I’m Going to Camp!

Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America. One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse.

Fifteen years ago when we started attending our church, our eyes began to open to the foster care crisis in America.  Much of  this stemmed from families we have met that have taken in kids as their own and also our church’s involvement with Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp which purposes to give abused and neglected kids who are currently in foster care one week of their lives. A week with positive experiences in a Christian environment.

Until a few years ago, I believed that religion that is pure and faultless is to look after orphans in their distress, but my belief was nestled tightly in a box.  The box was the adoption box.  What I falsely believed in the depth of my heart was that if I was going to do it right… it had to be done a certain way. That if I was really going to believe what those words meant, it meant only one thing… that we had to adopt.

What I’ve learned since then is looking after the fatherless and the motherless can look a lot of different ways.  I never thought our family was called to adopt until a couple of years ago when Steve went to this camp.  For the first time, I questioned those thoughts and now my perspective has changed. While we still don’t feel called to adopt, what has changed is our willingness to do so and to become more involved in the solution regardless of the outcome.

Steve came back changed and therefore we changed. He has always been a great dad for our kids, but when Steve came home from camp, he came home zealous for other kids and also for finding ways to help dads be good dads.

Part of this change for our family has been a result of our relationship with one of Steve’s original campers.  As a mentor to this young man, Steve has been able to bring him around our home and in doing so, he has become family.  Not in the living with us kind of way, but in our love and affection for him. When he is with us, he is family.  And when he goes, our hearts bleed for him.  You see this boy, is just like my boys.  He loves adventure, he loves sports, he plays legos and loves to eat.  He is kind, he is loving and you would never know that every day he goes home, he wonders how long he will be there for. He wonders when he will get to live with his mom again and if he will see his dad again.  He wonders where he will go to middle school because the future is uncertain for him.

This year I am going to camp.

From July 7-11, I’m going to be a counselor to two little girls and my goal is to love them and let them have fun for one week. We will celebrate their birthdays no matter when their actual birthday is and we will celebrate any other milestones that come up during the week.

I am desperately hoping for laughter, joy and adventure. Mostly I’m praying they will leave believing they have value, hearing they are more precious than they realize and they have hope for their future.

Many of my good friends have gone before me to camp. They say I will never be the same. They say it is the hardest week of your life, but also the best week of your life.

Now that it’s one week away, my heart is filling with anticipation and fear.

Would you mind partnering with me?  Would you send me with YOUR prayers? Will you start now by praying for my girls {and the other campers too}.  Pray I will love them well. Pray I will be patient.  Pray I will have strength.  And pray I’m not a hot mess of tears all week long.  Lastly, pray for my boys and Steve who will be home. Pray for our boy at camp who graduates this year. This will be his last year at camp and I’m praying it will be his best. Pray the God of the impossible will do more than we can ask or imagine for him and for all the other campers too.

If you’d like to donate to Royal Family Kids Camp through King’s Harbor Church, your donation helps send kids to camp, provides their lodging, food, goes towards all the fun activities and gifts they will be sent home with.  You can make a donation here or send a check made out to King’s Harbor Church to me or to KHC Administrative offices with “Suzie Lind/RFKC” in the memo.

 

Grace, Peace and the Game Changer on Mother’s Day

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Saturday night, a four-year-old boy came to me at church asking for prayer for his mom.  The woman who was with him, was not his mom, she was his foster mom.

He looked at me with his sweet brown eyes and told me his name.  It was all I could do to maintain my composure to pray for her and to pray for him.

I swallowed hard and asked Jesus to make His presence known.

The kind of presence that supersedes understanding. The kind that brings joy and peace.

I wondered where she was, whom she was with and what was so worth having that it cost her the ability to raise her own child.  Then, my mind went to all the times I’ve chosen wrong, the mistakes I’ve made.

God’s grace became more real.

I prayed asking Him to keep her safe, for provision, restoration and for hope.

God chooses to be faithful and love us always regardless of our faults and failures.  So, as much as I wanted that little boy to know he has not been abandoned, that Jesus is with him, in the same moment it became very clear, his mother likely needs to know the same thing.

After the service closed, I went to pick up my own son who was so excited to give me the craft he made in his classroom. A beautiful, messy masterpiece very appropriate for a two-year-old made especially for me on mother’s day.  I came undone knowing this other boy made something for his mom and without a doubt had a sense of sadness that comes with the uncertainty of being able to give it to her or not.  Perhaps and Lord willing, he already knows his sadness can be directed to prayer.

Would he see her the next day? Would he save it for her or give it to the one who is trying to love and take such good care of him.  Thank God for foster moms who care. The ones who are in it knowing there will be days like this.  Thank God for moms who love in hopes of permanence, as well as those who love with the hope of reconciliation to another mom.

This was a game changer for Mother’s Day.

I am among the many who look forward to a little “me time” on Mother’s Day. I went for my manicure and pedicure and I enjoyed sleeping in.  I loved having my coffee served to me and I appreciated not doing dishes or thinking about the meals for the day.

But that little boy shifted the gears in my heart to pray grace and peace over the mothers who can’t care for their children.  Whether by choice or the chains they were born into, Mother’s day was a day of praying grace and peace over them.

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Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but to notice who didn’t come that day.  The ones who are still living in the not yet.  The mother with a mama’s heart and no baby to hold. The ones who have had to surrender the babies they birthed because a mama’s heart always wants what’s best for her child.  The mothers lost in grief or those who haven’t been able to find their way out from the shame of an abortion.  The ones who woke up like it was another day because there is not a father around to teach their children how to love a woman well.  These are the mothers we need to pray for but not just on this day.  The daughters who are angry with their mothers. The ones who grew up like the boy from the night before and have a whole host of emotions bubble up to the surface around the second Sunday in May.

While many will rise up and be called blessed, there is a remnant of mothers, daughters and sons.  Those who are living in a silent place, a sometimes isolating place if we are not careful, where the voices of shame will silence the voice of Grace.

Let us be like the voice of grace that kneels to the sand and writes a message of hope.  Let us be the voice of grace that says, “I know, and you are still loved and wanted.”  Let us be the arms of grace that pulls her in for a hug when she feels no one will accept her.

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Driving home Sunday afternoon, I thought about the little boy’s mom.  If she didn’t get to see him, did she want to see him?  Did her heart ache for his scent, and his sweet little voice that calls her by name?  Does she live in regret or is she not even there yet?

She is no different than I am.  Perhaps full of failure with many shortcomings.  It’s only by grace I have been saved and only by grace I can parent my boys.  No one grows up with believing one day they will lose children to the system. No one has children specifically so they can hurt them.  Her story is that… it’s a story with a beginning, middle and an end.

The beauty of grace is that it tends to interrupt our lives and though birth pains are usually involved, the result is abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.

So we continue to pray.  We continue to wait.  We hope for divine interruptions.  We sit with the stories of failure, the not yet stories of redemption and the ever-present truth of Grace to be made known.

Grace and peace to all.