I have another blog, one I try not to update much, and one I try to keep things short at. It’s for the ministry that has sprung up over the last few years, Psalm 10 Ministries, an outreach of mercy and presence for abused and neglected foster kids. The fatherless. The unprotected. I wrote this, and … well, I will let you all decide for yourselves.
I was working on a much longer piece for my other blog when one of my kids — yeah, I call them that, these orphaned and fatherless children who have been finding their way to me over the course of the last 16 months, my kids — sent me a text message.
“I need help with my homework. Can you help me? I’m supposed to write an essay.”
This might not be a big deal for many, but this young woman who is 16 — I’ll call her Lana — hasn’t been in school since she was six. When her mother died and her father would leave her home alone, locked in a cage, for hours at time while he worked.
A teacher noticed she wasn’t in school, called child protective services, and Lana made her way … into foster care, where she was kept out of the school system for the next ten years. (The irony in that is … well, what do you with that?) Lana managed to teach herself how to read and write, but she said she doesn’t know much else.
She is a delight, this young woman. She has a fiery spirit, she is charming and funny, and she’s whip smart. She has survived years of abuse. This kind of abuse. The kind of abuse I first encountered when I met “Bethany” last year.
(Yes, Bethany was held by Tim and Sandra McManis, in a foster home that was a brothel, and texting with me gave her the courage to run away.)
I’m not sure how a child in foster care could be kept out of school for ten whole years. I know Bethany, who entered foster care at the age of four, was kept out of school until she was ten years old. So it does happen.
And Lana … hopes. Still. After years of being used as thing, after being violated, wounded, and broken. She still wants to be human, to belong, to be loved, to be valued.
Here’s the essay she wrote.
This is beautiful. Simple. It breaks my heart. She is a seedling, sprouting, rooted in poisoned soil, on a brick wall, out of sheer rock, turning what little she can find into nutrients, catching what little sunlight there is, what little water falls or dew condenses, and taking it all, and making just enough sugar to grow.
To bloom. Maybe even to thrive.
I wish … I could be her dad. To have her become part of my family. I am honored just to be her friend. To be here to listen. To be part of her life.
A worthy life. A wanted life.
(NOTE: I not only published this with Lana’s permission, she encouraged me to do so.)