Jump’N Land!!

22 12 2008


Yesterday, Retread put on a great Christmas party for the kids at the Samaritan Inn.  The party consisted of an all-expense paid trip to Jump’N Land here in McKinney.  It included 2 hours “all you can bounce” fun and other games.  Each kid got some tokens to spend in the video game area.  And they all left with a gift-bag filled with candy, a book, stocking cap and gloves, and a gift.

We had 10 kids from the Inn show up plus several parents.  We had 8-9 adult volunteers and another 5 kiddos from their families.  (My whole family was there!)

12222008-jumpnlandWe had an absolute blast.  I saw so many smiles on the kids faces.  It touches me now just thinking about it.  I am so glad that we decided to get involved at the Samaritan Inn almost a year ago now.

Today my neck is a little sore from some serious sliding down this monster slide (not to mention some patches of lost skin from some mishap sliding)!

This was an event that truly meant a lot to the kids and I hope that we can make it an annual event.  I have to give credit to my friend Kyle and my wife for planning and executing this event.  I am one of the lucky ones that just showed up and had fun playing with the kids!

(pics taken from Jump’n Land website)


Road trip with the Samaritan Inn

18 11 2008

The 3rd Saturday of each month, we go to the Samaritan Inn for Jubilee Kids Club.  Well, this last Saturday, we were asked to volunteer to go with the residents on their holiday “Road Trip”.  So, we decided to do that instead of the normal morning Jubilee Kids club.

Me and the boys traveled with a group of 25 or so residents from the Inn (and a few other volunteers) about an hour northwest to a ranch outside of Bells, Texas.  A cold front had come through the area the day before, so my wife and I decided it best for her to stay home with our baby girl.  And, that turned out to be a good decision, because it was quite chilly and there was just an open garage for shelter.

The boys and I had just a super time though!  The cool weather made it feel like fall.  We got to ride on a nice long hay ride, cook hot dogs and burgers, play Frisbee and other games, roast marshmallows and eat smores around a campfire, throw rocks in a lake, and other outdoors activities.  We got to experience an outhouse…before and after the sun went down!

I don’t think we actually “helped” with anything.  The property owners took care of everything and they did not forget any details.  They made it so that we could simply have a great time hanging out with our friends.

The property owners were just the nicest people in the world.  A mom and dad and two college kids who came home just for the event.  What a great thing to do for the holiday season – invite residents from a nearby homeless shelter to come and enjoy a special day at the ranch.  And, while they are there, lavish them with the warmest love money can’t buy.  And, that’s exactly what they did.

I thanked the dad on my way out.  I shook his hand and thanked him for his family’s hospitality.  The thought occurred to me that he didn’t know that I was there as a volunteer.  And, ya know, that just makes what his family did that day even better in my book.  They treated everyone there exactly the same…they treated us all like visiting royalty.

Episode 5 – What IS the matter with people

16 07 2008

What IS the matter with people?

For today’s episode of What IS The Matter With People, I have two worthy entries.

Mentally Disabled CaregiverThe first comes from this article.  This guy thinks it’s ok to hit mentally disabled people with a baseball bat.  And, hey, if they don’t respond at first, try try again.


Homeless MurderersThe second comes from this article.  How can people be so cold and heartless?



 So, tell me,

What IS the matter with people?

Volunteer application: Are you gay? Check YES or NO

13 06 2008

Gay volunteersI read this article yesterday that really rubbed me the wrong way.  The article is found in a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender news site, so I realize it is not necessarily an unbiased account.  But, still, I am frustrated by what I read.

If you don’t have time to read the article, let me boil it down for you: A couple of guys showed up to volunteer at a free hotmeal program at a neighborhood church.  They felt this was a good way to give back to a ministry that had once provided them a free meal when they themselves were in need.  They were there just long enough to unload a truck of food before abruptly being questioned about whether or not they were gay.  When they acknowledged their homosexuality, they were immediately asked to leave.

What’s up with that?  Is that really the right message the church wants to send?

Let’s all stop and think for just a second.

The church should be trying to minister to those in their community who are in need.  The church is supposed to be a place where all types of people can come together in love and service to God.  In short, the church is supposed to be an outpouring of God’s love to the people in its community.  So, how exactly are the actions that this church took in line with that purpose?

It’s not like these guys showed up wanting to preach a sermon or teach a Sunday School class.  It’s not like they were enlisting to sing in the choir on Sunday.  No, these guys were simply looking for a place to give back to the community they are a part of.

Someone please pinch me and tell me there is more to the story than what is written here.  Were they doing something that warranted the internal investigation that the meal director felt obligated to conduct?  Was it something they did?  Was it something they said?  Surely, they were kissing in front of children or talking dirty to homeless men in the food line.  It’s got to be something like that, right?  Something that makes them ineligible for volunteer service to the hungry. 

It’s got to be something more than the simple fact that these guys are gay.

