Much as I love it, this place isn't so great for my ego.

Five-year-old girl to me today: "You're the very best lady ever."

On a more serious note, her name was Olliyah and her words meant all the more to me after she told me her mom "lived in the sky, up in heaven."

The dad, Walter, takes care of Olliyah and her two older brothers. They're the kind of kids that may live in bad surroundings but the surroundings don't live in them. They were quality kids, and stole my heart from the minute I knocked on their door and met them this morning.

After inviting them to the Braves baseball game we're taking 75 kids to Tuesday (I think I'm more excited than the kids), I told them they should come ride the big white bus with me to church tomorrow morning. (I do bus ministry every Sunday a.m.)

Just before I left, the youngest boy, Jaharra, said, "Now, you'll really be there tomorrow, right? Because you shouldn't make promises you aren't going to keep." He didn't say it in a bratty, know-it-all way, but more like he was asking to guard himself against a promise that might not be kept. He's probably used to too many promises that don't ever come through.

It reminded me of the first little girl I ever met on bus route. (The same little girl who first started labeling me "barbie doll." It's stuck.) Within a moment of meeting her, she admired my necklace and asked if I could bring her a bracelet the next week.

The next week, she was the first one on the bus. She ran up to me and asked if I had her bracelet. I did. She looked up at me with the biggest smile I'd ever seen (I've since seen SO many of those precious smiles) and before throwing her arms around me said, "You remembered... You kept your promise!"

I will never make another promise to someone that I won't do everything in my power (and anyone else's power I can find) to keep.

Just as I expected, these kids are teaching me just as much and more than I could ever teach them.


How Many Stars?

Me, telling the story of Abraham and Sarah to the kids today: "And God told Abram that someday his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Have you ever looked up in the sky and tried to count the stars?!"

Little Boy: "Uh-huh. There are one-hundred-and-thirteen."

Me: "You think so? I think there are even more than that!"

Little Girl with an air of superiority: "Yeah. There's one-hundred-and-twenty."

Life is good in the ghetto.


How Much Do You Care?

Welcome, Creative Minority readers!

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - John Maxwell

This is one of my mom's favorite quotes. She reminds me of it often, and today I found it to be true.

A man approached me while I was working at my new favorite haunt--a coffee shop filled with the liberal, hipster types. I never turn down a connection, so it wasn't long before we were discussing the plight of Atlanta's underprivileged. Naturally, the conversation took a political turn towards the different approaches of conservatives and liberals to help said group.

More than once, he referenced his belief that conservatives sit back in an arm-folded stance when it comes to reaching out to the underprivileged of society. He got that conservatives don't want government to intervene in aiding these groups, as a general rule, through welfare, health care, etc. My response: We believe it should be individuals and organizations that head up such efforts. His response: "But how many of them are actually doing that?"

It's a valid question.

How many conservatives believe that the federal government should have a limited role in caring for the "needs" of those who are not providing for themselves? Most of us, right? But like he said, are we willing to take an active role in helping these folks see how they can do it for themselves?

I hope so. As a conservative, I think it's a shame that it's the liberal-types who seem to have cornered the market on showing "compassion" towards the underprivileged. I hope that my generation of conservatives can alter that perspective. I think we can--one life at a time.

After sharing my story, he began telling me about a group he founded that could potentially help fund Metro Kidz. Whoa. Wait. A primarily-liberal group offering to fund a ministry-based outreach program? That's change I can believe in! And, it came about not because of my telling him how much I know--touting conservative policies, rhetoric, and such--but because he saw how much I cared.

I wonder how much more effectively we could all work together, if our starting point was showing others how much we cared rather than trying to prove how much we know?

Keep dreamin' those big dreams.