Friends, I'm in love. With a bunch of teenagers.

April 8, 2014

When I moved to Huntsville I was excited to begin a new chapter of my life.  I was ready to get reacquainted with a city that I grew up near and ready to carve out my own identity.  I spent time seeking out various volunteer opportunities, searching high and low, near and far for the right ones.  Nothing seemed to stick. 

After Richard died, at the height of my sadness, I was grasping at straws trying to find something to pour myself into, something to participate in that had nothing to do with me and my sadness.  A selfish route to charity, I suppose, but this is where I was in life.

One day I was sitting at my kitchen table mulling over a website of a ministry in Nashville that I adore.  I looked at their job opportunities out of curiosity and saw one that caught interest.  "Director of Adoptions."  Whoa.  What do I have to do to be that?  Among things like, you know, have a lot of job experience working with adoption, there was also the requirement of having a Masters of Social Work.  I can do that.  To my excitement, a MSW was one of the degrees that was offered online through my employer.  PERFECT, I thought.  I got started on my application, chomping at the bit to get everything in.  I chomped at the bit so hard that I realized after I applied that I had missed the deadline by a month and the program was already full.  I'd have to wait another year to apply again.

Fine.  I took this as God's calming hand, instructing me to pump the brakes and really pray about whether or not this was something I should do.  I decided to spend the year seeking out social service organizations to volunteer with to make sure it was something I really wanted to do.

Enter Harris Home for Children. 

It went something like this: I googled "foster homes in Huntsville;" Harris Home for Children came up; I checked out their website; I liked their Facebook page; literally 3 minutes later my friend Kristin (that knows my heart and what makes me tick) sent me a text, "Hey girl, I saw you liked Harris Home on FB.  I was in leadership class with the executive director.  Want me to introduce you guys via e-mail?"; I kissed Kristin on the face (not really, but had she been in the same room as me it would have happened); she e-mailed Tony (Executive Director) and introduced us virtually; Tony e-mailed back and we set up a time for me to come in and tour; I met him, asked him how I could help out; he told me I could be as involved as little or as much as I wanted and that there were board member opportunities available.  A little time and lots of paperwork later and here we are.

I have the opportunity to serve an organization that houses up to 32 foster kids at once.  A group home in the middle of my city, covering the heads of children ages 12-20, that strives to provide a stable, healthy environment for them. 

And friends, I'm in love.  I am in love with these beautiful kids that were created in the image of God.  These kids that are in a less than ideal situation due to no fault of their own.  I wish I could give them everything I own, all of my money and resources.  Unfortunately those are not the things they really want (which is good since I'm not made of money).  They don't want things.  They want their families.  They want the same things we all want.  To be loved.

Sadly I cannot give them their families, but I can love them.  And oh do I try to love them all.  I step on campus with as full of a heart as I can muster, hoping that a simple hug will go a long way for them.  Hoping that an intentional ear to hear what they have to say will make them feel special.  I pray for them, cry for them, rejoice for them and just freaking love them. 

Looking back to my first few months in this city, struggling to find the right place to pour myself into seems so long ago.  I was trying so hard to find my perfect fit, focusing more on myself than those that needed to be served.  After all that it just took a little research and a lot of prayer for the perfect fit to be placed in my lap. 

Also, a great piece of irony to add to this story would be that after a year of hoping to get into an MSW program I ended up getting wait listed.  The most shocking part is that I was not all that upset about it.  Disappointed? Yes.  Still praying to be accepted so I can begin pursuing that degree? Yes.  Crying and wallowing on my sofa?  No.  Why?

Because if I had never been too late applying in the first place, I would not have taken time to seek out Harris Home and I would not be as in love as I am today.  God's plan is always better than my plan.  Interested to see where He throws me next.