I want to be “adopted” into God’s family. In eternity, there will be much more opportunity to visit. Until then, just know I think of you and your family often. You and Ruth have touched my life and turned things around for me. Thank you!
Life is full of choices. Some of the decisions we make are good and some are not so wise. I became aware of how much events might have changed if I had made some different decisions earlier in my life. We cannot go back and relive those times, when we made the choices we did. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and let God lead us in the pathways He would choose for us now. I am glad, God is able to fix the broken pieces of my life. I am glad, He is long-suffering in His great love for me. I am so glad, He provided your guidance in my life! You “preached” sermons to me by the quiet Christian deportment of your actions every day I was with you. It is not the sermons we hear, but rather the “sermons” we see that affect our lives so dramatically. You probably are wondering what I am talking about. You just went about your life, living the best you could for your Lord Jesus. I cannot remember a time, when you did not provide a wonderful Christian witness to me. I am impressed! Thank you!
I will close for now. I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!
Dear Art and Ruth,
When our contemporaries start passing away, it gets personal. It must be tough being the last one of your family alive. Our brothers and sisters bring death close to home when it happens in our family. When someone close to us dies, it makes us get real serious about our life and our relationship with our Savior. Even when we place everything into the Lord’s hands, it is still difficult when our loved ones die. Even with the blessed hope we have in Jesus, we still have to experience our own grieving process. Praying and crying seem to help. The Holy Comforter, Christ has sent, is a tremendous help, when we are faced with great grief. I do not know what I would do if I did not have a loving God to help me with my burdens. I pray God is sending you the Holy Spirit to comfort you.
I try to pray for you each day. I ask God to bless you and put His arms around you. I ask Him to send angels to protect you. I thank our God for bringing you into my life and for the wonderful blessing you were (and are) to me. During my life, God has blessed me with several wonderful “father figures” when I needed them so much. You were (and are) the first of those surrogate fathers. You and Ruth showed me so much love it makes it easy for me to approach a loving heavenly Father now. I pray for Him to teach me to come with respect, admiration and worshipful adoration our heavenly Father deserves. I would not want to take Him for granted, when He has shown me so much love through you and your family. God is so good! I want to live with Him throughout eternity. I want to follow Christ whithersoever He goes.
Just living a long time does not have the great delight until you put Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit into the picture. Eternity with our God, who loves us so much, is such a wonderful delight. It is true what the Psalmist says about being in the presence of God is the fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever more. I want to spend eternity with the God who loved me so much and the wonderful people He brought into my life. My life has been so wonderfully blessed I am left awestruck. I do not know why God loves me so much, but I am so glad He does! I am also so thankful for your demonstration of the practical Christianity you showed me every day of the time I was with you. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
I wish I had words adequate enough to express what a tremendous influence you have been upon my life. I guess we will have to wait until we get to heaven and allow Christ and the Father to explain it. Even when I was running away from making a commitment to God and accepting Christ as my personal Savior, I still could not escape the influence your life exerted upon me. You showed me Jesus and He seemed to be there in everything you did. It seemed as if you took Him with you everywhere you went. That is why I call it “practical Christianity.” It was Christianity put into practice in your everyday living. Someone said it is not the sermons the preacher preaches, but the sermons the congregation lives out that makes us believe in Christianity. The sermons you lived out had a profound effect on my life. You showed me your love for Christ and His love for me. Thank you so very much!
I pray you never feel as if you let me down. Your influence on my life has been wonderfully profound. You once said something about wishing you had done some things differently. I can only say, I remember things differently. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the way you treated me. I was treated with love and respect beyond human measure. I figure you must have had some heavenly help, because I must have been a real challenge at times. You probably sent a lot of prayers toward heaven to figure out how to handle me. Thank you again! The main thing to remember is you did the best you could with what I gave you to work with. I think you did pretty good. Be that as it may, God asks us to do our best (with His help) and you certainly did. Hindsight is 20-20 vision. Unfortunately, we do not have that luxury during the present day’s problems. I believe our Lord Jesus is pleased with your efforts. I know I am so thankful for everything you did for me! Don’t let the old accuser of the brethren (the devil) take that away from you. You did good!
