I’m exhausted because well, kids. I took a break from writing because well, kids. My house is a mess because well, kids (and the dog…..oh man, y’all the dog…he pooped on my white shag carpet last night, and then again this morning. YUCK.). And, y’all…..in case you missed it…..I don’t have kids (the poopy dog is mine…..though some days I want to disown him…..like, today).
Over the past few years [after moving back to Charlotte from London and Africa] God has blessed me with some amazing kiddos to love and share His love…..and they have taken over my life, in a way that only God could orchestrate.
Two of these amazing peanuts are my God-children (Allie and Ashworth, I love you!), many are the offspring of my amazing friends (I can’t wait until these kids grow up….they are SO much like their parents)……but the majority of these little people are from the Reid Park and JT Williams neighborhoods……and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with each one of them…..even when they really really (did I say really?) irritate me. (Btw, I have a nephew on the way and CANNOT wait to meet him later THIS month!)
More than two years ago, my LifeGroup started volunteering with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Dream Center. Over those two years, the children’s program grew and we became friends with many of the families…..mostly through their kids. Kids started coming to the Saturday neighborhood Adopt-A-Block programming and then started asking to come to church….so, volunteers would go into the neighborhoods and pick them up and bring them to church. Then, God blessed CMDC with a bus and now these kiddos come to church in droves. Last week, we had 32 kids at Children’s Church! Hallelujah!
Many of these children are experiencing high adverse childhood experiences (see more on this here.). We’ve had to lean into the power of the Holy Spirit to provide us with the words to comfort and uplift them….and be open to the resources that He’s put in front of us to be better equipped for these children (and families).
In my case, God has been very intentional in equipping me for these children and families…..and He started doing so a wayyyyy long time ago. I went to very diverse public schools, had the opportunity to nanny in college for a wonderful family who I also continued to work for…sort of…when I was working/living abroad, and was exposed to great parenting (via my parents…..most of the time….LOVE you, Mom and Dad!….. and my friends, such as my college roommate who is just about the best mom I’ve ever met.) And in the past two years, God has been even more intentional in His equipping me for where I find myself today.
He has fully opened my eyes to the inequity in our systems…..through books, workshops, school and, well, life experiences. Over the past two years, I’ve read Just Mercy, Evicted and Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, to name a few books. I’ve attended Race Matters for Juvenile Justice’s Racial Equity Workshop and been present at several viewings/discussions of the Resilience documentary (including one that I hosted because I now understand how important ACEs are to kids…and adults). And, God is equipping me through seminary. This summer, God orchestrated my class schedule so that I was able to take two counseling classes (completely bypassing the timeline that I was supposed to follow….but when God is involved, ALL things are possible)….one on pastoral counseling and one on counseling in crisis and addictions. I can’t even tell you how timely both of these classes and the resources they provided were to me. Like, for real.
I was born into privilege. I know it. I admit it. And now, God is equipping me to be an advocate for those who were not. We have many resources available to families in need. However, most of the time those resources are developed by those living ‘in privilege’ and are therefore designed in a way where those who are ‘without privilege’ cannot access them (or have a really hard time accessing the resources). Barriers exist that those of us who live ‘in privilege’ take for granted. These barriers (which might be small) become insurmountable when they the pile on top of each other and become these huge mountains. Just think….transportation, child care, emotional support, access to medical care, nutritious foods, living wages, and on and on and on…..
In July, my home church, Forest Hill, set a vision for 2030 and called all of its congregants to action to be Gospel Carriers. The church CAN have an impact on the lives of these kiddos (and families). We can also impact these systems so that they are more equitable and so that when programming and resources become available, they become accessible.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my thoughts about how we can infuse the next generation with the Hope of Christ. I’ll share some of the tools and resources that I believe He is providing to us (including evidence-based interventions) and how we can use these to be Gospel Carriers in the City of Charlotte. I’ll share more about the impact of stress on a child’s life and what I’ve learned about how kids respond. Disclaimer: As I’ve shared, I’m not a parent….I don’t know it all. But, I feel led to share what He has shared with me and what the Holy Spirit is putting on my heart. See more from me soon about…..
- Start with the basics….physical and emotional safety are paramount
- Impact of stable caring adult: Help a child develop resilience, confidence and problem solving techniques
- Be trauma informed and respond with the whole child in mind
- The impact of our forefathers and epigenetics
- Importance of being exposed to life outside of our bubbles
- Mothers AND Fathers: Parental skills and involvement are UBER important
Over the past few years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to do life with many of the families who live ‘without privilege’. I look forward to sharing how God is bringing the nerdy, academic-side of me together with the action-oriented side of me. Gather your crew and let’s discuss how we can bring the hope of Jesus Christ to the next generation.