Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Moment of Tragedy

I am not usually one to hop on the bandwagon of pointing fingers when it comes to the guilt/innocence of someone who has been accused of a crime. Publicly, that is. 

The case of Justin Ross Harris, however, is inciting me to say something. Over the past few days, I have seen posts about this go from, "What a terrible accident," to now, "Crucify the SOB."

I don't know anything about Mr. Harris. I don't know what is in his heart. I do know, though, that every year, children accidentally get left in cars with tragic consequences. These consequences devastate families and change peoples' lives forever. I can guarantee you that probably 99.9% of the people who make this mistake grieve for the rest of their lives at that one moment of lapse in their memory. I'm sure they live in the world of what-ifs and if-onlys. 

Are there people out there who intentionally hurt their children? Yes. I live in the world of foster care and children who are abused and broken by those who are supposed to care for them. The majority of these incidents, however, are not preplanned and carried out methodically. They are emotional events. Bursts of anger, moments of frustration, the inability to deal with everyday stressors and the lack of alternative coping skills. No, these things are not right nor defendable. But please ponder the jump in culpability that is being made here. IF this man is guilty of leaving his child in this car on purpose, that is a level of evil that we don't even normally see in a world where we see evil things done to children all the time. 

I ask that you remember that in the US, we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Please quit crucifying a man who has already had his life altered irreparably by his own mistake. Instead, start praying for him and his family as they deal with this loss. And pray that he gets a fair trial, which could now be impossible since the media has already started spinning the story with a guilty verdict.

This blog post that I found has some great insight on why we need to just step back and stop throwing stones.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Saying Goodbye

I've already gotten his clothes out, ready to pack. His books have been packed for a few days. All I have left are his toys and a few odds and ends scattered around the house to gather and stuff in a box. Instead of doing this, though, I am sitting in my chair in the den waiting on the edge of my seat for enough time to pass so I can go get him out of his crib without waking him up from his nap. I need to hold him one last time. I need to smell him, rub his soft skin, kiss his forehead... I need to soak up what I can because in an hour or two, all I will have left are the memories from the last 11 months. I will never again hold him as if he were my own.

My heart lies in shards around me. Although I knew this day was coming, all I can feel is devastation. All I know is the deep ache inside of me that longs for my baby. The panic alarm inside of me is growing louder by the second. 

But even as the storm rages inside of me, I know that there is a still, small voice whispering, "Come to me, all you who are heavy laden... I will give you rest." I cling to that voice, that promise, that hope. There is no other alternative, for I cannot bear this on my own. 

Abba Father,
As my world falls apart, remind me of my calling.
As I call out in my despair, remind me of the hope that I have in You. 
As I stand among the broken pieces of what once was, remind me of the broken nature of this ministry. 
As I grieve for a child who will no longer call me 'Mama,' remind me of the terror that birth parents feel as their child is taken away. 
As I pick myself back up to continue walking down this road you have set before me, remind me that You are the healer of all broken things. 
As I cry in desperation, remind me that You know my heart and soul to a depth that I will never understand and You love me still. 
As I wake up tomorrow to a new wave of grief, remind me that You are the source of my strength. 
Lord God, remind me of Your power, Your love, Your sacrifice. Remind me of Your grace. For without it... Without YOU... I am nothing. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Guatemala: Part 1

Last Sunday morning we had a beautiful time of worship with out sister church in Guatemala City, New Jerusalen. A few minutes into the service, a Guatemalan woman came and sat in the empty chair to my left. It was Flor. 

Flor's story is not one that is unique, but it is heartbreaking. Last year, on my trip down to Guate in July, I sat in her house and held a sweet little baby girl who was almost the same age as Eyelashes. At that time, she was only two months old. This little baby was Flor's granddaughter. To be honest, this baby had not arrived under pleasant circumstances. She had been created under the most vile of circumstances. But she was there, she was theirs, and she was loved. 

It was providential that I met this family last summer. I have prayed for them daily by name. I have tried to follow them as much as possible through my contacts at the church. I even found out that the week after we had visited their house, they came to church and dedicated the baby. I knew things were hard for them, but they were making it. They had joined a faith family who had taken them in and offered support, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on.

And then the unthinkable happened. This precious baby girl passed away in May after an illness. She was 11 months and 9 days old. This family buried their baby on the Saturday before Mother's Day. 

Devastation. Guilt. Grief. An opportunity for bitterness to take root and flourish. 

Sitting next to Flor on Sunday and praying for her while she cried made me realize how incredibly broken this world is. Obviously, I have realized that before... But this was on a whole new scale. Not only is this world broken, but I cannot fix it. 

A few days after that church service, I sat in Flor's house, listening to her grieve the loss of her grandchild. By God's grace, one of my teammates had just happened to join our group and was able to speak words of comfort and encouragement to this grieving family. He spoke words of hope that could only be uttered through his own grief, his own pain. After a time of prayer, I had to hug these precious ladies, walk across the dirt floor of their small home, and walk away. And walking away is so very hard. 


One of the hardest parts of this mission trip for me is letting go and not being able to fix broken things. I'm a fixer by nature. It's what I do. If I see something that is broken, all I can concentrate on is finding a solution, calling the right people, providing the necessities so that it can be resolved. I have dealt with the inability to fix things before in my foster care journey, but this is on a much a greater scale... A loss of a child, the threat of eviction, not enough food to feed the family, the threat of danger on so many sides, a dirt floor, no running water, a house that could possibly blow away in a storm... The list continues.

There are so many things in this life that I just don't understand. Why are children forced to sell their bodies to help a parent get drug money? Why are there children who literally have nothing to eat? Why is it that there are parents who cannot provide for their children, no matter how hard they try? Why are there babies who are not able to be treated for leukemia because their families can't afford the treatment and they were born in a country that doesn't have programs to help them? 

Unfortunately, this is life. For the majority of people reading this, this is not the life that we see on a daily basis, but it is life for billions of people around the world. These are battles that they fight every single day. Seeing these families is hard. Hearing their stories and being in relationship with them is even harder. But without the knowledge that there is another way of life... One that is not as comfortable or as convenient as our own.... We don't know the full story of what we're called to. We don't know our capabilities or who/what God may be calling us to fight for. In essence, we don't know who God has called is to be. 

If you have never seen the poverty and daily struggles that can make life a living hell for these families, I encourage you to get out there. Sign up for a mission trip. You need not even go far. There are communities around this city that need the light of the Gospel desperately. So go. See it. Experience it. For you will be forever changed. 

And if you have been, if you have seen it, experienced it... Then do something. Even if it's simply praying for the people that you met, do it. Never forget the faces. Never forget the stories. Keep them close to your heart. Bring them before the Father every single day. 

To N and L, you have no idea how much God used you on this trip. You were used by our creator to bring hope to a desperate family, but you also brought hope to me as I stand on the edge of inevitable loss. Thank you. I love you both and I am praying for your family's healing.