We will have eternity to talk about all the things we want to talk about now. I know you will be there and I know I will be there. Christ has made it possible for us to come to Him. As long as we allow Him to work in our lives, we will be with Him in eternity. I know the God you serve, because you showed Him to me in your life. I know I want to be with the God you serve, because of your demonstration! You have been such an inspiration to me! I can never thank you adequately, but I can pray for our Lord Jesus to bless you! He is far better at that than I am, so maybe it is better this way. One day soon, He is going to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”
We are probably going to have to wait until we get to heaven to catch up on the talking we want to do. It seems it is getting harder for me to travel. We do have some wonderful promises God has given us in the Bible. The problems of this world are going to seem pretty small in the light of the glory of being with our glorious God.
It sounds as if your health is good. Cleaning up along the hedge rows and cutting wood sounds as if you are certainly staying active. Painting the west side of the barn sounds like a lot of trips up and down a ladder.
I pray you will give my love to your family. I wish I knew them better. My brief exposure was delightful. You seem to have raised a fine Christian family. Elaine, _____ and _____ seem to have turned out to be sweet, wonderful folks. I am sure their children are just as nice. In this day and age, that is quite an accomplishment. We live in a world that is calculated to work against the spiritual Christian trying to order his life by the example of his Master. While I cannot presume to be an expert, it looks to me as if you have a good family who love God as much as you. We need to keep encouraging one another to be true to our belief in Christ. It is my belief, Christ will one day soon come again. I pray many are going to be caught up in the world’s snares they won’t be ready. Evil seems to have pretty well proven how bad it is, so it seems the prophetic signs point to a soon end of the controversy between Christ and Satan. Whatever happens, we have the peace only Christ can provide. That “peace that passes all understanding” can come in handy the way things seem to be going.
This is the season we think of our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem. People seem to be a little nicer this time of the year. I pray you will have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year. I will close for now. May God richly bless you with the joy of His presence and the wonder of His love.
With Much Love,
Dear Art and Ruth,
I wanted to write a few words to remind you again of my deep love and appreciation for all you did for me when you took me into your family, making me feel as if I really belonged, accepted and loved, when my own dysfunctional family was shipwrecked upon the rocks and shoals of alcohol-induced poverty. God wonderfully blessed me by sending me another family to love and protect me within the circle of love in a home where our Lord Jesus Christ was the guiding impetus of day-to-day living—religion lived out daily, not only on Sabbath. You made me believe Jesus was real, because I believed He was real to you. You will never know how greatly your demonstration of the reality of Christ affected my life. Even when I was running away from accepting Jesus as my personal Saviour, I could not escape the remembrance of the daily testimony of your Christian witness in the way I saw you acted each day. The kindness and gentleness with which I was treated made me feel I was part of your family, treated as you would your own children—thank you so very much.
Early in our relationship, I know there was a time when my stubbornness did not take to correction easily and I apologize for giving you such heartache. You were trying to help me and I did not have sense enough to realize it. I am so thankful you had the patience and love to persevere, because I came to the point where I wanted to honor, respect and please you in everything I tried to do. The times I disappointed you brought me great sorrow—not from any physical punishment, but because I knew I had done something bringing you disappointment. A whipping would have been much easier to take, but knowing I had done something bringing you sadness brought me sorrow beyond the physical, because I wanted so much to please you and live up to the high standards you believed I could attain. You were more than an authority-figure. You were a combination father-older brother-friend-figure. You were older, wiser and always there to teach me how to do things—how to approach life with a nobility of purpose—with a gentle guidance.
Your family accepted me with such loving kindness at a time of personal chaos in my life, providing the stability of a Christian family when I so desperately needed Christ-centered love. I remember you even had to stop to buy me clothes to wear when you came to Moundridge to get me. Even then, you did it with such gentleness and grace I was not made to feel ashamed but accepted. I was a mess and you had to clean me up, teaching me everything from personal hygiene to manners and courtesy—all done with kindness and consideration. Thank you! I pray our Lord has blessed you abundantly, because you did those things to the least them (me) and the Lord will bless you as if you did it to Him.
