Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Love Story continued ...

Change seems to be the norm for us and change was soon in the air again. This time it involved …
Job changes for both Jody and I. She went to work at the college in an office. We found a good place for T. (our son) to go when I was in class or working. She really enjoyed this new job. I went from my job as a night time school custodian to working as a supervisor at a juvenile detention facility. My job was a lot closer, so less miles to drive and it involved working with youth. At about this time we also got a different place to live. We found a nice 2 bedroom townhouse apartment near the college. This was a very nice change from our 3 ½ room duplex and we were able to get away from the roaches also. Although we soon discover we had exchanged one critter for another, this time it was mice. But the apartment brought in an exterminator and helped with the problem. In the meantime I became quite proficient at setting and emptying mouse traps.

My job was working with teens that were in trouble with the law and were sentenced to our facility. It was a lock-up facility that came with barbed wire topped fencing around the yard. This was one of the best things that happened to me in preparation for becoming a teacher and then later a pastor. It helped me to look past the surface a person and to see behind the curtain of who they really were and what had contributed to them being who they were and how they were acting. I came to the conclusion that a lot of people shouldn’t be parents and in fact I thought maybe people should have to pass a test before they would be allowed to have any children.

I saw parents tell kids that they were no longer their children. I saw parents take a swing at their own kids in front of supervisors. I saw parents dump all of their kids belongings on the steps of our facility. I saw the hurt in the eyes of some tough kids when these things happened. I saw that some tough kids weren’t so tough after all. I talked with kids who thought it was okay that their dad beat them up. I saw kids who believed their parents didn’t love them or care about them. When I first started the job I had trouble sleeping because of all that I saw and heard. My I eyes are filling with tears as I type this remembering some of those faces and situations.

Wow, I wasn’t quite ready for the emotions that just hit as I recounted that time. In many ways that job has shaped much of my life. I was a teacher and a coach (still doing that one), I was a youth pastor, I taught and coached at a college and I am now a senior pastor but am still working with teens. In my 28 years of ministry I have coached kids or teens for at least half of those years and as a senior pastor I have done some youth ministry several times over those years. That job at the juvenile detention facility has continued to motivate me to look beyond the first impression, especially of kids and teens. I pray that I am able to communicate to the teens at my church and the girls in my volleyball program that I really care about them. That no matter what else is happening in their lives they have someone who cares, who prays for them and will listen to them no matter what. I don’t think I do a very good job of that communication at times, but I keep working at it because they are worth it.

The end of my college time began to come into focus and that created a choice for Jody and I. It involved a major choice for us, …


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