I never once imagined that I would end working with kids. I played teacher as a kid but I also played doctor, super hero and WWII spy. ( In a way it’s understandable to see why I enjoy writing fiction so much!). But working with kids as a career? NOPE. Or at least that was what I believed. Until I met my friend Mary Ann who works with Greater Miami Youth For Christ in a program called KIX ( Kids in Christ). It is an afterschool program (among several ) that reaches into a few neighborhoods throughout Miami. Through my friendship with Mary Ann, I started to volunteer off and on over the years. Helping out with homework or being there for the teen program on Friday nights.
Last year though, I was offered a position as staff. It was an answer to a prayer, a second source of income and feeling the God moment in it. Have you ever had a moment where there was no hesitation to say yes because it just felt right? This was one of those moments for me. I knew I was going to say yes to this and I began work with the second and third graders three days a week.
Let me tell you something, it has been the hardest job I have ever had but by far the most rewarding. These kids they just get into the heart. One in particular reminds me of myself. She has a bit of imagination and I see the story teller emerging in her. I get her, I was her at her age. I lacked confidence in my abilities with Math homework ( and I’ve only just begun to encounter this Core Math stuff too). Working each day with my girl is one of the highlights of the day. Seeing that moment when she gets it, especially after fighting hard for the answer is a victory. Her victory.
I have been told that God qualifies us for the work He needs us to do. This is why this time in my life could not have been planned by myself. I did not feel confident in being able to do something like this in my life. But God is greater than my doubts. This is where my trust in Him comes in for my life. Trusting Him in this place has been a huge lesson for me. I’m still learning and I’m not the greatest every day but there is grace in this work. As I learned a few years ago, work is worship and worship is work.
The desire and heart of Greater Miami YFC ( and YFC nationwide and international) is to reach the youth. Kids and teens in communites of all kinds bringing the love of Christ into their lives. The neighborhood that we minister in is one of the largest Habitat communites in the country. It is a tight knit community that often has dealt with crime and violence. A few weeks ago a young lady was shot in the face by her ex boyfriend waiting for the school bus. She survived but she may lose her right eye.
This is the reality of what these kids deal with day in and day out. But by being able to come to KIX afterschool or for teen events gives them a respite. It gives them a place to point to and say there is safety and love inside that building. I am grateful to get to be part of it. To plant seeds of hope in Christ and loving on these kids. I look forward to the next victory my girl has this coming week.
I would love it if you could dear reader take a moment to click on the link for Greater Miami Youth For Christ to learn more about what we do in our vast city. Perhaps you would like to get involved with your local chapter or even donate to KIX ( just look for my name under the donate tab). Most of all I would like your prayers for this neighborhood and many like it through out our country. For these kids to find a place of hope and love in the name of Christ.
Social media has become a vaccuum of opinions and unfriendliness. It has sucked me in and took over my mind and soul for a while. Especially with the election this past year and the eventful first days of our new President. Having this constant stream of news and opinion without much time to digest is not healthy for me. So much is coming at me so fast that I find myself feeling shaken and torn.
Social media can be wonderful, don’t get me wrong. It is a great way to peek into the lives of those we care about, like a photo or learn some news. In fact for my birthday party next month I created a Facebook event since it’s the easier way to keep up with people able to come or not. I have learned so much about this world, expanding my view on social issues and opposing views from mine.
However these platforms have become a place full of half truths about our lives. Posting photos that reveal part of our lives but belie our struggles. There have been times when I have hesitated to post something because I simply don’t want to deal with the fight in the comment section. At least on my personal FB account, Twitter is where I get more politcal. I feel free to do so since I don’t have as many followers and have yet to encounter any pushback on my tweets. I’m sure that day will come, but for now it’s what works for me.
Using social media also takes so much energy from me. Engaging in this way, especially if it is of a political nature. It takes energy to read through comments or finding myself getting angry at what someone has posted and so on. I have wasted so much time scrolling through multiple platforms when I could of been reading or (ahem) writing. It becomes the great time suck ( I’m looking at you Pinterest!) that hours can go by and I wonder what the heck did I accomplish today?
The reality is I often look to using social media for a bit of distraction from my own life. I admit to posting things and then checking obsessively to see how many likes or comments were made on it. When it didn’t garner the attention I had hoped for, there is disappointment. Afterall it can feel like a popularity contest. For me it has often feed into the lie that I’m not cared about. It can be so easy to do when you see posts of your friends out without you. It can lead to assumptions and often bitterness about feeling this way. I have to remind myself that a post only shows a portion of the whole picture.
Never before has humanity have so much information at our fingertips. From our phones we can see what others are up to, peek into the lives of those we admire. For me though, I need to step back a bit. To not engage quite as much and be more intentful about how I spend my time. I have many goals for this year and I believe less time spent on all of them the better it is for me.
Running has been my best friend and my frienemy. My longenst on again, off again relationship thus far. Becoming a runner was not anything I had ever envisoned for myself over four years ago. It was by far the most convienent and accessable form of exercise for me. I only needed a good pair of shoes and a nearby park to do it. It also helped to have a buddy at the time also running alongside me, pushing me to run one more lap, then another. Running has taught me that so much, which is why it has become the habit I quite can’t quit. I go through phases of going hard at it, not quite the six days a week habit I had four years ago. Today it looks more like three maybe four days a week, but still I’m getting out there.
Other times it looks like ghosting. I ignore the reasons I need to run and end up doing nothing. There have been times when I have used my work schedule as a reason for not doing it, but the truth is I simply did not want to run. But I need it.
Running keeps me physically and mentally healthy. A good morning run not only starts my body off well but my mind. It helps to wake me up and prepare my mind for the day. Running for me can be medidative. In this I mean nothing else is going through my mind is getting through it.( That and the lyrics from the Hamilton musical and Mix tape).
It is cost effective. As I stated above all you really need is a good pair of sneakers to run. No gym membership fee needed. I can run solo or with a group ( something I haven’t been able to do yet but hope to soon) and those are free too.
I enjoy it. Despite how I sometimes dread going, I don’t want to get out of bed. Or after a long day the last thing I want to is go home to run or work out. If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it at all.
I’m also in a different state of mind about being healthy. For a time it became so all encompasing for me that I could think of nothing else. At some point it became too much for me mentally that I had to figure this out again. And again and again as my life has changed over time. I have less time for the intensive six day a week work outs but I can still get in a good run or a short but intense workout.
Tomorrow morning I shall put on my running shoes and clothes, turn on my app, press play on Hamiliton and go!