The years bring a clearer perspective. Realizing there was only twenty years difference in our ages, I am amazed at your courage. You were a young couple with a young family, taking in a troubled youngster from a dysfunctional family, without any appreciable religious training to give you any hope of developing something better in my character. You might have encountered all sorts of problems and I am sorry for the ones I caused, when I did not appreciate what you were trying to do to help me form a character not requiring so much correction. Trying to look at the situation from your perspective makes me appreciate even more the wonderful gift of love and stability your family gave me at a time of desperate need. It was love of agape, God-inspired proportions, given in God’s name, blessing the giver (I pray) as much as the one receiving. I can only say thank you and continue to pray God’s blessings upon you and your family.
The finest tribute I can pay is to say you showed me Jesus was real to you, demonstrating a life consciously guided by your Lord and Savior. Without saying anything, you lived your faith where I had no problem seeing the reality of a God-centered life. You lived a sermon more eloquently than any preached from the pulpit, witnessing your love for Christ, flowing out to touch those like me who needed so much of God’s love. Your love for Christ allowed God’s love to add to yours and come to me in a time of my great need. I honor you, praising God for loving me through you and your family.
Because of you and your family, I have come to learn the wonder of God’s love for me. God has placed in me, a God-sized hole only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can fill. Since the Bible tells us we are created in God’s image and likeness, I know something about God from looking how He made us, realizing the hole in my heart indicates a Dewey-sized hole in God’s heart no one else can fill. God’s omnipotent love capable of loving each of us as if we were an only child and still having enough love to go around to the rest of the universe, God’s love being so personal to each, so God-like and wonderful! The influence of your love I experienced has led to the discovery of how wonderfully focused God’s love is for each individual. We are told we love Him, because He first loved us; Jesus showing how greatly God loves each, being wonderfully personal and delightfully inclusive. Because Christ’s love for you seemed so personal to you, after some years of trying to avoid the personal application of God’s love in my life, I surrendered, learning from experience how wonderfully we are loved by God that He would allow Jesus to pay the price for the punishment of my rebellion, showing how greatly God’s love is for each—even me.
One day (I believe soon) sin will be finished, everyone deciding to accept or reject Christ’s sacrifice for sin and Jesus will return to take God’s children home. Once sin is settled, God will have a group called “the redeemed” to make up His family—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Whatever those words mean, they seem to describe a close family relationship between God and His “family.” Whatever privileges God grants to the people redeemed from Earth, they will never become proud or arrogant, because we know the terrible price the Father and Son had to pay for my sin. The cost of our adoption into God’s family was so high Jesus had to die to make it possible for me to come back home. I do believe sin has already proven how badly it infects the human race. When the last sinner accepts or rejects God’s mercy and love the conflict between Good and evil will close. I was a hard-headed, obstinately slow to accept God’s demonstration of love, but thanks to your living demonstration of practical Christianity lived out before my eyes, I could never escape the knowledge of the reality of God’s love. I deeply desire to express the gratitude in my heart for this greatest of all the many gifts you gave to me. Your own love was wonderful, providing the security I desperately needed, but you and your family provided the introduction to a living relationship with Christ Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit; thank you so very much! I thank you for helping me form a character worthy of society and one desirous of a deeply personal relationship with the God who brought us together.
When sin is finished (the Bible saying it will never rise again.), we will have an eternity to spend with the Creator and Redeemer who made us to be loved by God forever and to love God forever. I believe relationships will be the glue holding God’s universal government together. The relationships we have with the God-Family, each other and those others of God’s children we have yet to meet as well as our distant relatives who had no idea of us. God has proved so very personal; I believe His government will be personally involved with all of His children throughout eternity. I pray we have plenty of time to visit and see each other then. Christians (Christ-ones) have a precious hope of a better time to come than some of the things we have experienced in the middle of this war zone called planet Earth. You have a wonderful family and I am looking forward to the time when I can get to know them better. Jesus gives us all hope for a better tomorrow. I send my love to you; please communicate it to your family. Love,
Dear Art and Ruth,
I trust, and pray, you are both well and had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. In three months, I will be 75—three-quarters of a century—it does not seem that long. Maybe, eternity with Jesus is going to be like that when time will no longer be a consideration—living forever, we will not be concerned with counting days, months, years, even centuries won’t be counted. One of the Psalms tells us: in His (God’s) presence is the fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever more. Having perfect health and being with Jesus forever will be such a good experience we will not have time to count how long it has been.
