Apr 272010

I love hope.  Love people who are hopeful.  Love stories that have a happy ending.  I want the guy to get the girl.  The dog to find its owner.  The foster kid to return home.  The orphan to get a family.  And for all of them to live happily ever after.

When I really think about how hope operates – how it changes lives – one thing becomes apparent. 

Hope requires action.

Action causes a perfectly comfortable family to open their door to foster kids.  Action moves a couple from hoping for a child to adopting a child.  Action moves a person to tutor or mentor or write the check or organize the party or the event, so that foster kids can have a shot at a better future than past.  Hope requires action. 

If you are in the mood for some action and live in the Oklahoma City area, take a look at www.fluxokc.wordpress.com or follow @fluxokc on twitter.  You can be part of celebrating the graduation of a foster kid.  If you are outside of OKC, call your local DHS/DCFS office and see if they need help throwing a party for their graduates.  Only 3 out of 5 foster kids make it through high school – we should make a big deal out of it! 


Mar 152010

In-flu-ence* – [IN-floo-uhns] – verb – To quietly affect the nature, development, or condition of a person or course of events in a way that operates without any direct or apparent effort, to MODIFY.

To have world-changing influence, we must be intentional.

She was not quite 2 when they took her in from the foster agency.  Her mom had a lot of struggles and could barely take care of herself, much less a toddler.  Her new foster family fell in love with her immediately, enjoying her laughter and the silly tricks that she would do, but especially the brief moments at bedtime when she would sit on one of their laps and snuggle.  Over time, both she and her biologic mom achieved milestones – hers included memorizing the alphabet and writing her name and learning her phone number; her mom’s had more to do with parenting classes and a steady job.  And after some time it became apparent that they would reunite.

They moved a lot – never could quite achieve the stability that most people crave.  She lived with her mom some, as well as a variety of extended relatives.  She called her old foster family every once in a while – she had never forgotten the phone number – and every single time they inquired about her new address and made a trip to the post office, sending off a box filled with goodies.

Art supplies.  Candy.  Books.  But most of all, love.

They were intentional in their influence.  They didn’t just answer the phone and have a conversation – they acted.  Even though it was painful.  Even though they worried about the fact that every call was from a new phone number in a new state.  Even though it took thought to adjust the contents of each box to match her age and interests.  Even though there was a physical and an emotional cost associated.

To have world-changing influence, we must be intentional.  We must be fully aware of the potential of our decisions, even when they seem insignificant, and we must choose to be intentional rather than careless.

So how did it turn out?  One day the phone rang at the old foster family’s home. “Mom, can I come home?”  It was her 18th birthday.  You can guess what the answer was.

Will you choose to be intentional with the decisions you make?

Mar 082010

Recently my daughter and I had a date night.  I had a couple of ideas for the evening, but when we drove by a local bowling alley, the sign caught her attention, and our plans quickly changed.  We grabbed shoes and got her the lightest ball they had, and soon we were ready to play the game.  I am competitive by nature, and while I understand that it is inappropriate, I really wanted to a) get lots of strikes and spares, and b) not be beaten by a kid.  So, I picked out just the right ball, bowled a warm-up frame or two, and figured out just exactly where I needed to aim to knock down the most pins. 

Let the games begin!

Somewhere around the 5th frame, I remembered that this was supposed to be an opportunity to build relationship with my kiddo, and that I should not focus quite so much on getting the pins down and a little more on enjoying time with my daughter (embarrassing to say, but unfortunately true…).  So I began to watch her a little more closely.  She was a terribly inconsistent bowler.  One ball would be right down the middle of the lane and knock down several pins, the next would be in the gutter.  But the more I watched, the more fascinated I became with her reaction, no matter what the result.

Celebration.  Exuberance.  Excitement.  Joy.

Gutter ball or strike.  Didn’t matter if she knocked down one pin or all the pins.  She was excited about every small achievement, every tiny improvement on her score.  It was being in the game together that made her happy.

I spend a lot of time with parents whose children are in foster care.  And I have lots of ideas about what they should be achieving and how they should be behaving.  You need to get a certain kind of job.  You need to have a better home.  You need to get yourself mentally healthy.  You need to be a better parent.  You need to be more responsible.  You need to visit your kids more reliably.  You need to pass your drug screen all the time.  And while those things may very well all be true, what is also true is that I don’t celebrate with them nearly enough.  I complain about the visit missed and don’t celebrate the one made.  I gripe if they don’t parent as well as I want them to.  I write them off if they struggle with relapsing into their addictions.  I judge them on every aspect of life, and I do not stop to celebrate what is accomplished.  In the face of terrible odds – poverty, poor social supports, addiction, depression, hopelessness – we should be amazed that some moms and dads can manage to get out of bed in the morning.  Perhaps I should learn to celebrate the fact that we are even in the game together. 

And for those who are interested?  105-103 – mom wins:)