I Build Forts… I Run in Parking Lots…

Yes… I am 30. I build forts. I actually did this today in my bedroom. I made it productive and got some pretty awesome study time out of it (Habakkuk – the whole book YEA!). I also had a pretty boss nap. Wow, why don’t we do stuff like this more often? It was a pretty interesting experience and I posted a picture of it on Facebook. Someone sent me a text shortly after it was posted and said that the post was embarrassing, to which I asked for me or for them. When they remarked that it was embarrassing for me, it left me kind of confused.

1. Facebook, love it or hate it, the social network is what it is. I portray the real and genuine me on there at all times. Most people don’t really get my sense of humor and that’s OK. I was not embarrassed by my post, nor was it offensive.

2. I think more adults would let loose and have fun, by building forts or anything else that brings out their reminiscent childhood if they weren’t so uptight about what other people would think about them.

PRROOOOOFFFFFF!

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(God was in there too, hence the population count!)

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I had an AWESOME afternoon… well I did after a minor freak out that I was in fact 30 years old and have been for the past six month.

I digress…

Feeling like I was on cloud nine tonight, I went in to work during a crazy monsoon. It was flooding and everything on the way. So gross. I hate weather like that. I don’t know how I have survived South Florida all these years. We only had a three kids in the shelter, a teen who couldn’t be bothered with us, a baby, and a rambunctious pre-teen who I will refer to as Merida because she resembles the character from Brave.

The baby was entertained with a volunteer and the teen just wanted to curl up and watch a movie (pretty typical), so Merida and I set out on a mission. I asked her if she had ever built a fort. She replied “no.” I told her that when I was a child I would build forts on rainy days like this. I asked if she would like to build one with me and she excitedly nodded her head in agreement.

I told her that we had to decorate the fort. So we got some construction paper and crayons.  I asked our teen if she wanted to join, she still said no. As Merida and I drew pictures and made up a name for the fort – “Fort Cool Club” – we talked about various things like school and of course art. After we were done, we got office chairs and blankets to construct our fort.

And this was the final result!

ImageWe sat in the fort and watch a Barbie movie for a little while, but it started to get late. I told Merida that she could stay in the fort and finish the movie, or she could help me make dinner. She opted to make dinner so we deconstructed our fun zone. She had a blast and she smiled for the rest of the night. Merida was very helpful for dinner and she loved the food! She said her favorite food was mashed potatoes, and I had the pleasure of making them for her. She helped her self to three heaping spoonfuls!

Our other visitor for the evening joined us. She seemed to open up a little more and we all talked. I don’t typically eat with the children because we don’t have enough room and we usually have enough food to feed the kids (adults bring their meals to Safe Place). Since we only had two that would be at the table, I felt that I should eat with them tonight. We talked about our favorite subjects in school and favorite foods. I learned that our other guest, I will call her Ariel, liked hot wings.

After dinner I cleaned up and the giris went to watch movies in separate rooms.  Ariel went back to her movie and didn’t want to interact anymore (sad face), but Merida was up for a few games of Go Fish and drawing. By that time our volunteer had to go home so I was in charge of our little baby guest who shall be called Franky. I told Merida that I couldn’t draw and take care of little Franky, but I would watch her draw.

A little while later, Franky left Safe Place. So adorable, he had been here before. I remember him because he was a tough customer in the feeding department. He was previously breast-fed so the first time he came to Safe Place, and at that time I had to try out about 5 different nipples and bottles before I found one that he would latch on to. I forgot that while he was screaming in my ear tonight, but had the great idea to try a different nipple for the bottle and it worked…. then I remembered that this was little Franky’s trademark.

I went to do some paperwork after his departure and then both girls came into my office. Merida wanted to color some more and Ariel wanted to talk. She admittedly didn’t want to be at the shelter, and we talked about journaling and praying to God. I told her that He listens and hears everything. I read to both girls Psalm 34 and then I focused on verses 17 and 18, which say:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;he delivers them from all their troubles.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (NIV).

I let the girls know that no matter what happens, no matter what hardship, no matter the uncontrollable circumstance that God hears, knows, sees, and cares about all things and he loves when we speak to him honestly.

Ariel was tugging on my heart strings. Merida needed to have some play time and attention, but Ariel….no she was deeply scarred.  I noticed a fresh tattoo. I didn’t ask about it, but I the words “Respect” were part of the marking. I wanted to cry because according to her situation and why she was there tonight, she was far beyond respected. I knew deep down that even though she had that as a banner and wanted it, that she didn’t feel or know what respect really meant.

Ariel left and went into another room. I followed her and gave her a spiral notebook and a new bible, both pink. I told her that God was listening to her.  I asked if we could pray together and she said we could. Once I finished praying, she put the items in her bag. Then she got up and said she needed to leave. I followed her out to the parking lot and walked around for about 10 minutes following her like a puppy wanting a home. I begged her to come in just one more night. I told her that it wasn’t safe and horrible things could happen this time of night, additionally who knew if the rain would come back.  She ran off. I followed a little bit, but I knew I needed to go back inside to start the runaway process. The sooner  the police were alerted, the sooner they would started patrolling the area, and the more likely they would be to finder her.

We cannot force teenagers to stay at Safe Place. The reality is some of them do run away. Many are notorious runners. It breaks my heart.

Please pray for Ariel. Pray that she is brought back and that she is put in a place that will be able to minister to her, and help her see her self-worth.

Soon after all of the craziness, it was time for Merida to leave. She was going with family (praise the Lord)! At least we could end the night on a more positive note.

So…when I left, there were no children at Safe Place. My prayer is that all children are safe tonight, and that God shine light in the darkness on the ones that aren’t so that they may have a chance at redemption.

What do I do for a living?

I build forts.

I run in parking lots. 

And… I am not in the least bit embarrassed….

Please note that the names above are not the real names of the children in our shelter. 
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2 thoughts on “I Build Forts… I Run in Parking Lots…

  1. You are my hero and you always will be. Thank God for people who will build forts and run in parking lots not matter what the age.

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