Tuesday, November 27, 2012

# 376 - An EPIC Thanksgiving Adventure

I am lying here tonight, listening to a terrible storm pass over the house. In the dark I sit with my laptop propped on my legs as lightening flashes to light up the room. Creepy. So far, no power loss.

The thunder is rumbling and storms are expected to continue until around 4:00am. Guess I'll use this nerve-wracking time to catch up with my blogging. Yes, I love storms...No, I don't like lightening. Not this close. I can hear everything, the house is so quiet and still.

It's suddenly more quiet because for almost two weeks we've had two girls in our home for the Thanksgiving holidays, kids who have been living in a group home for several months. I sometimes sulk and feel as if I have a reason to throw a pity-party, then I remember there are kids like who no longer have a home to call their own and who no longer can be with family members they love and adore. For them, their life might change in a flash at 3am, without warning, without a chance to leave home with anything but the clothes on their back.

I am yanked back into knowing life and its tussles aren't so bad. Sometimes, you have to go through an attitude adjustment and put others before yourself. Sometimes, that's the best prescription for enjoying life as it tries to bang you around. I like fighting back by trying to reach out to others. I guess that's the great strength of my marriage, we make a good team when it counts. On a bad day, we can be like two opposing pit-bulls, then, on a good day, with a common goal, we become like lobster and butter.

He's the lobster.

Hey, work with me.

These girls, 16 and 13, have brought incredible joy into our home over the past couple of weeks. In spite of their challenges, they have fantastic attitudes. They pray before every single meal, even if they are sitting down to eat a snack by themself.

Sunday we had to take them back to the group home. We will get them again for two weeks of Christmas holidays. But, Sunday was very difficult. Both girls were extremely anxious about going back. Throughout the day, they kept telling me they were nervous and wished they could stay.

At one point, I grabbed them with a big hug and said, "Ok, it's decided, I'm going to keep you girls forever...when the SWAT team shows up, we'll just hide you in the chicken coop." At least that got them laughing. Deputy Dave said, "I think we better follow the law, even though I think ducking behind the couch is a better hiding place."

Anyway, we decided to take them to get a surprise on the way back to the group home...the short journey we were postponing with all our might. As we drove up to Dairy Queen, we told the girls they could order a large Blizzard.

Now, for those of you who don't know the South, there is a iconic diner called Dairy Queen that every Southerner has enjoyed. And a "Blizzard" is a cup full of ice-cream, blended with your choice of candy. Everyone in these parts knows what a Blizzard is...they've been around since I was a youngin.

So, we drive up and ask them what kind of Blizzard they'd like to order. The girls looked at each other with perplexed expressions, "We've never had a Blizzard...What exactly is it?"

Heart sinks to my feet. What Southern kid doesn't know the taste of a Blizzard? Well, I'll tell you, the two girls in our backseat were too old to not know.

Needless to say, they each got a Blizzard while we two were too dumbfounded to do anything but get their treats and drive slowly to the group home, which was within 3-5 miles away.

Stefie had come home from college for the Thanksgiving holiday break, it was great to spend time with her too. Actually, the day after Stefie took the girls to the movies to see Red Dawn, Stefie and I went to the movies to watch Breaking Dawn Part 2 --- it was awesome.

Stefie, always wanting to do her part, had gone through some of her clothes and jewelry and gave them a lot of things...even a purse. The 16 year old didn't even have a purse. Everything they are wearing is second-hand donations that had been made to the group home. I'm glad to have added a few nice things to their wardrobe. So, we had a lot to take back into their group home. They had come to us with backpacks and left us loaded down and with Blizzards.

So, lugging into their temporary home on grounds partially funded through the State of Texas, many kids residing there because of CPS intervention, we had to leave these two wonderful girls with words to remember that there ARE people out there who care about others, even a stranger. There ARE people who will open their home to children in need, but it's not easy. For us, being a Sponsor Parent is not a role that is's all on your own dime. I told the girls that made them extra special because any Sponsor Parent who takes them into their home is doing so as a volunteer. In this economy, that explains the reason the group homes are suffering a great shortage of sponsor parents. Mostly local, home-town church folks who, like the girls, will never have a perfect life, but at least they're willing to share what they've got with the less fortunate.

And it's not easy. We told the girls that we didn't have the extra money to run around town, but we have enough comforts here at home to have a grand old time. And that's exactly what we did with the exception of one trip to MacDonalds and for Stefie taking the girls out for a day of fun. Other than that, we had lots to do at home.

Christmas break for the kids is coming soon. I know there is a chance they could be united with their family and gone in a blink of an eye, but we will try to be here for them for as long as possible. I hope they do get the chance to be with their family again, at least before the "age-out" of the system.

Regardless, the girls and their Blizzards put on a happy face for us as we departed. There were a few tense moments of separation anxiety on behalf of all of us, but we got through it.

Photo: This is the one that's the best!

After the hugs and smooches on the cheek good-bye, the girls' faces lit up as the other girls in the group home came to the front door to nosy about and all was well as we walked out the door while hearing, "We got to take baths in a jacuzzi tub! It was EPIC!"

For me, I'll miss their EPIC laughter in the house and hope to hear it again over the Christmas holidays.


Modern Day Redneck said...

That is really cool. I would like to find out more about doing that.

Mary Ann said...

Lana, haven't read your blog in a while, and this post made me feel so good... I'll follow more often now. What a wonderful thing you did for those girls, and you're right, it's not all about money. Your daughter is following in your footsteps! I love how your kitchen is "real" too... just like ours!!!

Alicia said...

I love hearing about your time with the girls. You are giving them memories they will cherish always.

Anonymous said...

Good to hear from you. Beth

Vickie said...

Lana - I know you received a greater blessing than those girls - that's how it works. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it! So glad you made their lives happy and carefree for a while - hopefully their home situation will improve so they can go home. God bless ya, girl.

(PS - Braums has a "mix" that I like better than blizzard... they put more candy in it! just thought you'd like to know :) said...

Modern Day Redneck - it is a great program. It's easy for us to participate in because it is nearby. I love their group home approach, kids in the system will do anything to get to that location.

Mary Ann - Thank you for letting me know you are reading! Life is such a blur right now, but I keep trying to make time to write and record these special moment. And my kitchen is always in a state of being "real!" haha But, it is a heavily used kitchen, so it always feels great. I'm glad others can relate!

Alicia - the girls were regular kids...just wanting some security and positive attention. It's amazing how powerful a few moments of conversation and listening can provide healing and develop closeness. I am praying this girls will have the BEST outcome with their situation.

Beth - I'm still here! Trying to catch up! :-)

Vickie - you are SO right! I always feel as if I am the one who is blessed. I see too many Sponsor Parents signing up for this with the expectation that the kids should be grateful...the opposite is true, we adults should be grateful for being able to play a small part in the lives of these kids who are suffering. I am really hoping they will eventually be able to be back with their mother. I'm such a softie that if I think about it too much, I will start bawling. They really miss their mom. And, as for Dairy Queen, I knew you'd be able to imagine that trip! I will need to try the other!