Category Archives: CreateFaith

Making Space for Failure and Faith

If obeying God doesn’t make you wonder out loud while driving to work if He’s even real or not, you might need to come in a little deeper.

I’m sure when Abraham was walking up the mountain with Isaac he was like, “Am I sure God is real?”

I’m sure when Moses was practicing his elevator pitch before meeting with Pharaoh he was like, “Am I sure God is real?”

I’m sure when Mary had to tell Joseph she was pregnant she was like, “Am I sure God is real?”

And while Jesus didn’t question whether God was real, even He was like, “Could we go over the plan again? There is no other way to accomplish Our goals? Cool. Just wanted to be thorough…”

And last month we had to close re-imagine what Simply Sudbury would look like. And the imagination that was required made me wonder while driving to work, “Am I sure God is real? Did He really tell me to do this? Have I lost my mind? Am I looney?”

Our enrollment was low and finding volunteers was getting more difficult. Renting space for what felt like a regular play group felt wrong. Could we have forced the issue? Stretched ourselves in inhumane ways prop it up? Faked it until we maked it? Yeah, maybe.

But at my core I believed Simply Sudbury was something that God had told me to do. And I don’t think God is in the business of propping up dead things. He speaks into existence. He breathes life. He resurrects. He doesn’t deal with the dead and fruitless.

So when it didn’t look very alive or, my favorite word, sustainable, I laid the idea down. And I can’t tell you how much peace I had laying it down. How beautifully gentle the process was. All of our enrolled kids found new places to land.

But letting go of Simply Sudbury didn’t mean God was done or that I had heard wrong last summer. I kept praying. What on earth was all of that for, God? Why?

I remembered some of the thoughts I had had before the whole thing started. That all of this work was because God wanted to make space for kids that didn’t have a place in traditional schools.

Rehoboth.

When we started Simply Sudbury I had considered naming our little school The Rehoboth Learning Center. That via educational freedom God would make space for everyone. And as we wrapped up Simply Sudbury I went back to this idea and used it as a compass (something all Enneagram 9’s must do… find your compass!) to recalibrate. This is something I often pray for women that want to be moms. While you wait, I pray that you get to embody the thing you are hoping motherhood will let you experience. If you long for motherhood because of a desire to nurture something vulnerable then find someone vulnerable and start nurturing. If you long for motherhood because of a desire to guide/shape/mold/influence the future then find new ways to guide/shape/mold/influence. God is so wonderfully creative in how we get to express these deeply held desires. There is rarely one ‘right’ way. It’s a wonderful way to practice the skill of “Acting As If”. It’s also a wonderful way of entering a posture of “Not my will, Lord, but Yours.”

God had called me to make space. So how else could I make space?

Tom Hanks Joe Fox GIF

The week we closed down Simply Sudbury I received an email from Thisbe and Noah. They are building Promise Park. A park designed to be inclusive of the many kinds of needs kids have. A park that valued play. A park that valued playing together. A park that wanted to make space for everyone.

They wanted to know if I could help.

It might seem like a simple coincidence. But this email and their mission felt incredibly holy. God knew that as I let go of the dream of what Simply Sudbury could be, I would need some faith fuel. A reminder, from Him, that despite what I saw in the physical He was still working in the spiritual. That there were still creative ways to join Him in making space.

And when I met with Lindsay from Thisbe & Noah I was even more encouraged. The entrepreneurial spirit, the passion for inclusion, the excitement about play. It was everything my heart needed to know that what I was hearing spiritually wasn’t totally wacky. God was still moving, even if it wasn’t how I expected it.

This is the important thing about faith. When we make room for believing God is who He says He is, we have to make room for nothing about the process to look like how we think it ‘should.’ We have to make room for something to look like a failure in the physical sense (the crucifixion) and being a brilliant victory in the spiritual one (the resurrection).

We have re-imagined Simply Sudbury. It’s now The Learning UNstitute. Our mission to make space is refreshed and sustainable and delightfully creative. We are doing what we can with what we have, and if you’ve read enough of the Bible you know that that’s all God ever needs when it comes to faith:

Give Him what you have. He’ll do the rest.

