Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

Kids these days are different.
Systems these days are broken.
Some always have been.
But they don’t always have to be.

When I was born I nursed at my mother’s breast.
One of my friends just had a baby, but they are not together because she is in jail.

When I was one I saw both parents in my home every day.
My friend has a one year old who she sees for an hour every other week when her daughter is brought to the jail for a visit.

When I was two I tried to run away (but couldn’t open the door), because my parents wanted me to be safe and wouldn’t let me play on the stairs.
One of my friend’s kids are out of county with her in-laws and she cannot reach them now because she’s in jail, and if nothing changes she cannot be with them when she gets out because she’s not supposed to leave the county on probation.

When I was three I moved to a new house with my family.
One of my friends signed her three year up for an Angel Tree Christmas present to be delivered, because she will be in jail for many more years and her daughter has been adopted into a new home and family.

When I was four life was great, I had dolls and toys and dates with my mom while my sister was at school.
One of my friends was not allowed to talk to her kids for several months until CPS changed their minds and now she can call home from jail and at least talk to them on the phone while she waits for her trial and for the courts to decide if she is guilty or innocent.

When I was five I went to kindergarten and loved my teacher.
One of my friends has a son in kindergarten who hides under the table, swears at his teacher and asks for his mom.

When I was six I had my first real birthday party and all my friends came over.
One of my friends has a six year old in the hospital because he tried to take his own life.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say. I am by no means saying that these six women are innocent. Nor do I think they would all make the best mothers (some sure would). But I do think this…our system is broken. We are not helping these kids by throwing their moms in jail and forgetting about them. Maybe, just maybe, there is another way, that we haven’t tried yet.

Like I said before.
Kids these days are different.
Systems these days are broken.
Some always have been.
But they don’t always have to be.
Will you take one step towards changing them?
Will you make a difference?

For starters lets talk about things Jesus didn’t say, “Take my yolk upon you.” Gross. That makes absolutely no sense. But today more than one girl I talked to thought that the Bible said just that.

yolk

Today I went to jail, as I always do on Thursdays. I usually print out and bring in a little daily meditation that comes to my email everyday. It starts with a verse, has a short devotion, and ends with a prayer. Today the verse was, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The most common response after reading the meditations each week is, “How did you know that was exactly what I needed to hear?” That’s what I expected again. In my mind this made sense. But to many of my friends it didn’t. We’d read it and pause. “Can you explain this to me?” they’d ask. “Well, do you know what a yoke is?” I said. “Like, an egg?” they asked. “Nope.” Jesus doesn’t want us to egg people’s houses, He wants us to follow Him and let Him share our load. I guess with all the modern technology kids these days only know about tractors and not farming with cows.

yoke-of-oxen

Shelby, I don’t want to die in here.
I can’t get those words out of my head.
Shelby, I don’t want to die in here.heart

A woman came into my office today, lets call her Sue for this story.
When she walked in her eyes were puffy. It was clear she was upset about something, but I had no idea what. I had only met her once before so I tried to remember what she had shared in the past. *think brain think* I couldn’t. I met multiple women the day I met her, and their stories were colliding in my mind.

So I did the next best thing, I guessed about her kids. I thought maybe she had told be about her sons, so I asked her, “you have boys on the outside, right?” Wrong. She has one boy, and he’s not on the outside. The tears started falling as she told me the name of the prison her son was in. Then the one her daughter was in. And a third that her grandson was in. *no wonder she is struggling* I thought to myself. That is a lot of weight for anyone to carry.

But I was wrong again. While that did bring her down, she went on to tell me that she found out this week that her husband passed away. She relied on him. He didn’t use drugs. He loved her. She looked me in the eye and said, “He loved me when I couldn’t even love myself…I came from an alcoholic family, and I didn’t know how to love”. Now she doesn’t even know if she will make it to his funeral.

“I really wish I was allowed to hug you,” I told her. “I know” she said, “I can feel it. Thank you”.

We talked about feeling and how it felt bad, but it was good that she could feel it. We were both thankful she didn’t have access to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, even though it would seem like the ‘easiest’ solution if it was available. And she said, “maybe that is why I came in here, because God knew I couldn’t have dealt with it on my own”. I respected her so much for looking for the positive in such a negative situation.  She told me how it was hard to sleep, and that sometimes her breaking heart hurt so badly that she thought she might be having a heart attack. That is when she told me, “Shelby, I don’t want to die in here”.  And she meant it. She is scared. She doesn’t believe she is having a heart attack, but death is something she has experienced far more than many of us. She knows it’s not something waiting for us at the end of our lives when we’ve had enough, she knows death comes at times you wouldn’t expect. And she’s scared that she’s next.

Friends, please get help when you need it. Know that you are loved. You were created in the image of God, and He loves you. Even if your family never did. And it’s ok to have problems, addictions, relatives in jail, a record, naughty kids, debt, a bad day. Those things don’t have to be hidden. Don’t turn to a bottle to soften the blow, there are people who are willing to listen, and a God who redeems. Trust me, I get a front row seat on both sides of these stories, and one side is better than the other. I guarantee it.

toddler-car-seatAny moms out there know how stressful it is to have a little one. Now picture this…three little ones.

A one year old,
a two year old,
and a four year old.

Hmm…that’s stressful. Now picture this, you’re in a new town, because where you used to live was an unsafe area and you didn’t want to raise your three precious little ones there. You don’t have anywhere to stay, and you have to be out of your hotel room by 11am. Also, you and the kids Daddy don’t have jobs yet…still stressful.

I think to a lot of us this sounds like a bad dream, but to the family of five that I met today, it’s reality. I love having a job where I can be the one to get a phone call saying, we have these kids here, and we know you have a carseat, wanna come help out? And to have the freedom to drop what I’m doing and lug some kids and their sweet parents to a hotel that Hearts for Homeless was able to get for them for the week while they try to figure out life. I’m blessed to have a friend who thought to make dinner for them and bring it to the hotel, so they could have a hot meal tonight. And to live with a family who have extra kid things and toys that we could share with this family.

When I picked up one of the sweet littles this morning and looked into her eyes, my heart broke. It kills me to think, that they, at such young ages, have known homelessness. I hate that this is the reality for so many. But it also breaks my heart to know that it isn’t just them. It breaks my heart that for some reason we can all agree that no matter what it isn’t ok for these sweet littles to be living on the streets, but we can’t always agree about that for bigs. It breaks my heart that I look into the eyes of adults who know the fear of wondering if and where they will sleep at night. Homelessness hurts. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. It’s scary, and lonely, and hard. But I know that while I cannot stop homelessness, I can still do my part. I can hug these sweet littles. I can encourage their Mama. I can chat with my friends at the shelter who, though they aren’t as small, are just as valuable. And I can share what it means to have hope. Not just hope to find a place to call their own…though that is wonderful. The hope of Jesus Christ. The God who knows what it is to be a child without a home…remember, he was born out with the animals? God cares and He loves us. He also has a plan even when things don’t seem to make sense. On days like today, I need that reminder too. Feel free to pray for this family, and the many others who are stuck in really tricky situations.