. . . was printed on the front of the small card that came in today’s mail, and that peeked my interest. The return address on the envelope was one of the cottages at South Texas Children’s Home and that always completely grabs . . . and holds . . . my attention! I love that place; I love the wonderful folks who work there; and I treasure the kids who dwell there. It is my high honor to serve on the Board for the Ministries Division of that wonderful organization. I am unable to articulate what is in my heart for that delightful place of love, nurture, guidance, shelter, and warmth that stands tall in a broken world. One of the billboards for the home speaks out to those who struggle to simply exist in this broken world of dashed hopes and broken promises with the simple, yet profound message: “We can help until things get better!” What an offer of love and hope to an abandoned mom with several kids she simply can’t properly care for at the moment . . . who simply needs a little help . . . a hand up . . . and a safe harbor for her precious children while she tries to find her way again.
The Home is located in Pettus . . . or Mineral . . . or Beeville (depending on where one is from). The Home is so absolutely special and what happens there is so heartwarming that all of the folks in a large geographical area claim it.
The card was from the house-parents and the boys who live as a family in one of the cottages. Last month following the Board meeting, I was privileged to have dinner with those house-parents and their kids. What a precious time that always is for me. I love being involved in the Board meetings and pray that I can help, in some small way, to offer suggestions that are helpful to the business affairs, operations, and policies and procedures of the Home, but my real heart there is for the kids. As I sit there and enjoy dinner with them, I know what is going on in their hearts and minds. They have been told to be themselves, yet to also be on their best behavior . . . “as a Board Member will be present.” Little do they know who I really am . . . a guy who as a kid could have very easily been right where they are today. I never lose sight of that truth . . . and I am thankful for the Father’s faithfulness and provision . . . and for a strong, faith-filled, loving Mother who stood in the gap . . . during times I am not even sure how she managed . . . but she did!
I know something about kids. I really know something about kids from lower-income families. I have spent 40 years in affordable housing and 30 of those years as a trainer/consultant for government housing projects (HUD), working from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Anchorage, Alaska, and from L.A. to New York City. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and in spite of the ugliness, I have seen up close and personal, I know that the same basic heart beats within every kid. Every one of them wants to be loved, respected, and treated with some measure of honor and dignity. If they don’t get that and are abused, they learn to fight . . . and many can do that well . . . it is called survival. Kids have an amazing ability to fit into a hierarchy . . . either for good or bad, they require love, or at least acceptance, and a place to fit into, and they will find that . . . even within a street-gang, if necessary. That is what STCH does so beautifully . . . it provides that place . . . along with a large dose of love and acceptance and positive reassurance.
I also know that all kids love sugar, so as I hang out with them, I get them to laughing, telling me about themselves (kids love this sort of interest), and soon I ask the table how many of them enjoy a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream. Of course, they all do, so I ask their permission to treat the entire cottage family to a Blue Bell night. That is never a split decision vote.
Today’s card was letting me know that they loved their Blue Bell night . . . and they really appreciate me caring about and taking a personal interest in them. They also mentioned that they still have enough money left over for several more Blue Bell nights. That pleases me greatly.
As we approach Christmas, will you do anything to help kids like these STCH kids? You have to know that as they lay in bed, alone in the dark of night and worry over their separated and scattered family, and miss their mommy . . . that their little hearts ache. I hold onto the strong belief that they find some measure of comfort in knowing that there are some folks out there who really care. I know that when life has gotten difficult for me, I found comfort in that knowledge.
The great Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 9:6 these blessed words: “For unto us, a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He wrote those beautiful words to a broken and hurting world . . . filled with broken promises, shattered dreams, dashed hopes, and struggling and dysfunctional families. That great promise encouraged God’s people through both good and bad times . . . over a long period of time.
Then, on that night of nights . . . on that star-lit night over that small and remote city . . . a baby boy was born in a barn . . . on the outskirts of that little town . . . and that baby was God keeping His promise! Aren’t you glad that God keeps His promises? I certainly am. It inspires me and gives me hope and a reason to rejoice.
The world is still filled with dysfunctional families and broken promises – even today. Tragically, broken hearted, troubled, and confused kids are the by-product of all of that. Sometimes someone asks me, “Why does a loving God permit that?” My reply is always, “He doesn’t . . . we allow it . . . in spite of the truth that He asked us not to allow it.” He commanded us to “love ye one another, even as I have loved you.” Love demands action . . . what will you do?