Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Be the solution {Graffiti Summer}

Original photo from http://chicagocares.org/

If you are coming here for the first time, my posts are currently focused on a study and do challenge from the book Graffiti: scribbles from different sides of the street, written by Alene Snodgrass. I'm beginning the third section Broken for Others of the Graffiti Study and Do guide.

This past weekend I headed to Chicago to join Chicago Cares in their efforts to bring hope to underserved communities. Convinced that God had chosen the wrong person for this task, I pleaded to Him to let me stay home. He was rather quick to make it clear that staying home was not an option so at 4:00 a.m. I gave up on sleeping.

I boarded the Metra train at the crack of dawn and headed to the streets of Chicago. As I looked out the window from my seat on the train and watched the world zip on by, I wished someone was sitting alongside of me joining me on this adventure.

Alene Snodgrass writes in her post for this week's challenge (read here), "God doesn't care about our comfort, instead what He cares about is his people." Okay God, I care too that's why I'm going.

When I arrived at the Daley Center in Chicago there were many others who also cared; around 5,000 others. I was also not the only one who made the journey on her own. Again it occurred to me while we are all different, we aren't so different.

The public announcer for the event shared in his welcome address a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." I looked at the people surrounding me and wondered if they felt equally broken and unequipped for this journey. Do they all hear the same words of how we can be great and find themselves doubting if they have ever been great?

Finally, the time came to board the bus with fellow teammates to head out to our surprise location. God used the forty-five minute, bumpy and almost nauseating bus ride to remind me where my strength comes from and why I was there. I walked off the bus desperately needing to use a bathroom but ready to serve.

Our destination for serving was an apartment complex occupied by senior citizens. In this particular community English was not the primary language.

I will admit there was a moment of disappointment as my hopes were set on spending the day transforming public schools. During the opening announcements at the Daley Center they commented on how children would return to their classrooms on Monday morning thinking Santa Claus had been there. I wanted to be like Santa Claus!

Our fabulous leader of this Graffiti Summer challenge is right though, God will many times call you to serve the people you most want to run from. Running from the senior center sounded like a better idea but fear was not going to win.

Alene tells us to "use what's in your hand." My hands quickly got busy placing table clothes on tables and making fabulous center pieces with pieces of tissue paper and string. It's amazing what you can do with only a few items and your hands. By the time the residents raced into the room to find a seat, many hands had already made sure plates full of food would be there waiting for them. When three of us filled our hands with large dessert trays, the eyes of the residents grew wider.

Others led the way by passing out tickets for raffle prizes, rallying the residents to play Bingo, and spotters made sure residents knew when it was time to yell, "BINGO." Several hung out in the kitchen to clean up from lunch and a few got dirty outside in the rain putting together planters to set along the gazebo.

Those seniors loved getting prizes. The prizes consisted of simply boxes of tissue, kitchen sponges, hand soap, bud vases and other small items. My eyes were opened when I was informed that food stamps do not count towards purchasing these items...these daily essentials we take for granted. Maybe we were a bit like Santa Claus.

It was then I understood this being broken for others. My heart was broken. How often does someone come to this senior center to make the day seem brighter for these residents? When can I come again?

Our DO assignment for this week challenged us to make sandwiches and give them to someone in need. Oh yes Alene, we made lots and lots of sandwiches. I'd say we did much more then make sandwicheswe changed lives. Just maybe the lives truly changed were those of us serving.

Here's what I'm learning with this whole being different thing. God created us all differently but he never intended for us to treat others differently. There is something common within us all—we all long to be seen—we all long to know we have not been forgotten. God has not forgotten us. He sent Jesus for us. His heart's desire is for us to bring Jesus to others.

The slogan for the Chicago Cares event was, "BE THE SOLUTION." 

Friends, God is calling us to BE THE SOLUTION. Step over your fears. He will be with you. Be the one who does something differently. 

To read previous posts on Graffiti Summer, click here.


  1. "God created us all differently but he never intended for us to treat others differently." This sentence says so much to me, Beth. How easily and flippantly we do treat others differently because we are different. Yet, God calls us to meet others right where they are as He does that for us. He loves and accepts us as we are and calls us to Him just as we are. May He continue to grow us each as we are intended to in His Name.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  2. What a cool event! I loved walking with you through it and seeing how the residents loved every little thing you did. You definitely were Santa Claus!

    1. Thank you, Janice. It was nice to brighten up their day. Thanks for stopping in.
      Blessings, Beth

  3. Love this Beth, what a wonderful illustration of stepping out of your comfort zone to serve others and then be the one blessed abundantly by the experience. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. Thanks, Shelly. I did walk away feeling truly blessed by the experience. God is amazing!

  4. I love this, Beth -- that you "got stuck" (my words!) with the seniors when you really wanted the school age kids. And then I really loved that your heart was pierced for the seniors and that you want to go back. Girl, that's a mission field with a great need, and I'm so excited to see you step out to serve there!

  5. We are all part of the solution, yes, each in our unique way, that is why God has gifted us all in different ways. love this story, thanks!

  6. How awesome that you are doing this! I felt a little Santa-ish this weekend when I went to help out with Target and United Way on a day care for low income families. Doing things like that I always leave feeling blessed to be a part of something bigger than myself and eager to serve again. "God created us all differently but he never intended for us to treat others differently"-LOVE this!!

  7. This is so good! I've been following Alene's posts but haven't participated per se in the suggestions. Sounds like an awesome domino effect she's begun.

    I'm glad you were able to be brave and attend this event alone; that would have been hard for me to do. But your rewards were great! I thank God for his willingness to bless us when our intent is to bless others through his name.

  8. Absolutely Beth! HE has indeed called us to be the solution. He has blessed us to be a blessing to someone else.

  9. What a wonderful blessing not only for these lovely seniors, but also for you! The kindness and love we give to others comes back to us to bless and encourage us. :) Sounds like a wonderful challenge!

    Blessings and love,

  10. You are such an inspiration!

  11. Girl - I cried all week at camp. Now I sit here and cry. What a beautiful story and oh YES you used what's in your hands in so many ways! This line totally got me "God created us all differently but he never intended for us to treat others differently." Beautiful!


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