Tag Archives: foster care

he measured time in houses

When asked how long ago something happened, he said, “three houses ago.”

We were both laying on the floor of my therapy office, playing with cardboard boxes painted to look like bricks. Recently adopted into the “last house” he was placed in, at around ten years old, he’s in trouble here and there for stealing and lying.

I’m always amazed at how conversations are hijacked by the problems, and both parent and child never notice that the problem begins to run the show and determine who the child is and who the child will be. Most of the time, the therapist is fooled as well.

Trying to see how we could stack the cardboard bricks in ways that would almost crash down, but stay standing, it was his answer that snapped me out of my haze. It was his answer to a simple question that made me realize I had been thinking about him as a child who is a sometimes thief and liar, rather than as a child who, after his parents were caught and incarcerated for drugs, has moved so many times to so many different foster homes, it has become a reliable method of time-telling.

Me: “When did you last see your mom?”
Him: “Three houses ago.”

The session ended soon after, with block stacking and rearranging happening as I was realizing how off-track I’ve been in working with him. The only other words spoken once he answered “three houses ago,” were one last exchange between the two of us before our time was up.

Me: “Do you know I think you’re a pretty strong dude?”
Him: “No.”
Me: “Well, I think you’re a pretty strong dude. Can we discover together next time what it is that makes you so strong?”
Him: “That would be cool.”
Me: “I think so too.”

 

djordan
Nashville

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from the archives | when there’s nothing else to do

 

 

In reflecting on the upcoming one-year anniversary of mosthopeful.com on August 23, I’m throwing some of the posts that readers have looked at the most back into the mix. Thanks for allowing me the space. It’s been a most humbling experience.

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View original post from May 2, 2012

when there’s nothing else to do

 

We were standing in a huddle, sixty people maybe, I can’t do numbers. The room is a room I spent many evenings in as a teenager, the church building of friends. We have misbehaved in that room, giggled, sung, prayed, pretended to pray, cried, married, listened, pretended to listen.

Tonight, no longer teenagers but many with children of our own, our parents not as young as they used to be, other new and old faces, tonight we huddled together in that room.

Prayer was being offered about one issue for one family tonight, but from the little I know of others’ lives in the room, I know that the room itself was heavy with issues that seem impossible to figure out or fix. And there we were, heavy, huddled.

Our hands feel best when we are fixing something, and our minds feel most productive when we are figuring something out, but there are many times––in fact it would probably be most times if we told the truth to ourselves––that our hands don’t know how to fix it and our minds can’t figure anything out.

We know too, however, that our hearts are telling us things are heavy and unsure and something must be done to help us move closer to the kind of shalom our brittle little hearts were made for in the first place. We don’t know what to do, but we know that something is not right.

And so we huddle together and do the only thing we know to do to give purpose to our hands and minds.

We pray.

We own up to the fact that we can’t figure out how to fix it, and we don’t know what to even think about it. We own up to the fact that our hearts can’t lie even if they wanted to when they are breaking open.

And prayer, in a huddle of people who have been there with us and seen us at our best and worst, becomes the only thing we can do.

So we pray. And we confess that we have joined the long defeat regardless of any promise of the outcome. We confess that our goal is obedience of seeking what is best for our own and our community and our children, but the goal seems out of reach, too massive, too complicated.

But something in us, perhaps the glimmer of the kingdom in us that shines when everything feels dark, something says that when nothing can be done and nothing can be said the only thing, by God, to do and say is to huddle together and pray that the kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.

And we resign to the fact that the huddle and the prayer and the messy people who are forming both are who and what we have been given as we hurt and hope and long together for the shalom our brittle little  hearts were made for in the first place.

djordan
Pine Tree

RELATED POSTS | The Long Defeat | It’s Been a While | Time for Everything

 

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when there’s nothing else to do

We were standing in a huddle, sixty people maybe, I can’t do numbers. The room is a room I spent many evenings in as a teenager, the church building of friends. We have misbehaved in that room, giggled, sung, prayed, pretended to pray, cried, married, listened, pretended to listen.

Tonight, no longer teenagers but many with children of our own, our parents not as young as they used to be, other new and old faces, tonight we huddled together in that room.

Prayer was being offered about one issue for one family tonight, but from the little I know of others’ lives in the room, I know that the room itself was heavy with issues that seem impossible to figure out or fix. And there we were, heavy, huddled.

Our hands feel best when we are fixing something, and our minds feel most productive when we are figuring something out, but there are many times––in fact it would probably be most times if we told the truth to ourselves––that our hands don’t know how to fix it and our minds can’t figure anything out.

We know too, however, that our hearts are telling us things are heavy and unsure and something must be done to help us move closer to the kind of shalom our brittle little hearts were made for in the first place. We don’t know what to do, but we know that something is not right.

And so we huddle together and do the only thing we know to do to give purpose to our hands and minds.

We pray.

We own up to the fact that we can’t figure out how to fix it, and we don’t know what to even think about it. We own up to the fact that our hearts can’t lie even if they wanted to when they are breaking open.

And prayer, in a huddle of people who have been there with us and seen us at our best and worst, becomes the only thing we can do.

So we pray. And we confess that we have joined the long defeat regardless of any promise of the outcome. We confess that our goal is obedience of seeking what is best for our own and our community and our children, but the goal seems out of reach, too massive, too complicated.

But something in us, perhaps the glimmer of the kingdom in us that shines when everything feels dark, something says that when nothing can be done and nothing can be said the only thing, by God, to do and say is to huddle together and pray that the kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.

And we resign to the fact that the huddle and the prayer and the messy people who are forming both are who and what we have been given as we hurt and hope and long together for the shalom our brittle little  hearts were made for in the first place.

djordan
Pine Tree

RELATED POSTS | The Long Defeat | It’s Been a While | Time for Everything

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