Related:
We’re selling lumpia to raise money for Promise Park. Let me know if you want some! We’ll be delivering it on Sunday, November 17th and need your orders by Wednesday, November 13th! Get more details on this facebook post.

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Prayers and Pregnancy

I believe I have a special gift of encouragement when it comes to praying about pregnancies. I don’t know what it is, but God will give me supernatural faith that certain babies will be born. Now I don’t put God in a box about how He is going to define our natural understanding of words like ‘birth’ and ‘baby’, but He gives me the faith that something will come out of nothing.

So He uses me to encourage. He tells me to text people to remind them of His limitless authority over every single atom in the universe. He gives me dreams of friends and family (and myself) usually with huge smiles plastered on their faces telling me that they’re pregnant. He tells me to send Mother’s Day cards in anticipation of His promise. He tells me when to quit praying followed quickly with texts letting me know “Hey, so… we’re pregnant.”

I do believe that prayer requires belief. I think that’s why we have to pray for help with our unbelief. And there are tons of things I pray for that I simply don’t believe will ever happen, but pregnancies and babies? My belief is growing to where it knows no bounds. He has authority over everything pregnancy related.

I trust His authority in pretty much every way when it comes to babies, but other things? Not so much. I want to believe He has authority over everything, but I don’t. I see my circumstances, and I pray, “I know You’re God. And You made me out of nothing. You make babies in wombs that shouldn’t have babies. But this? These finances? This dream? This obstacle? This is too big. You can’t fix this.”

Recently the Holy Spirit started whispering, “How have I taught you to pray about babies? Pray in the same way about other things. About everything.”

Write thank you cards
Our Father gives good gifts. And what do (most) people do when they get a good gift? They write a thank you card. This is especially true if the gift giver wasn’t there to see you receive the gift. You let them know, “I got it! It’s lovely/perfect/exactly what I wanted!” Once I have prayed about a baby and my bones know that this baby is happening I start saying thank you. Over and over and over. Because saying thank you says you’ve received the gift and you can’t receive something that doesn’t exist, right?

I’m doing the same with my non-baby prayers. Thank you, Lord, for giving me what I have asked for.

Let go
I say thank you for the answered prayer, but I also release any control over what my ideas are about what His answer is going to look like. When I dreamed about Wren I knew it meant that my family was growing, that my heart was going to be filled in new way. But I didn’t tell God what that meant or how it would look. Because if I’m telling God how it’s going to be then I’m asking Him to submit to me, and no. That’s not a good look. I was totally open to it being that we adopted or that cousins would be coming soon. Most of all, I was letting go and trusting that however it unfolded (pregnancy, cousins, a neighbor kid that we unofficially adopted) it was good and from God.

And the best way for me to release my desire to control all the things? Focus on the face of Jesus. I always imagine Peter walking on water and then getting distracted by the wind. My flesh wants to control and tell God how it should be. I know this is happening because my body gets tense and my vision narrows and my mind races. But then I whisper His mighty and powerful name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And in doing that, my spirit returns to submission to Him and His ways, not mine.

Heartbeats, ultrasounds, and encouragement
Before you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time pregnancy doesn’t feel real. You don’t look pregnant. Most of what you’re feeling you’ve felt before during a bad episode of PMS. But then you hear the heartbeat, and now you know. Something new is here. Something is alive.

And I’ll never run a marathon, but I imagine it’s how runners feel when they get a cup of water or see the cheering spectators during the race. Your spirit perks up, you know you’re no where near the end, but right now you have enough strength to go forward just a little bit.

Heartbeats and ultrasounds are that during pregnancy. A peek at the finish line. A peek at how all of this is going to be rewarded.

I’m not going to lie, I think I have a gift. I think God has given me a supernatural sensitivity to some people’s pregnancy journeys. And I think He has done that so that I can be an encouragement to my friends and family. The texts and prayers and dreams are supernatural ultrasounds to remind you that He sees and knows.

