There are no concerns.” I stared at the paper, but the words didn’t change. “There are no con– I stared at the paper, but the words didn’t change. “There are no concerns.” There it was, my handwriting in black ink on the medical chart. In medical language it means that the patient isn’t sick. They don’t feel bad. Nothing is wrong. Normally that is a good thing. But this time, as I sat filling out yet another medical form for yet another child entering the emergency foster shelter, I found myself overtaken with emotion.
Anger. Disgust. Frustration. Sadness. Worry.
I wrote that there were no concerns. But that isn’t true. I have con-cerns. Lots of concerns. Concerns about these children and what they will think about and what they will feel when the lights go out at night and the shelter is quiet. About where they will live next, and whether the family who takes them in will treat them as their own or merely as transients. About whether their social worker will get to know them as human beings or just by a case number. About when they will see their family again, and whether that reunion will be filled with joy or anger or fear.
We should be concerned. And may that concern fuel our actions. May it compel us to get out of our comfortable lives where most of our concern is for ourselves, and to be concerned for someone else for a change.
They tried to heal my people’s serious injuries as if they were small wounds. They said, “It’s all right, it’s all right.” But really, it is not all right. Jeremiah 8:11 (NCV)
Prayer for The Church: Forgive us, God, for ignoring Your commands and pleas to care for the widows, the orphans and the oppressed – the very ones You hold dear to Your heart. Open our hearts to no longer turn our backs on these children. Move Your people to demonstrate Your love. Amen.
I would guess she was early 20’s, although the fatigue in her face made her look at little older. Growing up in foster care had certainly not preserved her youth. She sat quietly, watching the toddler ex-plore every corner of the room. “Is parenting getting easier?” I won-dered. She nodded, and responded that they were in a pretty good place, past infancy but not quite to the terrible 2’s and 3’s. She en-joyed him – that was apparent. “You have a place to live?” Yes. “Enough food?” Yes again. “Friends your own age?” Hesitation, then no. “Why?” I asked.
They all want something from me, you know? Something I’m not willing to give. Drugs. Sex. Money. You name it. The people I know who are my age are a bunch of parasites.
The impact of her statement silenced me, and my mind raced to evaluate my own friendships. How valuable it was to have people my own age around me, who simply wanted to share conversations about raising kids, or maintaining a marriage, or shouldering the responsibilities of life. Friends on whom I could call for help without the ex-pectation of “payment” for their favor.
What value can be placed on unconditional love? On unconditional friendship? On offering to weave your life together with someone else’s simply because you are both human, rather than because they can do something for you. Want to be the hands and feet of Christ? Start by finding someone who needs a friend and losing yourself, your interests, your expectations. Start by falling in love with others.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
So I have this friend. And it turns out that we have something unusual in common. We both love foster kids, but that isn’t the un-common 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 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 rounded 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)
Prayer for Biological Families: Today, we lay before You the trials and tribulations of the biological families in the child welfare sys-tem. Grant them fortitude, faith, and patience. Give them the strength to put aside the past and look to the future; show them peace in chaos and wisdom in turmoil. Amen.
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 that didn’t have anywhere else to go. Who des-perately needed a family. She mentioned it to her husband, and he didn’t hesitate. 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, get-ting 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 that she is WRECKLESS. I wonder if Webster will add that one to the dictionary…
“He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.” 2 Corinthians 9:9 (MSG)
Did you know?
Over 100,000 children in the U. S. are awaiting adoption.
Oklahoma summers are hot. The weathermen begin talking about “heat domes” around the end of June, and we know what that means. It means a high pressure system is sitting right on top of us. It means that the atmosphere has a lid right over our heads, a lid that allows the sun’s rays to find their way in but never out. It means that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, or cook dinner on your car hood if you want to.
His shoulders slumped slightly, as if he carried the weight of the world on them. Quiet at first, but when I asked about his younger siblings, he spoke up, telling humorous stories about his attempts to get them somewhat out of trouble. The conversation shifted to his dad, and the quiet returned. Alcoholic, violent, angry. When his dad was awake, the kids hid. In their rooms, in the garage, under the porch. One day a neighbor saw the kids playing and brought them some lemonade. A conversation started. Over time, they felt safe. Then one night, when they needed a hiding place, they ran to the neighbor’s house. There are new challenges now, but no hiding. No drunken rage. Some kids feel heat and pressure every single day. It doesn’t go away when the seasons change. But it CAN be relieved when we are willing to be a refuge, a safe place for those around us who need it.
But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of ref-uge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. Isaiah 25:4 (NLT)
Prayer for Counselors/Therapists: We are so privileged to have You, O Lord, as our Counselor. We ask a special blessing today on the counselors and therapists involved with DHS cases. May they instill hope and help move families and children toward healing. Amen.