worth the save?

today, i want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine (if only through the internet). her name is april, and we found each other through a post she wrote on a deeper story. since then, i've come to see our similarities are far more than our differences and i'm so, so, so glad she will be sharing her words with you today.

We visited a friend's farm yesterday.

And you would expect that my boys would be talking about the black-bellied sheep, or the cows they hand fed, or the colorful gobbling turkeys, but no,

the highlight, and perhaps the only thing they'll remember, was the

mud.

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Glorious, unrestrained mud.

You don't come by it often in these sterile, concrete parts of town, but it was there for them to revel in

and revel

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they

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did.

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And I, being the domestic goddess that I am, I left those mud-soaked clothes in the back of my car for a full 24 hours. By the time I pulled them out of their bag and began scrubbing, washing, soaking, and treating the rank, I began wondering

were these really worth saving.

In this day and age of Target 5-dollar-shirts and the spoils of grandparents' shopping sprees spilling out of over-stuffed dressers (and I realize this is a middle class luxury, to even consider this option), I honestly wasn't sure if my cleaning was worth the effort.

-------

Sucre greeted me this time, but I guess I kind of forced it. Her first words, after my fourth knock on the door, were,

"We're not supposed to open the door for strangers!"

"I'm not a stranger," I pushed my way through and plunked down next to her on the coach, practically on top of her.

"Look, Miss I-Don't-Eat-Jasmine-Rice, I brought you yellow rice. See? I remembered. I'm no stranger."

She half-smiled, still tentative, and I got up to find the other girls I'd met before, during the two other cooking classes we'd hosted at this group home for teenage foster girls.

We got started, with Rachael Ray's chicken enchiladas on the menu and Sucre's yellow rice, and I was much more relaxed this time around. It didn't matter so much that Kalah was throwing a fit in the other room or that Jaden wouldn't talk, much less nod an answer your way. We would chop and search for missing kitchen supplies, get water boiling, and measure out spices, and I'd be okay with the natural ebb and flow of the room. The girls have so little options in life already--who says they *have* to cook today?

Today, though, I found an ally in Sucre.

She may not have been cheerleader-happy to see me at first, but she stuck around, sweating it out in the hot kitchen, crying with the onions, squeamishly cutting raw chicken, and quickly offering to finish off the cake batter.

We sat to eat, along with a few new-found friends, and started talking about schools and studies and it came about who could speak Spanish at the table.

Jaden shot Sucre a look. Her shoulders slumped, her fork dropped a little, and shame dripped right off her eyelashes, downward cast. And I knew, right then, the source of her shame.

Sucre, of almond eyes and tawny, bronzed skin, could not speak the language of her own people.

You see, it wasn't her people who raised her, no abeula to shout mija, ven aca! from the kitchen.

Sucre was raised by The State, and The State {mostly} speaks English.

Sucre told me about her mom and her aunt, who live in Texas, and her sisters, one older and one younger, all wards of state here in Florida; how excited the sisters are because they're getting older and will "age-out" soon and then at that point, Mom and Aunt will move from Texas to live with them in their Big Girl apartments

and they will all finally be together.

Because that makes sense.

A sixteen year old who's been in custody of the state for ten years, getting excited about her mom {the only one with the legal and emotional authority to create the family she craves} promising to live with her when

{and only}

she turns eighteen.

-------

The stains run so deep.

I washed and I soaked and I said a Christian-swear-word because I couldn't find my stain remover, and I pulled the boy-jeans from the wash and they looked okay.

But you could see where the natural elements hit the fibers and they would never be the same.

And so run the heart-stains of Sucre, and Jaden, of Chandre, whose mother was murdered a month ago, who got Baker Acted two days ago, of Kalah with her tantrums, and of Angel with her good behavior, fifty-two days straight.

It.

all.

runs.

so.

deep.

Society {we} assign too little value to these girls. They are cast out by parents, by poverty, by addictions, by abuse, and then transferred to this waiting place we call foster care.

And while we continue with our normal lives, celebrating and grieving, shopping and saving, living with and loving the families we are blessed to have, they wait there, suspended from the secure place of truly belonging to someone.

As they wait,

the stains set deep;

the longer they wait there, untreated, unconnected, unheard and at times unloved,

the more difficult the path to healing becomes,

requiring

a deeper scrubbing of the wounds,

more patience with the process,

a longer soaking in stability and unconditional love to begin to trust others,

and even then,

with all of that,

they may never be the same.

-------

There is a story, tucked away in the pages of the bizarre prophet Ezekiel, about an abandoned baby that God finds thrown out into an open field, despised and rejected. He sees her lying there, struggling, naked, caked in her own birth blood, and he says to her,

"live."

He watches over her from afar as she grows and then comes the time for relationship with him, and he takes her as his own, covering her in covenant,

scrubbing away the blood,

touching the heart-stains with his own marred hands,

soothing the primal wounds of rejection and abandonment

with Father-Husband-holy-God love,

this love, and only this, that runs deep enough to reach the intersection where natural fallen-earth elements hit the fibers of her being.

And he says there, in that prophetic story,

and he says again, with the life and death of his Son,

that no one is beyond saving;

that there is life, beyond the pain.

The forgotten ones, he remembers.

The abandoned ones, he watches over.

And that when the time comes for the healing work to begin, the efforts are worth the cost; that the redemption is his pleasure.

The stains may set and the scars may bear the testimony of our rejection, our sin, our brokenness, but there is healing to be had on this side of heaven and there is one source alone.

The mud-loving son, he chose this gift for the girls today.

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And the hands of the stained children, the fingers of those whose worth society questions, hung this up against the sun-kissed window.

May the light of Christ beckon us to engage their darkness, and

may the life of Christ convict us of this resounding truth,

that indeed,

they are

worth the save.

about april :: I'm just a girl whose heart has been arrested by Jesus. He met me young, stole me from the things that were destined to ruin me, and has been revealing himself ever since.
Posted on August 14, 2012 .