I’ve just gotta share this….God is just incredibly good….even in the bad, He’s so incredibly good…
About 5 years ago, our little family packed up our house and moved to the next city just north of us, to be houseparents at the Children’s home there. In all the meetings and interviews ahead of time, we just couldn’t have been more pleased to be doing this. We had several meetings prior to accepting the job, and we prayed long and hard about making such a DRASTIC move. Everything pointed to a bright green flag.
We move in and instantly fell in love with “our” girls. We had our 2 boys, and then 8 new girls that quickly became “ours”. I loved being there. I loved waking up at 5 in the morning to cook breakfast for my new large family, playing hide-n-seek in the house and on the grounds, devotions at night, and lots and lots of hair and nails to be done up. We would take them to their doctor’s appt, send them off with hugs and kisses every morning to school, and talk long into the night about their lives and where they see themselves in the future. There were lots of tears of lost families, but lots of laughter and love to help heal those wounds. Or at least patch them. They were OUR girls. They were my daughters and I loved them so much.
We soon discovered after our first month there, that not everything was bright and rosey at the Children’s home, though. All those promises made in all the meetings and even our original interview was not at all right or true. They claimed to have wanted “parents”, however, what they were looking for was more along the lines of warden. And I wish I was exaggerating.
We started to get into “trouble” for things like doing our devotions outside. Letting the girls play on the playground after schoolwork was done. Taking them camping even when we had permission to do it before we went. Even to the point of the church we took them to. I wasn’t inforcing the chores being done before school because it would require them to get up at 5 in the morning with ME, to make sure they would get done, and I found that cruel. I found it easier to let them sleep longer, and I would do some of the chores while they were all at school. And the rest of the chores would be done after school. As long as the chores are DONE, who cares when they are done? And why do them twice a day?? And I was helping the youngest (only 8 at the time) with her laundry. Shame on me. I KNOW she knows how to do her laundry, I didn’t think it was necessary to force her to do it all herself all the time. Come on…she was a CHILD. Oh and I didn’t follow the menu right. I switched around one of the dinners because one of the girls wanted something different on her birthday. Good gravy….
Anyway, where the girls were growing and THRIVING, Mike and I were continually being persecuted by the administration. I even had one of the other staff come in and help me figure out what we were doing wrong, and she couldn’t figure it out either. She even made me the sweetest list of all the GOOD things we were doing. I still have that list. At the top of the list was “3 girls saved. The entire children’s home as a whole may not have 3 in an entire year, and you’ve had 3 in 2 months time.)
Our time did not last long there. We had to leave and my heart BROKE. It was like leaving behind 8 of my own children. I left each one a letter and a little gift, and I will admit, I sunk into a deep depression for quite a few months. I was angry at God for telling us to move there, allowing us to LOVE them, and then sent us away! It was a horrible time for me. I wanted my girls back.
Fast forward, to yesterday afternoon, and I received a phone call from one of my girls out of the BLUE! She turned 18 and moved out the very same day and started her search for me. That right there brought tears to my eyes, helped to heal that wounded place.
She told me something I will never forget: “Ms. Suggs, I lived there most of my life, and out of all those years there, you were one of the ONLY parents that made me feel like I belonged in a real family and I was really loved.” The tears just wouldn’t stop. We talked until we had to leave for Austin’s game, and I made sure to exchange numbers with her and promised to keep in touch.
2 years ago, I had a similar conversation with one of the other girls as well, but knowing that someone was looking for me to tell me thank you, confirmed that we weren’t there by mistake. Mike and I didn’t “miss it” like some had said when we left, we KNEW we were supposed to be there for something. We just didn’t know what. This young lady said it was to teach them that they are LOVED, and what a family should be. And THAT, they never had before.
I still cry over that time and those girls I lost. I probably may never understand what happened, but I have to trust that WE did the right thing. We did what God wanted us to do, and for some reason, it wasn’t a long trip as we had thought, but only a short one and whatever we were supposed to do was completed in that time. Just in writing this silly blog entry, it opened up a wound I don’t know will ever heal, but it was FOR a reason and a higher purpose, and in the end……God was glorified.
Would I do it again? In a second. I cannot limit what God wants me to do by past experiences. I have to be free to open my heart to people…..and trust God.
In my biggest dreams, I’d love to open my OWN children’s home. I want them to know what it is to be a CHILD and laugh and PLAY. No one to tell me “The ONLY 2 things they are allowed to do is chores and schoolwork.” (yes I’m serious) I would teach them what it is to have a relationship with parents, a family, and their Creator.
And what it’s like to trust God…..completely.