When you work at a place like Amarillo Children’s Home, you find your emotions get turned upside down. You have to dig in and navigate deep waters of feelings. As we enter this Christmas season, I find myself feeling exceptionally grateful and deeply sad at the same time. One week ago today, I watched our campus say goodbye to a family of five kids who have been with us for over 5 years – my entire time at ACH. As I watched the hugs and tears and prolonged goodbyes and read the notes written in their goodbye journals, my heart broke.
These kids are deeply loved. I watched the people of our campus pour their hearts and lives into these kids for years, through hard times and celebrations. I watched each of these kids flourish: I remember two of them stopping a man at church with a bandaged hand, asking what happened and praying for him – this man is now on our board and making a huge difference in the lives of kids; I remember one of them learning to do a cartwheel, then a flip, then moving on to become a high school cheerleader, and another of them getting a scholarship to play college sports; I remember one hiding behind a desk, jumping out and scaring me out of my skin, then laughing uncontrollably with me; I remember them holding each other as they cried and prayed as a family at family camp; I remember them accepting Christ as their Savior.
We are heartbroken to let them go. Make no mistake; it is painful. Our hearts grieve.
However, as my tears clear I am reminded of this: we accomplished our mission to restore their identity, to teach them of their great value so they can be a blessing to others. Five years ago these were frightened children who fought the internal pain of anxiety and fear. They are now powerful young men and women, not perfect, but powerful!
Layered on top of my sadness is a profound thankfulness that we had each of those days for the last five years. I am thankful that our staff at Amarillo Children’s Home is capable to wake up each day and find the strength to empty themselves and their gifts out for the sake of kids. It is a high calling – not for everyone – and I am so incredibly proud of the work that has been done. The result was right in front of my eyes.
One of the gifts God has used to bond this family together is dance. Each sibling has brought so much joy to our campus as we have watched them dance through the years. They are incredible.
I framed an image in my mind as I watched them dance together as a family at their good-bye celebration. They are being adopted as a family. and they head off to begin a new season of life with a new family. I both celebrate and grieve at the same time. Such is the work we have chosen. Such is life. Such is the risk of loving others.
As always I find our kids teach me far more about who I am and who God is, than I teach them. The joy of getting to be a part of the lives of kids, to wake up each day with the opportunity to restore identity and put kids on a path that leads to wholeness and generational change far outweighs the pain. In fact I am actually thankful for the pain of seeing them leave – it reminds me that we loved them well and that this isn’t a job but a calling.
Thank you for being a part of this process. Everything that happens at ACH could not take place without the support and encouragement of the community. For nearly 94 years Amarillo has made sure that kids here are deeply loved. Thank you for being a part of our family and the transformative work of Amarillo Children’s Home.
Thanks for loving kids,
President Amarillo Children’s Home