Friday, January 7, 2011
In which I blog my heart out...
First of all, before you read this post, watch this video. I know, I know, everyone posts Youtube videos all the time, but this one WILL change your life. It changed mine. My friend (and cousin) Becky posted this on her facebook page a while back and it moved me. I used it for the presentation I did at church to get people to sponsor our "Community Kids".
2010 is a year our lives really changed. We are a middle class family. We live comfortably. When we need to make a big purchase, we generally have to save up for it, but we definitely don't go without. We have coasted along through life very proud of ourselves. We both grew up in working class homes and we were very proud that our children would not have to experience the things we did. Now, I'm not saying that my childhood was hard. We had all of our needs met and a lot of our wants...but we knew that money was a limited commodity. Mike and I took the (mistaken) attitude that our child would never know what it was like to have family money problems. If things were ever tight, we certainly wouldn't let our kid(s) know. This was obviously a mistake that resulted in some spoiled, entitled children. We are trying to reverse that brainwashing and teach them to help others with less than them.
In 2000, we had our first child. In 2003, we began trying to have another child. We were diagnosed with fertility problems and spent several years and many thousands of dollars trying to have another child. In the summer of 2007, I told Mike I wanted to take a break. I was so tired of pills, thermometers, and the thought of the elusive BABY consuming every aspect of my life. Mike agreed and we resigned ourselves to being the parents of an only child. In the fall, I began exploring foster care. We had looked into private adoption before, but it was more than we wanted to spend. We talked about it and began filling out the paperwork to become foster parents. We were having a hard time getting our schedules together to do all the training, home visits, etc., so we decided to wait until the first of the year. I got pregnant with baby Phillip in December 2007.
So, we put our foster care plans on hold and prepared for our miracle baby. We have had the best "babymoon" period with him. He's a delightful child, a true miracle. Around his second birthday (September 2010), I began looking into foster care again. By then, the kids we work with at church had been pulling at my heartstrings and I wanted to do more to help kids like them. I didn't say anything to Mike yet, just prayed about it and looked into possibilities. This was in September, also the same month I became pregnant with #3. God has a sense of humor.
So, obviously, I've put that on hold AGAIN. I really feel like God is leading us to do something with foster kids, but since our biological children now outnumber available bedrooms, it may not be foster parenting.
So we are exploring our options as far as volunteering. (Everyone who knows me IRL just snickered, because I am over volunteered as it is). Anyway, these kids are just getting to us. The kids we have on Tuesday nights are such an interesting and sad mix of kids. We have a lot of kids, sometimes 50. About 30 of those kids are from the local housing project. Some have really good families that have just fallen on hard times. They have mamas who love them, daddies who provide for them, and a good sense of security. Most of them don't. Most of them live with a single parent, which is not that uncommon in any socioeconomic group, or necessarily a bad thing, assuming the one parent is a good parent. But, these kids are so neglected. Their clothes are dirty, their hair is unwashed. They have dirt under their nails and hollow looks in their eyes. Any love you are willing to give them, they soak up like a sponge. Mike and I go home every Tuesday night talking about them, praying for them, worrying about them.
One of the main things I worry about is if they have enough to eat. When we started our Tuesday program, we fed the kids a snack. They were SO HUNGRY. They would beg for more and steal food. We quickly switched to serving dinner, with all the refills they want. They clean their plates. I worry what they are eating the rest of the week.
I also worry about their safety. Back in September, we had a booth at our towns' Barbeque Festival. We sold candy and cotton candy and advertised the churches new name (http://www.ccchenderson.org/). Several of the kids came by the booth to say hello. They wound up spending the rest of the day with us. They were girls about Olivia's age and they had a great time together. I found out that they had walked there, about two miles, including crossing Hwy 45. It was dark when I found this out, so I told them to call their parents from my phone and see if I could drive them home when we were done. They called and the parents said okay. I bought them all dinner (they had not eaten all day, see why I worry) and they settled in under the quilts I had in the booth (they were severely underdressed). Well, about two hours later, one of the mothers shows up, screaming and making a scene. She is an obvious meth addict, no teeth, drawn face, crazy eyes, about 40 lbs underweight. She is shaking her daughters arm and screaming at her to GO HOME. She had forgotten she told her she could stay. I tried to defuse the situation as best I could, but I don't want to imagine what happened when she got home.
Anyway, God is really dealing with us to work with these kids, with other at risk kids. I think it is so easy to get caught up in the complancy of "good Christianity". To give to your local congregation, attend regularly, volunteer now and then, and call it a day. But Jesus wants more. He wants us to minister to "the least of these". I'm hoping 2011 is the year we will find out what we should be doing. And, I hope the next time I look into foster care, I don't get pregnant :)