I have to confess that when I received my CASA badge, a whole lot of fear came with it. There was so much to remember and I was afraid of messing up and forgetting the little details, let alone fear of what the case members were going to think about me. But I see now that when I received my CASA badge I received some pride right along with it.
Truthfully, I came in thinking I was going to change a life or lives of some children...I never knew what I had coming.
Most of the cases in the social services system are cases with poverty, and truthfully I am dealing with people I wouldn't see in my day to day life. I wouldn't see them at my church, at my grocery store and the schools and the list goes on. It is interesting that poverty hangs out with poverty, and middle class hangs out with middle class and so on, and it is sad to say for the most part it is true.
In November was my youngest child (on my case)'s first birthday. I scrambled to get a little something for him. I specifically remember asking myself; "what didn't he get for his birthday, so I don't duplicate it?". I picked him up an outfit, and a little toy on my way. I was in such a rush that I didn't do a great job wrapping, but through the items in a bag and called it good.
I walked into their home, and the boy was sleeping, so I brought the bag over to the great-grandmother and said: "this is for ____". I'll never forget that moment, as I was in a moment of panic...wondering if I had the dates right, as she looked at me in bewilderment. She asked what the gift was for. I responded, "isn't it ____ birthday?" And then she remembered - her youngest great-grandchild had had his first birthday the previous week, with no cake or any mention of birthday wishes ... and then proceeded to say "this is his only present".
You know, if I could relive these moments I would have done things a little better. I would have wrapped that present with the finest paper and the biggest bow, and perhaps would have brought some cup cakes for everyone to celebrate a little boy who turned one. But I can't. I was so humbled and just wanted to cry. Not because God used me through this, but because I realized how much I take for granted. I mean truthfully, even in our hardest times we haven't gone without...at least there is credit. But these people don't have anything to their name, and they make do.
I am not there to change their world...they are there to change mine. And this next month, when another child celebrates her birthday, I am going to take a little extra time and make it something special ... because you know what? They are something special - not only to me, but definitely to God!
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
"and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love,
I gain nothing."
1 Corinthians 13:2-3
God aligned me clearly to be a CASA advocate, and put it in my lap this past summer. Out of obedience I took the classes, and shortly after I received my first case.
I can't share with you about specifics in my case, but I can share that it involves three children, one mom, two dads, one girlfriend, two great-grandmother's and one grandfather, two grandmothers...not to mention now all these lives have not only me, but a GAL, a caseworker and judge. There are also some special respondent attorneys, a supervised visit place and observers, therapists, UA's and parenting classes. I think all this sums up the case in a nut shell. I remember during the first couple of weeks after being assigned the case how overwhelmed I was with all the names and positions as I tried to figure out their role, and then I questioned if God had the right person for the job!
I have enjoyed getting to know these children, and even the adults that are involved. However, I haven't enjoyed the responsibility of making judgemental recommendations, as I witness visits and discern each atmosphere that the children are involved in. Judge. That is God's role, not mine. I have worked and worked to remove judgment thoughts from me as I meet new people, or worship with others at church, and even as I interact with my family. But now with this new role, I feel as if now that is what I am asked to do. I ask God before every visit, to give me discernment and wisdom but to not have to judge. God reminded me that it is NOT my role to judge but to just be a vessel of love...that is why he called me to this, not for anything else.
So I'm not to judge, but I am to love. Before one of my visits I had to get honest with God. I asked Him, "have you seen what these parents have done? Have you seen the lack of parenting they have done? Aren't you aware of what these children have seen and participated? You have to see it, and agree that these parents don't deserve to have these children! Don't you see how the roller coaster of emotions are affecting these children?" And then as I was pointing my finger at them, I saw three fingers pointing back at me. I have yelled at my girls during their growing up. I have hurt their feelings. I have been late picking them up from school. I have given them ice-cream and popcorn for dinner a time or two. I skipped their baths when I just was too tired. I haven't gotten out of bed and have let them tend to themselves. So as those three fingers were pointing back to me, and I saw all of this, I saw not only do I not deserve the children I have, but these parents deserve as much grace and mercy that I myself ask for each day. I picked up a role that wasn't mine to fill and I wasn't loving. I confessed all this and sought God's forgiveness, and I asked for God's love to shine through me and love the parents I was about to meet, to let me discern and witness anything I need to be aware of, and I spent the rest of the time praying over two complete strangers.
You know what? He did just as I asked. The parents saw that I was there to not judge them, that they could talk to me. I was able to see strengths and concerns that needed to be documented. I didn't see how God is going to fix these parents, but I rested knowing that the God of the Universe loves them just as much as everyone else and has everything under control.
I am learning so much about God and his love through CASA. And what I have seen, God's love is greater than I can ever imagine, and if I would just rest in it and let it flow through me ... truthfully, nothing else matters.
Ruthie, I don't know if you even remember me, as you were only 1 when we met. But it doesn't matter ... you are on our hearts, and you continue to remain in our prayers. We are so thankful for you - the life God gave you, the joy you bring to those around you. We are thankful that God does have a plan for you, and we will continue to pray that you will see the path set before you and choose to walk it. It is Him that will make that path straight. May your days to come be filled with so much joy, peace and favor. We love you greatly!