The Misfits.

misfit

There he was, sitting in the corner, bright yellow headphones hugging tightly to the sides of his head. His tongue poked out from behind his lips and his eyes narrowed as he focuses in on his clipboard that wears a bright white piece of paper. Slowly, methodically, he focuses on each stroke of his Crayola black marker- which he definitely snuck out of the coloring room.

After the transition of 2nd graders, soon to be 3rd graders, moved into our room a few months ago, I’ve loved getting to know the new faces, names and a whole mixed bag of personalities that paint the walls of our room.  And maybe you’ve met the young boy that I’ve described above. Every week he comes into our classroom and harmlessly writes number after number, and his favorite number? 366,663. I told him mine was the number four. “That’s 366,629 numbers away from mine.” he replied matter a factly.  Uh, that’s right, it sure is.  Needless to say this boy is a little different than the others.

Over the course of my time coming on staff I’ve had a few one- on- one small group sessions with the boy and his brilliance continues to astound me. However I know that although he is smart, small groups with other kids are far outside of his comfort zone. That’s why when last week’s small group was a board game meant to be played by at least four people, I wasn’t sure how he would feel about adding some other kids into the group.

I met him in the corner with my small group bin and asked him, as I always do, if he wanted to play the game with the rest of the third grade boys. “No. I want to play with you,” he replied without blinking an eye, almost annoyed with the idea of playing with a group.  Off in the distance I noticed three other kids, two boys and a girl, both being in service for the second time. They found their way to Peter, our door key leader and were discussing the lesson in their own small group.

In this moment I could have done a couple of things. Asked the kids to go join their normally assigned small groups, or recognize that Peter had a handle on them and I could have let them be. But I had another idea. I excused myself for a moment and headed over to the three kids.  When I got to them the little girl defensively blurted out “We’re having our own small group, please don’t make us split up.” I said “I have another idea.” I told the kids about the little boy in the corner who wasn’t very good with groups but we need three more players and I think it would be great if they came and tried to play with us.

They were all very reluctant, until one agreed and the other two followed. At first the single boy looked at me a little frustrated and made the comment that he no longer wanted to play but rather was going to draw his numbers.  The other three were all a little awkward but we kicked off the game. Over the course of the small group the three kids learned how to speak differently, play gently, and be kind to someone a little different than them. The transformation was amazing.  My little small group of misfits played through the entire game and the little boy even ended up playing with the others without flipping the game board after every roll! And even though he did squeal with excitement a little too loud a few times, the others handled it so lovingly.

That moment has stuck with me all week as I’ve worshipped and thanked God for such a beautiful moment, but then I began to realize something. At one point we have all been classified as a “misfit”. We are all born with a dead spirit, separated from Christ and ultimately a misfit. But God…in all his Grace and Mercy continued to pursue human history and sent us a savior to save us from our sin and flesh.  The best news of all, He changed our identity from misfit to sons and daughters. I pray that as we continue to come along side of the kids in our rooms that they too will find a new identity in Christ and someday know that they can belong to the God of the Universe, if they choose to.

Friends, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve along side you and love on these kids and give parents some time to pursue their own spiritual journey.  I can’t wait to see you again soon! Love You All.

Keala

The Doughnut Intervention

If you have known me for very long, you probably know at least one thing about me. I am obsessed with doughnuts. Not just the plain jane kind of doughnuts, but all kinds. I love variations of doughnuts, and experimenting with different sugars and fillings and toppings, and I could go on and on but I’ll save you the time. If you are imagining me as Homer Simpson right now, I would have to say that is minorly correct.

It all started when my grandma brought me an apple fritter from a local doughnut shop when I was about two years old. I fell in love. Both my dad and my grandpa were pastors so I have had my fair share of Sunday School confections over the years.

I remember the first time I ever had a hot and fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut fresh off of the line. It was life changing as a middle schooler living in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma, and several years later it would play a major part in my life.

In August of 2012, at the beginnning of my senior year of college, we discovered that my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. A tumor began to grow at an astromical rate and the doctors decided to attack it aggressively through intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. To say this was devastating is an understatement. I was confused and angry and overwhelmed by the fact that this could happen to someone that I loved so dearly. She didn’t deserve this. She was so impactful in her community as a teacher, a mom, and a pastor’s wife. She moved to Oklahoma City for treatment, so I began making the hour drive a few times a week to see her and sit with her through her treatment.

During this time, I discovered that there was Krispy Kreme right next door to the treatment facility and, conveniently, on my way back home to college. It started out innocently enough – I would stop by on my way home and grab a free hot and fresh doughnut, and sometimes buy a few for my cousins and roommates back home.  One day I saw that they began running a buy one dozen get one dozen free special.

How could I pass on such a great deal?! Before long, I began binge eat a dozen on my drive home, and return with a dozen doughnuts for my friends, family, to share. They were happy and thought I was so thoughtful. I was happy(or at least something other than sad) from the sugary numbness that came with binge eating this addictive confection. Over the course of two months, I gained thirty pounds, began to isolate myself, and leaned into the numbing habit more and more.

I came home one night, sporting my signature box of doughnuts, to my best friend and cousins sitting on the couch with a serious look on their faces. They literally had a doughnut intervention with me.  At first, I thought this was absolutely ludicrous, but as we began to talk, and I started to share how I was really feeling, something started to happen. I began to feel, and to cry, and to let everything go that I had been holding on to and numbing for so long. God used these people in my life to bring healing and change. I felt a huge burden lifted and no longer felt alone.

I tell this story for two reasons. 1. Looking back on the fact that I had to have a doughnut intervention is really funny. 2. I am so thankful that I had people in my life that could be completely honest with me and had the best intentions for me. That moment in my life reminds me of what the church looks like, and what Keala and I want the vision of the 3-5th grade room to be.  A safe and nurturing place for kids and leaders that are walking alongside them. A place where we can pray together, laugh together, and grow together, and when the moment arises, maybe even hold sugary interventions for one another.

We are starting this blog, The Doughnut Diaries, as a medium to share what God is teaching us through this ministry, in our personal lives, and to allow everyone to be open and grow together.

My prayer is that through this and serving on weekends together, God builds an amazing community that supports one another and causes an incredible impact for the Kingdom. See you soon!

With love,

Joseph