There’s a thing in marriage therapy where you tell couples that you’ll hold the hope for them. Hope is so heavy when it looks like everything is crumbling down around you. While I’m no longer a marriage therapist, I do think that God gives me this sensitivity, not that I can brag about it, but so that it can minister to others. I pray it shows them that God sees and hears. And that when it hurts to hope, as I imagine it does when you want a child desperately, that others can help you hold that hope.

I know that I’ve encouraged others and that gives me the confidence to ask God to encourage me in the other things I’m praying for. So I regularly pray to hear the heartbeat of things He’s bringing to life, but that I can’t see quite yet.

Perspective
Like any red blooded American, I want my prayers answered and I want them answered now. First, that posture is so wrong. So very wrong. There’s something interesting about pregnancy in that you absolutely can’t rush it. The baby is done when it’s done. You can’t take more vitamins to make it cook faster. You can’t eat the right potion of peppers and eggplant to make it come out quicker. You can try to make it hurry up, but at the end of the day you’re not in control and you’re just along for the ride. The quicker you get that in your heart and submit to that truth the easier pregnancy is.

I don’t imagine any other prayer request is much different, especially when it’s a gift coming from God. I am learning to patiently submit to His timing in all things.

These thoughts have been swirling in my head for the last year, and this is me getting them out and sharing them with you.

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The Story of Our Rehoboth

I love reading Rabbi Sacks and I’m currently in the middle of reading (for the billionth time) the Genesis/Exodus section of the Bible (the billionth reading is what happens when you keep starting a “Read the Entire Bible in a Year” plan and don’t finish it and then start it again and don’t finish it and #rinserepeat). This means I’m currently flooded with Jewish stories about how God shows Himself to His people.

Rabbi Sacks recently wrote about how part of Judaism is remembering your history. God commanded that whenever they brought their first fruits they would make a declaration of, essentially, their history:

 “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great, powerful and populous nation.  The Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our suffering, our harsh labour and our distress. The Lord then brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with great fearsomeness and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. I am now bringing the first-fruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” (Deut. 26:5-10)

He didn’t want future generations to forget how He had worked on their behalf so He told them to keep telling His story.

Like I said a couple of weeks ago, I have felt really compelled to look around and really see the life that our faith in a loving God is building, and I keep getting drawn to how I literally cannot think about our home without praising Him. And I think about how if I don’t tell the story about how God moved so many pieces mountains on our behalf we will forget and Otis may never know and so…

I remember sitting in church and listening to an excellent sermon about Isaac and Rehoboth. Basically, Isaac kept trying to settle in places and built wells, but people were like, “Yeah, you can’t settle here. Move along.” He built 2 wells and, finally, with the third well he was left alone. He named it Rehoboth which  means “open space” and said, “”At last the LORD has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

The sermon landed on my heart. I knew it would take a minute, but we would find a home. I had faith God would provide our Rehoboth.

I heard this sermon while pregnant and living with my in-laws. Mark’s biggest apprehension about moving out was that we couldn’t afford to buy a place which meant we’d have to rent which made his skin crawl because of ‘throwing away money’ and all of that. We decided to look for a house we could afford, and worked with the Mr. Magoo of realtors (meaning he had no clue what he was doing). Amazingly, we found a house! In our budget! Close to our families!

The house had plenty of work that needed to be done, but it really was perfect. Mark’s only big remodel dream was to tear out one of the walls in the upstairs bedroom so that it could look into the downstairs. Basically, make it a loft. True story? I thought it was a dumb idea and figured it could be one of those projects that hung out at the bottom of the to-do list. Forever.

Well, Mr. Magoo was an adorable cartoon, but a horrible realtor. The whole thing fell through and we were 1 month away from a baby. Time was running out.

Lots of arguments conversations later and Mark found us a decently sized apartment within our budget. We moved in and a week later my water broke. Otis was on his way.

We spent a lovely and hard year in that apartment. Mark did the stay-at-home-dad thing and, like most sahp, he felt lonely and an apartment that never felt homey didn’t help that feeling.

By December of 2011 I knew God was telling me that we were going to buy a home. It didn’t make any sense to me because I was making $13.28 an hour. Picture or it didn’t happen?

13-28

And you don’t exactly have a down payment sized savings when you’re living on less than what Bernie thinks is acceptable.