You showed me God was real, His Son, Jesus, was real, therefore, God’s promises were real. We can trust God to finish the problem with sin in such a manner of absolute fairness; no one will ever be tempted to rebel against the government of God’s love; Jesus proving a portion of God’s great love by going to the cross in my place so I could come back home to be with Him. Because God is all-knowing and knows the end of things before He begins them, we can trust Bible prophecy. God knowing the end of things seems to mean He would have known us before making Adam and Eve. God would know all who would accept or reject His offer of redemption, trying to win the unrepentant sinners to His side, God leaves nothing undone to convince them of His love. Love cannot be forced and be true to itself. Love can only be given. The Bible God asks the question to those rejecting His love: What more could I have done? The answer to the question is always silence, nothing more can change the impossible—grace rejected, love despised—only eternal death awaiting the one God wanted to love, but was not allowed; rejection hurting bitterly the Heart of Love.
Love accepted holds out wonderful promises for the redeemed children of God. While God does not reveal the fullness of His plans for those accepting His love, God does make it clear they become brothers and sisters of Jesus, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, literally part of God’s family. Each created to be loved by God forever with the capacity of returning that love in an ever-growing relationship with the God who is Love. Because God is love, it is omnipotent because He is omnipotent. Omnipotent love is the most powerful force in the universe, being proved by Jesus at Calvary when the Son of God, who is God, died a sinner’s death to pay the cost of our redemption. The atonement made for all sins, when accepted, freedom from sin’s penalty, freedom to enter into a love relationship with our Creator/Redeemer, making reconciliation possible, entering into the family of God.
As the eldest child of divorced parents, the threat of being sent to an orphan’s home for adoption seemed to hang over us, especially when life became more difficult. You may have been aware of this when you brought me into your family. You provided love, even when I was contrary and obstinate, giving the security of a family when I so desperately needed stability in my life. The way you lived, outside what you believed inside, made a deep and lasting impression on me, helping me to discover Jesus was real—exhibited daily in the way you treated me and all those around you. You may not be aware of it, or even believe it, but the way you lived a life to honor your Savior touched my life, making me want to honor my Savior and Lord. Because of your life, Jesus is real to me and it looks to me, He is very real in the lives of your children and their children. The “fruit” on the tree tells what kind of a tree we have; the children tell of the success of their parents’ efforts in forming their characters. I suppose we have to wait until God shows us all the ramifications of our lives. I believe the most important factor will not be the results as much as whether we tried to glorify Christ by allowing Him to be Lord, living life as we think He would wish. Our motives of the heart may be the most important. While only God can know the motives of the heart, I can attest you had a profound effect on my life. I am still in awe and amazement how God loved me through you and your family, praying God’s blessings upon you because my words are so feeble and inadequate. Thank you!
I pray this will bring a slight realization of my deep love, profound respect and great admiration for you both and your family.
Dear Art and Ruth,
Thank you for the delightful birthday card and present. The nicest present was what you wrote at the top of the card: You are one of our family. Thank you! The older I get, the faster the birthdays seem to come around. I am 75 this year. If you would slow down a little, I might be able to catch up with you. There is just twenty years difference between us.
Many times, I think what it must have been like for you to take on a child with the problems I had. That must have taken much courage, having children of your own, not knowing what you were getting yourself into by helping me. I am so thankful for what you did and I appreciate it more each year, thanking God for giving me you both. The guidance and love of those few years have lasted all through these years. Thank you, again. I am sorry for those times when I was head-strong (stubborn is a better word) and gave you a lot of unnecessary heartache. As I look back on the experience, I am amazed at the influence you have given my life over all these years. You started me off on the right track by providing a father-figure, both you and Ruth helping me find a loving Savior and heavenly Father, made more personal by the loving example you both showed me.
I missed getting to know Elaine, _____, and _____ as they grew into adults. It is nice, now, to celebrate their many accomplishments. You raised some fine children and they in turn, raised some fine grandchildren for you. You have a lot of PhDs in your family. That is great! It indicates they were raised to value education and the hard work it takes to get a doctorate. I know you are so proud of all of them. It is too bad they are spread out all over the country. It makes it harder to get to see them very often.
