Paranoia is a disturbed thought process characterized by excessive anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs concerning a perceived threat. In the original Greek,  (paranoia) simply means madness (para = outside; nous = mind) and, historically, this characterization was used to describe any delusional state.

In the last week we have given what seems like a hundred tours of the cottage, had a informal cottage evaluation, did two fancy dinners where I had to beg, plead and eventually bribe the boys to get dressed up for, and sat through a high school play of “South Pacific” with a bunch of elementary kids that hooted and hollered every time somebody kissed.

After all that I started to wonder if my facility was trying to kill me or at the very least push me into a nervous break down. I should feel flattered that our cottage gets a lot of attention, but instead I find myself thinking that someone is out to get to me on keeping the cottage clean, so I polish the toilet bowls to a high gleam. My wife says I’m doing more harm than good. Any guest that tries to perch themselves upon our highly waxed throne will slip off and probably pass out from respiratory distress caused by the two automatic industrial air fresheners that go off every two minutes. I tell her they will at least die with the knowledge that it is the cleanest latrine their butt has ever had the pleasure of being in.

Being paranoid has actually helped me to survive as a house parent. We have all had a kid that we thought would never smoke only to discover they huff a pack a day of non-filter Camels. Or how about that twelve year old entrepreneur that is running the local black market out of his bedroom? Yep, my paranoia keeps me from being shocked by too many things. I tend to expect the worst case scenario to happen at any moment.

There are very trustworthy kids in our care that are very mature for their age. But I decided long ago not to trust them in a way that gives complete freedom without question. Why? Because it was not so long ago I did many of the same things these kids do.

When it comes to the kids, I sometimes let the the paranoid side of me work it’s magic, such as when I suspect a kid is doing something sinister like running some kind of clandestine underground operation. I’m wrong many times, but every once in awhile I’ll get lucky and uncover some kid trying to pull a quick one.

Last week I had a kid kicked out of an after school program, only I never found out about it until this week. The teacher just assumed the boy would come home, tell us the truth about what happened and deal with the consequences. That would have been awesome if he did that, but in his defense most of the adults he knows can’t fess up when they make a mistake. Why should he be any different?

Most people hide all the dirt that is in their lives. Kids are no different, they don’t want to be judged or persecuted for the sin that is in their lives. Most times they don’t want to confront or deal with the past or other issues they have. I definitely can identify with that.

Anyway, I embrace my paranoid ways. It has always served me well (except for the last Presidential election). -Launch

Back To The Trenches

Crank up the volume and play it loud and proud, the kids will think your cool for jamming to P.O.D. Show ’em how a HP can rock out. I’m actually thinking of doing a devotional with the kids on this video if I can figure out how to play it off the laptop onto the living room TV.

Anyone that thinks this is not one of the most critical ministries in Gods creation is a fool. Video and song are a reminder that the work ahead is great, but it couldn’t be more important.

God bless each and every one of you that have answered the call. -Launch



Lets see, in the past week we have went to see guys do back flips on motorcycles, taken at least five bike rides, camped out all night in the living room, and ate at McDonalds twice. But guess what? It all SUCKED!!! At least according to Rodney who was speaking on behalf of the larger student body in our cottage.

Yep, seeing a guy do a back flip on motorcycle did not impress the lads. Eating out at Mickey D’s could not satisfy their hunger pains. It was all for naught.

Most facilities I know have at least one summer vacation, get several events such as concerts or fairs, and Christmas is usually insane with the amount of presents the kids receive from donors. But for the most part, the kids could care less.

Take the kid in the above picture. On his own accord, he stuck his chubby little noggin thru the back of his desk-seat. A highly skilled quick reaction team is assembled to free the boy, two Janitors, one Lunch Lady and the Principal. All here to help out this budding MIT candidate. Once the desk is off his head do you think he’ll even say thanks? Probably not. He will probably complain about the bruising around his neck and the fact the Janitor nicked him with the hack-saw as he was removing the chair. (Bet you didn’t think I was going to be able to tie in the graphic with the blog, did you? Oh ye of little faith).

I have tried over the years to figure out why so many of the kids are ungrateful about what they get a chance to see and do. Some of the theories I have pondered are the following:

1. The “System”- Most of the kids were taken out of some really bad situations. They received little attention from the adults who were supposed to be caring and loving them. But once in the system the kids meet nothing but adults who are trying to help them and give them a better opportunity to enjoy their childhood. It’s like system overload. I often wonder if this is the thought process of some of the kids, “Yesterday I was eating rotting food out of the fridge and today I have a lawyer, a caseworker AND were going to Disney Land next weekend. It’s like Gangsta Paradise up in here G”.

2. Us, as in you and me- I’ll admit my heart goes out to all kids who are without the benefit of being raised by their family. Sometimes I do try and compensate for such a crappy predicament as they have found themselves in. Kids see this and take advantage or I just spoil them to the core. I really don’t like the thought of either one of those scenarios.

3. Survivor Mentality- With only the occasional rare exception, the kids will hustle you like a Gringo full of high school Spanish classes in Tijuana. Learning to lie can help you avoid being beaten, get what you want and control a little of your situation. Maybe the same goes for showing gratitude. To show gratitude would be a connection to someone else that you know is just going to leave or disappoint you in the long run.

4. They really are just a bunch of spoiled brats- I start thinking this way just before respite. Thats also about the same time I start thinking the kids are out to get me and wife is trying to poison me with the out dated milk in the fridge.

I don’t know why so many of the kids are as ungrateful as they are. All I do know is it’s frustrating trying to figure out something they would actually like to do.

Anyway, gotta go and get ready to take my little band of critics to a movie, which is already doomed to suck. -Launch

“Imagine Me”

Sadly, I had to deal rather ruthlessly with a co worker today who swore that one of his kids was destined to be nothing more than white trash. I really hate dealing with stupidity when I’m off. My Christmas mailing list keeps getting shorter all the time.

Every time I hear a HP say a kid is heading for jail or is doomed to be a molester or even dead, I want to knock them upside the head. It may be true you can’t save every one of the kids, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.Keep speaking evil to a kid and they will meet those expectations, and exceed them.

Imagine that kid you think is destined to be a punk in prison will instead be minister. Try thinking of that kid who always steals stuff as someone that will be a successful and honest businessman. Try telling your girls they are special and you love them no matter what they do. They would have a greater chance of getting a degree than ending up repeating their family history.

I don’t know why some people who become House Parents give up and refuse to see their kids as something beautiful and special, a piece of the creator himself. What chance will they have if no one can imagine them being something more? Isn’t that the reason we do what we do?

I get frustrated like everyone else. There are and have been times I have questioned if the child we were dealing with could possibly be the Anti-Christ, but that kinda goes with the territory of child care. What I refuse to do is write a kid off. No one on this planet is past redemption, not one. I can not call myself a Christian and then turn around and tell others a certain kid is hopeless. That aint how it works folks. This world has written me off more times than I care to recall, yet Christ has continued to imagine me as something else. And I try to live up to that expectation the best I can.

There is more to being a HP than baby sitting. It is a call to serve and to love the unloved. We are Christs representatives to the forgotten and abandoned. The fact that little Johny will spit in your food and sneak a cigarette every time your not looking is not an excuse to with hold your love from him. You imagine that kid being greatness, never quit on him. Even when he quits on himself and the rest of the world tells him he is nothing, you have to be there for him. Hasn’t God done the same for all of us? -Launch