My radars are always up when I'm out in public for the cries, the scoldings or the little signals that might indicate a child in need of protection. I purposefully park far in the parking lot of stores so that I can take my time and check around for children left in cars or families needing assistance. I'm no saint, trust me, if you live and see what I see, you would do the same thing to. And quite often, my radars lead me to exactly the situations I keep an eye out for.
Before we worked at the Ranch, my passion was only for children, but after seeing the boys I cared for come from the life that they did and still so badly desire their moms and dads, I realized, what is really in the best interest of children is to provide restoration for their families.
(Let me just stop here and make a statement: I'm FOR adoption. I'm FOR fostering. I'm for rescuing children from the situations they are in. I realize that there are many times children cannot and should not go back with their families, but...)
If we could be a community that builds up families before they get to a point, or provide alternatives, or reach out because everyone is broken in some way or another, restoration might be easier than we think. And I'm not thinking a community of government programs, I'm referring to a community of individuals investing purposefully in the lives of families, especially those headed towards a certain fate.
I was walking through the Salvation Army thrift store yesterday and from across the store I could hear a loud cry come from such a little one. Although my first thought was one of judgement, I decided to ignore it. But the cry continued, so I decided to sneakily investigate. At the front of the store a little boy looking disheveled and shirtless was crying in his young mother's lap with blood all over his finger. She looked panicked more so because of the disturbance she feared her son was causing.
As she tried to hurry out the door, I caught a moment that had my heart crying and singing for joy. She was rocking her little boy and kissing him all over.
I had previously questioned the situation, curious to know if the crying boy would get the reassurance and cuddles most moms would give their itty bitties in pain. I'm being honest despite the possible thoughts you might be having of me now. I had judged the young mama and put her in the category of other moms I've witnessed ignore, abuse or neglect their little ones.
But I was so gratefully wrong. She loved on him. She kissed him. And he got what all little ones crave. It was a beautiful thing. And it got my heart thinking of all the little ones that go without.
So I applaud foster parents. I applaud families that adopt. I applaud each and every one of you who love selflessly and deeply on your little ones. And for those of you that give a little more and cheer on and extend grace to the broken mamas and dadas who so desperately need to get their act together while we temporarily love on their littles ones, I bow down in gratitude.
It was a beautiful moment in that Salvation Army store that brought me back to exactly why my heart was created to beat. It's easy to silence a passion by filling it with noise of my favorite tv shows, the beggings of pinterest, or the status updates of facebook.
But I was created for so much more. I breathe to exist beyond myself.
So as we continue to live with the fight to protect and defend innocent children, we're careful to keep our hearts open and sensitive to the mothers and fathers, because we have no idea the path they walked or the lives they've lived.
*I fully understand that there are situations that are not as they appear. I realize that although a child might be sounding like they are in need, might not actually be the case, so I am careful to the situations I encounter as I have been in situations that have appeared one way, but are indeed not what it seemed.