Tag Archives: children

What about the Children?

I found this article, about a town not to far from the town I went to college in, a place where there are supposedly a lot of practicing Christians…

From Daily Southtown: Residents oppose shelter for immigrant children

The children rarely leave the federal immigrant shelter, a former nursing home near the city’s lakefront that houses undocumented children found alone in the United States.

Teachers and doctors are brought to them. And aside from occasional field trips or visits to a nearby park, the children spend almost all their time indoors — although it may be months before they know whether they will be deported or allowed to stay.

But plans to provide more room by converting a 2.5-acre estate near Naperville — with an 11,000-square-foot house, tennis court and swimming pool — into a first-of-its-kind shelter for undocumented Indian and Chinese children hit a snag:

Neighbors in wealthy Lisle Township don’t want them.

They say the shelter, which would house as many as 30 children, could create traffic problems, lower property values and strain water and sewer services.

But some also worry that the children could escape and pose a threat to their own children. A flier circulated throughout the neighborhood said the shelter would be “WORSE than a halfway house!”

Protecting our Children while Caring for Others

This Morning I received an email asking for advice:

Hello!  You and your wife bought some cloth diapers from me through Craig’s List.  I recognized your name when you were hosting at Nashville Is Talking, then found your personal blog.  Small world, right?
I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks now.  You’ve definitely pricked my suburban conscience.  My family’s not image conscious to begin with, and we do all the comfortable “crunchy” practices like driving an old Volvo, wearing only secondhand clothes, breastfeeding, etc.  Yet I’m aware that I’m lacking in the person-to-person expression of Christ’s love.  I hurry my children past the homeless at the downtown library.  My childlike response to help has been squashed by a parental need to protect my children, to teach them wariness with strange men.  I know you feel fearless now, but there’s a vulnerability you feel when you are a mom out alone with small children.
So I’m asking you for advice!  Can you suggest a safe way for a mom and kids to help the homeless we encounter?  Small bags of portable food?
With thanks,
Eager to Help

Dear Eager to Help,

First of all, let me say thanks for the diapers. We are about six months from being ready to use them, but excited as the time approaches.  I’ll also say I’m anything but fearless right now. As I think about raising a child in this world, I definitly feel a desire to protect and yet teach my children to engage in this world, “in it, but not of it.” I’m honored that you felt compelled to ask me for advice, so without further ado, here it is.
Let’s talk about the fear for a minute. I wrote a little while ago about Guestrooms for Jesus, where I said fear and protecting your family was a lame excuse. I meant it was a lame excuse for inaction, not that protecting your family wasn’t an okay thing to do. In other words, don’t feel guilt about your desire to protect your children, I’m sure that is a God given desire in your heart. We are called to “Love our neighbors,” and I can think of no closer neighbor then family. As you’ve begun to realize though, if this is keeping you from loving other neighbors, particularly those Jesus talks specifically about, the poor, hungry and thirsty, then you probably have room to grow. I know I certainly do. So, what are some practical ideas for you to do to help those in need around you? Let’s start with your first idea.

Gift Bags are a great idea. The Homeless Guy (Nashville’s very own blogger, who you should definitly subscribe to), wrote a wonderful post about what he would suggest you put together for Homeless Gift Bags.  I added my two cents about Gift Bags, with an additional note about money (I really break down the money idea here). Stick a bunch of the bags in the car behind the passenger seat and let your kids help and see that the homeless are not to be feared or shunned, but to be joyously acknowledged as part of your community.

The next idea I have is to start educating yourself a little more on the homeless, particularly in Nashville. The Homeless Guy blog is a good place to start. The other group I would Highly recommend is the Nashville Homeless Power Project, probably the coolest group in Nashville right now. If your Wednesday afternoon’s (1pm at the Downtown Presbyterian Church) are free, check out the Living Room, a discussion group among homeless and “homies.” You can also volunteer with them, but at the least Join their Mailing List. Another great group that isn’t working specifically with homeless, but definitly those on the edge is the YW. They are also a great organization and work specifically with women in need. They’d be great for you to volunteer with. Also, I have helped out with a group called Food Not Bombs, who serve potluck meals every Sunday. If you want to come up on a Sunday and hang out and eat a meal with us about 1:30pm at the Veteran’s Memorial, that would also be a good chance to just meet some folks in a safe environment.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter.  I think far too often we create a dichotomy or a tension where it doesn’t need to be. I think you hinted at one that many of us are quite guilt of: parenting/children – interacting with those in need. Our perception is probably more accurately: Safety of Children – Getting near Dangerous Crazies (does that sound a little more honest?).  The truth is I don’t think these things need to be in tension. I think first of all we need to recognize that “safety” needs to not be our first concern. God doesn’t call us to safe living.  I know lot’s of C.S. Lewis fan’s like to quote this passage from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe referring to Aslan, The Lion:

