It was just a Christmas Party.
Childhelp holds a Christmas Party every year. We went because we needed to. We went because it would be a time for big boy to see his daddy. We went because we truly wanted opportunity to get to know the Childhelp staff more and meet other foster parents.
However, a few hours before the party started, our tenant called Jeff to report a frozen pipe. After coming home from work, Jeff went immediately to the house to make the repair. It seemed to take a long time. Meanwhile, big boy and I were ready to go. Big boy was excited to play with the other kids. “We’re gonna have fun!”
Time was ticking away. Just as I was about to check on Jeff, he returned from the repair, totally dirty and tired from his long day at work. Debating with himself back and forth, he opted to still go to the party with us and rushed through his shower.
We were 40 minutes late.
As we neared the school (the party site) a red mini van was driving sporadically in front of us. Braking, speeding up, slightly swerving… It was clear they were looking for something. Jeff said, “I bet they are going to the same place as us.”
Jeff was right. They were peering through the dark to see the dimly lit school sign.
Shortly after dropping me and big boy at the front door, a few others entered the building looking for the party. Looking back, I assume they were the passengers in the red minivan. I hardly noticed them apart from my brief smile. Soon Jeff appeared from the parking lot and the school’s staff member escorted the strangers and us to the party.
“Shew!” We finally arrived at the party, signed in and I could relax.
Childhelp created a fun night for the children. They had a beauty parlor, craft site, and canine dog ready for the kids to enjoy. We went to visit the canine dog, make a craft, and then it was off to dinner.
We started to get in line for dinner but it was NOT working. Big boy had a lot of energy (plus new surroundings) and we weren’t able to reign it in. We literally left the food line in the midst of big boy proclaiming loudly he was not hungry. We just decided to give it a break and return at a better time.
I felt bad. I knew Jeff was hungry, but we agreed with one nod to each other that we needed to let big boy do something else for a bit.
After big boy played for a few minutes, Jeff and I brought our heads together in a football huddle.
I was to conquer getting food on a plate for big boy. Within five minutes, Jeff would enter with big boy and immediately sit him in front of his plate. Then, Jeff would serve up his own plate.
The plan was working! Big boy finally sat next to me, eating his food. Shortly after my sigh of relief, two ladies sat across from us.
Turning my focus away from big boy and myself, I saw the ladies who came in late with us that night – assumedly from the red minivan. It took me a minute to see that this was a foster mother and a teenage foster daughter.
They greeted us, “We walked in with you tonight.” We welcomed them to please come sit with us on the cafeteria style tables.
Big boy is very charming and within minutes, TFD (Teenage Foster Daughter) was asking how old he is. She then asked us how long he had been with us.
She seemed rather open to conversation, so I began to ask questions as well.
And this is when the miraculous interrupted the mundane.
As if on cue, her foster mother went to get something to drink as I nonchalantly asked how old she was and how long she had been with her foster mother. Her reply: 14 years old and I have lived with her for 2 weeks and she is already asking me to leave.
I thought we were just shooting the breeze, but her answer caused my eyes to narrow in and genuinely look at her for the first time that night.
She was a pretty girl with brunette hair and blue eyes. She looked slightly artsy, but not quirky. She had pale white skin and a small frame. Then it hit me…. She looked like she was hurting. I saw farther than her perfectly straight hair, her carefully laid makeup. There was timidity and hurt in her eyes.
I didn’t know what to say. As usual, in important moments, my mouth ran dry.
She proceeded to tell me she has been in several foster homes and now her current foster mom is asking her to leave.
I asked her how this all feels to her (as I mentally kicked myself for such a stupid question). Her answer was given through hurting eyes, “Not so good.”
She then told me that if she doesn’t find a new foster home within a short amount of time, she is going to have to RETURN to a group home….
As she relayed the word “group home”, I could see a twinge of desperation in her eyes. It was clear she completely abhorred the thought of returning there.
The entire time she spoke, the presence of God was overtaking me.
