The Extras Purge and the Great Material Continuum

20150218_the_lent_project_bannerKrissy wrote this last year while living in Hollywood. It resurfaced for her this week as she's been processing through #TheLentProject Extras Purge this week with Open Door. The Great Material Continuum (Krissy Kludt)

When I was younger, I bought few clothes, and I kept them forever. I still had clothes in college that I had worn in middle school. I had a closet full of things at my parents’ house that I never wore, but kept just in case they would come back into style. Sometimes things do: in high school, Nikki and I gave my dad the hardest time about his too-tight jeans, begging him to get something looser; ten years later, jeans got skinny again. As my dad put it, delighted, “I lapped myself!”

When we moved to Hollywood, I found a new system for clothing. Trends change more quickly here, and thrift stores have an abundance of (almost) current fashions. In Wisconsin, Goodwill has mostly XXL T-shirts; in LA, it’s full of Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters. Angelenos acquire more often, and they get rid of things more often. I found myself inheriting clothes from friends all the time, many days wearing entire outfits that were cast-offs of Abby’s or Bethany’s. Rather than “keep forever, never buy,” my new motto was “hold all things loosely.” I, too, acquired things more often – at yard sales or thrift stores or from friends – and I got rid of things I stopped wearing, trusting that I wouldn’t regret it.

Dave and I have our geeky moments, and in one of them a couple of years ago, we watched a whole lot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If you are less geeky and therefore less familiar with Star Trek, you may not know about the Ferengi aliens and their pseudo-religious belief in economics. The closest they have to a god is their belief in the Great Material Continuum. They call it the “Great River,” believing that all places have too much of one resource and not enough of another, but that all material things flow in the “Great River,” eventually ending up where they are needed. (Ideally, of course these material things flow through the Ferengi and provide them with plenty of cash along the way.)

I have started to believe in the Great Material Continuum. I cannot tell you how many times I have needed something, asked for it (or not asked for it), and waited until it came to me. I needed clipboards for school, but not badly enough to go out and buy any. (This was in our early Fuller days when we lived and paid for Dave’s school on my new teacher’s salary, and cash did not feel particularly abundant.) One day we helped some friends move, and they were throwing out a box of clipboards. I’d wanted an old wooden chest for years, and one day one appeared at a yard sale next door to HomeState. Dave needed more pants, and one day he found a pair of H&M jeans on the sidewalk in his size. It happens to us all the time. I am starting to believe that what you need will come to you if you are willing to wait.

There is an economy in East Hollywood of which we were once completely unaware, but we began to observe it and participate in it. There is an economy beyond that of cash and credit cards, when you begin to look.

A few weeks ago there was a family sitting outside of Burger King across the street from us with several large suitcases. They had two small children with them. It is unusual to see homeless kids in our area, so I assumed they had some other story – ended up in our neighborhood off the metro, waiting for a ride from friends, something like that. It turns out they had just gotten off the Amtrak from West Virginia, and were waiting until Monday (this was Saturday) for the homeless shelters to open for intake.

I brought them diapers and a few groceries, sat on a suitcase and chatted with the mother. Their son wore the same sized diapers as Everett. My heart broke for this mother. Our instinct to take care of our children is so strong, and this family was struggling so much to do so. I prayed with them. While I sat with them, one man gave a few dollars to the little boy, a woman dropped off cereal and juice, and another man called the police for them, assuring them that the police department could probably get them into a shelter that night. These people were strangers here, and so alone, and yet their most basic needs were being met by the people walking by.

The next night we went to the Manna Room after our church gathering. The Manna Room is a food pantry that brings in and sorts almost-expired, dented and otherwise unsellable Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s food, and it opens for the church on Sunday nights. After Everett was born and I left my job, we were tighter on money than we had been in a long time, and we were grateful for this abundant provision. Some weeks we found more in the Manna Room than others; some weeks we needed more than others. On this week, we had bought groceries for several people besides ourselves. That night, the Manna Room was overflowing, full of things that were on my list for the grocery store, where I was headed afterward: pesto and goat cheese and diced tomatoes and fiber cereal for Everett. I was full to the brim with gratitude.