But I emailed our amazing realtor, Tim, anyways because faith and that whole story about turning fish and loaves into plenty.

With our mortgage lady’s help we found a mortgage for poor people that was like, “If you have a great rental history then we can give you a mortgage with some insanely low amount as a down payment.” Ah! Look at that! We had great rental history BECAUSE WE LEFT MARK’S PARENTS’ HOUSE ONE YEAR AGO! I like to thank my stubborn nagging for that assist.

We were now given the fun assignment of finding a house that cost less than $115,000, was close to our parents, and wouldn’t need too many repairs because nobody wanted to lend us money for a fixer upper because they’d seen our finances… we had no money for a fixer upper.

We put an offer on a house that was beyond perfect. Huge with a fenced in yard and in my in-law’s neighborhood. I loved it so much. I still get sad thinking about it. It was a weird property with a weird bidding thing, and we didn’t get it.

We put another offer in a few weeks later. Another weird bank-owned property. It was a cute house in a cute neighborhood. I believed so much that this was our house that my mom, Otis, and I drove out there after we put the offer in so I could show her our new place. I drove there one morning before I went to work so that I could get an idea of what the commute would be like. The bank ended up not accepting the offer because it was tied to some other properties and they wanted to sell them all together or something like that. We didn’t get it.

Things were not looking good again. We would need to make decisions about re-signing leases soon or move back in with his parents because rent increases were probably going to bust our budget. But then God said, “Go back to that house.”

That house was one we had seen a month before. It was a bank owned property that was listed at $115,000. I had loved it (but let’s be real, at this point I kind of loved every house that seemed like it could be The One). I remember standing inside while Mark and Tim looked around outside. I was standing on the brick in front of the fireplace and looking out the big window into the front yard.

My heart whispered, “This is our home.

The fireplace where I knew God said this was our home.

And then Mark and Tim walked back in.

“Yeah, this has got all kinds of water damage in the siding. Not gonna happen.”

Oh. Ok.

But here I was, a month later, hearing God say to go back to that house. What was really weird was that it had been taken off the market since we’d seen it (I had every house listed under $115,000 in the Southeast Nashville area memorized) so I wasn’t really sure where this would lead.

We drove to that house and saw a man standing in the front yard writing on a clipboard. Mark parked and got out to talk to him. He came back to tell me about the conversation.

“So that’s the new realtor. It is about to be relisted for $105,000. He says that the siding isn’t that bad and that his only concern with a mortgage like ours would be some laminate coming up in the kitchen. I think we should call Tim.”

Tim got the ball rolling and we put in an offer for $95,000 because why not? To our surprise, they accepted!

We did appraisals and home inspections and no one ever talked about the siding which Mark and his dad ended up fixing the next summer. The closing took forever because banks are slow. We ended up spending a lovely 2 months with my in-laws while we waited to close on our new home.

My favorite part of the story is that the house we bought has the exact same layout as the one we wanted right before I had Otis, the one with the Mr. Magoo realtor. The exact same floor plan, except there’s one difference: The bedroom that Mark wanted to turn into a loft in the first house was already a loft in that house. In our house. I like to think of that loft room as a little wink from God.

So yes, Otis, the house you grew up in was given to us by God. He moved us to buy a house even though we were making $13/hour with no savings. And we built a lot of wells trying to find a place to call home, but then He called us back to that house at the exact same time that the new realtor was there so that we’d be the very first offer. And He’d guided us to rent even though it made no sense so that we could have a rental history to get the mortgage. And He gave us the house we had wanted from day one except better and completely perfect (at least in your dad’s eyes #ha). He gave us our Rehoboth, an open space for you and us to prosper.

Otis, when you wonder if you should follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings please remember where you grew up. Remember that God, not us, provided a home for you, and that He’s been your shelter from the very beginning. Please remember that when life is chaotic to get as quiet as you possibly can and listen for His still, small voice.

Angels on the Corner

When Mark and I were house hunting in 2012 we worked with an amazing realtor and his suggested mortgage finance lady. Besides the fact that us buying a home was an epic act of faith, there was a moment during the process that has always stuck with me.

