all i want for christmas is…US

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Just a few days ago a 90-year-old man was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for openly serving some vital vittles to the city’s homeless community. 90 years old! If you watch the video you’ll see that he can’t even stand up straight or keep his hands from the perpetual old-guy shake and they arrested him.

Because it’s against the law in Ft. L to feed the homeless in public and I’m asking you this literal question now: Has there ever been a more ludicrous law in all the known worlds? As in: Isn’t it the most absurd and confungled hogwash you ever did hear in your whole natural born life? Keep the riffraff away from polite society! Dig the boundaries deeper! Don’t walk a mile in their shoes–don’t even look at their shoes!

Clearly I have some feelings about this and would love to go toe-to-toe with that mayor and make some responses to his reasonings.

My husband and I were sitting in bed watching the footage of this story and I turned to him about halfway through the newsreel and told him that I have a real high hope of someday getting arrested for breaking the rules in order to benefit humanity. Maybe seeing the inside of a jail cell isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but it’s certainly on mine. As a matter of fact, I went on to tell Austin that I also have a real high hope that we’re raising our kids in such a way that they wouldn’t regard getting thrown inside the slammer for doing the right thing as anything but manifest destiny–no matter what the governing forces say. Sometimes our values and our clear-thinking brains need to trump the letter of the legislation.

The aged and grey and furrow-faced man said that it didn’t matter to him how many times he was incarcerated, he would go on serving food until Kingdom come and his hunch-backed passion infused my straight-up spine with a burning sensation and gifted my veins with renewed fire. There were hot tears filling my eyes by the end of the video and an insatiable–always the insatiable–ache to offer more hands and feet and heart. Sometimes I think I’d sell a kidney or a left ventricle or my right eye so someone wouldn’t have to go hungry any longer or suffer through life without basic sustaining supplies.

Do y’all get tired of hearing me talk like this? And by “this”, I mean: the blue flame burning in my marrow to be a part of setting the world to rights like Kingdom come happens in real time– which is to say: Kingdom come happens in our time and we are the Kingdom grabbers and the Kingdom makers and who wants to harness the Wind and release it to the four corners of the earth by any means possible and necessary? I’ve heard it said that the Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon us. Do you believe it?

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We rose before the sun came heralding over the horizon, packed our paraphernalia and left the hotel in Port Au Prince on a Monday morning. Our itinerary had us driving a half-day deep into the wild Haitian countryside where a little-known village named Drouin (pronounced DO-WIN) was situated between palm trees, dusty roads and rice fields. There are certain things that stick out vividly in my memory from the landscape rushing by our car windows–the barren hills of sand that had once been rain forests, the smell of Atlantic salt blended with the scent of burning trash, the lush cacophony of tropical colors, the livestock aimlessly roaming the streets here and there and everywhere. But if I’m being completely honest, I especially remember how much my neck was sweating and my bowels were cramping and my lips were praying that I would make it to a bathroom before I would have to holler a “PULL OVER!” and make an emergency drawer-drop on the side of the road. Hey, I’m just keepin’ it real y’all.

Well, we just made it to that only gas station along our route, took care of some, er…business, loaded up again and several rural villages later we turned left onto a dirt two track that was all skweee hawed and senseless, dipping and rising and splashing like the earth was made of feral ocean waves. I soon learned that the best way to survive the hour-long experience was to just let my cranium hang loose and bounce on my neck as if God had made me a bobble-head.

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Our destination was a primitive place so far removed from civilization it had been mostly forgotten–even by it’s own country. And on this berserk, brain-bobbing journey to a lost land we passed old men bowed low over their crops and naked mamas and children bathing and laundering in the water canal that flowed along the road. There were scattered mud huts baking in the hottest sun that ever touched my northern-born skin and barefoot women with straight backs and high heads carrying baskets along the road while their skirts swished in rhythm with their stride. Add that to the grazing goats and cud-chewing cows and clucking cluckers and the whole scene looked and felt and smelled like we stepped inside an anniversary edition of National Geographic.

