I knew they were about to take my family away from me. I would soon be forced to say goodbye to my three foster brothers and foster sister. I couldn't fight for them--I didn't have the power to stop this injustice.
As of then, I didn't know specifics, but the day was coming when I'd have to deal with my family being ripped apart. Everything was about to go terribly wrong, and I did see it coming.
I walked into school that afternoon. There were five minutes left of study hall before I had to go to class, so I sat in the cold hall, pulled out a pen and paper, and wrote down a list of things that made me a smile.
The list wasn't long--maybe three things. I don't remember what I wrote, and I can't find the list.
Smiling didn't get me through that day. Writing that list didn't make me smile at all. But, it did force me to remember things I'd forgotten. In the midst of a week that my whole life was tossed in the air, grace still existed. God's grace still allowed me to have three things that could make me smile. I was too scatter brained to actually write, "God's grace," on the list, but the very existence of the list showed me that grace certainly was active in my life.
The next day, I didn't go back to school. I didn't write a list. I didn't smile. And, I didn't sit and contemplate God's grace. I cried. I spent every minute with my brothers and sister. I held them, hugged them.
I didn't thank God for his grace that day. But, I remember crying myself to sleep that night whispering into my wet pillow, "God, I know you won't leave me." My fingers gripped hem of the blanket until my knuckles hurt. "Please don't leave them. Use someone else, if not my family, to teach them about You." Essentially, I was begging God to pour His grace into their lives.
It took a while for me to smile the way I had used to, but now I smile all the time. And I can look back and see the miracles God did since those two days and smile because of them.
Today, God didn't show me a huge miracle, but I've smiled for other reasons. When I smile now, I think of those days when smiling was not just at the bottom of my list, it felt like an impossibility. I also remember that my ability or inability to smile has no effect on God's ability to pour grace into me, a choice he makes every second of my life.