Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life in South Phoenix

Life in South Phoenix

This morning I had breakfast with a good friend and fellow laborer for community transformation in South Phoenix. We enjoyed Matt’s Big Breakfast one of Phoenix’s great eating establishments. We brainstormed and talked about what it takes to see an individual, a family and a neighborhood turn out for the better. We will be partnering together to do a four-day urban mission trip for some high school and college students who live in Scottsdale. My hope is to share my passion for urban transformation through living the gospel out in word and deed with these young adults. It is always easy to talk about something that is still out there versus actually making a plan and doing something.

It has been exciting to watch God work often in spite of my weaknesses and quirks with a network of churches in the greater Phoenix area. We have seen God raise up a group of tutors who have volunteered to help some urban youth that live in a Habitat for Humanity Community (South Ranch). This seedling beginning in September is now birthed into a group of 20 plus youth that come consistently. We have done a summer program that is more like a VBS or Bible Study that sees the spiritual and social circumstances of the youth addressed. We have had them help with doing two carwashes to understand what it is like to plan something and then carry it out. We have then raised funds that can be used to have fun activities such as roller-skating and going to a local pool.

We have also been painting houses of low-income families in a similar area over the last year. It has been an adventure to get to know many of these families who have lived in this neighborhood for more than twenty years. Our hope is to learn from these grandmas and grandpas their stories and be part of a synergistic process where God intersects their lives and the lives of their adult children and their grandkids. There is a great need for partnering with these families not to seek to fix them by giving them something for free but helping them to catch a vision of what would happen if the Gospel of Jesus Christ impacted their lives and they stepped up and reached out to those around them.

As we walked around the neighborhood today and handed out 100 flyers it struck me that I have no guarantee that any child will show up next week for our VBS program at Sarah Coleman’s house or we could have 30 kids and be shocked. Often God asks us to step out and make the moves but He ultimately has to cause the seeds that have been sown to grown and sprout. I am excited to see what He does knowing that He deserves the praise and credit. My hope is to see the youth that help gain an appreciation for the lives they have and then catch a vision for sharing Christ and their life stories with others. We do seriously need to get off the couch and get out in our neighborhoods and do something – anything for Christ and be planting seeds all of the time!

Thanks for listening – Dave

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Puppies, life and death

My wife has a gift for finding strays around our neighborhood. About a month ago she found a little dog on the canal walk that was thoroughly covered with oil, ticks and dirt. Anne was able to get the dog to come to her and the rest is history. After about ten baths, de-oiling and doing major tick removal Rosita became part of the Bennett Zoo.

I was taken back after our rescue of Rosita that she obviously had bad experiences with men and thus didn't respond to my tlc at all. It took about a week of bribing her that she would even come to close to me. During the first couple of weeks of Rosita's new life with the Bennett's it became apparent that she was going to produce our first 'grandkids'. We finally got around to taking her to our local vet to discover she was only days away from giving birth.

Anne had done her homework through her internet study to see first hand the practical how to's of helping Rosita have a successful first liter. We had the dog kennel and various supplies ready for the welcome birth of puppies. We had gotten first hand instructions from some of our Hispanic friends who are experts with Chihuahuas. Anne was truly ready for the birth process but had some fears about what if something doesn't go right.

Saturday night around 8:30pm Rosita disappears upstairs to have her puppies under our bed. Jon, our son, who usually shows little interest in the pets, is the one to notice Rosita's move to the upstairs. Anne just catches Rosita as the first puppy comes into the world. It was a little scary at first knowing what to do. Anne quickly took the membrane off the little puppy and I got the scissors to cut her umbilical cord. The little puppy was breathing and ALIVE and we were grandparents. After the first birth we quickly became seasoned experts with the next three. Our daughter Heather and her husband quickly drove over to see the puppies.

Birth is such an amazing experience to see the frailty of these little puppies who are totally dependent upon us and their mom. It wasn't too long before their little tummies were full of milk or as Anne would say rich cream and sound asleep that we were ready for bed around midnight.

The sad thing the following night was that after church a few of our kids found two little kitties that had been abandoned in trash cans. After looking at these little kitties it was obvious that they were left to die. The smell was so bad that it was difficult even taking these little ones in the car. We struggled with what to do, clean them up and try to save them or take them to the Animal Hospital to have them put down. It was with lots of tears that Anne took them to the Animal Hospital where she found very caring help with these abandoned kitties.

Life and death can be so overwhelming. The joy that comes from the birth of a new born can be overshadowed by the illness or death of a grandparent. I know that the kids who discovered the kitties were confused as to why anyone who do this. I don't have an answer for that but know that God wants us to love life, be responsible for life and do the difficult things.

I want to thank my wife who isn't afraid to jump in to make a difference in the life of a little dog, cat or kid.


Getting Old

I know that one of the more difficult aspects of life for most is admitting that we are aging. The last couple of days I have spent in San Diego with my dad, brother/family and my daughter. I at times fear having to drive with either my father who is overly cautious and almost gets us killed or with my father in-law who drives like a bat out of 'hell'. I know that there are guardian angels on overtime watching over our aging loved ones.

I catch myself at times saying I don't want to turn into a cranky ol' man who makes much too do about nothing. My dad had cataract surgery on Monday and as we are driving out with his blurred vision he is directing the traffic around us and my driving skills. I understand that the privilege of being an adult is doing life your way but at times it becomes a challenge to know how to lovingly but firmly direct those who do loose touch with the world around them. We all live in our own crafted worlds that we determine the outcome of our lives as if we the are gods that can make our dreams come true.

I hope to become one who communicates with myself through writing bogs that helps me express the quarks in my life as I desire to be a Christ follower that wants others to see the one who is the truth, the life and the way.