Saturday, June 23, 2012

My dream for my children

The American dream: college degrees, successful careers, big houses and fancy cars...

Not at all what I dream for my children when they grow up.

I mean, I hope they can provide for their families one day. I pray that they won't have to struggle, because I've seen how destructive and traumatic poverty is. Of course I don't want that for my children.  But I can honestly say that if my children grow up and have wildly lucrative careers and live in big fancy houses and drive shiny fast cars; if they have all those things and consider themselves successful; and if they aren't doing anything about oppression, injustice, or poverty, I will consider myself a failure as a parent.

I pray every day that they will fall in love with Jesus. Not with Religion, not with Christianity.  I hope they don't grow up to be good Sunday church attenders. I pray that their hearts will be broken over the mess of this world they've inherited and that they'll have such a close relationship with its Redeemer that they'll seek out ways to bring justice and peace.   I pray they won't tell people about Jesus but instead will be so intertwined in loving others that their lives breathe out the love of Christ. I pray they'll choose the fast in Isaiah 58:

"Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"

So if I am going to pray these things and hope for this life for my children, how am I to live? I can't expect any of that out of my children if I'm not showing them the way.  So my prayers for my own heart are the same as those for my children's.  I pray that God will break my heart; that he'll show me exactly how he intends for me to live out a life as a follower of Jesus.  And the more I read my Bible, the more I am convinced that if I want to call myself a follower of Christ, I absolutely need to be actually following him, not just going to church a lot and "becoming a better Christian" (whatever that means). If I am not hanging out with any of the folks Jesus was hanging out with, what I am I even doing?

So here's what we did this week:

Thanks Michele, for the picture!

Kind of hard to tell from this picture, but the kids finally joined me to visit my friends at one of the tent cities in Greensboro this week.  They've been begging me to take them out there for weeks.  Before you call DSS on me, let me tell you something: the people who live at this tent city have become my friends. I care about them and they were more gracious to my children than people I've encountered in other places in our lovely city.  Those of you who know me personally know how protective I am of my children (they are barely allowed to watch tv for goodness sake!)  I asked my homeless friends first if it was okay if the kids came out before I got them out of the car because this is their HOME.  Are there drugs and alcohol on the premises? What do you think? But guess what else? The man whose behavior is probably the least appropriate in the camp, the one who I admit I was kind of hoping wouldn't be around the day I came by with my kids, gave them a really cool toy, completely cleaned up his language the entire time we were there, and invited the kids to come back and see him again sometime.  One of the women who has always kept to herself when I've come out came right over, talked to the kids and started telling me more about her own children.  There is a therapeutic quality to being around little children when you don't get to see them often.

And this wasn't a poverty tour for my kids. It wasn't a "see how people live and think about how lucky/blessed you are." Not at all. They were there to help us bring out bags of much-needed supplies and snacks. They were there to love on and pray with the residents of that tent city. Because that's what Jesus did. Because I want my children to do the same thing when they grow up. Not because I said so, but because they love Jesus. And when you love him, you can't help but live it out.


  1. This is a really great post. Thank you for inspiring me!

  2. Beautiful post. Beautiful heart. I wish the picture could have been more "revealing", but as you know, most of our friends at that camp shy away from the cameras! I'm so glad that your children came with us. I look forward to next time.

  3. Very cool. I miss being down there with our friends. When people actually take the time to go down there they see it is probably nothing like what they envisioned in their minds.

  4. You have gotten it right! This is exactly the way I see my role as a mom! For at least one year, my son Elliot has been troubled by the poverty and panhandling he sees every day in Greensboro. Since we homeschool, we have freedom and time. So for his final second grade project, he created Elliot's Ninja Art: Helping the Homeless, one Ninja at a Time. He paints pictures and sells them on Etsy, and uses his funds to purchase items for Street Watch. I've recently been in contact with Michelle, who is a truly amazing person! I'm so happy to know that other families in Greensboro will allow their children to do what their heart tells them, and what Jesus calls them to do, without having to go though any formal teaching. Peace be with you and your sweet family!


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