As the Christmas break comes to an end, I am reminded that we need to get back on our school schedule. A normal school day at the children’s home would look something like this… the night before a school day, the house parents and the children would make sure all homework and assignments are completed and all test papers and teacher notes are signed and put neatly back into the child’s folder and into their book bag which is hanging on their assigned spot at the back door. The school uniforms are picked out and checked to see if they need ironing. They are placed on the child’s desk chair along with shoes, socks, jackets and any accessories such as hair ribbons in the appropriate school colors. The healthy school snacks and lunches are prepared and placed in the child’s book bag or the refrigerator. The morning of school, the children awaken bright eyed and smiling as they sing along to the sounds of inspiring Contemporary Christian music that fills the home. The children get dressed and peacefully come downstairs and gather around the large dining room table filled with a hearty and nutritious breakfast and eagerly listen to an uplifting and meaningful Bible devotion , sweetly holding hands as they close in prayer. After devotion, the children happily and effectively complete their morning chores. They give big hugs and high fives to the houseparents as they head out the door and gather in the campus vans with their hearts full of joy and appreciation. This, my friends, is seriously a description of our incredibly blessed mornings here at the children’s home, -well, most of the time. You may have been a house parent for more than a year -no wait, more than a month, if you can relate to the following morning… The house parents wake up fifteen minutes late. The children are tired and cranky and do not want to get out of bed. Another fifteen minutes pass by and one or even two children have gotten back into bed and are hanging upside down off of their bed saying in a gruff voice, “I AM UP”, “geesh”. One child comes running- half skipping- down the stairs and trips at the bottom stair because they are not paying attention. Even though there are no visible red marks or scrapes, you need to address this child, who is squealing uncontrollably and demands that this is a medical emergency and requires a trip to the ER. Another child comes downstairs and appears to be dressed but is standing there with a odd look on their face. Just as you are about to ask, you see a stream of liquid coming from their school uniform pants- the LAST clean pair of pants they have in their closet. The biscuits are burning because you’re looking for a band-aid for your cut finger from slicing up the fruit. You go to get the biscuits out of the oven but two children are screaming at each other- screams that causes headaches- “STOP LOOKING AT ME”, so you attend to that situation trying to prevent another imaginary -or possibly real- ER visit. Another child who has on mis-matched socks is crying because she has a hair brushed tangled up in her wild and frizzy hair. You have heard your name being called about five hundred times, mostly from a kid tattling, this morning and it’s not even seven am. You are beginning to not like your own name and wondering how much it would cost to legally change it. At this point, the fire alarm from the burning biscuits is now blaring. A child is having a complete meltdown because you will not let them wear shorts in 42 degree rainy weather. The child is throwing themselves on the floor kicking and screaming. You are now thinking of throwing a tantrum yourself. You are about to just sit down and cry but the blasting fire alarm which you haven’t had time to disarm is now ringing throughout the entire campus and the other houseparents are running to your cottage to assist you and your children with the emergency fire exit. A child is jumping up and down refusing to exit the house because they can’t find their shoe and says its too cold and rainy outside–oh, wait, that is the same kid that just wanted to wear shorts to school because “it’s not that cold out there”. You finally get everyone back inside the house, throw out the biscuits and give them a pop-tart on a paper plate with a banana and a cup of apple juice. A child says, “I can’t eat PopTarts, they make me throw up”. Knowing this is not true, because they have bragged about eating them on a weekend visit with their mother, you tell them to eat their breakfast. They cough and gag and gag some more and, well, you know where this is going. It would be nice if someone had taught this particular child to throw up in a toilet or at least the trash can. Now you have to, well, you know. Trying to clean up and not repeat their misfortunate event, you hear the campus van blowing its horn for load up. You hurry everyone out the door with one child saying ” I forgot to get you to sign my permission slip and its due today”. You shut the door. And open it back up to chase the van down the hill- in the rain- because some precious little soul forgot their lunchbox. Of course they reminded you that it was all your fault that they forgot it because you are the one that rushed them out of the house. You come back inside and take a deep breath and think ” the morning routine is over” followed by the thought, “Oh no, I didn’t even do the morning devotion”. You pour yourself a cup of coffee- luke warm by now- but you don’t care, you just need caffeine. You’re trying to remind yourself that a “good Baptist” doesn’t drink alcohol as you hear something upstairs and look up. “Did I miss the van?”, a child asks. (sigh). Now ya’ll know I am not making this stuff up! And don’t be lying and say this has never happened to you. Thankfully, those days are few and far between. Even in those crazy, ” what am I doing here” moments, I am extremely blessed to be called to minister to these precious, yes precious, souls. I am beyond thankful that God has entrusted His children into my care. If you have had a morning or two like the above, please know that it’s all totally worth it. It is totally worth it when they look at you randomly and say “I love you” or when they grab your hand during prayer or draw you a picture that says “best house parent in the world”. It’s totally worth it when they are scared or sick or hurt and they cry out for you because they trust you. It’s totally worth it when ten or fifteen years later that little spit fire ball of aggravating energy calls you and thanks you for just being there for them, or invites you to their wedding, graduation or birth of their own child. Or, better yet, it’s totally worth it when they accept Jesus Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior. So, the next time you are truly convinced that Satan has taken over your cottage through these young’ens, just look at each child in the face and say “you, little child of God, are totally worth it”!