We live in an economy of grace. Somehow, our needs continue to be met, again and again, in the most unexpected ways. When I worry I’ve overspent our food budget for the month, the Manna Room happens to have everything we desire. Just when I think I don’t have energy left to make it another few hours until Dave gets home, Everett decides to take a three-hour nap. When my house is a disaster and I haven’t had a moment to think and Everett doesn’t seem to want to ever nap again, one of our housemates shows up and plays with him in our yard so I can do the dishes and sit down for a few minutes.

An economy of grace is an economy of abundance. When we live out of abundance, like the loaves and the fishes, what we have multiplies. We have enough time, enough food, enough money. We have more than enough love.

Am I the woman – the mother, wife, child, friend – I wish I were? Not even on my best days. But I live in an economy of grace, an economy of abundance, and in that economy, by owning my own insufficiency, I become enough. When I choose to live in the economy of grace, when I do the hard work it takes to believe in abundance, joy grows within me, sending roots down deep into gratitude. I have enough. Roots soak in nourishment from that fertile soil and send stems skyward. I have more than enough. Leaves unfold, open to the sky. By grace, I become enough. There will be space enough for growth. There will be room enough for love. There will be time enough for revelation.

One day I stopped to chat with a homeless woman named Amariah who lives in the park up the street. She told me she needed toenail clippers and a jacket, and asked if I had either to spare. She told me her story. Then she pulled me over to her pile of belongings and asked what I needed.

“I don’t need anything; I have enough,” I said.

“How about shampoo? Do you need shampoo? When I get it I pour it out into smaller bottles and give it to the other women in the park. I asked the salon over there if they needed it, but they said no. I gave it to them anyway.”

I smiled, “That’s ok, I really don’t need anything.”

She started rummaging through a suitcase. “Here,” she said. “Take these.” She handed me a pair of jean shorts.

“Really, you don’t have to. I don’t need anything.”

“Take them. They’re nice – they’re Lucky brand. If you have two, you’re supposed to give one away, so that’s what I’m doing.”

I didn’t tell her that I was walking back home from Goodwill, where I had tried on several pairs of shorts without finding any that fit.

“We’re neighbors, you know,” I said to Amariah as I hugged her goodbye.

“No,” she shook her head. “We’re sisters.”

The Kitchen

Erik and Bekah Polzin and their kids moved to Walnut Creek less than a year ago.  I've watched them integrate into the Open Door family at a healthy pace and in a humble posture...we have a lot to learn from them.  After an incredible evening shared in their kitchen and around their table, I asked them if they'd be up for hosting a Super Bowl neighborhood party.  They said "Yes!" and proceeded to host space where new relationships could be forged.  Take a read as Bekah reflects on the residual transformation of that evening: Kitchen

Have you ever noticed, no matter how big or small or glamorous or simple a house is, people congregate in the kitchen? You can set the h’ordevers 2 rooms away or form a candle lit path a different direction, but somehow everyone migrates to the kitchen.

Our kitchen was crowded on Super Bowl Sunday and it was beautiful.

Earlier this month we were asked to host one of the Super Bowl parties. Being that we’re new(er) to Open Door, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a small part of me that was hesitant. Is it true for you, as it is for me, that sometimes I go to the negative before I see the positive? I’d have to clean the house, figure out what to serve, make sure my kids were “on their best behavior”...but we said YES!

We had little idea what to anticipate, being that we’d never experienced an Open Door “party” before. Would there be 30 people or 3? Does anyone even know who we are? Would we know them? Does it matter?

