We love our kids. As I reflect over the group, I smile to think of each of their stories, and the cool things each of them contribute to our "family." Some have been coming for years, some just recently, and some only once in a while. Some come from strong families, some from families I just wish I could shake some sense into. Some are musically talented, some are tech whizzes. Some will keep you laughing forever. Some have a style sense straight from Milan. Some are just quiet observers. Some are confident; some just need to be loved and told "I believe in you!" God has entrusted us with each of their lives, and I am thankful for that blessing.
And last night was just the culmination of a day full my other "kids."
I got to spend 2 hours with 2 of the girls I mentor, talking about what God is teaching us as we sipped smoothies and then went grocery shopping for the dinner. (As sophomores, they made me promise that I would still cook them a dinner in 2 years!) One of them is reading through the whole Bible in 2010. The other one I just barely met this time last year; when she was going through an earlier rough patch, she found solace and inspiration in the book of Isaiah (?!?!) (first time reading the Bible!). Her current goal is to "love the unlovely" at school. I am so proud of them.
And before that I got to spend 8 hours with 150+ of my students (a lot of absences yesterday!). While sometimes they definitely test my patience, I really have a great group of kids. And yet my heart goes out to all their hardships...Abuse and neglect at home. Teasing by their peers. Learning difficulties. Poverty. A lot of them were friends of the student who passed away last weekend from diabetes complications. Several of them live in foster care or with distant relatives because their parents are incapable of taking care of them. Two new students just uprooted their lives and moved here and must make a new group of friends. One girl lost her mom to cancer 9 months ago. One girl must tell her parents that she's pregnant. One boy is trying to succeed after coming out of jail, but he's surrounded by all the wrong influences. One boy is preoccupied by a custody battle for his 9 month old son. Their heart-rending stories go on and on, and I'm sure I only know a tiny fraction of them. I wish I could do more for them.
For the first few years of our marriage, Jim and I used to celebrate that we could send "our kids" home at night. No midnight feedings or poopy diapers. No broken curfews or arguments over inappropriate dress. We could love on "our kids" as much as possible during the day, but then recuperate and regroup at night. It was a great arrangement.
Then the past couple years, all that has flipped. We're ready to make the sacrifices to be able to invest in a little life 24-7.
But nature has said no. And it has been so sad and discouraging.
I know if I had my own little kid, I'd be spending a lot less time and effort on these other kids. And maybe God knows some of these other kids need me a little more right now.