Dec 042009
 

Our Revolution turned an important corner last week, when I received an email from Erin, a Monkee from Colorado. Erin asked me if I’d like her to organize a service project in honor of the Revolution, the holidays, and goodness in general. I said Yes! Yes! Yes! …because oh my goodness, that is exactly how Monkees do. Erin and I are very, very excited about this, and we think you will be too.

Everybody, meet your Monkee sister, Erin.


Holiday Monkee Business

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Ah, the holidays … the smell of fresh baked bread, a warm fire, and presents under the tree … you get the picture. But, for many, the holidays don’t look like that at all. Warmth, food, and gifts are a scarcity that many cannot afford.

So, in the spirit of the holidays, and all things Monkee-rific, we are going to adopt a family this year and share our many blessings with those who could use a little help this year.

Let me first start by saying, there is absolutely no pressure whatsoever at all to participate. None. Perhaps you already sponsor a family, give to charity, donate your time, or are otherwise unable to give this year. That is totally fine. But, like me, there are many who think each year, “I’d really like to do something to help someone” but generally have no clue where to start. So they don’t. That’s how things usually work for me. Full of good intentions, short on action.

In any event, my past inaction has inspired me to rally the support of my fellow Monkees to help make one Northern Virginia family’s holiday season a bit brighter this year. After all, charity begins at home. And, although I no longer reside in Virginia it is the home of my childhood and I hate to think that any child should go hungry or do without on Christmas. That, and the fact that the Monkee “headquarters” is in VA so it just makes sense.

And, without further ado … we have been matched with … drum roll please

the Hulls:

Lakisia Hull – Mom, age 35

Justin – Son, age 14

Sydnie – Daughter, age 9

Jordan – Daughter, age 19 months

I’m told that toys, warm clothing, or gift cards (the total of which is not to exceed $150 per child and $75 per adult) make excellent gifts and that gift cards to Safeway or Giant are a welcome addition to the food basket. Please keep in mind that all gifts should be wrapped with a name/gift tag.

Specifically, Lakisia wears a women’s size 6-8 in clothing and a size 8 shoe; she mentioned that she needs canisters for flour and sugar, etc., and plastic storage containers for food. Justin wears a size 14-16 in boys and a 9-9.5 in shoes; he would like X-Box (360) games. Sydnie loves chapter books (reads on a 7th grade level) and wears a size 12 in girls clothing and a size 6.5 shoe. Little Jordan is wearing 18-24 month infant/toddler clothing and the mom would like Leap Frog or Fischer Price learning toys for her. And the food basket can, quite literally, be anything we want to give them: baked items, canned goods, produce, frozen turkey, hard mac-n-cheese like Glennon serves her family, etc.

Keep in mind that there will be ways to help that don’t include monetary donations or gift purchases. Perhaps you’re particularly handy with scotch tape and would like to wrap all the gifts for the family. You can donate food or baked goods to the family’s food basket. Maybe you’d like to “re-gift” an unopened toy or clothing item that still has the tags on it (here is your chance – we won’t tell!). And, most importantly, we need at least one person to volunteer to be the Monkee point-of-contact. This person will receive all the food and gift items in the mail and deliver them to the HCSNV office (that’s short for Housing and Community Service of Northern Virginia) in Springfield, VA, by Thursday, December 17.

For those interested in participating, please comment after this post with what you’d like to contribute specifically so we don’t duplicate, and then email me directly at [email protected]. I will create a list of all the volunteers and match Monkees with family members. I’ll send out periodic email updates with our progress and status.

I hope you are as excited about this as I am. Let’s spring the Monkee-militia into action and help give the Hulls a holiday they won’t forget!

Dec 232009
 

Happy Christmas Eve, Eve Monkees. Today’s post is about The Hulls. Read this to get the background.


“If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

Mother Teresa


It’s important to use the right words to describe people. Words can create categories in our brains and hearts and when we categorize people, it’s easy to start thinking in terms of “them” and “us.” That kind of thinking can be dangerous, because it’s not the truth. If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that we all belong to each other. We are all just one big, messy US, and that makes us responsible for each other. In our suburban lives we probably don’t use unfair laws and violence to separate and insulate ourselves from people…to pretend that the categories “them” and “us” exist… but I think sometimes we accidentally use words to the same end.

That’s why I have trouble using or accepting the terms “less fortunate” or “needy” to describe those who could presently use a little financial help.

