Posted in Sparrow's Nest

Stepping into the Unknown

Yesterday, I did it. I turned in my 2-weeks’ notice at work to step into the unknown. You’ll notice the pictures below of the paperchain that hangs in my car to remind me of how many days I have left to physically “love on” teachers and children before I leave The Primrose School at the end of May. I’ll also be gifting all my “Primrose swag” to a deserving teacher before I leave because in the words of an old hymn, “no turning back, no turning back.”

For the last 2 years I’ve traversed the greater Atlanta traffic-scape daily on one job or another “doing the thing to get me to what I really want to do.” I’ve taught preschool, directed preschool, served as assistant management at a franchise preschool, served as a part-time children’s minister, all with a view toward starting the non-profit of our dreams. That dream has come no closer with each passing month.

With the encouragement of my son and husband, I’m finally stepping into the unknown to begin the process of going out on my own to develop The Sparrow’s Nest. We are making some large sacrifices to make this happen – my husband especially. Maybe soon I’ll have the internal fortitude to write about those and what it has meant to me for people to go to those lengths to support this dream. I’m uncomfortable with many of the ways they believe in me and what I ask permission to dream.

My dream is for The Sparrow’s Nest to be a nature play care program, seeking to nurture children through peace teaching, creation care, conflict resolution, and community.  I want to offer after-school enrichment activities, weekend mini-camps, and week long day camps. 

There are many nature-play programs around. What will make the Sparrow’s Nest unique among other nature play programs is our goal to be a non-profit organization developed and operated from a biblical, Kingdom perspective aligned with the values of the ministry of Jesus Christ. 

The environment offered to children through The Sparrow’s Nest will benefit them and their families by providing an enrichment program designed to teach care of our environment and communities through a uniquely Christian and peaceful perspective, and the opportunity for them to have experiences and learn skills that most children raised in urban contexts never get to have. 


Based on Psalm 84:3 “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God,” and Jesus’ teaching that God cares even for the sparrows who fall to the ground (Mt 10:29-31), children at The Sparrow’s Nest will find a safe place to experience God’s love and care for all people and for creation. 


It is my dream that children at The Sparrow’s Nest will have a safe place to learn and grow while
learning to care for creation through sustainable agricultural and consumer practices.I want to share with them the value of small things, such as small acts of love, kindness, and justice as they experience being part of a membership with one another and with creation. 

One day down…ten to go!!

The other members of my own personal “Barnabas Society” are Adam and Jamie Stovall who have agreed to serve on our founding Board of Directors. We have begun the process of filing our 501-C3 paperwork. A GoFundMe is in place for those who’d like to give toward this effort and continue to give me permission to dream about teaching children how to live peacefully and justly in the world God has given us.

I promise to keep you posted about how the dream is advancing. I know it will be a while before I am able to make the physical aspects of The Sparrow’s Nest a reality. In the meanwhile, I will be blogging, developing Creation Care curriculum for church and home use, and highlighting resources for all of you. There are plans for videos, blogs and maybe even a children’s book series on the values we promote through The Sparrow’s Nest.

Nesting near the altar,

Vangie

Posted in Living Peacefully

Visions of Sparrows

Last night we had friends for supper for a “visioning session” of sorts for our new non-profit. To be honest, going into the evening I was quite overwhelmed by the prospect of having a vision for anything other than my pajamas and a Netflix binge. Everything within my life has seemed to become a monumental project of epic proportion.

Down to one car, we are struggling to share a commute spread apart by 30 miles and the sprawling city of Atlanta. It is Noah’s senior year and there is much to do to ready him for his next transition – not to mention securing him a vehicle for purchase so that he can participate in a work-study program after the new year. Everything at our rental home is broken, leaking or caving in. It doesn’t seem the wise time to begin another project of any size.

Thankfully, it didn’t take very much discussion to be reminded of why The Sparrow’s Nest needs to come to be. Because everyone around the table has decided to live a daily life tightly connected to their value system, we could laugh at being called “a liberal” for taking public transit to work. We bemoaned the impact poor nutrition, as well as food deserts, are having on communities. Then we confessed how many times a day we might actually make a grocery store run simply out of convenience. As we practiced our faith out loud around our supper table, many of the conversations I’ve had with my students replayed in my mind.

While playing out on the playground – “Ms. Vangie, where do the weeds come from?”

At Farm Day when seeing a goat – “What kinda dog is that Ms. Vangie?”

When inspecting a fresh chicken egg – “You mean they come from inside a chicken?”

As we reviewed farm animals – “Are chickens just ducks with fancy hair or are they different all together?”

And my favorite – “So what do worms do anyway?”

More than just “curious by nature,” these children are seeking understanding so as to make something a value of their very own. Their questions belie a need to desire to more fully comprehend and experience the world around them. But the platform for these conversations doesn’t naturally exist – it must be intentionally created.

I want to explain the life cycle of seeds and plants as a part of God’s continual renewal of this good Earth. I yearn to have the time to really look at dogs, goats, ducks and chickens and talk about the wonderful differences of creation. And I want to show them what worms do, what healthy soil is and tell them about our role as partners in creation.

My friends reminded me that I want to build a place for our kids to play in nature, learn about their role in creation care and discover what it means to “live justly.” I want the sparrows to have a nest. It is my dream that at The Sparrow’s Nest children will…

  1. Have a safe place to learn and grow.
  2. Learn to care for creation through sustainable agricultural and consumer practices.
  3. Learn the value of small things, such as small acts of love, kindness, and justice. 
  4. Experience being part of a membership with one another and with creation. 
  5. Develop and practice tools for peacemaking and reconciliation. 

Gathering a group of kids together a few times a week won’t reverse climate change, but it might help shape a worldview toward peaceful living alongside creation. I suppose my Netflix binge can wait after all.