I began to wonder if this was a divine appointment to minister Jesus to her. I started out asking if she had gone to church with any of her previous families. She affirmed that she had and that church was “cool”.
Then it hit me out of the blue: This was not a witnessing moment. I was not to merely explain who Jesus is and how He brings healing.
No – THIS WAS A MIRACLE MOMENT.
God orchestrated our running late, mundane evening so that I would be sitting across from HER in the cafeteria at that very moment. Her blue eyes would look into my blue eyes. She would speak briefly of her past.
And my soul just knew it. We were supposed to DO something. Not SAY something, but DO something.
I was saying in my heart, “No, no, no God. I am not a teenager person. I have no clue with teenagers. I have nothing to offer. I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
And yet, my heart was instantly glued to hers. I knew, though I wouldn’t readily admit it, that God set us up that night for another placement in our home.
She was supposed to live with us.
She was Jesus sitting before me. As it says in Matthew 25:
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
…I was a stranger and you invited me in.
Before you think I am hooting my own horn… That is not it at all. I am not trying to make some type of demonstration to make us look righteous and wonderful. Not at all. That is truly the last thing I would ever think of myself.
It is just the facts. She sat in front of me and I saw Jesus. And I recognized how intricately my mundane night had been planned by God to become miraculous.
I talked to the placement manager at the party to feel out the girl’s situation. The placement manager assured me this girl has not been given a fair chance as of yet and seems to be a sweetheart apart from normal teenager moments.
The party was on Friday. Jeff and I talked about her that night briefly, but decided to put it on the table for another day so we could have time to think and pray.
Saturday, my mind was filled to the brim.
These were my thoughts:
Am I CRAZY?
Stop thinking about this!
But she is going to a group home! How terrible.
She looks so hurt. She needs love.
Am I CRAZY?
Stop thinking about this!
I have NO experience with teenagers…I don’t even know where to start.
I will be dealing with issues in life I am not prepared for.
But as I washed the dishes, vacuumed my floor, dusted, and so on and so forth…there was only one thought eating through every brain cell that day. That precious girl.
Jeff entered the kitchen I was cleaning and saw my mind was consumed. He asked, “What are you thinking about?” And I looked at Jeff and said, “Hon, I can’t stop thinking about her.”
We stopped what we were doing and went to the living room. We discussed it for several minutes. Jeff was never against it, but we needed that moment to air all our questions and concerns and the broad extent of what this would mean to us. Just when we were comfortable caring for little ones, God was already stretching us.
Then we stopped talking to each other and turned to God in prayer. As Jeff began to pray, I began to cry. I don’t remember everything Jeff prayed, but our eyes were both filled with tears that afternoon. We spent a solid amount of time praying together.
When Jeff finished praying, we both opened our tear-filled eyes and Jeff said, “We’ll see what happens, but I have a feeling she is coming here.” I said, “I do too.”
To some extent this will be a sacrifice – at least initially. We realize that we are not dealing with toddler issues. Instead, we are going to be dealing with freedom struggles, modesty, school work, attitudes, and hormones. And that feels overwhelming. And that is just normal parenting. Often, the losses these precious teens faced as children can cause regular teenage moments to magnify.
And yet – when I think about everything God has lined up for our lives thus far, it has always been GOOD. He has never given us a gift that was anything but good… He is the giver of good things…
Also, it dawned on me that out of all the people available to foster this precious girl, somehow God hand selected Jeff and I. That must mean that we DO have something to offer this girl. It must mean that He knows what she needs.
We were doing just fine in the little kid world. But somehow, God saw this precious girl, rested His hand of protection on her and brought her to us.
For her sake, we want her to have a fair chance. We want her to truly know the love of Christ for herself. We want to see her life’s miracle happen. And we want to be the ones to minister to her, thought we feel UTTERLY and TOTALLY incapable.
The amazing thing to ponder: Someday we will feel we have always known her and life wouldn’t have been the same without her.