Dear Art and Ruth,
Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day are good times to honor those who have influenced our lives so profoundly. God has blessed me so wonderfully, I cannot begin to thank Him for having brought you both into my life, nor can I begin to thank you for the wonderful blessings you have given me, although I will keep on trying.
My relationship with our heavenly Father has been directly influenced and shaped by the way you raised me during the short time we had together. Because God, the Father and Jesus, the Son, were real to you, They became real to me. Even when I was running away from accepting Jesus as my personal Savior, I could not forget He was in, what I saw exhibited in your daily lives. We will probably never know, this side of heaven, how profoundly our lives have affected others, until God shows us what He was able to accomplish, because we allowed Him to control our thoughts and actions.
Because God was real to you, when I fell in love with Jesus, I wanted a relationship with God that was like what I experienced, living with you and your family. These words are a feeble testimony to the example you set for everyone to see. For the first time in my life, I saw going to church was important because of a personal relationship and desire for communion with fellow believers and with a personal God. Worship seemed personal and not just a duty to be performed once a week because others expected you to perform a social obligation. True “religion” was something you lived every day of your life, not just once a week.
When the drifting snow closed the side roads, we went through the feedlot, in the tractor, pulling the milk trailer, to the car parked in the pasture, driving to the highway on the other side and on to church. During the time I was a part of your family, I do not remember missing a single Sunday going to church. Missing church was not an option in our family. Church was important! Thank you for the precious memories. Thank you for the wonderful example you set for me.
How I am able to relate to God, the Father is due to the foster parental-figures (you and Ruth) in my life. I see God as a Creator-God of such love He was willing for Jesus, to take the punishment for my sin, so I could return to God’s love.
God’s love is so grand we will never tire of trying to learn more, because it is focused upon each as if we were the only one. Because of how God has related to me, through those like you, I find myself in a deeper relationship with our Abba Father and His Son. I don’t know how I can adequately thank either you or God, for having been such a wonderful influence upon my life.
I think, God tends to love us through others, in this life, trying to get us to the point we will learn His love is real and we can trust it throughout eternity in a personal relationship with the God of ultimate agape love. In the book, I try to imagine what it must have like for God, the Father, to allow God, the Son, to be our Redeemer, when both had to know the heartache the other would suffer at Calvary. We believe God to be all-knowing (omniscient) which means God would know our pain and sorrow ahead of time as well as knowing the cost in pain God would have to suffer because of the sin rebellion against His love. The Bible tells us the plan of salvation was settled before the foundation of the world.
We can never understand the wondrous depth of God’s love for us, but we can begin to appreciate how intensely focused it is upon each, rejoicing in how wonderfully we are loved. Because of having experienced your love, I can better appreciate how greatly I am loved by God. God wants to adopt all of us, but we have to accept for Him to accomplish Ultimate Agape’s desire. We, not God, limit His wondrous love. Because of you, I can better understand God’s plan of salvation, the legal fees paid by Jesus at the cross of Calvary, so we could be adopted—if we choose. If I had accepted your offer, my life would have been much different. Thank you for being willing to invest your love in me. It was a wonderful thing you did. I hope people are able to still see the “ripples” in the “pool of my life,” caused by your effect on my life.
I am so sorry to hear about Elaine’s death. Children are not supposed to die before their parents. Cancer is a terrible thing and four years is a long struggle. Still it is never easy. I suppose there is some relief knowing the loved one is no longer in pain. We had our little dog put to sleep. After fourteen years, she had renal failure. I could not stand to see her suffer. She was my “Sweet Baby Girl.” I still want to cry sometimes, but she doesn’t hurt—just us.
God promises, sin will end and His universe will be forever ruled by His love. Those who accept Christ Jesus, as their Savior and Lord, will be a part of that Utopian universe where bad things will never again happen—there is something better coming!
Yes, I knew you had other foster children after I left. I am glad they looked you up and you had a chance to see the results you had on their lives. You have the satisfaction of knowing, God worked through you to touch a lot of lives. I know you invested a lot of love, some heartache and much effort in bringing your love (and God’s) to bear on so many lives. They say “the fruit falls close to the tree.” You have raised a remarkable family. They are intelligent, gifted, nice people who are a credit to you and a blessing to those around them. It seems, to me, you have a wonderful tribute to how God has used you to bless so many people and your family to extend God’s blessings even further.
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