That old Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Our House" has been running through my mind today. As you can tell from my last post I have been in a bit of a reflective mood lately. I guess those rapidly approaching birthdays do that to you...
My mother used to tell me to be careful what I prayed for cause I just might get it. I guess, God was listening to me because over the past twenty years our house has been full of children. As alluded to in past posts God answered my prayer for a baby within the hour and I hadn't even been saved for a full year. No, it's true!
I was making up a half day of drill (for you non-military types...that's our weekend duty) and attended church services one Sunday morning. As I was heading to the reserve center about twenty minutes away I began to pray. It is my custom to pray while driving as it affords the solitude I sometimes lack. It was a simple prayer..."Lord, if we are meant to have more children, make it easy...I am almost too old to wait much longer and Jimmy so deserves more children, he is such a good father." It was that simple, that quick.
Seven and a half months later we were rushing to the hospital to meet our new baby, Jake. God showed me right then and there just how real He was and I am reminded of that reality every time I look into those big blue eyes, every time I read a letter, a text, or an e-mail.
Now, when I prayed that prayer I had visions of several babies a couple years apart until I was too old by state standards to adopt anymore. God had other plans... It never ceases to amaze me how He knows me and my situation better than I know myself. I am truly thankful because if left to my own devices...well, you need only to read my testimony a few posts back to know what my life was like when I was trying to run it myself.
I don't think Jake was even walking when we received a call about a teenage girl who had run away... but when social services was called her parents would not let her come back home. I will not share her story with you as it is quite lengthy and even more horrendous. Suffice it to say that God led her to us. We asked for a bit of time to pray and one night in the wee hours of the morning Jimmy woke me up and told me to call them and the next day we brought home our first teenager.
We simply said, "yes, Lord...if that is what you want us to do then we will." It has been an adventure every since. Her addition to our family opened the flood gates and year after year God added to our household. Sometimes finances got a little tight because we received no assistance from state sponsored programs and I was a stay at home mom till Jake started school. But we always had enough and we knew that God not only brought these children into our lives but He would provide for them as well.
Some were success stories, some needed more than what we could give them and moved on, still searching for whatever it was they lacked. Some we still see, others we haven't seen in years but we continue to pray for them and know that for a brief period of time they came into contact with the unconditional love that only God can give.
I think our house was kind of a healing station for these kids. Some were strangers, others we knew from the community; some were from poor or modest backgrounds, others from more prominent families. All have heart breaking stories of how the adults in their lives decided at some point that they were more important than the children in their lives.
Latch-key kids or at risk children are simple terms that can never describe the emotions attached to these people. For all they were or appeared to be, first and foremost they were people...forgotten, pushed aside, too much trouble for the adults in their lives to take the time necessary to help them become successful, productive adults.
Our first goal was to teach them about forgiveness. They had to forgive the adults in their past for whatever abuse or neglect they experienced. After all, forgiveness is not what you do for someone else, it is what you do for yourself...so that you can move on, so that you can heal and not harbor all that hurt that turns to resentment and hate...that hurt that keeps you from loving fully.
Matthew 6:14 "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
Matthew 5:43-44, 46 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you....(46) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"
Next we had to show them that it is OK to make mistakes, OK not to be perfect, and it was OK to just be themselves. We had some rules of the house but we also wanted them to figure out what it was that they wanted to do with their lives. Some had never even thought about the future and most were shocked we even cared. We were surprised at the reactions of being grounded instead of being kicked out. How sad is that? Thankful for being grounded!
Their time with us was so short, most just two or three years. It took us about a year to get to know each one of them. As they revealed their stories to us in their own time, we understood why they would react to situations as they did. It is amazing to us as each child experienced our belief in Christ, our belief in the fact that they were important to Christ and to us...and that all things are possible through Him...they began to stand a little taller, walk a little straighter, smile a little more.
Did you know that no matter how old they become deep down they are still the same little boys and girls who love their mommies and daddies and just want their parents to love them back with that same kind of love? We found that the only love that can make that any easier is the Love of Christ.
I share this part of our lives with you not to focus on what we did but what God did for these children who thought they were destined to a mediocre life....a life of failure...these kids who thought they were unworthy of love let alone any attention. These people who found true love begins in the outstretched arms of the one who died because He loved us.
Each one brought a different dimension to our lives but the experience taught us ALL about love, forgiveness and the grace and mercy of a loving and giving God. Taught us ALL that though we are unworthy His love is for all and covers all....