Mar 152013
 

He was imposing – several inches taller and wider than I am – and every muscle seemed tensed, as if he was ready to resist whatever I planned to do to him.  I had only questions, however.   How old he was, school, family.  At first his answers came in short staccato bursts, but gradually he relaxed and shared his story.  He went into foster care as a toddler, then adopted, but by then he was damaged.  Depressed.  Angry.  Years in and out of mental institutions and juvenile halls – now his adoptive family wanted nothing to do with him.  I worried about him.  I wondered where he would go for help.  Who would he call?  Old friends from the neighborhood?  Birth family?  The ones whose rights were terminated a decade ago?

His pastor.

I was surprised.  “You have a pastor?”  He nodded, and sat up a little straighter and with more pride.  “Yes.  He will help me.  He believes in me.  He’s working to develop me into a leader.”

May the Church not get distracted maintaining ministry, running programs, writing books, or scrambling for a spotlight, only to forget that our true great commission occurs when we interact with one.  One broken life.  One hopeless mom.  One addicted dad.  One lost kid.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine who are righteous…” 
Luke 15: 4-7 (NLT)

Mar 092011
 

She sat on the floor in the corner of her bedroom, pressing against the wall as if she hoped somehow to disappear inside it.  The voices from the next room rolled across her like waves of nausea.  Anger and contempt from her dad, passive meekness from her mom. Night after night, the scene played out the same way.   At 6, she didn’t fully understand the conversation, but she certainly felt the emotion.  And it hurt.  A lot.

Not that anyone else knew.  After all, she was an expert at putting on a happy face. 

Well-behaved.  Angry.

Smart.  Uptight.

Friendly.  Alcoholic.

Leading.  Cutting.

Athletic.  Anorexic.

 

Some kids carry the physical evidence of child abuse.  But for many others, the scars are not visible.  They are hidden deep in the soul of a child who emotionally hides in the corner, pressing into the wall, trying to disappear…

 

 

 

Feb 132010
 

I hate moving. When I was a kid, my family moved every year or two, and it always made me sick. Hugging the toilet sick. The whole time the U-Haul was being loaded.

I didn’t really get any pleasure out of seeing my new bedroom or exploring a new neighborhood. Mostly I spent the first few days worrying. Wondering if anyone knew where I was. Would I be able to get on the right bus at school? And off at the right stop? I didn’t even know my address – how would the bus driver? Would my grandparents be able to find us for my birthday party? And how would Santa know where we were? 

Those nerves could be largely settled by one simple thing – getting mail.  Not mail for my parents, mail for ME.  Mail meant that someone knew where I was.  Mail meant I wasn’t lost.  Mail meant I was thought of.  And, if I was lucky and the mail was from my grandparents, it usually included stuff – stickers, toys, activity books, crayons – you get the picture. 

Foster kids move a lot too – an average of 4 times in 20 months, and of kids who age out of foster care, 1/3 of them moved more than 8 times while they were in custody.  Each move means a new house, new neighborhood, new school.  Each move means you lose stuff that matters to you – stuff like pictures and drawings and stories you have written and favorite CD’s.  Each move means new rules – new bedtimes, new chores, new ways to fold towels and make your bed. 

And, they wonder if anyone knows where they are. 

I wonder how much difference a piece of mail would make to a foster kid.  A birthday card, a random note, a care package.  How much does it matter to you to not feel “lost”, but rather “found”?

Beginning next week, my office will be sending birthday cards to the foster kids who see me for health care.  What can you do?  Look for opportunity.  Teachers, coaches, kids pastors/church workers – take special notice of the foster kids who cross your path and send them a word of encouragement for no particular reason.  Foster parents – teach foster kids your address and phone number.