At the start of a new work week, just before sunrise, Robert came into our room to tell me goodbye. He goes in early on Mondays so he can leave in time to make it to our son’s basketball practice. I’m glad his employer offers workplace flexibility. The rigid policies of some along with the lack of workplace flexibility (serious mobility components, for example) tear at the fabric of families. They tear at the hopes of my generation, Generation X. Hopes that we can be make a great living and still protect our kids while we are away at work, especially during “the danger zone.”
These are the hours that begin when schools dismiss and parents get home. Bad things can happen when children go unsupervised during these hours. From 3-6 p.m. juvenile crime rates soar, teens experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex, and children get hurt.
But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Gospel According to Matthew
In the early 1960s, women from the G.I., Silent and Baby Boomer generation took up the gauntlet in the modern women’s rights movement. They fought for equal pay as well as the same opportunities men were afforded. Gen-Xers, who were kids at the time, became child soldiers in that war. Later, when we became parents and had children of our own, we stood on the shoulders of our mothers and all the women who’d gone before us to advance numerous child protection laws, programs and policies. This includes thousands of afterschool programs.
And, still, more than 11 million children take care of themselves every day after the school day ends. You can learn more about this and afterschool programs in your community from the Afterschool Alliance.
From the Psalmist: The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless…
For many years, I avoided examining my years in the danger zone. I was 7-years-old through the worst of it, and then I was 8. But, eventually, I prayed that God would help me understand it better. It was through these prayers that I realized how lucky I was to be alive. I was finally able to recognize the worry and shame that had been born into me — not because of me.
Robert says goodbye and disappears into the shadows of the living room and then out the back door. I hear his Jeep drive past our window and down the driveway into another day. I lay there in the dark feeling the coat of another Monday. The heaviness of the unexpected. The anxiety of routine.
The joy of the ordinary. The pure joy.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalms
I get up and get the kids ready for school. I pack lunches, which is one of my favorite things to do. When you grow up on free lunch this simple exercise never gets old. Food insecurity hurts. I’m ecstatic to have dollars to buy raisins and carrots, lettuce and bread. With every breath I take, I exhale thanksgiving.
On cold days, I boil soup for the kids’ lunches, which I pour into thermoses. They hold all my good intentions. I scoop blueberries out of the carton, grateful my kids have super fruits. I cannot do this without remembering those few times my mother had the money to buy frozen blueberries at the store. She’d put them in a bowl and cover them with sugar and milk. It was like ice cream, only better. Every time I buy blueberries, I thank God that I can. But, I can’t say this prayer without feeling the weight of everyone in the world who cannot. I look for these people, these children, in crowds everywhere I go, but I never see them. Why can’t I see them? I’m thankful for my education and career, but I never meant to become so removed.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. Book of James
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. Prophet Isaiah