Friday, September 25, 2015

A Centering exploration

"They want to run.  They want to be in nature.  They want to dance and express themselves.  They want to be taken care of and they want to be used."

I’ve been looking down this week in order to see God.  What I mean is that I’ve been focusing on my feet.  I’ve been foot gazing.  It has been about being more mindful and present with each foot.  Are they comfortable?  Are they moisturized?  Where did they take me today?  Where have they been in the past?  How do I keep them healthy for the future?

In my journal I have a “My feet want to list…”  They want to run.  They want to be in nature.  They want to dance and express themselves.  They want to be taken care of and they want to be used.

Feet are really interesting and really powerful.  In fact take a moment and really appreciate your feet.  You can take your shoes off if you want to.  Wiggle your toes, bend your ankle, and look at the bottom of your feet.

God created your feet.  He built them to carry you and for movement.  They have strength, obedience and they typically last as long as we do. 

When’s the last time you really cared for your feet?  Do you massage your feet?  Do you exfoliate them? Do you honor the daily tasks they perform?  What’s your relationship with your feet?  How has God used your feet to show his grace?  Feet are pretty amazing and they reflect the love and care God put into making them.

God has been using my feet this week to think about how he has created me.  My feet have carried me through obstacles; have helped me love his creation.  They crave grace, adventure, expression, creativity, connection and community.  So use your feet to worship today and this week.

Dear God, you created people that honor you.  As we enter worship, teach all the parts of our bodies what it means to be redeemed and wiped clean by your holy spirit.  Our time is in your hands.  We worship you because you are great.  We worship you because you are the most high.  Help us leave our burdens at the door and into your hands.  Thank you for all the ways our feet are designed to bring us back to you.  Amen.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday, January 10, 2014

I forget!

I really do struggle with seeing the impact of my work.  I still feel like a little kid or teenager, that maybe I'm still just being "humored."  

I forget that it doesn't matter how small you are, or where you have come from that your voice is your voice.  That its one of the most effective ways to communicate.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Octavia is a youth ambassador at my office, and she is a pretty amazing young lady.  She always comes in with a smile on her face, and she is ready to work. One of the things she does for me, and I'm not sure she realizes it, but I often hear her repeating the advice I have given to her.  She shares it!  It means a lot to me, because it shows that there is validity in what I have to say.  The support is a two-way street!.

Now I'm going to share her story.  She was so brave to share her story at the 2013 IL youth retreat.  Thank you Travis Lloyd for video taping this for us!  You caught a treasure!

Monday, June 10, 2013

One of the ways I knew

When you are in foster care you think about where you may end up a lot.  You have a fear that you are not unlike the statistics, stigmas and standards of kids in care.  Even though I had a healthy naivete about things, and I also had a "not like them," survival stance, you still wondered.  You knew you were about one mistake away from being a statistic.  No one wants to be status quo.

So when I found myself at Freshmen Orientation at Arcadia University, I knew that I should be very proud of myself.  In fact, I was five days away from spending my first semester in Scotland.  Wait, that's not in any foster kid primer I have read.  This is beyond the line of possibility.  Studying abroad, and seeing another country is what happens to other kids.

This post isn't about what fun Scotland was, its about how I knew I was ready and safe to go.  Would I have  done well without a safety net?  Would I have felt this adventurous without knowing that I had someone to catch me if I fell?  How did I know it was okay for me to go?  Now don't get me wrong, at 18 I wasn't saying to myself, "Now I have permanency,"  I found it in a very typical moment, and after much self-reflection

Arcadia University takes pride in its Freshmen Orientation, so we started with an opening ceremony where parents and students sat and listened to our dean.  I felt a mix of emotions, but I knew that the moment was coming where students and parents would separate for their prospective workshops.  The ceremony ended, and it was time to say goodbye.  I didn't want her to go.  I was nervous about meeting new people, and I knew that this was goodbye for four months.  It was a healthy, "age-appropriate", exciting good bye.  I was sad because I would miss Lisa, and I knew that I would be on my own.

When it was time to go, both of us started tearing up.  haha.  If you know Lisa, you might know that she's not frivolous.  She doesn't waste word, thought or action.  In fact, she probably doesn't even waste a second thought thinking about this moment, because it was what it was.  However, to me, it was another sign that I had hit the jack pot.  When you're a foster kid you don't always want success, you don't always just want to make it.  You want those moments when you and your loved one are both crying because its time to say good bye, even though you know you're going to see each other again in four months, which is great because you don't always get that luxury in care either.  She was sad to see me go. She wanted me to be safe.  She wanted me to succeed, and she cared if I succeeded or failed.  She was proud of me.  I think the important one of those feelings was that she was going to miss me, and that I was not at this momentous occasion alone.

And that is one of the ways I knew :-)

Here we are in 2005!  Freshmen Orientation! (before the tears)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Its been Foster Care Awareness Month!

I have been really really busy this month, and I'm quite proud of myself!  Never before have I immersed myself in this month's activities, and to be quite frank I was only planning on doing 2 things.  As you will see below I have done so much more!  A lot of it was being ready to jump right in, and thankfully many opportunities presented themselves as part of the network of organizations and people I have carefully created, supported, endorsed and promoted!

With the sound of a gong, May started with excitement!  All of my Facebook friends and twitter peeps were loud with shouts of, "Its Foster Care Awareness Month!"  I let my friends know that if they were a little unsettled with the amount of foster care stuff that I post, that they might want to consider hiding me from their newsfeed for the month.

It all started with daily "Did you know Posts" on the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board Facebook Page.  You can check us out, and follow along as there are still a few days left!  Our Facebook Page and our Website are great ways to keep tabs on what's happening with foster care in Pennsylvania.

I spoke about my experiences being a foster child on May 13th as part of the Pennsylvania State Resource Parent Association's Foster Care Awareness Event in the Harrisburg Capital building.  I got to meet Jimmy Wayne!

On May 17th, I wrote a blog about personal advocacy for " 31 Days, 31 Stories"  You can find my blog along with other stories  Here

May 20th and 21st brought me to Washington DC for a Congressional Shadow Day where I got to shadow Rhode Island Representative Langevin, who is a great advocate for foster children.

My state FCAA chapter did a pre-screening of ABC Family's "The Fosters," on May 25th.  Its a new show about a couple who take in foster children.  It got some great feedback!

The 2nd annual Memorial Day PA Foster Care Alumni of America Family Picnic took place on May 27th where we had 31 people and children in attendance!  I'm so proud of my alumni family, and so proud of my team.

In between each of these events is the not so everyday cool and amazing things I get to do as part of my job.  I train foster care case workers, I sat on the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts Roundtable (such an honor!), and I'm working with a group of YAB Core members to organize and plan a YAB Leadership Summit for June!  I'm really having the time of my life!  :-)

Why do I do the work that I do?  Lately I have been thinking of the things that I had to endure as a child in foster care and the aftermath, but I have also been thinking about all of the things that I didn't have to endure.    They are both of importance.  I want more and more kids in care to endure as little as possible.  I want them to fly to new heights, and I want their stories to be heard.  If I can play a little part in the work that my team(s) are doing I am happy.  Thank you to everyone who has supported me this month, and in the months before and to come.  Its so nice that my work happens to be so much fun!