Monthly Archives: April 2016

D!v3r$ity (3)

Let’s set the stage for this post on another Mission Year value. [also, this will be likely the beginning of a much larger conversation on a large topic]

  • The group of people I’m living with this year – we’re all White.
  • The neighborhood we live in is predominantly African-American, some Hispanic
  • The school I work at is 99% Hispanic
  • The church I attend is probably 90% (or more) African-American

The easiest diversity around me this year is racial.  And yet, diversity of almost any kind seems to be tough to discuss. Why is that? (Maybe it has to do with information we are fed through media, schooling, etc. Or maybe we tend towards what is “similar” to ourselves).

According to Mission Year – “We embrace diversity as a gift from God and build beloved community across all dividing lines.”

This is good.  But why do I value diversity?  And how does that translate into the way I live my life?

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out the answers to those questions.  But, I can share what I know/think so far.  It looks like taking time for people.  I may not know how similar or different a person is from me until I take time to talk with them.  I’m not good at doing this regularly, but the times I have stepped out, it’s been good.This year, valuing diversity means living in an area where I’m not the majority, shopping at the same places at my neighbors (rather than some place familiar), experiencing new ways to worship, reading and discussing books on a variety of topics, some by authors I may never have read, and discussing them with people who likely won’t have the same opinion as me.

Why do I value diversity?  There is beauty in other cultures.  Something intimate happens when we are invited into another person’s story.  When others choose to share their culture.  When I am vulnerable and willing to share – knowing the other may think differently, but still choosing to share because connection is important. Having multiple perspectives, unique talents, varied passions within a group of people points to a creative, powerful God.

Bringing those different people together makes the mosaic that is the body of Christ.

A mosaic.  Many pieces put together to create one, whole, piece of art.  Pieces that must be broken to fit into the bigger picture.  Pieces that have their individual beauty, but also work with other, unique pieces.

Do I always appreciate the diversity around me?  No. But I am learning to see and appreciate the differences in the people and places of Houston.  And in this pursuit of diversity and valuing people in our uniqueness, I am learning that I have something unique to offer and a lot to learn – through our shared brokenness as people.


Escape mediocrity


This graffiti is just a few blocks down from the house where I’m living in Third Ward, Houston.  The first time I saw it, I think I said aloud “Aw, yeah!!” But the more times that i pass by this, the more it sticks with me.

Two words.  In just two words, so much is said.  Escape mediocrity.  There is a sense from some people in our neighborhood that one needs to escape Third Ward in order to have a “good” life.  This idea needs to be challenged – keep the history and culture of Third Ward alive and celebrated.  Yes, there are tough parts about our neighborhood, but the people are amazing.

Escape mediocrity.  How easy would it be just to coast by in life?  To go with the flow and do what is “expected” with your life?  These two words challenge this.  There s more to your life.  Defy expectations and go after your dreams.

Where is the challenge for you in these words?  How would you respond to the idea of escaping mediocrity in your life?

Part of Mission Year in my house has been sharing our dreams with each other  Whether this is a day, week, month, next year, sometime-in-my-life dream.  We value sharing, speaking our dreams. No life can come to unspoken dreams.  No community can be built by one person.  Dreams are meant to be collaborations. Community is designed to push one another, to help dreams be molded and come to fruition.

So, dare to dream.  And then share those dreams.  Escape mediocrity.

April newsletter

Near the beginning of the month, my school went through the first week of state testing (the STAAR).  There was plenty of stress leading up to it – for both the staff and students, but we made it.  The students I work with had writing (7th), reading & math (8th) assessments this go around. Going through the process allowed me time and shared experience to get to know some teachers better, which was good.  And I think (hope) that there is more drive for the students and tests that are still to come in early May.

We’ve been reading The New Jim Crow by Dr. Michelle Alexander for curriculum recently, looking at our prison system, criminal justice and how our societal colorblindness impacts these issues.  My eyes are being opened to the range of discretion police officers have in stopping someone, why people may return to jail, how money impacts decisions by police and those convicted, and how flawed our laws may be. In connection to this book, we also attended a Black Lives Matter art viewing and panel discussion on Citizenship at Rice University.  It was great to hear local professors and students talk about how some of these issues impact their friends, our community and bring the book even more to life.  I highly encourage you to read the book, or even check out one of these articles to get a broader perspective.

In lighter news, we have also started a potted garden in our side/back yard area! More to come as we begin to enjoy the fruits (vegetables and herbs) of this venture!

Prayer requests!
  • Our neighbor, Miss Helen passed away – prayers for her family and our community, because she was a joy to all of us
  • We are planning our Justice Project – something to counter an injustice within our community
  • Our most frequent question these days is “What’s next?” – pray for wisdom as we trust and look to what God has in store for each of us in August (plus the ability to stay present)


Recently the topic of many conversations has been – the future.  What am I planning on doing in August?  How have I grown so far?  What do I want to push into during this last trimester of Mission Year?  Where will I be living in August?  There’s plenty for me to be thinking over. And trust me, I’ve spent probably too much time during the last few weeks thinking over the possibilities, searching for jobs and checking stats on different cities.  Recently, I’ve been asking others for their input (on my life) as well.  So the curriculum article for the past week was perfect for me.

“…the order that Jesus teaches us is the reverse.  It begins with God in solitude; then it creates a fellowship, a community with whom the mission is being lived; and finally this community goes out together..”

–Henri Nouwen

Can we quickly note that Jesus seems to always work in reverse?

Anyway, I’ve decided that I want to spend more time and thought on the idea of solitude and prayer. Yes, we have a quiet hour built into our house schedule. But it is easy for me to get busy – reading just to use the time or thinking about the day and all that needs to be done. And there are always my housemates, families, our neighborhood and friends to be praying for – which is good – but sometimes I forget to pray for my own life (Matthew 26:41).  To pray and communicate with God (which is a two-way street).

This idea of communication – which involves both talking and listening – may not be the most common.  And being somebody who tends towards independence and efficiency in time, stopping to listen can be tough.


“but you have to pray. you have to listen to the voice who calls you the beloved, because otherwise you will run around begging for affirmation, for praise, for success, and then you’re not free.”  – Nouwen

I need the time listening to God to know my identity.  Knowing my core identity – rooted in Christ and truth – allows me to live more freely. So, I’m trying.  Trying to take time and pause.  During quiet hour to not be so quick to talk at God, not so quick to read or write to fill up the time.  Trying to take time to listen to God – telling God what’s going on in my life and mind, and also listening to what God has to say – what truth He would speak into a situation.

Where do you need to pause?




As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.

Proverbs 27:19