Maybe the church needs to add a section in their volunteer application form.  Are you gay?  Check YES or NO.  Oh wait, they don’t have a volunteer application form.  That’s because, up until now, there were no specific eligibility requirements to volunteer at the free hotmeal program.

I really think this church needs a giant do-over.  If they could just stop and think for one second about the real message they want to send before taking action, I am confident they could have handled this better.

Here’s an idea.  How about loving and ministering to these guys?  What a golden opportunity to love and care for some guys who would probably not have ever entered through the front doors of their church for any other reason.  How about reaching out to them, befriending them, and partnering with them to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of people that surround them?  How about working to build a little trust in these guys so that they feel at ease enough to invite their friends to come with them the next time?  How about using this situation as a launching pad to start reaching out to other homosexuals in the community?

But no, a golden opportunity is missed.  Missed because of fear and because of arrogant righteousness.  And, even given a chance at a do-over, I am not convinced that things would be handled any differently.

Maybe the leaders at this church need to go back and re-read the letter to pastors put out by the Nazarene Board of General Superintendents (I blogged about it here).

I think the guys’ quotes tell me all I need to hear:

“I said, ‘I don’t know how this has anything to do with feeding the homeless or people in need,'” Erichsen says.

“They just outed us and came right out and said we were not wanted there,” Footh says. “This was one of the ugliest things like this to ever happen to us. They made us feel like we are not good enough to help other people because of our sexual orientation, and to me that is totally wrong.”

So, anybody, like me, think this church just lost its only chance to have any positive impact on these guys’ lives?  Anybody, like me, wonder if their own church would act in the exact same way?

And, we wonder why people think the church is full of hypocrites.  To change its perception, the church is going to have to change its ways.  This was a missed opportunity to get started.

Just here for the perks

26 05 2008

RetreadOn Saturday, I got the chance to go with my two year old to the Samaritan Inn to help our friends at Retread hand out new shoes and socks to the children living there.  What an experience.  To see all those faces light up when they opened their boxes was an incredible treat.  Then, to top it off, I wore my knees out bending down to pick up passengers for piggy back rides through the dining hall.  I must have given 50 piggy back rides.  The only one not laughing and having a great time was my two year old who thought it should be his turn the entire time!

But, what a great experience.  One of the staff at Samaritan Inn started asking me questions related to the shoes.  I told her to talk to my friend Kyle because I was only here for the perks!  And, that is exactly what it was.  Each child that came in the room perked up when we found the shoe box with their name on it.  It was so fun watching each expectant set of eyes melt into extreme delight.  And the giggles that came with the piggy back rides (which I am still paying for two days later) were worth the time, the sweat, and the wear and tear on my body.

My friend who lives at the Inn got a call while we were there that she and her kids had gotten the house that they were hoping for.  It was such a happy moment for her.  She has been burned in the past, so she maintained a cautious optimism, but I could see the twinkle in her eyes that told me she thought it was for real this time.  My family has formed a special bond with her and her kids.  My wife picked out all the shoes for the kids for the day, but she took special care to pick out just the right shoes for the 4 kids in this family.  Someone told her about that and she told me to give my wife a special hug for her.

Jubilee Kids Club

17 05 2008

Jubilee Kids ClubToday my family and I along with some other friends of ours spent a couple of hours at a homeless shelter in Mckinney, TX called The Samaritan Inn.  The program that we are involved in is called Jubilee Kids Club and it is under the umbrella of an awesome non-profit organization called Retread.

The Jubilee Kids Club program is simple – show up to the shelter and play with the kids for a couple of hours.  These kids are dying for love and attention and their parents are often dying for a break.  For 2 hours one Saturday each month, we give them each what they are dying for.

The time we spend there goes by so fast and everyone has so much fun.  Today was our biggest turn out to date by far.  We had 14 kids show up and most of them were ages 4 and under.  But, I tell you, all those little personalities bring so much joy to ours lives.

I really want my kids to know what it means to show God’s love to those around them.  I think by volunteering our time for just 2 hours a month is one small way that we can do just that together as a family.  It is truly inspirational to me when my kids get home and talk about their friends at the Inn by name and they look forward to the next time they can see them.

We have made a special bond with one family in particular.  They are a single parent home with 4 kids ages 5, 3, 2, and 6mo.  My 4 year old made fast friends with their 5 year old and the same with the 2 year olds.  Last time we were there, the mom told us that we probably wouldn’t see them again because they had found a place to move into.  We were so happy for them…and yet sad that we may never see them again.  Today we showed up and were surprised to see the family still living there.  We asked about it and the mother told us that the home they had hoped to move into had fallen through.  We were happy to see them, but sad that things hadn’t worked out for them.

Here’s hoping that they aren’t there next month.

If you live in the North Texas area and would like to get involved, please leave a comment and I will put you in touch with the right people.