Today I went to the Laura Dester Shelter with my friend, Mandy. I heard on the news yesterday about a 20 month old baby boy that was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. The police officer stopped a car driving slowly and noticed a baby lifeless in the car seat in the back. He performed CPR for 20 minutes. The baby never regained consciousness. He had broken ribs and trauma all over his body. I dreamed about this little boy last night. I am thankful that he is not suffering anymore. That he is in the arms of Jesus. But, my dream was about what he likely endured yesterday before his death. I woke up knowing I had to go the shelter today. Brax is in OKC with his meme and I was going to have a day with NO kids for a few hours. I had other things on my agenda but none as important as holding kids that have endured so much pain and are still enduring it. So Mandy and I headed off to the shelter about 15 minutes from our houses. Today was a hard day for me there. Each time I go it is hard to leave, hard to focus on anything else once I am gone. But today the kids gripped me more than ever.
Laura Dester Shelter is a temporary place for kids to stay that have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. There are 4 different little cottages that the kids stay in. There is the little house, where I spend most of my time, where ages 0 to 5 stay. Then there is Cottage B for 6-11 year olds. I love these kids too because most understand why they are there and they like to talk. They LOVE attention and they are in such need of LOVE. Then there are the 2 big houses for teen boys and girls. Every time I go there is always at least one teen pregnant. Today there was one pregnant by her grandFATHER and last time there was one pregnant by her DAD. The teens are tougher because they have been in and out of the system for years. They are tough and hardened but with time and love they too will connect with you.
The shelter allows volunteers to come freely anytime of the day or night. All you have to do is sign in and go back to the cottages. The direct care workers are always glad to see some fresh faces that are willing to help with the kids. It is so easy to become a volunteer. All you do is call the shelter, fill out a background check and attend a training that last less than 2 hours. Then you are a volunteer and can come freely.
Today I spent all my time at the little house. There was a baby girl about 6 weeks old that was beyond precious. She was probably the luckiest one there because I don't think she felt the pain of her situation like the rest of the kids. Most kids have multiple siblings at the shelter with them. They try to find homes to place the children together but usually can't because there are SO many kids in one family. Today there were 3 little ones that were brother and sister (and they had more in the older cottages). All 3 had rotted out teeth from their baby bottles being in their mouth too long. I am sure their parent put pop or juice in the cup too judging from the holes in their baby teeth. They were MORE than precious. Beyond precious. The brother was 8 months (and so happy), the sister was 2 and the other sister was 3. The 3 year old was the caretaker for sure and mature beyond her years. The 2 year old was screaming in her bed, once I picked her up she fell right asleep. Her 3 year old sister laid in her bed for over 2 hours, crying on and off the entire time. Mandy and I took turns sitting by her. I asked her if she knew who made her and she said her mom. I said, "your mom had you, but God made you". And He loves you so much. She said, "where is God"? I told her, "in heaven but also He can live in her heart", she looked down her shirt with a bit of worry. She had NEVER heard that before you could tell. There was a 3 year old boy there today that had been there 2 weeks ago when I was there. He could not talk at all but could understand everything. He had a such a precious little spirit. The ones that tugged my heart the most today were a sibling group of 5. The little boy was crying when I first got there but once we started playing bubbles he got happier. He was 3 and was in desperate need of a haircut. I washed his hands before lunch and he pointed to a deep burn on top of his hand that stretched about 3 inches wide. He said, "I have an ouchie". I said yes you do and I kissed it. He said, "it's a burn, "my dad burns me when I am bad". I kissed it for a few seconds and said, "well I don't like that you are burned and you are never bad enough to deserve to be burned, that makes me sad, and I don't ever want you to get burned again". He just nodded his head. His baby brother who looked to be 6 months old but was really 14 months old also had several burns on him. One on each of his 10 toes, one on his neck and one on his leg. His sister had half of her scalp burned and was missing all of her hair on one side because of the massive scabs and infection. She has a twin too but they were both at school . I would like 10 minutes alone in a room with that father and then I would take 5 with the mom. That is all it would take. But, that is my flesh talking. I want those parents to be hurt because of what they have done over and over to these 5 children!! But, then God whispers to me, "Miranda, those parents are already hurting or they wouldn't do that to their kids". God tells us in his word, "to let vengeance be mine". My job is to love these kids and to make sure that they are not hurt again.
Right before we were going to leave 2 other kids were brought in that the police had just picked up. A 1 year old girl and 3 year old boy that were siblings. They had on filthy shirts and no pants (just diapers) and no shoes. The police officer found them walking around town by themselves. They were scared to death. The workers gave them something to eat, a bath and then put them down for a nap. The 3 year didn't sleep he was literally shaking. I asked him if he wanted a stuffed animal to hold and he said "no, a car". I got him a car and he drove it back and forth on his bed over and over. The whole time I kept thinking, "what if this was Brax?" or Bronson or Brelee. What if I was the bad mom and my kids were here? What would my kids be doing or thinking?" The pain that these kids are enduring is more than anyone should endure. That is why I am so passionate about doing something to help.
I was thinking about my role as a christian to change this world for God. It clearly states in the bible that Satan is the ruler of this earth, and he is lurking around like a lion, seeking whom he can devour". God lives in christians through the holy spirit. So, if God is going to be uplifted and move in this world it is going to be through Christians that are being led by the spirit. I think christians let ourselves off easy when we pray, "Lord, help these kids!!". Help someone to do something. Protect them Lord, provide for them.". I think it is crucial to pray for these kids but then if we don't get up and act who will? We are only blessed to be a blessing. Getting involved with God's work is messy. It is not clean or neat. Jesus got messy everyday. He could have easily walked by the lepars, the blind, the lame, the sinner and said, "Father in heaven, please do something about these people. Help them!!". But, instead he prayed and ACTED in faith. He didn't pass up a chance to do something and get his hands dirty. I desperately want to be an imitator of Jesus. I want to do what He would do if He were here. It takes the holy spirit to give me courage and prompting because on my own I am too selfish. I have pledged to the Lord to get my hands dirty. Not live my "clean little suburban life". But to walk in obedience and to love one another as Christ loves me. This isn't easy but it is the only way to live. Please say a pray for me today and for yourself that we will be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ here on this earth. . .