Our mortgage finance lady was amaze. I only interacted with her via email, but you know how some people work so hard and so well that you can smell it? Even through emails? Well, like after 2 emails I could literally feel the weight of the Holy Spirit telling me to let her know how thankful I am for her. Let her know she is doing a kick ass job. Let her know, Marie. Now.

So I pulled over into a Publix parking lot and sent her an email. “You are amazing and I hope someone in your world is letting you know how grateful they are for you on the regular,” or something like that.

A few months after buying the house I found out that something not so great had happened and the mortgage finance lady was no longer with us. I cried because wow. Who knew?

I’ve thought about that moment often. I don’t know anything about why things happen, but I wonder if God wanted to use me to tell her how much He loved her. I wondered if He burdened my heart with that message because He knew she needed to hear it. And He wasn’t concerned with the fact that we were strangers, He was more than happy to let me deliver His message.

I have faith that God used me that day to write an email.

Fast forward to 2016.

Mark, Otis, and I went to one of our usual parks on Saturday afternoon because there was a bulldozer in the parking lot and that evokes as much excitement as seeing the Beatles in the 60’s for our little guy and since it’s cheaper than Disney Land why not?

So we roam around the park and inspect the bulldozer. We check out the abandoned Christmas trees and consider walking the trail and then decide to start the whole “get healthy” thing later.

The park we were at is on a fairly busy road. Never in a million years have we walked up to the busy road. Never in a trillion years have we crossed the busy road to get to the sidewalk. Never in a bajjillion years have we walked up and down Edmondson Pike as a family.

But today we did because Otis insisted that we cross the street, and because he was being really great we were like, “Sure, let’s keep this lovely family time going as long as possible.”

We cross the street. We walk to the fire hydrant. We turn around to go back to the crosswalk. Right before we get to the light a woman walks up to us.

“That is a big boy! Are you feeding him table scraps?!”

I smile politely the way I always smile when people talk about Otis’s weight.

“Ha, yes. He eats!”

I don’t think the woman is homeless, but she is, for lack of a better word, different.

“Let me tell you something,” she says in an assertive way that makes me straighten up, “This boy is fine, ok? He is going to get tall. All that weight? It’s going to just stretch away. How old is he?”

“Four.”

“Yup. When he’s six it’s all gone. You are going to wonder where it all went. Just make sure he eats fruit every day. Every single day get some fruit in that boy. He is ok.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And when it’s all gone? He’s going to start doing all the things he’s supposed to do. Don’t you worry.” She turns to Mark. “You make sure this mama doesn’t worry, ok?”

Mark nods and smiles.

Then she tells us about her recent surgery to remove her ovaries. And how her aunt had a growth on her brain. And why her uncle was getting cremated instead of buried (fyi: money. Cremation is cheaper).

I told you she was different.

“I have got to get going. But don’t you worry about this boy. He’s going to surprise everyone. A/B student. Keep reading your Bible and don’t let Satan in your thoughts.”

“You know you’re an angel, right?” I whisper as I fail miserably at holding back tears.

She walks on and we walk across the street, back to the park.

“Do you think God sent her?” I ask Mark, feeling really dumb for even thinking it.

“Do you?”

“Yes. I needed to hear all of that.” And then I start sobbing. I won’t go into details, but she addressed every single thing my heart has been crying out to God about for the last year. Every. single. thing. (Interesting note: This general topic is the only thing I asked for prayer for from my various prayer warriors. And now I’m crying because, “Wow. I am so humbled to have prayer warriors!”)

“Well, if we believe He wants to use us, then we have to believe He wants to use her, too.”

I have faith that God sent that a very different woman to tell me things very few people knew I needed to hear.

God sends the strangest messengers. I’m thankful that He does. I’m thankful that He heard my heart. I’m thankful that my little boy forced us across the street to hear it. I’m thankful that our angel wasn’t afraid to share her words with a random family at the street corner. I’m thankful that my husband shares a faith in a God that would calm your fears through a stranger. I’m thankful.

