I write about my kids a lot, right? Sometimes, I'm proud of them. Sometimes, they make me crazy. In good times and bad, though, I'm always glad to have them. When you're doing well, it's easy to take for granted the parts of your life that you are blessed to have.
Here is a sad, sad fact about the city I live in. The Lubbock region has the highest confirmed rate of child abuse per capita in the State of Texas for 2008 and 2009 at 22.7 per 1,000 kids vs. the state average of 10.5 per 1,000 kids. Nearly 1,200 children were in foster care in the Lubbock region last year. This hurts me to know.
Since we are in the season of Advent, and since Advent is why I'm doing this project, there's an article that I'd like to share with you, about looking at Joseph as a model of honorable fatherhood. When he was faced with a situation that was difficult to explain at best, and possibly dangerous at worst, Joseph took heed of what the angel told him. He loved and raised Jesus as his own son, although he knew that Jesus was not his son, but the Son of God. How different is our world because Joseph was the man in Jesus's life, raising Him and caring for Him until He was an adult, until He was ready to begin His ministry?
I am no Joseph. I wouldn't even dare to make that comparison. But I can try to be a positive part of a child's life. Tonight I visited the Women's Protective Services shelter for their weekly mentoring night. Here's a description from their website:
Children are changed by growing up with violence and abuse at home. One of the top 10 ways a child can be changed by violence at home is that they are denied a father and positive role model. Mentoring is an opportunity to make a measureable difference in the life of a battered child. Women’s Protective Services of Lubbock, Inc. is seeking outgoing, dedicated individuals to Mentor at WPS.
What do volunteers do?
Mentors meet every Thursday from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm and interact with the children that reside at WPS and helping them have fun. Activities range from arts and crafts, board games, movie nights, pizza parties, play basketball, football and go on field trips. Mentors will work with one to a few children at a time.
The focus of the program is to provide a buddy to someone who needs a positive role model at a difficult time in their lives.An hour of service! It's like they were trying to tailor-make an opportunity for me to include them in Project Advent!
Courtney was scheduled to work tonight, so I needed someplace to drop my own kids first. My friend Ann, who I have known for 30 years (!), told me that she'd be happy to babysit if I needed to be kidless for one of my projects, and was very kind to let the junior Holwerdas come join her and her two kids tonight. My kids were really excited to have an evening to play with John and Caroline, who they are already friends with at church! Ann gave the kids a really fun evening - they had pizza, did a special Advent craft, and played together.
I'm afraid I have to be a little bit vague on some of the details of tonight's project. When I arrived at the shelter, I signed a confidentiality agreement, agreeing that I wouldn't discuss anything about the people, situations, or anything else that I heard or saw while I was there, but I think I can still talk about what we did. Every Thursday, there are activities planned for the kids while their moms attend groups. The kids were watching Merry Madagascar when I got there, and eating popcorn. As some of them started to get bored with the movie, I went with them into the playroom, where we played different board games for a while, until the movie ended and the rest of the kids joined us. We all played together for a while more, and then their moms were coming to pick them up. The hour passed really quickly.
I'm going to carry this evening with me for a while. There was a teenaged boy who I was playing Jenga with, and a little girl came and sat in his lap. I asked if she was his sister, and he said, "No, she just feels safe with me." I played with another child, and asked their name. It was the same as one of my children.
Gratitude Project: Be real before God... My heart really hurts tonight. I was only with these kids for one hour, and I feel like it was literally the very least bare minimum that I could do. They need and deserve so much more.
But I also have much to be thankful for. Today, it's something a little silly and maybe even kind of vain, but I got some new dress shoes. My first new pair of black shoes in nearly five years. It turns out that having three kids is kind of expensive, so there's not always money for that stuff, you know? Anyway, I'm thankful that I have the means and opportunity to have some new shoes today.