There are few things that I enjoy more than our Annual Leaf Party! Today I will talk about our vision for the Leaf Party and our reasons for doing it. Friday Dana will give you the details of how to actually make it happen.
When life gives you leaves, throw a leaf party!
It all started when we moved to our fabulous home in 2006. We quickly found out that the ‘big lot with many trees’ that our realtor helped us buy then transformed into ‘tons of leaves that require hours of raking followed by days of ibuprofen.’ We decided to make the best of it. Growing up, I had actually always thought that it would be cool to jump into leaf piles. I mean, I had probably jumped into some piles of leaves, but nothing very big. This was my chance to change all that! I decided to make gigantic leaf piles for the kids and I to play in. It was awesome!
The leaf piles appealed to me for many reasons. It was free fun that we could do with our kids. It was outdoors, natural, active. Dana and the kids and I loved it, and the next year we invited over some close friends from church so that their kids could play with ours in the leaf piles. We had a blast and got a lot of good pictures of the cute little kiddos.
But by then God was really putting on our hearts the idea that we could be more involved with our neighbors. God was showing us the verses that talk about being among the lost. Of being light in the dark. Of sharing the good news. The word that kept coming up was “Among.” Don’t hide away in a little Christian group, be “Among.”
Sidebar: This translated into the last line of the vision statement for the young adult group that we led at the time:
- A Deeper relationship with God
- A Deeper commitment to our fellow Christians
- A Deeper engagement with society around us
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with our neighbors – on the contrary, they are wonderful! They shovel our driveway. They buy us Worlds of Fun tickets. They invite us over. Many of them believe the same things we believe. My point is simply that we, like many people, had in the past naturally chosen to spend most of our time with people who were just like us. People who believed 99% of what we believed, looked like us, talked like us, etc. We are a cozy, comfortable club. (And that’s good, by the way. You need to spend time in community with like-minded folks. See the second line of our Deeper vision statement.)
So it is a balance. It becomes unhealthy to spend all of your time in community but none of your time out in the community. Out among people who may not believe exactly like you, or who voted for the other guy in the last presidential election, or who make a lot more or a lot less than you, or who are annoying, or who you simply have not met yet.
So, we made it a point to invite people to our leaf party from our work, from our families, from our church, and from our neighborhood. We wanted to purposefully mix up all 4 of those different worlds. We wanted to break down the artificial social constructs that limit the interactions between those different groups of people.
It is our desire that we will live lives of integrity and train our kids to do so also. (More on this later.) Part of the root of integrity means that you are the same, regardless of circumstances, regardless of setting. So this Leaf Party was a pretty big step out for us. We felt like it has been a wonderful success each year that we have done it. Our kids are involved, and they get excited to bless our friends and neighbors. We show hospitality. We create an environment in which caring conversations can occur. It is open and non-threatening, and is genuinely a lot of fun for everyone.
As I wrap up, I hope that you will start thinking about the different worlds that you occupy:
- Extended Family
Do you live a life of integrity, where you are the consistent in each setting? How are you uniting these worlds? What have you done to bless your neighbors? To influence your coworkers? To model sacrificial generosity to your kids?
It may not take much. Look around you…what activities do you like to do? What do you have available? For us, all it took was some leaves!