Nov 092011
 

Her eyes were wide as I opened my trunk lid.  The van was filled to the roof with Christmas presents – toys for the kids, new pillows and blankets, groceries, and a few nice things for mom too.  She stood still, as if she was afraid to believe it was all for them – for her little family. 

My mind flashed to the day in clinic when another family caught my attention.  They were part of a small Bible study group and wanted to take on a family for Christmas.  Wanted to provide for someone who didn’t have much.  I agreed to watch out for the right opportunity, and within 24 hours I had found a match.  A single mom who had arm-wrestled a meth addiction.  Who had lost everything – her kids, her job, her home – but who along the way had found herself.  Had scratched and clawed to become a mom again.  But it wasn’t easy, and the full-time job she held barely paid the bills.  There wasn’t much left over for Christmas. 

Until she crashed headlong into a small Bible study group.

It took 18 trips up the apartment stairs to carry everything in.  The little Christmas tree could barely be seen.  The living room floor was half-covered.  And in the middle of  the mess, I held onto a sobbing, sweet, beautiful mom who experienced, maybe for the very first time in her life, grace and love that were extravagant. 

Who will you love extravagantly?

“Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant…Love like that.”  Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)

Oct 192011
 

“Did you see the news?” 

I looked up to see my case worker friend moving my direction.

“Did you see it?”  she repeated.  Her neck disappeared into her shoulders, and her voice cracked with the emotion of the situation.

I nodded.  I had seen it.  The latest story of horrific tragedy – a child death at the hands of a parent.  A situation so difficult for most of us to ingest that we find ourselves changing the channel so we won’t have to watch.  Or turning the newspaper page.  Or, if we can manage to sit through the gruesome story, the story of a broken family living in a broken world, we become distressed.  Angry.  We want revenge.  We want to blame someone – it must be someone’s fault.  The parent obviously committed the unspeakable, but SOMEONE should have been around to help them.  SOMEONE should have known this child was in danger.  SOMEONE should have done something.  And now SOMEONE should pay for this.  Should be put on a media trial so we all scream “CRUCIFY” and then sit back in our recliners and feel better. 

I agree.  Someone should have known.  Someone should have done something.  Someone is guilty.  Someone is to blame. 

Us. 

We are to blame.  The neighbors of families who are struggling but who don’t bother to offer assistance.  The occupants of homes with a spare bedroom who would rather use that space for a treadmill than take in a foster kid.  The members of churches who show up for an hour on Sunday so that we can feel righteous but cross over to the other side of the road so we won’t have to interact with the broken and bloody of our communities.  We are to blame. So what do we do now?

We need to pray – to spend time on our faces in front of a Holy God who loves foster kids and wants us to love them too.  We need to fast – to intentionally go without so that we can focus on what role each of us is called to play.  And we need to act – to step into the battle for the future of these kids.  When we do, maybe the next news story we see will be about how the shelter is empty or how a dad got off drugs and got his kids back  or how there are no kids waiting to be adopted.  Maybe then I’ll watch the news again…

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.”  Jeremiah 29: 12-13 (MSG)

Aug 262011
 

Today is my birthday.  Not just any birthday.  A big one.  The over-the-hill one.  The one where your friends buy you black balloons and laxatives.  So my co-workers asked me what I was doing for the big day.  Taking off?  Having a party?  Hanging out with the family?

Going to a DHS team meeting to explain the special needs of a foster kid.

Most of my friends just stare at me when I tell them my big plans.  But you see, he isn’t just any kid.  He is a beautiful little tow-headed kid with eyes that sparkle and a smile that takes up his whole face.  And he’s a foster kid.  Who needs a plan that will get him into a permanent home and on with life.  And while most people might not see that as a great way to celebrate a birthday, I think it is the best way to spend a day…and a life. 

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus…”  Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Apr 072011
 

I love to tell the stories of foster kids.  I especially love to tell stories of hope.  That, after all, is what this site is all about.  There is another set of words that are particularly hopeful.  And healing.  And life-giving.

When the two are brought together, the result is something beautiful.  Something powerful.  Something alive.  I hope you read it.  I hope it encourages you.  I hope it touches you.  I hope it trashes you.  And more than anything?  I hope God speaks to you, and that you are forever changed by that encounter.

Fostering Hope – Experiencing God’s Heart for Foster Kids. A 30-Day Devotional Guide (download)

Open it.  Download it.  Print it.  Read it.  Share it.  Fall in love with those who are closest to God’s heart.

For other downloading options, please click  here.

Jan 142011
 

He was a three-and-a-half feet tall bundle of emotion.  In a few short years, he had unfortunately witnessed much more bad than good, a fact that became painfully clear to his foster parents as he ran screaming through the house.  As they struggled to settle his fears, their silent prayers were filled with doubt.  What could they do?  They weren’t equipped to handle a kid like this.  Finally the screaming stopped and there was silence, except for the sound of the sobs of a little broken heart.  The man fell to his knees.

“We will never hurt you.”

At the simple words, the sobs stopped.  Time seemed to stand still as child and adult locked eyes.  Then the most unexpected thing – a sloppy, wet, little boy kiss planted firmly on his foster dad’s cheek.  He ran off to play, leaving his caregivers stunned, realizing that heaven met earth for just a moment that day.

 

 

 

“Heaven meets earth like a sloppy, wet kiss        

And my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don’t have time to maintain these regrets

When I think about the way that He loves us.”

