Changed by a Summit

Have you ever had one of those days?  Days where something came up that wasn’t planned, but ended up changing…everything?

Well, I’ve had one of those weeks.  Beautiful, challenging, life changing weeks.

I am on the board of a local nonprofit that helps children who are the victims of abuse and neglect.  Another board member was scheduled to attend a child abuse summit in our area last week, but couldn’t make it.   I was asked to go in his place.  I agreed to go because I felt like someone from our group should be present, but I was very unsure of what I could add or get out of the conference.  I knew the subject matter would be difficult so I asked friends for prayer.

I will spare the details of the conference, but I left there both shaken and encouraged.  Shaken by the depths of darkness that so many children have to live through…well, most of them live through.  Shaken by the pain that medical professionals, law enforcement, and child advocates have to see on a regular basis.  They are human.  They’re not some super human species that meets these children and walk away unaffected by their plight.  Shaken by the stories, images, and sounds of abuse to the most innocent among us.

At the same time, I was encouraged.  Encouraged by the caring and amazing people who spoke at this conference. Encouraged by their plans of action and efforts to make the system better for the children involved.  Encouraged by the stories that ended well and of children finding healing by helping others.

But with all this, I knew I was changed.  What does that mean for me?  I still don’t know completely.  I have taken more seriously the fundraising involved to provide group foster homes in my area.  I have taken more seriously my responsibility to pray for children, families, law enforcement, medical professionals, first responders, CPS, volunteer advocates, and everyone on the front lines of this epidemic.  I am changed.  My heart is both heavy with pain and hopeful with the prospect of being a part of the answer in our area.

I have been silent on this blog all week primarily because of that heaviness.  Knowing how to write about something this raw has alluded me all week.  So, I just thought I would put it out there.

Please, pray for the children, families, and men & women on the front lines of abuse and neglect each day.  Please find a local organization that is helping to meet these children’s needs and support them.  Many people believe that children are completely taken care of by the State once in their custody, but there are still many needs that can go unmet – especially when a non-offending relative steps up to take the children.  Some communities have child welfare boards or other non profits that will step up to help the families and children – find those groups and support them.  You can make a difference in the life of a child who has seen far too much pain in their life.

Pray. Give. Raise Awareness.  Speak Up.

We can make a difference.

Humbly,

Heather

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