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

God calls us to be faithful, just like he did to Abraham (almost sacrificed his son and then took his family on a unknown journey to new land), Daniel (remember the lions den?), Paul (went through all sort’s of trouble to share the good news), and even Jesus (they killed the dude).  Now, we aren’t talking about dangling your kids off balconies or anything like that, but we are talking about being faithful to God’s call to care for those in need, and to do it with your children in tow.
And this is where I think we really get to the important part. Too many kids are being raised in “christian” homes where the Christianity that is being modeled is nothing like what we see in the stories of the Bible, but a safe religious practice, that holds personal protection and well being and satisfaction above all other callings in Scripture (which by the way I don’t really see the former in scripture at all).  So, we have whole generations that grow up assuming there is no conflict between their suburban living and the scripture that they read. The Christianity we see modeled today is not the same as that we see lived out in Scripture. 
I really care about protecting my children. But the protection I’m thinking of is a little different. I’m not too scared of scrapped knees, dirty hands, or the stinky breath of someone we’re talking too. I do want to protect my children from the “patterns of this world” and worldly treasure that moth and rust destroy. I want to protect my children from believing in a Christianity that has sold it’s soul to the materialistic, money-hungry, image driven, and earthly-focused society that we live in.

Protect your children, by all means. Just make sure your protecting them from the right things.


My First Attempts at Converted Nursery Rhymes

Like I’ve said before, I want to be creative in the way I instill values in my children. One way I think we can do that is through nursery rhymes. Let’s be honest a lot of the nursery rhymes we currently sing and teach have no real moral or point to them anyways. So, following in the footsteps of those before us who converted old Drinking Songs to Christian Hymns, here are my brief attempts at converted nursery rhymes:

To the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb:

Jesus loves his Enemies, Enemies, Enemies
Jesus loves his Enemies,
Even when they are mean.

To the tune of Hot Cross Buns:

Feed the Poor,
Feed the Poor,

If you see,
someone hungry,
Give them Food.

To the tune of Twinkle Twinkle little star:

Loving, loving, one another,
each one a sister or brother,
looking out for others needs,
instead of seeking my own greed.
Loving, loving one another, each one a sister or brother.

Okay, so that’s my start. Any thoughts or suggestions?

An Attempt at Explaining How I Plan to Raise my Kids

on raising childrenI want others to respect my values and morals and to respect how I raise my children as a parent. There are parent’s out there that have warped values and child-rearing practices, and that often demands the intervention of a community and sometimes the law, but most of the time we respect different parenting practices. So here is a brief insight into my hopes of instilling certain values in my children, and then a brief defense of them.

I want to raise my children valuing the importance of relationship and community. I want them to see giving as far more enjoyable and valuable then receiving (yes even at Christmas time). I want my children to know, and probably lend me insight, into the paradoxes of Jesus’ teachings. Love your enemies, deny yourself, seek first the kingdom, faith like a child in a kingdom like a mustard seed. I want my kids to know that there are better uses of your time then comatose entertainment; that more toys won’t make you more happy. I want them to know that Christianity and Church is much more about hanging out in the park with the homeless and having banquets for the needy, than it is about singing songs, drawing pictures and eating out on Sunday with people that all look and act the same. I want my kids to know that worship includes planting gardens and giving food, clothes and shelter to others. I want them to know that we bike because it’s fun, and it’s taking good care of this lovely planet God gave us. I want my kids to know the importance of wearing clothes and eating food that was prepared justly and not by a child their age in a sweatshop. I want my kids to know that God will care for their needs, but that it is more important to live simply so that others might simply live. I want my kids to have fun, playing at the park, reading books at the library, going on adventures all over town, building castles out of refrigerator boxes, redeeming others trash into tree forts.

I know, my aspirations are high. I have ideas for how I might begin to instill those values, and I’m flexible with how, but those are values I want to teach them. Most people will agree these are good ends, it’s the means that people are going to have a hard time with. I don’t want to have a TV in the house. I’m not going to buy my children presents on Christmas. We aren’t going to fill our house with toys. We aren’t going to live a lifestyle that matches our income. Our cars, clothes, toys and haircuts might be less trendy then the neighbors. We’re going to live in a neighborhood where everyone doesn’t look the same, and BMW’s and SUV’s don’t line the driveways. And that might mean my bike gets stolen.

Can other’s respect that? Honestly, I think they’re going to have a hard time. Folks might disagree on when their kid’s can see scary movies, but they all think you should get toys on Christmas. They might disagree on smoking in the house, but most folks seem to agree you should get the biggest house you can afford (actually that the bank will loan you).

I definitely think the biggest obstacle to instilling these values in our children will not be the children’s willingness to embrace them, but other adults outright disagreement and disrespect of that set of values (however well meaning they are).