How He Loves – lyrics by John Mark McMillan

Sep 172010
 

It had been two years since our first encounter, when she came to foster care as a victim of years of sexual abuse by a close family member.  My mind flashed back to that day, to that kid.  To the anger, fear, and depression, the desire to leave this world far behind, with no hope at all that the next would be any better.  Flashed back to the fresh carving on her stomach.

“Worthless”

The sound of a baby crying in the next room snapped my attention back to the present.  To the confident, half-smiling young lady sitting on my exam table.  “I remember you from when I was here before,” she said.  She was so different.  I was speechless, didn’t know what to say or how to even ask what the difference was, so I stalled.  Listened to her heartbeat, looked in her ears, that sort of thing.  Finally, the words came. 

“How are you doing?  Or maybe the real question I want answered is how are you doing so well?”

She smiled even wider, and told me about the family that had taken care of her after she left the shelter.  How they had treated her like one of their own kids.  Had taught her about family and trust and relationships and value.  Her answer to my question?

“I have been with someone who loves me.” 

Simple.  Powerful.  Life-changing. 

Will someone say that about you or me?  That being in OUR presence meant that they were with someone who loved them?  I hope so.  With all my heart, I hope so.

May 212010
 

A few months ago I met this lady. She had everything going for her. Great family. Nice house. Lots of control over her day. But she had this little voice in the back of her head telling her to get involved with foster kids. It had been there for a long time, and every once in a while she would explore her options. Attend a class. Sign up for more information. That sort of thing.

Then everything changed.

She heard about a kid who didn’t have anywhere else to go. Who desperately needed a family. She mentioned it to her husband, who didn’t hesistate. She made the phone call, and the next thing you know, their family grew.

To a casual observer, she may come across as reckless. After all, getting involved with this kid will take time away from her family. Will cost her some money and some tears. Will mess up her schedule. But the truth is, she isn’t reckless at all. She is simply wrecked. She can’t stand the idea of a kid who has no mom. Can’t imagine a teen who has no home. Can’t tolerate knowing about foster kids without doing something about it. Her heart is wrecked.

Or, perhaps you could say she is wreckless.

I wonder if Webster will add that one to the dictionary…

May 032010
 

So I have this friend.  Actually we have only been friends for a few months.  But it turns out that we have something unusual in common.  We both love foster kids, but that isn’t the uncommon part.  What sets my friend apart is that she loves the birth parent of her foster kids.  In case you blew past that, let me say it again.

She loves the birth parent of her foster kids.

She believes that she is called to do that – to create opportunities for a mom that has never had anything.  To offer relationship that doesn’t have strings attached.  Her husband believes it too.  And her friends are starting to.  In fact, she is rounding up a whole army of people who are willing to go deep with her. 

 To get dirty.  To work hard.  To hurt.  To get frustrated.  To pray.  To encourage.  To support. To hope.  And most of all?  To love. 

It’s really what we should be about. 

For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.  Galatians 5:6 (MSG)

http://metacognician.blogspot.com/

Apr 062010
 

My mom was visiting for Easter, and she pointed out that there were some details I left out of my recent discussion of the number of children in foster care.  In particular, the fact that there are 8,400 kids in the Oklahoma foster system, but that nationally there are between 450,000 and 500,000 foster kids.  In Los Angeles county alone there are 25,000 children in custody. 

25,000

I grew up in a town that had an alleged population of 1300, although I always suspected that whoever counted was including everyone’s dog.  To a small town girl like me, 8400 is a lot.  25,000 is difficult to imagine.  And a half million completely blows my mind.  Thinking about it can paralyze me, if I let it. 

There is this old saying I have heard – “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  I hate that saying.  Bite size pieces may be appropriate for eating an elephant steak, but they are unacceptable for changing the lives of thousands of foster children.  Instead, we need to figure out how to eat the whole darn thing in a bite or two.

“The Tipping Point” is a great book on social change written by Malcolm Gladwell.  Malcolm describes in great detail why change is more often like an epidemic than the steady, slow process we sometimes imagine.  He argues that with the right people, the right environment, and the right message we can change the world.  

Quickly. 

I’m up for that.  Stay tuned – more to come…

Apr 022010
 

Numbers are an important part of our everyday lives.  We use them to help us connect to others on our cell phones, to tell us which seat to sit in on a plane, and to help us find the correct highway.  In the world of foster kids, one important number is the number of kids in custody.  Thankfully, that number has been declining, from 12,000 a couple of years ago to just over 8,400 today.  There are lots of ideas about why the number is declining, and certainly lots of excitement.  And there should be.

That said, do not think for one moment that the work with these kids and their families is done, that DHS no longer needs the community to step up.  I would argue the exact opposite.

There aren’t any fewer families who struggle

Life is difficult.  Parenting is hard if there are two of you and you aren’t worried about putting gas in the car or your next meal on the table.  What if you are a single parent?  What if it costs you more for a week of daycare than you earn in a week of work?  What if a good day is one where the electricity and the water are both on at your house? 

Look around you.  On your block.  At your kids’ school.  Or the grocery store, or at church.  There are hurting people everywhere.  People who need to eat, need a ride, need a babysitter. 

Or perhaps they need the most important thing of all – a friend.

Want to end child abuse?  That’s how.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist.  Just a servant.