Thursday, May 08, 2008


For the past couple of months God has involved me in the life of a very troubled 18 year old girl. I have not written about her in this forum, other than alluding to the pain of her rejection in this post. I have, however, shared her story with a handful of women in my life, primarily so they could be surrounding the situation in prayer.

This week, KP's life took another turn and I have felt it impressed upon my heart to share her story, primarily because it has illustrated the Gospel to me in a fresh, painfully real way.

I first met KP about 4 years ago at our town's home for abused and neglected children. She was 14 or 15 at the time. I was teaching a Bible Study there that she never attended, but her face was familiar to me. We always made eye contact and she was pleasant, but we really never developed much of a relationship.

She lived at the children's home twice over the course of 4 years, leaving only for a span of a few months to live in a foster home that did not work out. KP was in our home because her parents were so busy battling their own demons of addiction they were unable to care for her. She already had a history when she came to us at 14.

One year ago this month she was graduating with honors from high school. She wanted to be a nurse, so she was working part-time in healthcare and had started nursing classes. After graduation she decided to sign herself out of our home and make a go of independence. She had no family support and no money. But, at her age, she was legally able to sign herself out of care. So, like most 18 year olds, in a moment of perceived invincibility and idealism, she spread her wings and flew the coop.

A few months later, a donor visiting our facility was taken with our story of KP's honors graduation and career goals. He asked us to find her so his family could finance her college education. We ecstatically set out in search of her. Within a couple of days KP was located. Her name was in the paper, reporting her arrest for 5 felony crimes involving drugs. We were crushed. An amazing opportunity had been within arms reach...and now everything was different.

Although I was not close to her, upon the news of her incarceration the Lord compelled me to visit her. I had never been to a jail before (even on a tour). I was frightened. I had no clue what to say or do. But based on my knowledge of her family history, I was convinced there may very well be no one else to show up for her. God put it on my heart and there was no shaking it. KP, afterall, was a scared little girl who was in deep trouble--way over her head. Anybody was better than nobody.

C, a woman from the home who had been much closer to KP, joined me at the jail for a visit. (It was her first time too.) We fumbled our way through the requirements. The facilities were cold, grey, hard and stripped down. After a half hour wait, we finally saw KP. It was a no-contact visit, so she looked like a frightened little girl in an oversized orange jumpsuit as we spoke to her via a telephone and through the glass. She told us that we were her only visitors in the 6 days she had been incarcerated. There were many tears shed among the three of us as C & I tried to get a sense for how to meet her practical needs. We told her she was loved, despite her mistakes. We offered her our support. We prayed for her. She asked us to attempt to track down her mother and we agreed. It never ceases to amaze me how true these children are to their parents, despite the choices they have made which have resulted in such pain and scarring in their young lives.

KP spent a month in jail before the decision was made to post her bond. A group of concerned individuals pulled together a plan to keep her out of trouble. A safe, well-monitored facility was found to provide her with free housing. A business owner offered her a job. Clothes, food, money and a gift card to Wal-Mart for toiletries were all donated. I presented KP with a contract stipulating the 5 conditions of her bond. They were all designed with her protection in mind. If she had any hope of pleading first time offender and getting her charges reduced or dropped she had to stay FAR from trouble. One of the conditions was that she would meet with me weekly and stay in touch with me by phone. There were offers on the table to assist with her legal defense and the original offer to finance her education was still an option. KP was truly being given a beautiful second chance.

We got her settled that first day out of jail, then she disappeared (by her own choice). After 10 days on the run, bounty hunters were employed to find her. Her bond had been substantial, but more importantly, she was in danger and not holding up her end of the deal. She was not showing signs of maturity, responsibility or a willingness to receive the help being offered. She needed to be returned to jail.

After a few days of chaos, lots of tips and a couple of close calls, KP called and asked if she could turn herself in. She was tired of running (and especially tired of being chased.)

Her rearrest was low key. She showed up by her own volition with a woman (non-familial) who was planning to transfer her bond to her name. KP looked very rough and admitted that she had been using crack daily. The glimmer of hope was when she admitted that she had been advised to keep running, but she knew she needed to show up and be responsible.

I prayed a lot that afternoon. I was so angry. I despise being lied to, especially when I had sacrificed time, money, energy and emotion for this child. I felt naive, foolish and used. Yet, when she kept her head down between her legs in the holding area, unable to make eye contact with me for her shame, I felt strangely sympathetic. I was still furious. But, I found myself more heartbroken than anything else. KP is in bondage. She hugged me in the end, but there was no dramatic conversion. My prayer was that somehow in a quiet moment she would reflect on this experience and feel the love of God and realize she is worth so much more than this.

I have watched the newspaper for her rearrest in the month since our last encounter. Today, it was there. She was arrested with the very woman who took over her bond. Tonight there are physical bars as a visible reminder of the prison her heart and life have been in for some time. Strangely, I feel a sense of relief that she is back in jail. At least she is safe and alive.

I don't know how/if the Lord will lead me to pursue her this time. As I was praying about all this today I was struck by how this is really a modern day example of the prodigal son. His demands for independence resulted in his eating pig slop and ultimately returning home humbled and repentant. I pray that KP will ultimately get it.

