Claiborne’s quick to say make small moves toward revolution, but then writes the stories that don’t feel so small at all. I cried (no surprise really) joy-tears as I wrapped up chapter 6 – God’s economy. Claiborne and his crew use the $20,000 they had acquired through winning a court case amplifying the voices of the homeless and from a generous re-gift to the poor to create a Jubilee on Wall Street. They dropped thousands of dollars from balconies, littered the sidewalk with coins and handed out sidewalk chalk to play in the midst of blowing bubbles. Their banners read “Stop terrorism.” “Share.” “Love.” “There is enough for everyone.” It took them months to plan. It sounds so beautiful it made me cry. And then it feels a little bit daunting – how do we move from this life we’re living to one that proclaims to ALL – “You are LOVED. You are worth so much. You are IMPORTANT.”
So I guess we start small. Here are a few little ways we are starting – perhaps it will move to a project that can move hearts like Jubilee… or perhaps small is just exactly how it will work best for our family right now.
Serving Others: Kids Aid is a program in Grand Junction that fills bags with food to send home with children to help feed them over the weekend. In our community over 2300 children receive a bag EVERY WEEK. Earlier this year, my mom friends and I were brainstorming ways we could help. Sam and I have been involved with Kids Aid for many years, since one of our role model families the Berry’s started it almost 10 years ago. Sam sits on the board and we used to fill and deliver bags at one of the local schools. The act of filling bags is very kid friendly and since the time we filled them the Kids Aid project has grown exponentially – so we asked if we could organize a group of moms and young kids to serve by filling bags with food each month. We’ve had such a beautiful response from families wanting to participate and we plan to move to once/week over the summer. Our kids get so excited to help others and our mama hearts break hearing that number: 2300 children need food EVERY WEEK in our community alone.
Trauma-Informed School Movement: Following the second teen-suicide our community experienced this year – God took my learning focus from trauma informed parenting to trauma informed schools. Since late January, my friend Nancy and I have facilitated discussions surrounding the Heather Forbes book, Help for Billy. The response from the educators in the two high schools we spent time in has been overwhelmingly positive. And our church community at First Pres jumped on board – helping to feed the teachers in both groups. Food truly makes people feel loved. In our final discussion yesterday, we listened as teachers shared what they want to take into the fall…. COMPASSION – what a critical word to add to our schools. As we begin our planning and hope to get into more schools for the fall… I hold tightly to that word. Compassionate schools – a trifecta of informed staff: Trauma informed, Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Support. We can get there!
Alpha: One year ago the last thing I would have imagined doing was to be sitting with people who didn’t believe the same way I do and actually TALK to them about faith and God or listen to their perspectives on faith and God. Sure – put me with some Christians and I’m your chatty girl, your listening heart. But God has used Alpha to change my heart and open my mind and the door to hear where my dear friends come from. In Alpha we watch introductory courses on the basics of Christianity and then we talk about it. Questions, disagreements, other ideas are all welcome at the table. Love is the main dish served…. and we eat together, talk to together and learn a whole lot about each other. Our church leaders really encouraged my friend Derek and I to invite friends we already knew for our spring Alpha. The real meaning of this community building became clear early in our Alpha group. One of our friends received the heartbreaking news that his little brother died. Walking through this loss is on-going. We didn’t know this little brother – but we LOVE our friend. And for this season we were there, in place and part of the journey because we chose to do something risky- to build community not based on being the same, but on a desire for authenticity and growth in friendship. Being in this small group together means taking on each other’s sorrows and joys. The early church was people living life together – trying to make the world a better place. That’s what Alpha has turned into for me (and Sam too I think :))
Northridge: Sam and I moved to our neighborhood that sits just north of the downtown area we lived for 10 years. Northridge is a beautiful neighborhood known for it’s Christmas light spectaculars. When we moved I though – YES – I want to raise my kids where people will know each other. And yet – only a handful of neighbors stopped by in our first months of living here. The more I read Claiborne – the more the desire for neighborhood grows in my heart. So on May 5 Sam and I set up a table with chips and salsa. We made tea and fruity water and had a cooler of popsicles set near the chairs on our lawn. And we invited neighbors. We had a few families show up we had at least met once before and met one new family in the community. It was a short and sweet gathering – simple for sure – but it was a start. We’re going to do another one in June!
Our next door neighbor’s foster four boys. The youngest, a ten year old has a gentle sweet spirit. I don’t know his story, but it can’t be an easy one. He has hit it off with the girls and when they see each other outside he will join them in bike riding or dirt digging. Sunday night, my girls wanted so much to play with him, but we were in sort of a family funk. I decided a pillow fight was more important so we proceeded to pillow fight in the living room. As I looked outside I saw this 10 year old. Sort of milling around our yard – hoping to see his buddies. So I asked the girls if they wanted to invite him to pillow fight – in our front yard. So that’s what we did (after he asked permission). The giggles were priceless – the joy overflowing. We followed the pillow fight with a walk around the neighborhood. Needless to say – our family funk disappeared and our girls slept so soundly that night. And our neighbor boy – we invited him into our family for the night… and he made our night richer with his presence.
An empty bedroom: Well it’s not empty – it has a bed in it. We have extended an invitation to a young woman in our community to come and chat about her need for a place to stay. She has a seven month old baby boy. And in an instant – the legal shift in our country regarding immigrants – turned her into a single-mom. Her husband, who lived her legally, went to check on his documents that he was updating, but they had not arrived before the new immigration laws went into effect and therefore he was deported to his home country. So now this woman, one semester short of her college degree and one income short of her bills and one parent short in her child’s precious life is trying to pick up the pieces. We have SO MUCH. So we are going to meet her next week. This idea feels so much bigger than a little revolution – inviting strangers to share our house. But it’s God’s house – and they are His children – so we ask for His clear guidance on this one. Join us in praying about it if you will!!!