By the time we arrived to our journey’s end, we had to peel our sweaty backsides off the seats and open-throat chug enough water to replenish lost fluids, then chug some more for good measure. I had a headache of stampeding-horses-proportion and didn’t know how my unaccustomed body was going to make it through the rest of a day gone grueling. I no sooner thought that thought than a whole bunch of bright-eyed children came storming and screaming out of the school and proceeded to touch every exposed part of our strange-hued hair and flesh–I nearly forgot what ailed me under the onslaught of their wonder and joy. These children were so excited to meet us, they had all walked different distances to school even though it was their Easter week break. I don’t know if they knew what distance we all travelled to meet them too, but I planned to show them the length of it in hugs and love and smiles.

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Drouin is a rice farming community that lost their livelihood after the earthquake when a whole bunch of well-intentioned aid workers dumped free rice all over the country. That free rice meant harm to these farmers when all the help came in and hurt them. As if they hadn’t suffered enough, shortly after the riddance of their resources cholera came sneaky and silent and flowing down the river, spreading disease into the canal where the whole community draws their drinking water. Suddenly these families are dropping like flies from outbreak in addition to starving so severely that the existing parents are only feeding each child they have on every other day–just enough to keep them on the edge of life, or on the edge of death…depending on how you look at it.

Pastor Jean Alix has both his ears to the ground in Haiti, always listening for the needs of his native people and therefore heard about what was happening in Drouin. He wasted no time inviting Chris Marlow of Help One Now for a visit to this rugged and remote location to see this community and their devastation and that day Chris held against his chest a nearly dead and limp little girl whose parents simply didn’t have enough food to feed her.

Jean Alix beseeched Chris to support these sick and perishing people, but at the time Help One Now’s policies only allowed for them to swoop in and sponsor double orphans, so Jean–the pit bull–Alix went heart-to-heart with Chris and invited him to come back to Drouin in a year when all the children would be double orphans.

That reasoning was faultless and a full-stop for HON and the whole team immediately reassessed their policies and decided that Drouin would get whatever relief they could give. And what they gave was a sponsorship program that would go forward to fund the improvement of Drouin’s water system, supply farming equipment and build/maintain their first school, a school that became the energy center for the entire village–a school that would provide jobs for Haitian teachers and construction workers and cooks while affording an education, supplies, uniforms and hearty meals for their sons and daughters.

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Now, I certainly haven’t walked a mile in Drouin’s shoes, but I did drive down a seemingly endless stretch of jackhammered earth to tell you their story and I did hike around their neighborhood of mud huts witnessing the pride of a people who had faced down death and I did see how the investment Help One Now made is effectively breaking the cycle of poverty and pushing a forgotten colony into a new and sustainable future and I do want you to know that these are the faces of our children.

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Because on the other side of Jesus family is global and we are all mamas and papas and sisters and brothers and children of each other in a tribe much wider and bigger and more varied than our nucleus units. These are my sons and daughters and I am their mother and until all of us are cared for, none of us are. Because our happiness and peace and liberty are all mixed up with theirs until Kingdom come. Kingdom come. And it’s the stout-souled 90-year-old man at the start of this post and his story of relentlessly loving his global family that inspired me to go a little lower and extend a little longer and think extra intentionally towards Christmas and what it means to actually celebrate as a family.

So here I am: In response to the old guy that just won’t quit and the death-facers in Drouin, my husband and I decided to gift our boys with three more sponsor children for Christmas because HON is aiming to find 120 more benefactors for Drouin children so they can not only go to school and receive routine sustenance, but even more importantly so they can stay with their families–this is orphan prevention; the glue that is keeping tribes together; the glue that is keeping us together…because we’re all called to be one great, unyielding unit. Let’s do this, Church. There is no our family and their family or us vs. them–it’s only and always until eternity just US. And it’s the value of US that guides and feeds the efforts of Help One Now.

This is the part where I ask you if you’d also be interested in giving your own mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter the gift of keeping families together for the holidays? A gift made with flesh and soul and bones that keeps on giving for years so come. What a thing to deck the halls with! And my personal hope is for us to actively adopt 20 more family members before the end of December. We’re already taking 3, which leaves 17–such a small number and a super attainable goal between the lot of us, eh? Click here to give (and receive) the gift of sponsorship.

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