An errand to the Post Office resulted in these great finds at the next-door thrift store:
I'm always on the lookout for good kids' books. I don't know why; I just like them. Besides, I don't want my house to be completely boring when little people come to visit. "Black Cat" is beautiful. It won the Coretta Scott King Award for non-violent social justice. It says a lot in just a few poetic words and modified photographs that are almost abstract. Stunning. I won't do reviews of all the others, but if you ever see them, snatch them up! :) I was especially happy with "Little Women" and "The Hundred and One Dalmatians (unabridged)"... favorites from my early adolescence... and I could NOT believe my eyes when I saw "A Wrinkle in Time"! I started reading a friend's copy nearly a year ago and never finished it. You know that feeling? Like being caught in midair mid-bungee jump? Always wondering what happened? Anyhow, it's been on my "buy the next time I place an Amazon order" ever since. Amazon sure can't beat fifty cents. :D
Speaking of happy things, my back door makes me smile every time I come home:
The white peony bush in my backyard is absolutely breathtaking... what is more luxurious than bedside flowers?
A little girl from the "Shelter" unit sat beside me at the staff meeting on Thursday. She's at Bethesda only temporarily, so she wasn't at school with the rest of the kids. I haven't worked down on Shelter yet, but she took to me quickly... too quickly. Beautiful little her. She drew this picture of me:
(I don't think I'm breaking HIPPA by posting this; she wrote her nickname.) Halfway through the meeting, I looked down at her to see her staring at me intently. I smiled at her, and she sighed and laid her head on my shoulder. How can a person smile and cry simultaneously?
I love my job.
Wait, did I say that before? ;)
It's by far the hardest job I've ever done, but by far the most rewarding. Some mornings I come home, thinking, "I can't believe I get paid to do this!" Other mornings, I stagger home, utterly exhausted both physically and emotionally, and think, "I better get paid for that!" :)
John, I'm going to take your suggestion and give a little run-down of what Bethesda is and what I do. :)
"Bethesda Children’s Home, Lutheran Social Services is a Christian ministry that provides superior Behavioral Health Services to children, youth, and families." That's their mission statement. Most of our clients come from Philadelphia, sent here by court-order due to circumstances and conditions making foster placement not the ideal option. We are not a "secure", or "lockdown", facility. However, we are regulated enough that we are required to not let clients out of our sight for more than twenty minutes, day or night. Based upon their needs, an I.S.P. (Individual Service Plan) is developed for each client, and the clients are integrated into routines for each segment of the day to establish good habits and provide a secure atmosphere. As clients complete routines well and complete the four levels of social and psychological treatment, they can graduate from the program and go home... If they have a home. Some don't. One of the clients kinda tears my heart. He's smart, funny, good-looking, likable, and not doing well in the program. He has no incentive to do so because he has nowhere to go after he leaves. The thing I love about Bethesda is that it is designed to empower its clients to do well in life, no matter what their circumstances are. These kids are survivors of the saddest of situations, and, even sadder, their circumstances are not likely to change unless they change themselves. It seems cruel, to tell that to adolescents... but it's stark reality. I can't imagine being in some of their shoes, waiting for the state to tell me where I'm going to live next.
I've learned a lot from my co-workers and trainers about loving these kids well while being hard-nosed enough to not let them push you around. It really is my prayer that Jesus will make His love known to them through me... and that it would change their lives.
What do I do? My official title is "Child Care Counselor". I'm working 3rd shift, which means I do bed checks every 20 min., file papers, and other legalities until it's time to wake the kids, get them through their morning routines, and take them to school. No, it doesn't always go like clockwork. :) Each unit is comprised of up to sixteen 'tweens and teens, and a lot can happen in a morning. On the whole, though, I love what I do.
Please pray for me... I still have a lot to learn, and the job is pretty high-pressure sometimes. My greatest desire is that God uses me to speak Truth to these kids... in all its relevancy.