The Village

Since becoming a mom I’ve read a couple of posts about what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to visiting New Moms, and they kind of drive me absolutely bonkers. Absolutely. Bonkers.

The number one thing that bothers me about these lists is the suggestion that your friends and family should do your chores when they come over to visit. It boggles my mind that there are people in this world that have had guests in their home and silently wondered, “Why aren’t you folding my laundry?”

Because here’s the deal, as a society we gave a big Eff Ewe to “The Village” a long time ago. We bought all our own crap so that we didn’t have to borrow anything from each other anymore. We turned our front porches into back decks. We told our moms not to come over when the baby was born. We flipped out if a grandmother/uncle/neighbor said anything to us about how we raised our kid. We repeatedly told The Village to mind its own business, and The Village listened.

And now we just observe each other because that’s all we’ve allowed each other to do. We look at photo albums on Facebook and we like status updates about newborn-induced sleep deprivation as a (shallow) sign of solidarity. And we come over to hold the baby because it is (used to be?) safe, and anything more than that is butting in.

We can’t offer to clean because that might suggest your house is dirty and you’ll write an Open Letter to People Who Clean Other People’s Houses on your blog.

We can’t bring meals because we have no idea what strict diet you and your family are on this month.

We can’t offer to babysit while you get a nap because you are superwoman and you can handle this.

Here’s the thing, if you want your friends and family to be your village, to rally around you with support, you have to invite them and that invitation looks like a text/call/email for help. That’s right. Your friends and family are not mind readers. They don’t know how to help you in practical ways because (and this might come as a shock) they have their own lives going on.

I know. Yeah, people liked your status about that new baby finally arriving, but that’s just about where their concern ended. Not because they are cruel or coldhearted but because life happens and they didn’t think to call and ask if they could help you squeeze a nap in (just like you’ve probably never thought to call that mom that had a second baby to see if you could take her newly jealous firstborn on a playdate to the park #goesbothways)

The village mentality is not a natural one anymore. We have to rebuild it. And that starts with asking the friends and family that you WANT in your village for help. Asking for help requires humility. Asking for help requires letting go. Asking for help is hard. But if you want The Village you have to ask.

And this is where things get messy. We want to take from The Village (come vacuum, buy groceries, cut the grass), but we insist that it’s done our way and on our terms. And I can totally respect wanting things done just the way you want them IF YOU PAID FOR THE SERVICE WITH DOLLAH-DOLLAH BILLS. If this is a purely relational transaction, like my mom going to the groceries the first week we were home from the hospital because she knew we hadn’t been yet and the only thing in our house were some saltine crackers BECAUSE SHE LOVES ME, then I am a horrible human being if I decide to be a bee-yotch because she bought the wrong brand of cereal. If my mother-in-love offers to watch my son so that I can get much needed writing done BECAUSE SHE LOVES ME then I am an ugly soul if I shame her for giving him organic cookies (they don’t mix well with chicken nuggets, ya know). If you want The Village you have accept that it isn’t always going to be exactly how you want it, and if exactly how you want it is the most important thing in your book (no judgement at all!) then The Village might not be the best fit for you.

And this is where it gets even messier. This is probably just me, but I think that being part of The Village means that my tribe gets to have an influence on my family and my decisions. It means that I believe that they are looking out for my family in many practical ways and that they deserve my respect and attention when they want to speak into my life. I may not do what they suggest or even believe they know what they are talking about, but their words and their opinions have weight in my world. Does it hurt sometimes to hear that people think you’re doing the wrong thing? Yes. Is it annoying that everyone doesn’t agree with you all the time? Duh. But that’s part of the deal! That’s part of being in The Village! We agree, disagree, fight, hug, makeup, and then do it all over again!

I just think that if you expect your friends and family to rally around you during seasons like the transition into parenthood it isn’t going to look like the commerce relationships that we’re used to. We can’t put rules around how we expect others to love us. We aren’t customers when we step into the Village, with a checklist of ways the world must cater to me and my sensitivities, we are members and we belong to each other, messiness included.

Take 49

Well, we finally finished Episode 2 of the Gen Y and Boomer Conversation series. There were many, many takes.  And Susan is a total diva.  Yelling at dogs and shushing the kids (not in this take obviously).  I’ll need a bigger contract to work with her again.