Then, I was convicted in my pride. I was also reminded of how we, due to the human condition, are like KP. Most of us probably aren't using and selling dangerous street drugs, but in our own ways we battle addictions, temptations, bondage. We dabble in sin. We go back to the same crime scenes over and over. We reject truth being spoken over our lives because "we can handle it." We hang our heads in shame when we are caught with no more places to run.

This is where the story turns from tragedy to love story, because there to lift up our heads is a loving, forgiving Father, our Creator, Comforter, Savior and Sustainer. He doesn't allow His pride stand in the way. He scoops us up with nail scarred hands and holds us close. He has secured our bond and freed us from our eternal sentence.

I don't know about you, but I don't stop and ponder the INCREDIBLE truth of the Gospel story and its implications in my life nearly enough. I followed God's lead to that jail, thinking He might use me to teach her something...instead He used her life to illustrate the Gospel and teach me about what His love really looks like.


Ashley said...

Wow, my heart just aches. I get sad to be my age, not married and feeling I am entitled to a life full of rewards b/c I have been a "good" person. Well lets see, I sin daily often not spoken, but in my heart and just as this child has broken the laws of our society I have broken my Lord's heart over and over yet he still holds me tight and forgives me and I know that. This precious child has had so many hurdles that I cannot fathom yet I complain. I talk to my mother daily, I am so close to family and friends yet I feel I am missing something. Maybe the fact is I am selfish and absorbed in my own life to much to realize there are so many out there that just need a hug, someone to love them or just pray for them. Thanks for sharing, thanks for being vulnerable, but most of all thank you for loving this child and praying for her. I will go to bed tonight and lift her up and also thank Jesus for loving me and blessing my life. Tell the trio Hello and I pray you have a restful night! Blessings, Ashley

Paulette said...

Thank-you so much for sharing this, I can so relate to this girl, I too am so grateful a woman like yourself did not give up on me for as long as it took. May I suggest getting this girl a Celebrate recovery Bible to read while she is in there. It is a unique bible designed to reach ones who deal with pain from a traumatic past, addictions and recovery. It is an amazing bible that maps out scripture and devotionals as well about everything she is dealing with. You can get one online at Celebrate I believe she will read it. Once I picked it up it changed me, because it reached me.
I will commit to pray for this girl every single day J, and I will pray that God wil use you to continue to minister to her, that her testimony one day will be that a very special Godly woman perservered with me.
Love you J.

Mayhem And Miracles said...

No, I don't think about it nearly enough either. And I miss that. Your post is perfect timing for me tonight. I hope that God will miraculously open KP's eyes to see Truth. It is SO EASY to get sidetracked!

Kelly said...

I am new to blog, and I must say it has been such a blessing to me. I am currently in a very similar situation with someone like KP...troubled past, prison, deceit. And yet I still have a heart for him, and yes, feel strangely sympathetic towards him. I so long for his heart to be freed from its prison the way only our Savior can do. Thank you for sharing your story and for the reminder of God's redeeming love in each of our matter what our "story."

wendymom said...

Thanks for sharing the story, I pray you will continue to be used by God again and again. Don't let the enemy deceive you into believing it didn't work before. Trust me, you have planted seeds in that girl's life she will draw from for a long time.

Perri said...

J - it's a long process and one that takes much adjustment on the part of those of us who don't understand why a child would rather live in a car with their parents than in a foster home with a warm bed, good food and a family that loves them. I've seen it over and over.

Don't give up on her but don't let her continually take advantage of you. It's a fine line but if you do, that will kill your desire to help others.

I'll be praying for all of you.

FENICLE said...

All I can say is wow. I volunteer & am the board at a residential home for teens and young woman (many of whom are either pregnant or have young children - some that have been taken away from them). This story seems so similiar to many I've seen happen at our home.

Your strength and conviction inspire me. It's VERY easy to be hardened after an experience such as this. I agree with Perri. Sometimes you have to reach out in ways that they cannot see, but can hopefully feel - through prayer.

Kristin said...

What an incredible story. I've been reading your blog for some time now and I am so amazed at your ability to be not only a stellar Mom but take the time to reach outside of your own home to do God's work. I can only hope to be half of the mother you are someday.
Happy Mother's Day to you.

Kim said...

J-Thank-you for your open, honest post. I too have found that God often teaches me SO many lessons, as I reach out and minister to those who are lost and hurting.

Compassion is something God truly desires each of us to his word says, 'but for the grace of God..there go I'.

My husband and I oversee Prayer Counseling (counseling ministry based on helping people see their need for Christ...and then helping them walk through heart transformation) at our church, and weekly we are confronted with people who have similar issues. And each week, God speaks SO powerfully to my heart...and I learn SO much, as we share the LOVE of Christ with others.

I'll be praying for KP....and for you....praying that God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.

Blessings to you...and have a WONDERFUL Mother's Day.


Chad said...

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the prince of glory died

My richest gain I count but loss

And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast

Save in the death of Christ my God

All the vain things that charm me most

I sacrifice them to his blood