Thursday, December 14, 2017

And The Soul Felt It's Worth

When your early years of life are filled with horrors and atrocities, too awful for sharing, your sense of self is extremely skewed. You may believe that you have somehow deserved the abuse...the neglect...the beatings and stomping...the utter starvation of soul and body. Even though this is inherently NOT true, it takes so much time and intentionality to help a child relearn their true value. It takes time for them to believe us when we tell and show them that they are of incomparable worth. That their value is far above rubies. Love has such a foreign cadence that feels awkward and easier to avoid.

When Christmas rolls around, we think of the beauty of all that Jesus did to come to us...abide with us. We try to live that way at HoP. We try to just abide in the places of suffering and bring triage to the soul and relief to the spirit of our girls. We do all that we can to establish new memories of happiness and worth. We struggle to swing that nasty pendulum of harsh words and even more harsh hands, to the other side where tenderness is felt and life is spoken.

We have parties galore and there are more cookies and treats than it would be humanly possible to consume. We decorate and shop. We use oils and candles that trigger new brain responses to new memories. We play Christmas carols for MUCH longer than the staff would, if they had their druthers! We do crafts and look at toy catalogs.

As we all sat together at our Christmas party this past Sunday evening, I looked around the room at our board and staff, and their spouses. I was overcome with utter gratitude for the willingness of these mamas and warriors to believe that there IS better for our sweet girls. This group of men and women fight in their own God-assigned way, to see that HoP moves forward and that more children are rescued. Over the past eighteen months, 14 of our 19 girls are slated for a PERMANENT exit from foster care. This is remarkable and we are grateful to be a small part of the Lord's plan for redemption.

Surrounded by coffee, warriors and desserts, and in the glow of low restaurant lighting, Quela began to sing, in a way that only she can. She sang: "O holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till HE appeared and the soul felt it's worth...". She continued on with the timeless lyrics, and everyone was captivated! One staff member held one of our girls on their lap. Another wrangled our seven year old from an attempted escape to the vestibule. Our fourteen year old was mezmerized by Miss Quela's voice. The room was peaceful and holy.

I was a certain kind of mess, though. I was not able to focus, or be in the moment. I couldn't move on. I was completely undone. "YESSSS"! I thought to myself! It hit me as never before! "That is exactly IT! We work at HoP every day for exactly THAT!!"



AND THE SOUL FELT IT'S WORTH

May we always help the soul's of these sweet, battered children truly feel their worth! 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Perspective

As we drove down sidestreets, we wove in and out to avoid debris and poorly parked clunkers. I am great at small talk, and I engaged this girl relentlessly. She has been at House of Providence for almost a year, and knows me well enough to know that resisting my chit-chatting is pointless.

She has known rejection so deep, that I don't have words to properly sort it for you. She has exhibited a courage so great, that she, quite  literally, left it all on the court (or in the courtroom, as the case may be). This six month long excercise in bravery, that her life circumstances had forced her into, had left her so depleted, that she hardly had a will to live. We watched her constantly to ensure that she was safe from her own hand. Giving up is not an option at House of Providence, even if we have to carry them for a period of time.

I tend to be a little "Pollyanna" and I am  aware that it can be obnoxious. I am constantly  searching for even the tiniest sign of sunshine in the darkest storms. Some days hope is all we have.  Normally, I'm pretty good at dragging our sweet girls into my hope filled, sappy ways.  This particular day as we "shot the breeze", the weather was just becoming tepid. All of Detroit was emerging from the slumber of winter and spring was teasing us with beautiful days at least once a week.  As we drove, I put the windows down and let the fresh breeze blow through her hair that stretched all the way down her back.  She also has these sweet, short, curly little wispy hairs that frame her face, and rest on her head like a crown.

As we drove and enjoyed the wind on our faces, I could smell smoke from people burning leaf piles in their yards.  Nostalgically, I commented on the smell that was  impossible to miss. "Oh, that smell reminds me of campfires and Smore's!"

 She looked at me wide-eyed, speaking to me before her voice even gave sound.  Sadly, she recalled:  "it reminds me of when we lived in an abandoned house that burned down."