(It was a joke.  She is so NOT a diva.  Except with the dogs.  Check out the last 5 seconds.)

Check out our convo about failing, hand holding & competition.

Boomer + Gen Y = Love

I had no plan after graduating from college.  Tennessee Tech just kind of vomited me out in to the real world and I was told to just deal with it.  Not my definition of a fun time, but such is life.

For me, graduation meant moving home and figuring out where to go for grad school.  In the middle of this lostness I decided to email my church and see if they had any where to use me.  I had always thought working with the young girls would be fun, and dreamed of one day being a mentor to a young lady like others had been for me.

I started helping out with the Acteens on Wednesday nights and fell in love with all the girls in the group.  I don’t know that there is any better way to gain perspective on what it means to be young or a woman than placing yourself before teen girls as a role model.  The experience forced me to change my attitude and speech towards relationships, physical beauty and self esteem because these girls were paying very close attention.

The most wonderful part of helping out with Acteens, however, was not in becoming a mentor.  It was in finding a mentor.  Susan was already leading the Acteens and I came on as her assistant.  Over time we found that we had many things in common, namely a passion for our faith & community and a birthday (with just a couple of years between us).  She has taught me so much about what it means to be a servant and a leader.  When to listen and when to speak up.  We’ve believed in each other, prayed for each other, and loved each other for the past 4 years.  She is one of my very best friends.

When I came across Sam Davidson’s vlog about going to lunch with another generation I immediately thought of me and Susan.  We were from different generations.  And we did lunch all the time.  And we are in the middle of starting a non-profit, CreateFaith, which is currently focused on helping Boomer-aged adults become proficient with various computer skills.  

We were exactly what Sam was talking about!

So we went to lunch.  And caught it on video.  And we’re showing it to you here.  We’re thinking of making it a “series” where Gen Y and Baby Boomer will duke it out… over tea.  Sweet tea.  Because we’re in the South.  And that’s how we roll.

NoteThere is a point where Susan asks how many people read my blog, and I’m going to say hundreds.  Which is true.  Kind of.  See, there were hundreds of people reading my blog for like a week in February.  I was excited and told everyone about it that week.  I’m not going to lie.  I was the nerd that bragged about blog stats that probably aren’t even accurate.  And I never really went back to correct myself.  Because I’m going to be a blogging superstar, darn it.  Even if it’s only in my imagination.

Enjoy!


I’m a foodie. A fast foodie.

I love fast food. More than probably anything. It has something to do with my parents rewarding my awesomeness with McDonald’s as a child. When your mind equates happiness with McNuggets it’s kind of hard to care about what they’re made of.

So when I asked Mark what he wanted for dinner he thought he was doing me a favor by saying McDonald’s would be fine.

And normally it would be fine. It would be freaking amazing. Except that we had already been there twice this week. And each time I go there I get the same guy at the drive-thru, who now knows me. This was fine when the same thing happened with the Arby’s guy because “Who really goes to Arby’s?”, but the McDonald’s guy? Really? I mean, they serve billions. Among billions I should be able to stay anonymous.

Marie: No, I don’t want McDonald’s tonight.

Mark: Why? (looking over his shoulder to avoid being hit by a flying pig)

Marie: The McDonald’s guy knows me. I can’t go back there. At least for a few days.

Mark: Really? That was all it took to break the addiction?

And he’s right. We went to a different McDonald’s.  Because I’m stronger than that.
***
In other news, the Rebecca that occasionally comments is “kind of a big deal”, and included me on a list of women bloggers that she liked.  Awesome.

And she is awesome because she just started a blog for her company, Alice, which is of interest to you if you use toilet paper.  For those of you that don’t use toilet paper I would just like to say, “Ew”.

Also, CreateFaith is starting workshops and computer lessons soon.  Check it out here.

Wow, it’s been awhile

It’s been kinda crazy here.