The toughest and most enlightening job I ever had was teaching third grade at a school made up largely of recent immigrants in Annandale, Virginia. Once I accepted an invitation to the home of a beautiful little girl from El Salvador. Her family welcomed me into their teeny, unfurnished home and they fed me and hugged me and rocked what seemed like a million happy babies and all the big kids giggled and glowed. They worshipped their father and adored their mother. They served me as a cherished guest in their home. They didn’t have much by way of material comforts, but I left their home with an understanding that they were a very, very fortunate family.

And we have all seen news story after news story about families with every material wish granted, millions in the bank and the world at their fingertips, but they fall apart anyway. They seem pretty unfortunate to me.

So “less fortunate” doesn’t work for me, and “needy” doesn’t either. Unless I’m referring to humanity in general. Or unless I add a describing word. For example, “Hello, friend? Are you financially needy at the moment? Nice to meet you. I am emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and culinarily needy today. I’ll add more tomorrow.” This type of thing. We all have needs. We are all needy. Just in shifting categories at different moments and seasons of life.

You know that feeling you get when you actually have something that someone else needs? It’s so exciting. Because mostly, we are all a bunch of needers. So it’s nice to step over to the giver side, every once in a while. To feel needed, useful, powerful, worthy of helping. Giving makes us feel less lonely, and more significant. And those are our greatest needs…to feel connected and important. That’s why Jesus taught us that it’s better to give than receive. Because giving fills a bigger hole in our hearts than receiving does. And the good news is if we don’t allow ourselves to be too proud when we give, then we don’t have to feel embarrassed when we’re in need. Because I think we are here partly to learn how to give and receive gracefully. And I’m just grateful when I’m awake enough to respond to His invitation… to join the beautiful cycle of loving and being loved. It feels good.

So today, I’d just like to say thank you to the Hull family. Especially to Lakisia, Mama Hull. You shared your family’s needs with us this Christmas, and in doing so, you offered some needy Monkees true Christmas Peace…the remembrance that we belong to each other.

We are so grateful.

Merry Christmas, Hulls.

Dec 232009
 

Happy Christmas Eve, Eve Monkees. Today’s post is about The Hulls. Read this to get the background.

“If we have no peace, it’s because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Mother Teresa

It’s important to use the right words to describe people. Words can create categories in our brains and hearts and when we categorize people, it’s easy to start thinking in terms of “them” and “us.” That kind of thinking can be dangerous, because it’s not the truth. If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that we all belong to each other. We are all just one big, messy US, and that makes us responsible for each other. In our suburban lives we probably don’t use unfair laws and violence to separate and insulate ourselves from people…to pretend that the categories “them” and “us” exist… but I think sometimes we accidentally use words to the same end.

That’s why I have trouble using or accepting the terms “less fortunate” or “needy” to describe those who could presently use a little financial help.

The toughest and most enlightening job I ever had was teaching third grade at a school made up largely of recent immigrants in Annandale, Virginia. Once I accepted an invitation to the home of a beautiful little girl from El Salvador. Her family welcomed me into their teeny, unfurnished home and they fed me and hugged me and rocked what seemed like a million happy babies and all the big kids giggled and glowed. They worshipped their father and adored their mother. They served me as a cherished guest in their home. They didn’t have much by way of material comforts, but I left their home with an understanding that they were a very, very fortunate family.

And we have all seen news story after news story about families with every material wish granted, millions in the bank and the world at their fingertips, but they fall apart anyway. They seem pretty unfortunate to me.

So “less fortunate” doesn’t work for me, and “needy” doesn’t either. Unless I’m referring to humanity in general. Or unless I add a describing word. For example, “Hello, friend? Are you financially needy at the moment? Nice to meet you. I am emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and culinarily needy today. I’ll add more tomorrow.” This type of thing. We all have needs. We are all needy. Just in shifting categories at different moments and seasons of life.

You know that feeling you get when you actually have something that someone else needs? It’s so exciting. Because mostly, we are all a bunch of needers. So it’s nice to step over to the giver side, every once in a while. To feel needed, useful, powerful, worthy of helping. Giving makes us feel less lonely, and more significant. And those are our greatest needs…to feel connected and important. That’s why Jesus taught us that it’s better to give than receive. Because giving fills a bigger hole in our hearts than receiving does. And the good news is if we don’t allow ourselves to be too proud when we give, then we don’t have to feel embarrassed when we’re in need. Because I think we are here partly to learn how to give and receive gracefully. And I’m just grateful when I’m awake enough to respond to His invitation… to join the beautiful cycle of loving and being loved. It feels good.

So today, I’d just like to say thank you to the Hull family. Especially to Lakisia, Mama Hull. You shared your family’s needs with us this Christmas, and in doing so, you offered some needy Monkees true Christmas Peace…the remembrance that we belong to each other.

We are so grateful.

Merry Christmas, Hulls.

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