Thursday, August 28, 2008

The current loves of my life

I am posting twice today because I have the time (no sub call today... and I don't babysit for another 2 hours) and who knows when I'll next get to it.

I am anxious for subbing to start. I've already started babysitting. I took a job, a little reluctantly (I had hoped to finally give up babysitting); but after my first night last night I'm glad I took it. The children are Olivia (10), Owen (6) and Avery (4), and I used to watch them a lot when I was a sophomore and junior at Olivet. They're bigger now, obviously, and they've changed... in some ways as I expected, but also in some surprising ways. I think they're all a little bit attention-hungry (their family has gone through some rough times since I last worked for them), and I already have plans to set some kind of structure and teach them some things (no tv, no back-talking, no hitting (why do I have to teach them this?), and there is more to life than wanting to a be a "rock star or a model" - that came from the four year old, by the way, not the ten year old).
It's been a long time since I gave up trying to not have a favorite when I babysit (I have one in every family, just ask and I will instinctively tell you!), and Owen has once again become my favorite out of this family. (Don't get me wrong, I love them each dearly.) Last night it was so fun to help him with his homework - reading and writing - and to know that I'm helping in one of the most formational parts of his education. I tried to be super encouraging whenever he read a new or difficult word, or even when he persisted to struggle through a hard paragraph. I also showered him with smiles and admiring words when he was showing off his bike riding skills! Hm, maybe I'm the attention-seeking one, and I just love to see a little boy beaming at my praises!

My other job, for which I have a different but equal passion, is working at the Center of Hope food pantry. It's pretty basic: we give out food, and I get to deal with the everyday hassles of paperwork, building maintenance and volunteer scheduling. But I like to believe that it's so much more. Monday morning my heart thrilled when "Frank" (our infamous homeless-man-who-forgets-his-meds) actually responded to my greeting with a smile and a friendly "how are you?" - is it possible that weeks and weeks of welcoming him with the love of Christ is beginning to soften his exterior and reach to his heart?
I'm getting to know a young homeless mother, and trying to encourage her in the process of job-hunting and applying for transitional housing. (Ah - a lesson for me here... I don't have all the answers, and sometimes all I can offer is a shoulder to cry on and a prayer.) She said she wants to start bringing her kids to church, so that opened up an opportunity for me to invite her to my home church and offer to meet her at the service. (Note: I wouldn't invite just anyone to my church - that's another whole struggle for me! - but I think she would do ok there.)

OK, sometime in the last few months I made an exciting connection - When I was observing an adult black male (side note: I'm learning lots about black culture... although probably only scratching the surface) at the Center (and, I admit, perhaps beginning to think judgmental thoughts toward him - his humor was a little distasteful, in my opinion), I was touched in my spirit by the sudden realization that this man was once a child - much like the many schoolchildren that I have fallen in love with when I sub. Thinking of what he might have been like as a little black boy (probably ornery, but really precious!) totally changed my perspective and my attitude toward him, and now I carry this new way of seeing people with me when I'm at the Center or other places where I interact with people in poverty.
I love children, and one of the most fascinating things to me is that we all start out as children. So my aim is to honor the unique characteristics that children have to offer us, while loving each person as someone who has grown out of his or own childhood (whatever it may have been like), and is still loved by God as His precious child.

Why grace is my theme

I tell you, coming up with a name for a blog is not easy. I sat on the living room floor for like half an hour yesterday trying to come up with a catchy phrase that accurately describes my identity or purpose or something. I looked at what resources I had nearby (too lazy to go very far), and tried gaining inspiration from a Bible verse on a post-it in my calendar ("But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 3:18.) I like it... especially the part about grace (knowledge is useless without it!)... and eventually I came back to a phrase that has run through my mind a LOT in the last, oh, 16 months or so. Through the most transitional (and sometimes scary) part of my life thus far, I kept thinking my life is like a "free fall into grace." Because I've often had a feeling of a long, unrestrained, indefinite fall into I-don't-know-what-or-where... along with a sometimes peace and reassurance, and sometimes just faint hope, that God's grace extends as far as I fall.
I don't know if I'm done falling yet (or if I ever will be). But I am eagerly looking around me for signs of God's grace and what He can teach me through it all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm here!

I've joined blog-world... mostly so that I can comment on my friends' & family members' blogs. But maybe I'll actually get inspired and do some writing... we'll see. :)