Feb 222010

When I was a kid, one of our family Christmas break traditions was working on a jigsaw puzzle.  We would always get a new one with some beautiful landscape or cool collage, and we would start putting it together on the kitchen table.  Anyone who wanted could take a turn at finding just the right location for each piece, until the puzzle was completed. 

That all sounds like a nice family project, but the truth is that I stink at jigsaw puzzles.  I can get the border together, and maybe figure out some small patches with bright colors or unique objects, but by and large, the middle of the puzzle escapes me.  I get frustrated.  And I start jamming together pieces that don’t always fit.  Thank goodness for my mom, her geometry skills, and her patience.  She could see the shapes better that I did, and could figure out how to connect them.  And when she was done we all got to share in the glory of a finished piece, one that we had done together.

A dozen years ago I saw a picture in my mind of what a world without child abuse would look like.  Since that time, I have been working my tail off to put the puzzle together and see that again.  I found gaps in the system – needs that weren’t being met, and I met them in the best way I knew how.  Health care.  School supplies.  Training. Hope.  But the truth is, the border is barely together, and there is no way anyone can tell what the puzzle looks like yet. 

And yet the pieces are coming together.  Many people who hear my stories about foster kids want to know where to plug in, how to help.  I have some basic answers, but the truth is that I am not very good at the details of connecting people.  It is the middle of the puzzle for me.  I have desperately needed to find those with different eyes, with different skills, who could complement my story-telling and connect people to needs. 

The Spero Project may just be one of those.  Spero’s prime objective is to connect – to bring together groups and individuals with a heart to change the world in some specific way, and to put them together so that the puzzle is complete.  One of those projects is Spero:Legacy – connecting  those who are interested foster kids as well as adoption.  Tuesday evening Spero is hosting a meeting to discuss foster/adoption and to help individuals and groups who can see the struggle of foster kids, but don’t know what to do about it.  Spero can help – you will leave the meeting with specific “next steps” for how YOU can impact the world of foster kids and change lives.  You are a piece of the puzzle – it can’t be completed without you.

Avenue Class for Foster Care/Adoption – Tuesday, February 23, at 7:00.  Location – 4646 N. Santa Fe, OKC, at the Spero:Resource center.

If you can’t attend, check out the website and contact them:  www.thesperoproject.com

Feb 172010

I have this lamp that sits on the side table in my living room.  It puts off a soft, yellow light, and for many years it was the light that I left on at night to help me see in case I needed to get up and move around the house.  One day it quit working, and I assumed it needed a new light bulb.  Eventually I got around to changing the bulb, but it didn’t work.  I was sad – perhaps the lamp was broken.  I really liked that lamp.  In the middle of my sadness, my husband leaned over the end table and plugged it in – magic!  It, and its old bulb, worked just fine.

In case you didn’t notice, I love telling stories.  It is how I communicate.  As a story-teller, I can use language to help you understand the struggles of kids in foster care, and if I am really fortunate, I might even be able to stir up some emotion.  I’m glad – I would be worried about whether you were alive if you weren’t a little bit stirred.  But emotion will not change the lives of these kids.  It will not bring light to darkness – to do that, you have to plug in.  So today, I am going to tell you about an organization that is committed to foster kids, and it is a place you can get involved. 

Citizens Caring for Children was created in 1984 – it was the brain child of George and Rose Harper, a couple who had taken in foster kids.  As children moved through their home, the Harpers realized that while foster kids may come with some social or emotional baggage, they don’t come with any physical baggage.  In fact, some of them have only the clothes on their backs.  So, the Harpers decided to do something about it.  They enlisted the help of the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond, OK and began providing basic necessities to foster kids – clothes, school supplies, etc.  Now, 26 years later, the organization is still going strong.  It is a quality place to pour your resources and your time, so if you are moved at all by the stories of foster kids, and you are looking for a way to help, Citizens Caring for Children is a place to start.