There are many things I love about my childhood. Many of those memories involve my mom and my Aunt Fairy. My mom chose to go against the racial grain in our family and my brother and I were the only white kids in our Day Care. She fought (and won) to place her us in a better school district than the one we were raised in. She also invited our paperboy, who delivered the route with his mom, in for lunch on a regular basis. She released me to another family consistently, who gave gifts to kids in the projects, ran food drives, and had an outstanding name in our local community.
I especially love that we would come home from school and mom would ask us to wait in the car. There was a homeless addict that would sit in a chair in our garage for shelter when it rained, or when it didn’t, but he had to go when the kids were home. Mom taught me the value of femininity as I watched her weekly match everything she put on her body, do her hair, put on her make-up and occasionally buy new shoes and clothes. She also worked two or three jobs and somehow magically cleaned the house and put a fresh meal on the table every night.
She’s all woman… with substance.
My Aunt Fairy had a massive yard of gladiolas, tulips, buttercups, lilies, irises, roses, azalea bushes, magnolia trees, even a huge grapevine with the best grapes I’ve ever tasted. Every Sunday morning, we’d pick flowers and arrange them for the altar at church. We’d then open the church at 8 am for the Pastor, place the flowers, open his study and the church library. We’d read, play, spell difficult words, go to Sunday School and church, then stay until everyone was gone to lock the building up.
Then we’d have lunch and often she would bake, quilt, or cook and then we’d visit people in need and deliver whatever she had made. She was born in 1913, and her stories were fascinating – Her life was beautiful.
As active as I was, with these two women, I had an opportunity to watch, partner, learn, and most important, serve – a skill that has served me very well over the years. This is a powerful question: “How can I serve you?” The greater power lies in our follow through to its answer.
I hope I never stop learning from others and serving people – all kinds of people from every walk of life. Its what I’m made of. Its what I know. And although my selfish human nature hasn’t arrived, serving people might just be the only thing I’m on the journey to mastering.
I didn’t lay the foundation for the role I currently have, but I am grateful for those who did, because I get to build with grace on that foundation. And trust me, wonderful, strong, beautiful grace is operating in my life as we build community partnerships to change LA.
For example, most recently, our Outreach team has been serving the LAPD, and as I lead them, I chuckle – in the last 10 years, I’ve had three warrants out for my arrest in CA, two in NC, one in VA (and now that I mention it, I don’t even know if I can drive in that state!). That’s just one solid example. There are many more.
I have one hell of a rap sheet and I deserve none of what I have.
God has given it freely. Grace has marked my life through Jesus. And what He has freely given, I will spend myself freely giving.