I was slapped out of Pollyanna-land, and into the painful reality that so many of our girls live in. Our frame of reference and perspective shape everything. Our senses don't forget.  I am constantly  reminding myself  that behavior always performs a function; that there is a reason our girls act and react in the way that they do.  I try to  remember this so that grace can flow more easily from my reactions. Sometimes keeping up with their "whys" can be exhausting and sometimes it can be downright confusing. But, I have come to realize, that the way I react and my frame of reference for life is  just as confusing for them.  If I can step out of my ego-centric view of the world long enough, I might just be able to see it "their way" and react with empathy and understanding.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Fifty

The sun shining down brightly, sharply juxtaposed the darkness of the garbage bags that contained what was left of her world. She lethargically exited the state vehicle and walked toward our door. Her tear-stained face was mustering every ounce of bravery that she had left in her small frame. We are all too familiar with this hollow look and sullen gate. When little girls need us, it means that terrible things have happened to them-things that are largely unspeakable. When the authorities ask for our help, it means that they have nowhere else to turn for shelter or help for this child. We gladly, but soberly, say "yes"!

Often, potency is lost over time in repetition of activity. This was the fiftieth time that we had welcomed a girl into the House of Providence, and somehow the potency of her immense grief and chasms of loss were still just as intense for everyone. The palpable pain was just as intense as on that cold day in February of 2014 when we welcomed our very first girl.

Fifty harrowing stories, later. Fifty foster kids. Fifty broken families. Fifty children shattered. Fifty hearts unnecessarily busted.

As each new girl walks through our doors, we decide to be brave enough to hope! We go to great lengths to prepare their favorite meal, a welcome bag that is tailored just for them (including use of their favorite colors, a NEW iPod with positive music in their requested genre, NEW pajama's, robe and slippers, several NEW outfits, NEW shoes, NEW purse, NEW accessories, well organized and personalized NEW hygiene items, and so much more!) and what's more, we provide a comforting, safe, soft place to land in what may very well be their darkest day.

Fifty reasons to show up! Fifty treasures with spice and grit. Fifty personalities and boundless gifts. Fifty smiles and one hundred ears for us to fill with words of life - words that help to replace the lies of disdain that have been spoken over them for years. Fifty girls who we tenderly tuck in, night after night.

Fifty! A milestone that is nothing short of a privilege and an honor that requires "the audacity to hope" (Rob Morris, Love146)! Celebrate with us as we embark on this new chapter of expansion! Join us at our Wishes Gala and partner with us as we reach the next fifty girls. We cannot wait to open our doors to the disabled foster youth, and the young men and boys who desperately need our services, as well!

Cedar Point May 2017 #NewMemories

Friday, January 6, 2017

What If?

I walk into the office on a cold January morning. I am not even out of my sleeping bag of a coat. A messy tantrum is in full swing. This was not new. This was not rare. She could go from zero to sixty in 2.2 seconds, without even breaking a sweat. Her gear shifting abilities were akin to a high performance sports car. The revving of her engine was obvious and unstoppable. Her feral attributes were devastating to watch. These special "skills" were highly developed and she is not able to surrender them. She has learned that her survival is dependent on them. The anecdotal snippets that she shares about her little decade on this planet are altogether alarming. Some of her experiences seemed so sensationalized that it went beyond unnatural and ventured into the impossible. Horrifyingly, they were not only possible and true, they were her reality. 

There is something so unnatural about a mother rejecting the fruit of her own womb with such aggression, that her child is acutely aware of it. There is something so life-altering about a mother choosing an inanimate intimacy with heroin over a love that should be shared with her child.  There is something so debilitating about being denied life's necessities so that those monies can fuel the mind-numbing habits of a mother who is decaying right before you. A mother's protection should be unstoppable. When it is quite "stoppable", something irreparable is done in the heart of her child.

I can't help but wonder what these unhinged attributes could have been without the trauma, abuse and neglect. The chaos had formed her. What if love had built her? I wonder what her agility and quickness could have been. Could she be the unstoppable soccer player loved by her teammates and celebrated by her coaches? Could her acumen for manipulation, instead, have been a brilliance nurtured that allowed her to become the valedictorian. Would she have received a full-ride scholarship to the University of her dreams? Could her aggression, instead, have been a strength that propelled her into a future with confidence and boldness fearing no one? How about her amazing and complex grasp on the english language (especially the most vulgar words and assaulting phrases that she could sling together on a moments notice)? Could she have been a renowned orator with a litany of TED Talks, or an author? So many possibilities hijacked by the daily terrors of abuse and neglect. 





Hope flickers dimly in her eyes. I fear that the light may go out completely. Her fragility is obvious and needs no introduction. Her anger bullies her. We will bring felt-safety, consistency, love and boundaries to the table every day. I long for the day that she "lets go" and begins to feast!




Foster Care  

She is quick
She ran into my heart
I am unable to extricate her


**Pictured above: a rare glimpse of her happiness and compliance while decorating for Christmas.