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.

Maritan Inn

26 10 2008

Yesterday, even though our schedule was slammed with activity, my youngest son commented that he wanted to go to the “Maritan Inn”.  I love the fact that he enjoys going to the Samaritan Inn so much and that we go regularly enough that he considers it a normal Saturday activity!


20 10 2008

Saturday morning, we had Jubilee Kids Club at the Samaritan Inn.  It got rolling a little slowly, but eventually we had 6 kids show up.  We had a lot of fun with the kids this month.  Beautiful weather and beautiful kids!

After that, my family along with my parents planned to leave for Oklahoma City to my brother’s house for my nephew’s 3rd birthday party.  We got the whole family loaded up in the car only to discover we had a dead battery.  Since we had just had the car checked out, we took it back to our mechanic.  He checked and, sure enough, he recommended we purchase a new battery.  So, $80 and an hour an a half at Walmart later, we finally got on the road.  (As a side note, I am not sure if it is great timing or terrible timing to have your battery go dead right before leaving on a road trip….it’s certainly better than on the road somewhere).

We spent the night in OKC Saturday.  Got up and took the kids and the grandkids out for donuts which was enjoyed by all.  Then, the girls (my wife, our 8 wk old daughter, and my mom) joined my sister-in-law and their 8 mo old at home, while the boys all went to the park for some serious swinging and sliding.  What a beautiful morning to spend at the park next to Lake Overholser!

After that, we returned to my brother’s house for lunch and the birthday party.

We left around 3:30 and got home about 8 last night.

I think everyone had a pretty nice weekend.

Basketball sharing

4 06 2008

When I get ready in the mornings, I like to listen to sports talk radio.  This morning, they were discussing the recently released Sports Illustrated list of the 50 top paid athletes.  It is unbelievable how much money athletes earn in this world.  They made the point that many of the top 50 were basketball players.

Soon after listening to the discussion on the radio, I heardBasketballs my kids screaming at each other in the other room.  I calmly walked in there and asked what the problem was.  Essentially, they were both laying claim to the same basketball at the same time.  There were probably 5 basketballs laying within 6 feet of this particular altercation, but still they were having a yelling match over this one.

After being unable to figure out who had the ball first or having one of them volunteer to play with a different ball, I simply took the ball away from both of them and walked away.  Case closed.  Both kids happily moved on with their lives.

That got me thinking.  We have so much wealth in the world and we have so much poverty in the world.  Why is it so difficult to share?  Why do we have 1 athlete making $120 million a year when we have 120 million people living on $1 a day?

I think part of it boils down to the childish attitudes that most of us have about materials and possessions.  We think we are entitled to things and that we have to build up territorial walls to protect that which is rightfully ours.  We think that we have earned everything we have.  We don’t think we should be the ones to share.  Our hearts go out to those less fortunate than us, but when it comes down to giving from what we have, we are unwilling to pull the trigger.

And, I am talking to myself as much as anyone else.  I try to help those around me and give as generously as I can.  But, when push comes to shove, I want to make sure that my family is comfortable and has a future protected against financial constraints.

So, what will it take for the world to change?  What will it take for me to change?  What will it take for some of us to give up the basketball we are all trying to hold on to and pick up another one of our many basketballs laying beside us on the floor?  What governing body has the guts and the power to swoop in and redistribute the basketball from the spoiled screaming bunch of us and give it to a kid that has never even laid eyes on a basketball before?

Do I ask for too much?

Maybe the best thing I can personally do to help is to break this materialistic cycle with my kids.  I want to not only teach them that there are poor people in the world, but I want them to catch glimpses of what it feels like to be in need.  Be it through our friends at the Samaritan Inn, by helping people we meet on the streets, through people that walk through our church doors, or through some other avenue, I want them to have personal relationships with those in our midst that know what it means to live in need.  I want them to recognize the gap between the wealthy and the poor and look for ways to bridge it.

Maybe we need to gather up our basketballs and take them to the Samaritan Inn…

Afterall, it’s not the one with the most basketballs who wins the prize…but it may be the one who gives the most away…

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.

This was the kid

20 05 2008

Today was a very sad day. I have posted before about the Jubilee Kids Club program Hurricane Cupcakesthat my friends and I have started at the Samaritan Inn here in McKinney. Well, today we got word that one of our little buddies at the Inn was involved in an off-site accident in which he drowned. This little boy was one of the first kids we met back in February. He was so vibrant and full of life.

This was the kid that was so full of life and energy that we had to keep a special eye on him because you just didn’t quite know what he was going to do next.

This was the kid that nearly had to be restrained inside the building one cool morning in March while we made him wait for someone to bring him a jacket.

This was the kid that just wanted to go outside and play. He just wanted to play. He just wanted to play and play and play.

This was the kid that couldn’t wait to get outside in the sun. He played on the swing. He played in the yard. He played football. He played kickball. He played soccer. He played basketball. He played all of the above…at the same time.

This was the kid that played basketball with me on a make-shift basket out in the playground over and over and over again….and then we played again. We must have played 20 times. And, guess who won every game? That’s right, and he not only beat me every time, he smoked me.

This was the kid that made me laugh because he liked to make up new rules each time I got the basketball… the same rules that for some reason or another might or might not have applied to him when he got the ball.

This was the kid that when I asked him which basketball player he was, he said Reggie Bush! I asked him what NBA team Reggie Bush played for, but he didn’t hear me because he was already on to something else.

This was the kid that wore slippers for his Air-Jordans and a white tank top for his jersey.

This was the kid that had two beautiful sisters that we all thought were twins. But, it turns out, one was his twin and the other was their older sister.

This was the kid that came to Dallas with his family from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They were trying to make their way in a new place and in a new school and in a new kind of whirlwind.

This was the kid that we brought cupcakes for in April because we knew we were coming on his and his sister’s birthday. We were sad when they weren’t there that day. We had to enjoy the cupcakes without them.

This was the kid that ultimately left this world too young, too early, and with too much playing left to do.

This is the kid that my friends and I will dearly miss.

This is the kid that I will think about everytime I shoot a basket in that make-shift goal out in the playground.

This is the kid that I will remember everytime I see Reggie Bush run for a touchdown as I wonder if he would make a good basketball player.

This is the kid that I will honor with every cupcake I eat.

This is the kid that I hope to see again someday in a better place. A place without homeless shelters, a place without hurricanes, a place with no need for jackets to go out and play, a place where everyday is a celebration of someone’s birthday, a place where his smile will last for a few thousand years and then a few thousand more.

A place we can both call home together.