|Friday, Jun. 28, 2002 || For Ashley...|
I know I have been letting you all down due to the lack of witty and inspiring diary entries over the past week (yeah, right). Quite frankly, at a certain time of the month, my brain turns to complete mush, or so it seems. So, that is my profound, yet simple explanation. I am currently brain dead due to PMS.
As a matter of fact, I am not even sure why I am attempting an entry today. I woke up with one of those headaches. It is mostly gone now due to the wonder drug, Ibuprofen, but it has not increased my concentration abilities in the least.
I suppose I haven't told you about the rest of our week at camp. It really was quite nice. I was able to walk everyday in the beautiful out-of-doors; when you are on top of a mountain, it just doesn't get too hot until about 2:00 PM, and then since they have an olympic-size swimming pool, the heat issue is a minor one.
Since Rob was the speaker they spoiled us completely, not letting us pay for anything at the snack bar (free icecream, candy, and soda for our kids all week long, including the "big" kid in the family, my dear hubby). I was a good little dieter and stuck with dill pickles, which only contained 5 calories each.
The meals were actually quite good, which was a pleasant surprise at a youth camp. The cook, a humble, talented man with one of the biggest, whitest smiles you'll ever see, whipped up some of the best camp fare I've ever experienced: toasted ravioli, sloppy joes, lasagna, and cinnamon rolls, to name a few items. For the most part I stuck with my daily salads (and the camp director even went out and brought me back croutons!) and small portions, and with the extra walking I was able to still lose 2.5 lbs that week.
The most touching part of the week were the "kids". I call them kids, but they were teens ranging in age from 14-18. Back in 95-97, Rob taught a 3rd-4th grade junior church class, and at least 20 of those kids, now in high school, were at the camp. To see them again was really amazing, and better yet, to see that a ministry that was often frustrating and discouraging really did make a difference in their lives was rewarding.
The hardest part of the camp was seeing how much some of those kids were hurting. When Rob was first asked to speak, we were told what churches were attending. In our guesstimation, mostly "church" kids. The theme was "Soul Fire", but for some reason, Rob felt led to share his background the first night (he had a pretty bad childhood) and speak on forgiving our parents, especially our dads, and releasing the hurt. He really stressed that they (the teens) didn't deserve to be abused or mistreated. That God is a real father, and that He loves them infinitely above and beyond anything they could imagine, and that no matter what they did, or do, He will not love them any more or less. His love is constant; it never changes.
The response was incredible. Even the chaperones were moved. Some told their group of teens, "You know, I haven't talked to my dad in "X" years..." The theme of the camp seemed to shift to forgiveness and acceptance of God's love. One youth group was so split at the start of the camp, the entire church was being affected. By Wednesday night, the group was restored with many tears, hugs, and laughter.
One girl in particular really touched me. Her name is Ashley, and she was in our class back in '96 or '97. At first I didn't recognize her; she has grown tall and beautiful. She was always a pretty girl, but now she is gorgeous. She doesn't know that, though. A few month ago she had two brain tumors removed. Her hair is still cropped short and she wore a ball cap all week. She is 15 and has been abused, physically and verbally, most of her life by an alcoholic mother. She is currently in foster care.
"They don't like me," she told me matter-of-factly, "They are having a baby, so I will have to go to a new home soon. My mom wants me to come home, but she is drinking again..."
She also told me how she saw her dad for the first time in her life, after her surgery, and how she asked him why he left, why he abandoned her.
"I thought you'd be better off without me, because I couldn't be a good dad...I'll be back tomorrow to see you..."
"Don't tell me that unless you mean it," Ashley said to him.
"I promise," he lied.
He did not come back. She has not seen or heard from him since.
I grabbed Ashley's hand and with tears in my eyes, I said, "Ashley, you didn't deserve what your parents have done to you! You didn't deserve it! You didn't!"
She looked at me, wanting to believe, but her eyes also told me that she can't believe it, not yet. I wish I could have wrapped her up and brought her home with me.
Even now I can see her face, her blue eyes full of pain and hurt, yet her need and desire to laugh and have fun and just be a kid. She is old beyond her years. She is a woman yet a child, with the ability to squeeze your heart without even realizing it. God help us help kids like her!
And how I wish I could ring her mother's neck! Not a very Christian thought, I know; that's just being honest. I know that her mom probably has done no different than what was done to her. She too is a victim in many ways. But there is a point where we, as adults, have to choose to break the curse instead of continuing the destructive cycles.
So, today I think of Ashley. Just one week ago I gave her a hug goodbye. I wonder where she is right now. And I pray that she will find hope, that she will heal.
And that one day she will know how beautiful she is.
Just a reminder - Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
Rockin' Girl Blogger - Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2007
A good end - Friday, Jun. 01, 2007
Moving on? Yes and no. - Monday, May. 07, 2007