Buried underneath piles of french fries, cookie-crumbled ice cream, bacon burgers, and hot apple pies.
Beneath the smiles and laughter.
Jumping off swings into a pile of pine bark.
Riding metal playground equipment until the springs nearly break.
The prayer of the oldest boy before the meal.
It’s unspoken– but it still rides the swells in my heart.
I say, How was your day at school today?
He responds with dark, averted eyes, smile suddenly vacant, Not good. I don’t want to talk about it.
The undercurrent trickles.
His breathing shallow as he wildly takes ownership of the playground.
I remember his asthma and ask if he’s seen a doctor about his cough, How long have you been coughing? Where is your inhaler?
We send someone to the car to get his medicine.
We talk about World War II and Belgium. And a girl that helped other children escape the Holocaust.
And I wonder, Where are you Lord? Will you rescue this precious boy? Will you give him a mama and daddy?
I listen and smile. I ask questions.
But I know what happened yesterday.
That’s what is sandwiched between us. Yesterday.
The news he an his brother received– the undertone of our two-hours together.
Their little lives bear raw wounds and unrelenting grief from living in a way that no child should.
Asked to carry a load and fill a space that children shouldn’t occupy.
Promise after promise. All broken.
Shards buried deep in a teenagers heart.
That same boy, as tall as me, asks if he can keep his little sister’s Happy Meal box and stickers.
Because he’s never fully experienced the freedom of just being a child. Doing the things children normally do.
Sleep may bring rest, but by morning they quickly remember.
Different sheets. New room. A different home. A new school. A new foster mama.
Loss upon loss.
I want to rescue.
I also want to run– pretend this doesn’t exist.
In His mercy, He reminds me of a story told about an old woman in an inner city church.
She would walk down the road every Sunday to pick up two little boys and carry them to church with her.
The boys had a hard home life, but they grew in their faith.
And that’s not all.
When they were removed from their home, their first foster mama loved Jesus, prayed with and for them.
And she still does. Still involved.
They were active in their choir with her and diligent about memorizing scripture.
Right now feels really dark and absent of His presence if I only look at the current circumstances.
If I don’t remember how He’s fought for them in the past, I will despair.
He is our intercessor. A father to the fatherless. The lover of justice and mercy.
If I forget truth, the trickling undercurrent becomes a gushing hydrant.
And I drown in circumstances that seem bleak.
May He come quickly to rescue!
And may the church rise to the call to care for the least of these.
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Rom 8:34)
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Melanie and her husband, Kevin, have three biological children and live in Birmingham, Alabama. They have been foster parents for two years. More of their story and journey can be followed at Melanie’s blog Running to the Father.