Saturday CreateFaith made its community debut at the Antioch United Methodist Church’s Fall Festival/Fair/I can never remember.  We had a table set up to let people know what we were up to (an after school program and adult computer classes) and what we needed (the usual, volunteers and money).  It was fun, if not awkward at times (because it’s kinda weird sitting there).  However, we got some good feedback, and need to get the ball rolling soon.

Sunday night I led a communication workshop.  This was… interesting.  Actually, it went well, and Mark was an awesome support through the whole thing.  I had put an ad up on Craigslist, and had 2 responses.  I wanted to throw up when I got them because that’s pretty scary to have strangers come to something because you said you might have some information/advice that could help them out.  The night went well, and I even got an email saying thank you.  Pretty cool, friend, pretty cool.

Monday, I had jury duty.  Which was awesome.  I sat in a room.  Didn’t get picked.  Was dismissed at 11, and got the rest of the afternoon off.  I love serving my community.

And after one thing after another here comes Tuesday.  My first ‘normal’ day in a bit.  And I walked into work with a black shirt, and the intention of wearing black shoes.  Instead I wore my new and super comfortable brown moccasin type shoe.  Because I was apparently dead tired and didn’t notice this until I walked into the office.  And it took another hour for me to realize that the black shirt was inside out.

Yes.  This weekend took its toll in the form of melting my brain and reducing my ability to dress myself to that of a 3 year old.

And I’m topping off the brain melting with a good dose of Presidential Talking Points disguised as real debate.

Ah, life is good.

The Business of Hope

I don’t do “run downs”.  I figure if you don’t know what’s going on in my life there is probably a reason for it, and sharing it in blog form is odd

Which then makes me wonder, “Well, Ms. Smarty Pants, why do you blog?  Just to share stupid things only you find humorous?  Is it a vehicle whose sole purpose is to humiliate your step-cat and his no-balls status?”

To which I answer myself with “Shut up.  This blog is deepVery deep.  And spiritual.  And it is a way for me to see how much I’ve grown.  As a person.  As a grown-up, to be more exact… so…so there, Know-It-All Inner Voice.”

Unfortunately, Inner Voice is right, I should share more about what is actually going on in life.  Not only that, I’m really excited about what is going on…

Basically, we live in Antioch which has become synonymous with “da hood”, “the part of town I don’t want to be in after dark”, or “that place where all the gang members live… all of them… even the ones in Los Angeles… yeah, I saw it on the news.  They moved here when Nissan came”. 

I’ve lived in this area pretty much my entire life, and I have never felt unsafe (well, except for the time the afternoon news reported that a girl had been walking in broad daylight and had been kidnapped on a street literally 200 feet from my front door.  I swear to goodness that I hid in a closet until someone else got home with me.  I was 21).  I don’t feel like if I’m wearing the wrong colors I’m going to get gunned down.  And yes, I still go to Hickory Hollow Mall.  At night.  Alone. 

Because the people of Antioch don’t scare me.  They are people.  They are tired from long days at work.  They love their babies, and want to see them grow up to do something good in the world.  Sometimes you even catch a glimmer of hope in someone’s eyes or smile that says he believes he can do some good in the world. 

And I’m tired of all the people “giving up” on Antioch.  Calling this area, these people (please don’t ever forget that we are speaking about people) hopeless.  That’s such dangerous thinking, and it flies directly in the face of everything I understand about God, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

I wanted to believe there was hope, that God had to be working within us, His people.  So I started looking.

And I found CreateFaith.  We found a pastor at a local church who wanted to start an after school program for the young teenagers in the area.  We put together a plan, presented it to him last week, and are in the process of making this after school program a reality!

In this process I’ve found out that lots of people have hope and belief in our community.  Many different groups are all of a sudden, in a way that is powerful, a way that assures me Someone bigger than me is working for his people, coming together to create change on a simple local level.

We’re hoping to start CreateFaith this semester at the Antioch Middle School and house it at the Antioch United Methodist Church (hopefully, the trustees have to talk about it now).  We’re wanting to just be around the kids during hours when adults can’t really afford to be around.  We’re going to do some curriculum that will inspire them to care about their community and build a sense of purpose around what they are being taught in school.

We have a place, we have people, and this is, seriously, just one part of the story…