This box of Velveeta broke me this week.
No, I’m not on a New Year’s Resolution diet, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m not strong enough to give up Velvet. Nope. Not ever going to do it.
You see this box has been in my pantry for about a year and a half. It’s moved around from shelf to shelf and made its way through purges and pantry raids. Actually, it’s been expired for about a year, this box of Velveeta. But I’ve kept it all this time. I’ve kept it intentionally. I just can’t seem to let it go.
Most of you who are new around here might not know that our family did foster care for a couple of years. And our last placement was an 18-year-old girl who was pregnant with her first child, a little girl. We had “S” in our home for about 3 months. And in that short time, we really grew to love her. I haven’t shared many of my thoughts about our girl or the time we had with her. Some of that is because her story is hers, and I want to respect that. The other part is because it’s still so painful that she’s gone some days.
The uncertainty of her whereabouts and well-being is still so hard.
Some days it still really hurts. But this box of Velveeta reminded me that there is a part of my heart that I’m ready to share and how God is redeeming my brokenness in all of this.
One evening in October of 2016, I went to pick “S” up from school only to find out that she was gone. Our sweet girl with a history of running had run again, this time from us. We were shattered, absolutely heart broken. And we were so worried.
Where will she go? Is she safe? How is her baby? Is she hungry? Is there anyone taking care of her? It’s getting cold out, where is she going to stay? Does she know how loved and treasured she is?
The week that “S” left, we bought this box of Velveeta together. She was a girl after my own heart, she loved chips and queso and she really wanted to learn how to make it herself. I had put it off for a few weeks, but had finally said that this was the week to learn, so I put in on our grocery list. I remember buying all of the ingredients, “S” grabbing the Velveeta off the shelf and putting it in the cart. And I remember she was so quiet as she did it; it was so odd because it had been at the top of her list of things she wanted to make for weeks. I asked her if she was excited to finally be making it… she just kind of cocked her head to the side and shrugged her shoulders.
Just two days later she ran away. I think in her heart, she knew that she was never going to learn to make that queso dip with me. I think she knew that she had a chance to get out of the lifestyle she had endured her entire life. And I think it scared her.
Her baby was due a year ago this week. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t pray for “S” and her little girl. We haven’t heard directly from her since she left. We have let her know that we are here and that she is loved. She knows that she will always have a home to come back to when she is ready. But until then, we continue to pray for her and her little girl every single day. But it’s so hard for us, STILL, to understand why she left and wonder if she is OK.
Psalm 147:1-5 has been a passage of scripture that has been of great comfort to me in the time that we have been without “S” and I want to share it with you today.
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of starts and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”
This has been such a good reminder for me to continue to praise God in the midst of the pain and lack of our mere human understanding. It’s good for me to remember what He’s done in the past and what He continues to do, not just about my circumstances at hand. And while He knows the stars in the sky and calls them by name, He also knows my name. And He knows “S”’s name. And the same way that He has healed my broken heart, He longs to save and redeem hers. To bind up her brokenness and restore her soul. And even when we don’t understand… why she left, where she is, what’s happening in her life… He does. And His understanding is limitless.
So when my heart is burdened and my Spirit heavy, I can reach back into God’s Word and cling to these promises. This box of Velveeta has been hanging around making my heart heavy this year. But on Friday, I finally was able to throw it out and fully surrender the uncertainty in my heart to Jesus. And now my heart, and my pantry, are a little cleaner because of it.