Maybe it is wrong of me to call them “mine”

My girlies.
My lovelies.
My princesses.

These are some of the words I use to describe the young women that choose to come to The Sparrow’s Nest. I hold my breath while they make the decision to come and I revel in God’s timing for each one. I hold my breath when they leave willing myself to trust that same God to guard and protect their fragile hearts, minds, and bodies.

I know I break and have broken professional boundaries. There is a reason they say out in the world to not get too close. To not let them into your personal lives. But they allow me into theirs. So shouldn’t I allow at least a glimpse into mine.

But I have been entrusted with their incredible lives and the precious lives of their babies. I know without a doubt I have been created to protect life and to make pathways for that life to flourish and to grow. When you are a protector you are fierce. You are a fighter. You naturally are a defender.

But if I have been entrusted with their lives maybe it is wrong of me to call them “mine.” They clearly belong to my Heavenly Father. They are a daughter of the King. They just don’t know how to wear their crown yet.

I received devastating news this afternoon that has left me almost completely immobile in my bed. I don’t know hardly any details at all except one of Sparrow princesses has been murdered and her little boy is in critical condition.

I don’t get it. I don’t understand. I feel powerless. The demons in my head are taunting me saying “see, you are not making a difference at all, there is nothing to save here, what is done is done and nothing can change.” I question whether I could have done more. When all my red flags are going off in my head when I see social media posts from all of the girls but for Ali, Could I have somehow saved her?

Then a still small voice whispers to me “I brought you Ali when she was most responsive to Me and My love. I brought her to you when you needed your chin lifted as well.”

Our code text to the board and staff when Ali decided to move in with Baby K was “A GIRL IS IN THE CASTLE!!”
Our dream was being realized and God was starting with one who needed so desperately to be reminded she was His princess. I remember when Ali came to the Daddy Daughter Dance and took the mike away from the emcee and so bravely shared her testimony and reminded the guests why they were there. They were there for her and for girls like her.

Ali was brash, and loud, but contemplative and receptive. Baby K was her world and she did the best she could with the knowledge she had. I remember one of her visits back to us asking again about budgeting. I loved getting all the texts of her trying to go back to school, finding a job, trying to live on her own and posts and posts of her beautiful little boy she loved so very much. She had so many strikes against her. Some of her own doing, some of those around her but she kept getting back up. She was a sassy fighter.

Maybe it isn’t so wrong of me to call Ali mine. She was a gift to me from God to show His faithfulness, to show the real battle around all these beautiful young hearts. Maybe it’s not wrong of me to call Lashonda, Brianna, Azarhe, Lauren, Chi, Maddy, Jasmine, Jodie, Brooke, Teddy, and so many others my lovelies. It hurts to love them but it is who I am. I cannot give up on my girlies and their babies.

Tonight, I am “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

-Carissa

10 Responses

  1. Gene says:

    Carissa, while I cannot truly understand all the sentiments you expressed, I know they are real. I also know that your work and ministry are not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Proceed in the confidence of Nehemiah, who would not discontinue the work to which God called him, despite the pressures he faced. You are doing a good work and making a difference that will impact generations positively.

  2. Amy J says:

    Oh, this breaks my heart. I know you all are so sad. Praying for the TSN Family tonight and Baby K. Hugs and love you all.

    Amy J

  3. Dawn says:

    My heart is so heavy for you & all of your princesses. I love the verse you shared. It is one that should be committed to memory for so many of us fighting a long fight. I will be praying for answers & mostly praying God’s Will. He has impressed this desire on your heart & will equip you with the tools to see this dream through. Praying for peace as well. Remember Palm 20:4

  4. Todd Berck says:

    When I heard of Ali’s senseless death last night I too was filled with sadness. Not knowing of her confession of faith I assumed the worst. Then this morning when my wife shared this blog with me, my heart is filled with joy that I will see Ali again in Heaven. You see I knew Ali very well. I was her principal in school, and if you knew Ali you know we saw each other alot. Ali quickly found a soft spot in my heart because I saw the potential she had and the the hurdles she had to overcome. I can only hope that Ali could see God was real in my life as I shared with her the best I could from my position. I told her often that I cared about her and God had a plan for her. I remember just a couple of seaosons ago when I was going through my own trials, she made a point to seek me out and show me her son. I could see the change in her life and the love she had for her son. It made me feel good she went out of her way to come see me and gave me some encouragement when I really needed it.

    This has really reminded me the impact we have on others. When God puts others in our lives to mentor we need to obey Him and share Christp and His love for us. Thank you for sharing this blog and these memories of Ali. She has made sure she will not be forgotten. My prayers go out to her mom, Shawn and Trent. May God use this to touch their lives as well.

    See you in Heaven Ali!

  5. Laurie Haworth says:

    I read your powerful post and feel your pain. But, as I read through your thoughts, one thing jumps out, so loud and clear….and in my short time as a TLC, I witnessed it every day….it’s the fact that with Ali, and all the girls….you were PRESENT. Isn’t that really what it is all about? So many of these girls need that. Someone who will sit down, look them in the eye, and hear them, cry with them, offer advice or just listen. They need someone they can count on…and you gave that to Ali, who probably needed that more than anyone who walked in your door. You make our wonderful Lord smile!

  6. Kathy Warrington says:

    My heart is sad also for the loss. I pray that her soul is now at rest and peace with The Father.

  7. KK says:

    I am so sorry and pray for everyone involved.

  8. Yolanda Jones says:

    Carissa, my heart goes out to you and the staff at the Sparrows Nest. When my co-workers and I came during the Christmas season to drop off presents, I just felt the warmth of how much love that y’all felt for them girls. I pray that God gives you all the strength, peace and comfort that y’all need to get through this difficult time. I pray that God continues to keep and bless Y’all for you all diligence and how you have allowed your gift from God to make room for you.

    Blessings on you all,
    Minister Yolanda Jones

  9. April McIntyre says:

    That was one of the most beautiful things ever!! Wish there were more people in the world like you, thank you for loving our misguided young ones, thank you for helping them find light in the darkness that surrounds us all. God bless you

  10. Kristin says:

    Breathe in God’s love, Breathe out acts of kindness and service. You are cherished, You are strong, You have wisdom. God is working through you, Carissa, at this shocking time. I’ll be praying,

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