Last week I watched some kids bowling. Little kids. No older than 8.
They were excited to find just the right ball and get started. A couple frames of nothing but gutter balls for the boys, while Dad got two strikes, quelled their enthusiasm.
Then a magical thing happened.
An employee with a long metal pole reached into each gutter and VOILA – bumpers. No more gutter balls. Lots more fun.
I immediately took out my notebook of blog ideas and wrote: BUMPERS – Wouldn’t that be nice! I need bumpers!
Maybe you understand. Maybe, like me, you have moments when you want to go back to being six and using bumpers.
Bumpers. Bumpers. I knew there was blog there, but instead of words coming out, there was only frustration.
I envisioned a light, fun piece about bumpers making life more enjoyable. I tried HARD to write that blog.
If you are a writer, you know trying HARD rarely leads to good writing. So, I put it aside.
Last night, a post from my friend S.a. Kish appeared on my Facebook timeline. Not unusual – except that the post was 8 days old and no one had commented on it recently. Those parameters don’t fit Facebook’s algorithm. A post that old with no recent activity should not have appeared in my feed.
Fluke? Coincidence? I don’t believe in either of those.
In a flash, I knew why the post appeared, and why the blog about bumpers had not progressed past thinking about myself.
The truth is I have bumpers: a wonderful family, loving friends, a welcoming church family, a Savior who loves me.
No, the story about people who need bumpers does not have Beth Painter as one of the main characters.
My friend S.a.Kish is the heart and brains of The Sage Collector, an advocacy group for foster parents and children.
Think about this:
Every day over 400,000 children and teenagers are in foster care in the United States.
On average, children remain under state care for two years. 15% live in group homes because a foster family is not available.
In 2014, 22,000 people aged out of the system without having a permanent home or family.
As The Sage Collector explains, there are many reasons kids become part of the foster care system. The goal, initially, is correction of whatever challenges exist and reunification of the family. That process take time. And, unfortunately, reuniting the family is not always a viable option.
Can you imagine being a kid without a place you called home. Can you imagine going to a new school and then another new school, never knowing how long you will be there. Can you imagine being in that situation and having one ounce of concern about algebra or how verbs are conjugated or which Civil War battle turned the tide for the North.
Can you imagine that? I can't.
Talk about needing bumpers!
This isn’t a blog about “bad” parents. It is about parents who may have challenges so great that they are unable to care for their kids.
This isn’t a blog about “bad” kids. It is about kids who may be in danger because they are, in some way, beyond their parents’ control.
This is a blog about people who truly do need bumpers. They don’t need our criticism or cynicism or judgement.
They need bumpers.
Not forever, just until they get stronger and learn new skills. Just until there are more days the ball stays on the lane than sinks into the gutter.
The Sage Collector assists foster parents, as well as parents and kids who are in the foster care system.
Go here to read more about this group.
Certainly, more foster parents are needed, but there are many other ways to help. Maybe there is a need you can fill. Maybe you can pass the information on to a friend who wants to help. Or keep the group in your prayers.
Bowling wouldn’t be much fun for young kids if there were no bumpers.
Life isn’t fun, and sometimes isn’t bearable, for people who need bumpers and don’t have them.
Think about how you would feel in that situation.
And remember that there but for the grace of God…
We will talk again soon,
Beth Painter is, among many other things, a writer and motivational speaker. You can follow her on Facebook on the “Think Big focus small” page.
Beth is available to speak to your group about how to make your dreams and desires come to life!