Maurie is passionate about God's Word, kids from hard places and good coffee (no creamer, ever!). She is on staff at Mission Dorado Baptist Church in Odessa and has been a CASA for four years. She wrote a children's book entitled The Bridge That Love Built for children who are adopted and have gaps in the early years of their lives. She has a garden that is recovering from the last West Texas hailstorm.
God cares deeply for kids. One of the tangible forms of that care is through His people
standing in the gap and defending the vulnerable and voiceless. And you don’t have to cross an ocean to do that; you can do it right here, in your own backyard. I am a CASA, a Court
Appointed Special Advocate, which means that I advocate for the best interests of kids here
in the Permian Basin who are in some of the worst situations imaginable.
When a child is removed from their home due to neglect or abuse, there is a giant system in
place to try and address the issue and “fix it.” Attorneys are appointed for the children, the
parents, and the state (CPS). These entities are concerned with the legal rights of the parties. A CASA, however, is appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of the children involved in the case. It is a volunteer position, but one with legal weight. A CASA has access to medical, educational, therapeutic and legal documentation in the case. A CASA is able to build a relationship with the kids and then gives recommendations to the court on their behalf. It is a unique position to hold in the family court system.
I signed up to be a CASA four years ago, full of inspiration and aspiration.
I was going to change someone’s life!
I was going to be loved by the kids in the cases!
My voice was going to be respected!
I was going to be able to measure my success in desirable outcomes!
In my first case, I spent months trying to forge a connection with the kids. They weren’t
having it. I left work early every Tuesday afternoon to observe their parental visitation at the
CPS office. I took pages of notes. I met with schoolteachers, poured over therapy notes and
sent email after email with my questions, thoughts and observations. I called caseworkers. I
wrote court reports. I gave testimony on the stand. I knew the case backward and forward,
inside and out – and when it ended, I was devastated. There was no measurable standard of
success. It wasn’t the outcome I wanted; it wasn’t close to what I felt was in the best
interests of the children. I was neither loved by the kids nor respected by the players in the
case. It wasn’t what I expected “changing someone’s life” to feel like.
When Jesus talked about what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” in Luke 10, He
told the parable we know as “The Good Samaritan.” If you’ll allow me to condense it to its
rawest form, the parable is about a man who saw a need, used what he had, did what he
could, and met that need to the best of his ability. The Good Samaritan got involved in a
messy situation. It took his time, his money, his physical and emotional resources…and he
used them all to help someone he didn’t even know.
God cares deeply for kids - and not just for your kids or the ones you know through your
neighborhood or your church or your sports league. He cares for them all. Do you have some time? Use it. Do you have a voice? Use it. Do you have a heart that breaks over injustice and abuse? Use it. This is hard, but holy work in partnership with the One who said whatever you’ve done unto “the least of these,” you’ve done unto Him (Matt. 25:40).
These days, “success” in my role as a CASA is about showing up and being faithful to love my neighbor. I’m learning to leave the outcome in His hands. Will you join me?
If you would like more information on volunteering with CASA, please visit