Ordinary Radicals: How a Cat and Some Marshmallows Let our Neighborhood Hear About Jesus
It all started with our cat, Thor.
Our cat likes to escape the house sometimes. Most of the time he just stays in our backyard. But sometimes, he goes into our front yard. On very rare occasions, he wanders off into other neighbor's front yards.
One day this summer, our cat got out- but this time, he ran to a neighbor's house five doors down. They had some kids playing over. The kids ask if that was our cat as we run over.
My daughter, being a very friendly girl, invited them to come over and play in our swingset. Since we have one of the only end-units in the townhouse development that has a swingset, everybody wants to come over and play. That day, we had eight kids (including my three) playing in our backyard. The next day, the same kids show up wanting to play in the backyard. But this time, they want to play in our water hose and get wet on our pseudo slip-n-slide (from an old tarp).
It was about 1:00 at the time, and I ended up finding out that most of them did not have lunch that day. Three of the kids haven't even had breakfast. Even though we only had a few things to give them from our fridge, I fed all of them.
The next day, they came over and we invited them over to have Smore's and fire time at our house. This time, 15 kids show up. Good thing that we bought enough marshmallows and graham crackers to go around. Some of the kids had never made s'mores or made a fire before. Andrew (my husband) sang songs around the campfire and even talked to them about proper fire safety. It was really sweet to see the kids all sitting around the campfire and really listening to what he was saying.
We were having a pretty good time, but one girl fell off of our swing and got really embarrassed in front of all her friends As the only adults present (yes, their parents didn't even want to meet us) we took the time to talk to her and be with her.
The thing that most amazed me about all these kids that I had never met any of their parents. I did however met one of their grandmas briefly for 5 minutes. They talked to me about how their moms don't go with them to the pool and how their moms lets them run around the neighborhood with adults with them.
One kid had a phone in the fourth grade and was texting his mom pretty much the entire time that we were at the fire. I got in conversation with him about his family and he said something about his mom's boyfriend getting mad at him for something.
And one point, when I was looking around the fire, I noticed that we had kids from all races. We had 8 black, 3 "white"* (mine), 2 Latino and at least two Indian/Hispanic mix. I laughed one time when one girl asked me who my daughter was. I looked around the fire and our kids were the fairest skin out of everybody there.
(*The reason I put "white" in quotations is that even though my kids get called "white" from other kids, they are mixed with Japanese and Hispanic).
My daughter had no idea what she opened up when she invited those kids over to our house. We had all those kids gathered around the fire my husband played his guitar, he asked them if they had ever sang songs to God. One of the kids said he had been to church before but none of the other kids had.
It was kind of funny when they would ask my husband to sing certain pop songs or rap songs, and of course, we didn't know any of them. So my husband just started making a silly songs about random things. Seeing those kids light up, smile and laugh around the fire was a really special memory.
What baffles me is that we were making a difference in our neighborhood just by having Smore's and a fire. It made me think that sometimes the things that make the most difference are the simplest things. Like one simple act of kindness can change someone's life It might not seeing like much, but just having those kids see two people, like Andrew and I, talk to each other kindly and be good parents might be something revolutionary. It might change their life to see a father figure in their life, playing guitar and teaching them about fire safety.
It reminds me of my husband and I reading this book called The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne
"...But today people crave the spectacular. People are drawn to lights and celebrities, to arenas and megachurches. In the desert, Jesus was tempted by the spectacular- to throw himself from the temple so that people might believe- to shock and awe people. if you will. Today the church is tempted by the spectacular, to do big, miraculous things so people might believe, but Jesus has called us to to littleness, the little mustard seed, to yeast making its way through dough, slowly infecting this dark world with love... The truth is that when people look at us like we are sacrificial servants, I have to laugh. We've just fallen in love with God and that is transforming our lives."
- Page 132-133.
I remember when I was in college at Liberty University. Something that they always talked about was making a "huge difference" in the world for Jesus. They told us to have a "big hairy audacious goal" that only God could fulfill.
At the time it sounded like every single one of us graduating college would be "world changers," Nobel Peace Prize winners and great difference makers. As if being a wife and a mother and a husband would not be worthy enough to fulfill the great commission.
I remember when I thought I could stay home with my daughter. The one thing that really crossed my mind was how I always felt like I wasn't making a difference. I know, I know, having a child the most "important job in the world." But changing 11 diapers a day and sitting home alone all the time still made me feel empty inside for more. Which is why honestly I started photography and my own business... but that's another story.
I had this mentality that if I wasn't going out there working as a career, being some doctor or some Lawyer and traveling that I wasn't doing what God wanted me to do. But the more that I grew and matured, the more I realized that it's in the little things that God works. It's in the little hugs. It's in the little conversations. It's in the little acts of grace. It's in these times that God is showing people that he so loves them and he still cares.
Don't be afraid of living an "ordinary" life. You might be the just the right person to help another "ordinary" person live in an extraordinary way!
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