Playdates with God: College Summit

IMG_5952

IMG_5964

One of my fellow Writing Coaches, Jamecia. What a gifted and passionate young lady she is.

IMG_5971

There were about 39 kids in our workshop, from various schools and counties.

IMG_5975

Here I am with our Writing Coach Coordinator, Lionel. He is awesome.

I look into his dark eyes and think about my own children—this brown-skinned boy who towers over me is someone’s son, someone’s grandson. I don’t know all of his story; but I have watched him shine among his peers for four days—boldly daring to step out from the crowd and be noticed.

For the past few days, I’ve been volunteering at a College Summit Workshop. College Summit is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “transform the lives of low-income youth by connecting them to college and career.” It was founded on the belief that every student deserves the chance to go to college. Through them, at-risk kids from at-risk communities all around the country are invited to stay on a college campus and work with volunteers to learn about financial aid and the college application process, craft a college application essay, help a college coach compile a list of possible schools to apply to, and grow in confidence that they can further their education.

My job has been as a writing coach to a small group of students—we call them peer leaders, because that’s what they are: leaders. They are daring to believe they can be more than a statistic. They are reaching for more than what their communities have told them they are capable of.

A funny thing happens over the days as I coach the kids. We hear stories of loss and trauma, violence and addiction, abuse and neglect. And we see resilience, strength, beauty. We watch kids of all different color, from diverse backgrounds and stories—we watch as they hug and lean on one another, laugh and cry together, lift each other up and celebrate the uniqueness of one another. As I coach these kids, a funny thing happens. I not only grow to believe in them and their beautiful hearts, but I am reminded to believe in myself also.

These kids teach me about acceptance, about love, about grace. And I begin to understand that our struggles are what make us human in each other’s eyes. I begin to understand once again how important it is to share our stories. This is the only thing that will help us see past skin color and invisible social barriers this world has imposed upon us: Sharing. We were created for each other. To share our stories.

On our last day together we have “closing circle.” The adults and kids join hands and form a circle. Anyone who wants to enter the circle to share words or acknowledgement does so. After that, we form two concentric circles. The volunteers and staff join hands and form a circle, facing out. All the kids join hands and form a circle around us. We stand, face-to-face, and the leader tells us to thank one another with only our eyes. No words. She talks us through this uncomfortable exercise.

“With your eyes, tell this person how thankful you are that they are here. Tell them how valuable they are, and what this weekend has meant to you.” After a time, she tells us to take a step to the left. We make our way slowly around the circle like this, looking into the eyes of each student.

This is how I come to be standing in front of him, this beautiful, sloe-eyed boy who towers over me. The exercise draws to a close and the leader says, “As the music fades, I want you to move toward the person in front of you in any way you are comfortable doing so.” Before I can even take a step he reaches for me. I feel small as the strength of his embrace wraps around me, consumes me. But he whispers gentle words in my ear—a blessing, his gratitude, his heart.

I could be holding one of my sons. It feels like I am.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: Sole Hope Shoe-cutting Party (and a giveaway!)

Yesterday, we gathered all those jeans with the holes in the knees. We gathered those milk jugs we’ve been saving. We brought quilter’s cotton and safety pins. Some of us had pinking shears and some didn’t even know what they are. But our small group came together and brought our offerings for a Sole Hope shoe-cutting party.

We watched this video together. As the images of poverty-stricken children rolled across the screen, I watched the faces of our  own kids.  When Asher Collie said that many of these children had never owned a pair of shoes before, I saw it in their faces—they wanted to help.

So we did. We traced and cut and pinned and counted. And when it was all over we had the makings for 30 pairs of shoes. We will box these up and mail them to the Sole Hope offices in North Carolina, where they will then be sent to Uganda for a local seamstress to assemble before they find their way to little feet.

I’ve been reading Michelle DeRusha’s new book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know in my morning quiet time. I’m going slow through this one, getting acquainted with each woman intimately. This morning, I read about Mother Teresa. This is a woman who “chose to act deliberately in small ways” and made a big difference. Michelle quotes her as saying, “There are many people who can do big things, but there are few people who will do the small things.”

This is what I think of when I watch Dan Ingram tracing patterns onto the legs of old blue jeans. Or Tom Smith struggling with how to best use a pair of pinking shears. And when I see my friend Marci balance her toddler Luke on her hip as she gathers up bits of material in one hand. Or see our teenagers cutting on milk jugs. I am so blessed to love these people and do life with them.

Small things.

Sometimes a problem feels too big to make a difference. But this is one tiny way we can help. Providing shoes for thirty children will improve their health by decreasing the risk of contracting jiggers and other illnesses often spread through the removal of the jiggers. If you are interested in hosting a shoe-cutting party, read more about Sole Hope and their mission here. You can make a difference.

I’m giving away a copy of Michelle’s book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Wednesday to be entered for a chance to win. I’ll announce the winner Thursday morning. I hope this book inspires you all the way it has me.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

 
 
The Playdates button: