Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Today is a very nice day, weather wise. I have a lot of work to do today, but writing you is important. The work can wait a few minutes more. It took us a little while to digest the information we received from our foster children's court appearance yesterday. Bad news sometimes takes a little while to sink in. The boys will be leaving us probably within the next four months or so. Your Aunt Crystal is very upset, more upset than I've seen her in a long time. There isn't much hope for a good future for the boys if they go back with their parents. Not a very nice thing to say, I know. I'm just not feeling very nice today.
What we're having a hard time wrapping our heads around is how a family that has made very destructive decisions in regards to children, only has to make good decisions for a couple months or so and then everything's okay. I'll explain is like this; (misuse of semicolon! - sometimes I just like to throw them out there) Anyway - it's like this - Say you're being bad for two hundred days. Then you are good for two days. Does that two days automatically cancel out the last two hundred bad ones? Are you suddenly a good and trustworthy person? I don't really expect you to answer that. It's not an easy thing to answer.
Here's the thing - ANYONE can keep their act together for a couple months or so. It takes a steel reserve and REAL effort to make good and healthy decisions over the long term. My Dad used to tell me that you cannot define a person by any one single action, but you can make a pretty good assessment of that person by the sum of their actions over time. He was much less impressed by a person who one day saved a child from a burning building, than by a person who got up every day and went to work, took care of their family, was honest and love-oriented in their actions. It's those little daily decisions to get out of bed and do the right thing - that is the hard stuff. That is what makes a good person. Every day. Every action. Every moment.
Nobody is perfect and everyone fails at times. That's why we have forgiveness. That's why people should be treated with compassion. You'll notice that people have a hard time dealing gently with each other. They are much more forgiving of their own faults while they drive hard nails into their neighbors. Some people lack the ability of self-reflection, yet are quick to see evil in others.
I'll give you a simple example. Yesterday I got upset at Elijah for leaving his dirty socks on the floor and gave him a hard time about it. I then went downstairs to see I left my shoes in the middle of the living room floor. I got upset with Elijah about something I've mentioned to him several times before. Something that I know that he knows he should be doing to care for our home and here I was doing the same darn thing. Funny how that works.
If you pay attention, you'll see God provide you with example of this all the time and quickly. The next time you get upset with someone, keep watch for the same behavior in yourself. I bet you see it. Don't get too down with yourself about it. It's just God's way to remind us to treat each other gently.
You are very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love you. You have a lot of people who take good care of you and make the hard decisions and sacrifices so that you have a good life. The hard truth is that there are bad people out there. People who make selfish decisions. People who love only themselves. People who can keep up appearances for a little while then just go right back to the destructive lifestyle when it suits them. These people do not love you or me. These people should not be treated gently, for they only know how to take. They feed off of the good people. They indulge in the hard work of others. Most importantly, they don't take any responsibility for their own actions. These people have a way of rationalizing their lives. They blame others for all their sloth and destructiveness. These people spend so much time leeching their loved ones and society, while at the same time hating those same people who save them time and time again.
I'll give you an example ;;;;; (I just can't help myself - Kurt Vonnegut said that writers should never use semicolons. He said the thing you could tell about a person who knows how to use them is that they went to college) Anyway - here's an example. The biological family for our foster children costs the state of Missouri about - and this is probably a conservative number - around twelve thousand dollars a month. This includes food stamps, court costs, foster care costs, prison costs, social worker salaries, etc. They leech off the system while they hate it. They blame everyone else for their faults, yet take and take and take. What's happening is that they are keeping up appearances for a couple months. When all that support is gone and the boys are back with them - what do you think will happen? They will go back to their same destructive behavior. The will find a reason to use drugs again, to steal again and to hurt their children again. When the children grow up they become like their parents and the cycle continues.
What chance does our boys have? Not a very good one.
I prayed to God continually during our long day at court. I didn't really feel his presence there. I know he was there, but I didn't really feel much in the way of his intervention in the course of things. God does answer all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes God just lets things go about their course and you just have to hold on and do the best you can with the circumstances. There's nothing more we can do for the boys. It is what it is.
It is my most ardent wish that you grow up to be a woman who takes responsibility for her actions. I hope you put forth the effort to be a good person and do the right thing. I hope you lead every decision with love. I know you Temple and I know you have it in you. I love you very much. You are very special to me and I would give everything I have to protect you from the people who would do you harm. I know I'm not the only person you have in you life who is like that. You have a lot of good people pulling for you. In the end, like my own children, it will be up to you.
When you are an adult you will make the call for what your life will be. You will make the decisions for yourself. It's up to you.
Your Aunt Crystal is an excellent person. She's not perfect, but she's pretty darn close. Like I said, she was very upset yesterday. Sometimes life gives you so much that it's hard to compartmentalize it all. Sometimes you just can't. She didn't even want consolation from me. All my attempts couldn't help the situation. But she is a good person. She is a person who leads her actions with love. She is a person who works hard and can be trusted. Know how I know this? When you get upset, so upset that you don't even want those who love you around, so upset that you become indulgent in your feelings, it's hard to do anything beyond getting through the moment. You tend to forget to care for others. That's when we fail the most. No matter what's going on around us, there are three boys who need love and care that must have our attention. Every night before bed we make sure to make a bottle for the baby. He wakes up in the middle of the night for a feeding. Crystal was so upset that she went to bed early and I didn't know if she remembered to make it. It would be an easy thing to forget and I was planning on getting it ready myself, but when I finally can to bed around eleven, I felt in the dark on the counter. There was a bottle.
She took the time to care for others even amidst all her pain. That is what makes a good person.
I love you very much and miss you always,
                    Uncle Justin

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