For the next year, Cokesbury Kids will be releasing chapters of my book Raising Good People for free through the Cokesbury Kids Club. Each month, the members of the group will get access to a chapter a month. This month the introduction will release. Leading up to its release, I am going to post some “get to know me” posts here on my site. They will post on Mondays. On Tuesdays, I will go LIVE to talk more about the post.
I tried really hard to come up with a different name for this post. I was trying things like “Get to know my work” and “This is my vocation”, but The United Methodist Church trains us up from the beginning to talk about our calls. The calling of God’s purpose for our lives. The call we must defend countless times to elders in our churches. The call that we must internalize so deeply that sometimes we feel brutalized by it. The call that nudges us out of dark spaces reminding us who and whose we are. So, the title is “My Call Story.”
Like many called into ministry, my story begins in youth group. I had a deep love for all things Jesus and service, so when the youth pastor signed us all up to go build houses with the Volunteers In Mission group down in Rio Bravo, Mexico, I did cartwheels of support. I literally could not wait to ride in a bus for two days with my friends and then build a one bedroom house for a family of 17. I knew that this would be transformational for the people I was helping. (I didn’t know at the time about the white savior complex though.)
When we got to the build site, there were so many sweet-faced children and I made it my mission to play with them instead of lugging cinder blocks and making concrete. Someone had to entertain the children and it always needed to be me.
I LOVED IT ALL. We ran and played and sang and wandered through a cemetery. We smiled and talked and hugged.
One of the children invited me into his home to see his most prized possession. His mom told me it was fine for me to come into their house, so I followed him in to see what he wanted me to see—a painting of Jesus. He loved that picture and he wanted me to see how much he did.
I was changed. There was mutuality to be shared. I felt called to be in ministry with children.
And ever since then, I have been chasing that call. I’ve chased it into the local church where I planned programming while I ministered to kids and the adults who loved them. I’ve chased it into the streets where I marched for #blacklivesmatter and proclaimed the injustices faced by children through the cradle to prison pipeline. I’ve chased it into conference rooms where I collaborated with some of the most passionate people I have ever met to create resources for churches to share God’s love with the children in their midst. I’ve chased it into motherhood.
This is my deepest depth: I am called to love all of God’s children. I have known this my whole life, but heard it the loudest when I was 17. I have doubted the call. I have been angry at the call. I have been changed by the call. And the call has manifested itself in new ways as I have learned more about myself and the realities of the world. But it’s always there. That voice in the pit of my being telling me that it is my special job.
This is the most recent manifestation of my call: to help churches empower parents to raise their children to be good people. My belief is that we are all born “good” (You can blame that on prevenient grace and my blatant disregard for anything Calvinist.) and generational trauma (Maybe you can call that the fall? I am still working through that theory…) prevents us from living into that goodness. My hope is that through writing Raising Good People more churches will use their collective community to support families to be and act according to our inherent worth as children of God—full of goodness and grace.