The Joy of Giving

Today was one of my favorite days on the job so far. Another worker and I got to go shopping with a new foster mom to help her get situated with the two kiddos who recently joined her home. One of them was an infant and she was in desperate need of a crib. So we took this foster mom to Walmart and told her to go crazy and get whatever she needed for those kids. And by crazy I mean as crazy as you get with five hundred dollars, which at Walmart can be pretty crazy. As we checked out I felt so happy to have the ability to do this. Not that it was me personally, but just that our agency is able to do this for people. It was one of the times in my life where I felt great joy in giving to another person. It also felt like I was on a tv show whenever we were rolling around with our three shopping carts all loaded up.

Such a good day.

You’re Gonna Miss This

This past week I was in training. I didn’t really learn anything, but I did watch a lot of dated videos.

Most of the people in class were young, single women. And as silly as it sounds, I started to miss being single. Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. Truth be told, right after I had actually come to terms with being single–I met Seth. Ironic. So there I was thinking about how I wished I would have used that time a little more wisely instead of wishing it away. It got me thinking about other times in my life where I had done the same thing, and maybe how I might be doing that right now, even as I was sitting in training.

My internship in Thailand is a prime example of wishing time away. While I did learn a lot about myself during those four months, I could have really spent more time growing in my faith. Instead I wallowed in how miserable I was, how mean my day to day supervisor was, and how isolated I felt. I could have used that time to grow even deeper in my faith and looking back I see what a loss that time was. But I still don’t want to go back….

So I am sitting in training, waffling back and forth between wishing I could go back to being single and wishing I could fast forward to being a supervisor, like some of the other people in class. And it is then I realize I am doing it again. I’m wishing I could go back, which is ludicrous because that can’t even happen. Yet at the same time I want to speed ahead a few years and get the promotion and while I’m at it I might as well just have a few kids. And I can’t make those things happen either, at least not instantly.

So I must resolve to be content with where I am right now. I must work diligently toward my goals, but not lose sight of the blessings I have in front of me right now.

I’m Not Your Best Friend

Yesterday I supervised a visit between a mother and son I hadn’t seen in a few months. The little boy quickly went to his room and busied himself playing with some toys.

Mom and I talked in the kitchen. She showed me the flowers her husband bought her for Valentine’s Day as well as a Lille talking stuffed animal. She went on to tell me that he had also bought her some “sexy underwear.”

Um yea, she’s almost old enough to be my mom. And for goodness sake, I’m not her best friend, her friend—I’m not even her caseworker!

Just One Social Worker’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please be with all the kiddos everywhere, protect them from harm. Give them strength and encouragement and please, please let them know just how important they are–to You and to those around them. For those who have been separated from their parents please give them an extra measure of resilience and really, really great foster parents.

Give the foster parents strength and energy (lots of it) and patience (lots of that too). Instill in them daily a great sense of purpose and fulfillment. I pray they often get to see just how vital and important they are in a kid’s life. While I’m here, would you please give us some more homes–and not just any home–homes that are filled with love and foster parents who truly have the child’s best interest at heart.

Comfort the parents who have had children taken from their care. Give them strength to also consider their child’s best interest. Some need an extra measure of encouragement, as they are working diligently to have their children returned to their care. Some need an extra measure of “swift kick to the behind.” I’ll trust You to know the difference between these and to assign accordingly.

Lastly, but certainly not least, protect the social workers. Help us to protect our hearts and our passions and to know when enough is enough. Sometimes we may need You to protect us from our clients and sometimes we need our clients to be protected from us. Let us not become hardened in our work and help us to always look for the best in everyone. Give us the strength we need for difficult conversations, that we would be full of grace at all times.

Amen.

Sharpening My Axe

I turned 25 on Monday. Wow, that feels weird, even to type. I really didn’t think I was going to feel any differently, but when I got up Monday morning I felt…old…tired…disappointed…the list could go on. Most birthdays, in fact all birthdays before this one I was always pretty happy just to wake up on my birthday. I’m not sure if it’s the training I’ve been in for the last week and a half or the mere fact that my birthday was on a Monday, but I felt distinctly different than I ever have before on my birthday.

Maybe it is because 25 is a milestone birthday. Yes, I think that’s part of it. Last year on my birthday I had a list of 25 things to accomplish before I turned 25. I can’t remember what half of them are and I’m too lazy to look. Which reminds me that one of them was to exercise regularly. Ha. If I can’t even remember what they are I am sure that I probably did not accidentally complete them. I did get my masters degree and I landed a job, but somehow those accomplishments were overshadowed by the looming student loan payments that are in my future. Go figure.

So anyway I was thinking about things I set out to do and likely didn’t do but I can’t even be sure because I lack the gumption to do so and it kind of depresses me. I start to think about what I thought my life would be like at 25 and I realize it’s completely different. Even as little as 5 years ago I hadn’t met Seth and I think at that point I had not become burned out on missions. That is another story for another day. That got me thinking about how I haven’t really “done anything” because in my convoluted mind getting your masters degree counts as not doing anything. I was feeling pretty low and as if I hadn’t even done anything with my life. How depressing.

And then i realized I have basically completed all of the schooling I ever want to and now I am on the cusp of getting to make a difference…change the world…and leave my mark, things like that. It’s reminds me of when Abraham Lincoln said if he had 6 hours to cut down a tree he would spend the first 4 sharpening his axe. (or something to that effect). So that’s what I’ve been doing, I’ve been sharpening my axe and now I am going to chop down some trees. Watch out world because I am coming at you with a vengeance. And by world I most certainly mean central Illinois.

Writing this has been cathartic because it forced me to get my feelings out of my head. It forced me to come to the realization that I’m not where I thought I would be but that’s ok. And a little preparation never hurt anyone. I don’t ever have to go to school again, that is a happy thought. I can climb the career ladder and I don’t have to worry about getting anymore degrees. I can start having babies and I won’t have to be I school while they are in school. (not that I’m having babies anytime soon). Life is good and I think I’m exactly where I need to be.