Reconnecting…

Yesterday, I had a couple meetings to attend to in Lorain County, a place that I used to live. It took me a couple hours to get there, which is no big deal. But, while I was there, I decided to visit with 2 of my sons… For those of you who didn’t already know, my wife and I used to be foster parents. We probably had between 25 – 30 children live in our home during our fostering season. Every one of those children are my sons and daughters.

Anyway, I decided to go early and surprise them. The big surprise was that I waited until I was 45 minutes away to notify them that I was coming. I called M and simply asked him what he was doing and “by the way… I’ll be there in a little bit. Can you call D?” I took them out to breakfast and it was GREAT!!! We had a phenomenal time and they are planning to come down to Columbus this weekend to visit. The crazy part is that the last times that we all were truly together… the boys were being lead away in handcuffs.

They were troubled teens with adult problems. They had been in ‘the system’ for way too long (several years for one and over 10 years for the other)… still in foster care being bounced from one home to another. And as far as ‘the system’ had gone, these boys were marked as trouble, destined to fail and end up in jail.

You see, the problem that I’ve had with the foster care/ adoption system had never been the children. They don’t have a real say in what’s going on in their lives. The problem that I had was ‘the system’ itself. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of really good people working IN the system but there were a lot of flaws. Please note that I am speaking in the past tense. I am not currently in the system. I can’t speak to what’s happening TODAY but I can speak as recently as 2 years ago…

I’ve learned that the problem with social work is just that… social work. These two words don’t even match!!! Who mixes the two? Those who have the heart for the children and keeping them safe are inundated with so much work that the love for them gets lost. Then you have the children being treated as just another number to be processed because, “we gotta move these cases”. These are real people, not just numbers!!!

Fortunately / Unfortunately, both of these boys did exactly what the system expected of them. They went to jail as teenagers. BUT, they didn’t stay there!!! I remember receiving the letter from M where he apologized to my wife and I for not listening to us and how he realized that we were right and finally, how he had made a turnaround in his thinking. He was still locked up but he started going to church, singing in the choir, reading his Bible and trying to better himself…

Today, my boys are men, productive men. Men who are trying to help those ‘younger guys’ not make the same mistakes that they did; men with heart and compassion; men with standards… It was funny just listening to them talk to each other. At one point, I WAS just the ‘fly on the wall’ and it was great!! One thing that was especially cool was… listening to them talk about other people using the excuse of having a record as a reason not to have a job. All I could say was, “Wow!!” But, you know what… these boys were NOT ‘easy to love’. It took effort. It took prayer. It took us to re-evaluating our “Why?” for doing foster care. I had to beat back the tears. Disappointment was always nearby. It took a lot!!! But, they were worth fighting for!!!

Now, they have families of their own and I have some beautiful grandchildren!! I’m a proud Papa!!! I’ve been watching them on Facebook and I’m glad that we actually reconnected!!! The business part of my trip is still in the works but seeing these MEN is worth more than any deal that I could’ve had on the table!!! Priceless…

Who do YOU need to reconnect with? The process is easier than you think. Don’t allow fear, or anger, to stop you from reconnecting with past loved ones. God is the ultimate coordinator and party planner. All things have happened for a reason and TODAY is the first day of the rest of your life!!! Put the past behind you and let’s move forward!!!

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie

 

Easy to love…

I heard this phrase once before but I heard it again this past week. I was talking with a guy about pets and he said that he preferred dogs over cats because they are ‘easy to love’. What he was referring to was their disposition. Dogs generally are right there under foot whereas cats show a sense of indifference. The more that I thought about this phrase, the more I feel it is a lie. When something is easy to do then it can easily not be done.

My pastor spoke today regarding relationship. He talked about some of the differences and similarities between men and women. It was a very good teaching. One of the things that he said was how people need a release. One thing about men is that by nature we don’t do a lot of sharing of our feelings. Especially, with my generation, and before, we were taught not to cry. We were taught to “suck it up and be a man”. We were taught to be ‘strong’. So…. when a man begins to share his emotions, that is an extremely powerful and vulnerable moment. This doesn’t happen often so whoever he opens up to is a very special person.

Unfortunately, people don’t listen. There’s always a reason that they can’t talk right now or something is going on and they’ll talk to you later or they’re just busy. Another reason is that people don’t care about YOUR point of view they’re only concerned with THEIRS. Finally, people may be available TO you but they don’t care ABOUT you.

As you’ve seen, I’ve been doing a whole lot of self-evaluation lately. One of the greatest areas for me is ‘friendships’. I was thinking the other day about all of the different “friends” that I’ve had over the years and something occurred to me… If they are your friends then where are they? Why are they not in your circle today? I think it goes back to ‘easy to love’.

I think back to one particular friend that I grew up with. He and I have shared some great and turbulent times. When traveling we’d always stop in to see him and his family. As a preacher, when he would be anywhere near where I was… I’d drop everything to support him. We’ve had decades of relationship… Another friend same type of deal except we were like telephone buddies. She and I could talk for hours. We gave each other advice on different situations and life events. We shared a lot of stuff. We had years of relationship… These are just two examples of both men and women friends. The most hurtful thing to me is this… During the time that I thought that I may have had cancer neither one of them reached out to me. I sent a direct email that simply said, “Please call me” and NOTHING. But, I was there for YOU. I could be dead right now and YOU never thought to call me to see what I wanted or needed but you’d have plenty of tears at my funeral…

You see, I truly love my friends and when you truly love someone, it’s not so easy just to walk away from them. What’s crazy to me is this… They may have physically walked away from me but my heart is still attached and in the oddest ways I’m are constantly reminded of them.

It really boils down to this one teeny tiny fact. I miss my mom. Not only was she my mom but she was my friend. She was my best-est friend in the whole wide world. She took time to talk when I wanted or needed her. She would give sound advice (whether I liked it or not). She made me feel like I was special. And she knew she was special to me. She listened to me. She and I were soo cool that things would happen and all we’d have to do was look at each other. That look was an entire conversation. I remember sitting by her bedside in the last moments of her life. My dad asked everyone if there was anything that we wanted to say to her because she was ‘leaving us’. When he came around to me, all I said was, “I don’t have anything to say. Mommy already knows.”

Normally, I’d ask, “So, how do we fix it?”… Not today.

The cool thing about God is that he prepares you for every season in your life. I will never stop loving my friends from yesterday. Separation doesn’t diminish what’s truly in your heart. Many times it only increases it. But, God just keeps presenting us with new people. Some will be acquaintances, some associates, and some will be friends. Which will you be?

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie