Spilling the Bucket


Today is one of those hard days because it feels like I’m completely drained of emotional energy. One of our girls is struggling with her behaviors. This morning I confronted her about something and she cussed and yelled at me. She denied everything I was saying about her. Going on and on about all sorts of things.

Now, I was completely prepared for this. None of it was surprising. I probably could have written the script of what she was going to say.

It’s the actual encounter between us as human beings that drains me. On paper it’s nothing. But when you put two humans beings who’ve lived with each other since last September, and she’s talking about how she can’t trust me and how she doesn’t care and she’s cussing at me, yelling, saying I’m setting her up for failure – it does something to me.


Part of this job that makes it vulnerable is that I am constantly rooting for these girls to do well, make good decisions, and build authentic relationships.

So when these girls make poor decisions and show their relationships to be phony and fake, or at best very shallow, it’s disappointing and I’m left with feelings of grief and sadness. I know that’s a constant risk of this job if I’m constantly rooting for them, but there is no other way to do this job. It’s what I signed up for, so these days are guaranteed to happen from time to time.


It’s like our relationship is a big bucket being slowly filled up with experiences and laughter and trust and time. In instances like this today, it feels like she kicked over the bucket and all those experiences, laughter, trust, and time gets spilled out everywhere. And once it has been spilled there’s not really any that can get back into that bucket. You have to just flip that bucket back over and hope to start filling it back up.


But this girl is potentially leaving as early as next week. And so her behaviors are all over the place. When these kids don’t have a solid plan about their future, their behaviors and attitudes shift and ebb and flow constantly. Very few can handle such uncertainty. And so it is for her. But she thinks she’s for sure getting out of her, and it is very likely. But if she basically thinks she’s getting out of our home no matter what very very soon, what does it matter if she tries getting away with things she knows she isn’t allowed to do? At least in her mind.


So here we are. A tough day. I feel drained. But I stay committed with faith, hope, love, and determination.

So I take a deep breath now. Pushing forward with a peace that comes from a sense of integrity and truth.




One of our teenagers last night had a blow up. These sorts of situations are always full of combustion, meaning, depth. It’s where the way of nature collides with the way of grace. It’s when the layers of life seem to become more obvious if I choose to notice.

After tossing everything off of the counter and kicking the trashcan across the kitchen and into the cabinets she was desperate for something else to throw in anger. She punched the freezer a few times, the fridge a couple more. And then she noticed the big wooden magnet and took it off the freezer and chucked it onto the floor while screaming at the top of her lungs.


There is one word on the wooden magnet:


When she first blew up she ripped up her school card which had her homework assignments listed on it. Later when I asked for her to come talk with me about some of her behaviors she said, “I ain’t gonna be no dummy. I have homework I need to do.” As she sat on her bed she dramatically started getting out her books and folders from her backpack.

“Shit. I don’t know my homework assignments because I tore up my card.”

I didn’t need to say a word for a lesson to be learned.