Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"That's My Girl."

 I stood on the pavement outside of our "HOPE Center," hanging out with kids and volunteers during our after-school program. It was a nice "winter" afternoon in Florida. I looked to my right and saw a tiny, filthy, silent little girl sitting at one of our picnic tables. She was new to the neighborhood and all alone. I saw her and said, "Who's that? She's beautiful."
 Within minutes of being noticed, she smiled and landed in my arms, wrapped around my neck. Although most of her teeth were black or missing due to lack of care, her smile was golden. She told me about her "Nanny," whom she lived with, and I told her about my "Jesus," who loved her. I escorted her to our clothing closet, wiped her feet as clean as I could and put new socks and shoes on her feet. We also packed up some groceries for her and "Nanny" to share. I can remember her giving heart as she offered to give her old socks to someone who might need them. That first day I met her, I wrote about that and remember typing "That's my girl." And for almost 9 months, she really did get to be my girl!
By fall of last year, Mirena was in urgent need and I increasingly stepped in to help both she and her grandmother, as God led me to do so in crystal clear ways. From sheltering her when the power was off at her apartment, to buying clothes and food, giving rides, and comforting and watching over her during the aftercare of some dental work and making sure she got to school when I could, she truly became a beautiful example of what it looks like when Jesus says "I was a stranger and you invited me in." (Matthew 25:35) Psalm 68:6 says, "God places the lonely in families." As I got closer to her situation, God began to put more puzzle pieces together and revealed some hidden darkness and environmental dangers that eventually led to some of the hardest and most heart-felt prayers I have ever prayed! But He was building a case. Not "against" anyone, but "for" Himself! A testimony of His love and goodness. A story of hope for Mirena. Through a series of fast miracles, God rescued her and brought her home safe to a new family and completely new way of living! On November 1, 2014 she crashed on our couch for the first time. By December 12, (just weeks later) My hero-husband and I were granted non-relative placement...We had legal custody! The little girl who sat at the picnic table now had a place at our table. And the journey began!
  Looking back, there were many difficulties yet many victories. The rewards and lessons learned are priceless, just like she is! We have learned so much about love through this little one!
In a bittersweet turn of events due to circumstances beyond our control (but completely in the hands of God), we had to make the hard decision about 2 weeks ago (At the time of this update it is now 9/12/15) to allow Mirena to be placed in a different home. One more suitable to prioritize the specialized care she needs, and for the safety and health of my other two children, myself and our marriage. Please pray for continued healing and wholeness over M's behavioral health and trauma needs and for the re-adjustment and new season this brings to our family. (Now again, suddenly a "family of four.") We sure do miss her and are saddened. We are blessed to have maintained some contact and ability to have visitation and be treated as "extended family," even though we are no longer able to stand in the gap as her full-time parents. That eases our minds a little. And Maybe our story will still inspire other Christian families to foster or adopt at least one child; To live with your hands wide open, ready to receive or ready to surrender. It's all about obedience and love. It's all about Jesus and "true religion." (James 1:27) Jesus said, "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming Me." (Matthew 18:5) When we open our hearts and homes to the orphan, the needy, the widow, for a meal or for years or anywhere in between, we are welcoming Him in. When we brought Mirena home, we were really saying, "Welcome Home, Jesus." 

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