In addition to opening up the party for Open Door people, we ended up inviting our neighbors, who like us, have 4 kids are and are newer to the area. As one big group of individuals and families we enjoyed the evening together. We came from different parts of the Bay Area, different back grounds, different jobs and had different interests.  None of it mattered as we watched 13 kids playing with one another, no qualms with what the other liked or disliked. They effortlessly created a space of common interest and left their differences at the door.

By the end of the night, they were all friends and were asking their parents when they could see each other again. It was a beautiful thing.

I don’t consider myself a hostess or entertainer. I don’t own a second set of dishes that I pull out to entertain with. I rarely light a candle or turn on music to enhance the ambiance of the house. I seldom look up new recipes to try. But I’m learning the beauty of entertaining and that these aren’t the details that matter.

Every Sunday night a group of adults and our 4 kids gather in our kitchen. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. For an evening we all come together from different backgrounds, different occupations, different ages, different beliefs and different views. Some nights we share meaningless small talk and other nights we find ourselves in heated conversations struggling to relay our perspective as perfectly as possible. We challenge each other and learn from one another. We push each other, apologize to one another and forgive each other.  We push the boundary of surface friendships while respecting the importance of acceptance.

Our worlds collide in the kitchen and at the table.

I’m learning to say YES to the Lord and what he puts in front of me, and becoming a “hostess” is something I’m beginning to choose. Why? Because I’ve seen the Lord show up at the table and around the kitchen in a way that makes me want to open my home more to friends, to guests and to Jesus. The kitchen is a powerful space where judgment and variance dissipate.  I’m discovering how much I can learn from someone who isn’t just like me. It’s where we all gather with a common need of nourishment and an even deeper desire for acceptance.

Jesus will show up in your kitchen. But we first have to say yes to the invitation.

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Ephesians 4:15-16 “Rather speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

Our Next Season: Migration & Expansion

We are a family of sojourners, learning to walk in the Way of Jesus for the good of the world.  That means that we're a community of wanderers united under the authority of Jesus and empowered by His Spirit to be agents of restoration and reconciliation in the spaces we find ourselves in. Our work is to cultivate followers of Jesus who are Rooted in Christ, Woven together as Family, Extenders of Sacrificial Love, and Cultivators of others to be & do the same.

We affirm the value of intellectual instruction in the Way of Jesus while recognizing that to truly become men and women who are Rooted, Woven, Extending, & Cultivating, we must migrate beyond intellectual instruction to experiential training in community with others.

Our model for this is Jesus who invited a community of people to apprentice Him.  He instructed and then demonstrated what he just got done teaching. He released His 'in-process' community to go and imitate what they'd seen and heard, and then brought them back together for evaluation and coaching.  Eventually, after the resurrection, He commissioned and released them to go live and narrate the Gospel in the spaces they lived, worked, played, and beyond.

It was slow, earthy, and organic.  It was inefficient by our standards, but wildly effective.  Over time, God began flipping the world right-side-up, one life at a time and thru those changed lives, heaven & earth began to be woven together again.

Our dream is to participate with God in the weaving of heaven & earth together again in the East Bay and beyond.  Fueled by this dream & His Spirit, our next season of ministry will include a MIGRATION and an EXPANSION.

Our MIGRATION is beyond cultivation primarily through our worship gathering to include cultivation through experiential training in community with others.  We want to see every man, woman, & family connected to Open Door engaging in life on mission in the Way of Jesus with others.

For some, this might look like inviting 2-3 core friends (gender-specific, mixed-gender, multi-generational, or life-stage) to co-create & commit to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, & Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we live in neighborhood & proximity with and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share vocational space with (i.e. downtown SF, downtown Oakland, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share play space with (i.e. parks, gyms, arts, running/cycling/swimming, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like discovering & turning toward those whom we share a similar passion with (i.e. local injustice, global injustice, fair-trade, sustainable living, urban farming, etc.) and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For some, this might look like participating in a mentor-guided core group who, together, co-create & commit to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

For young families, this might look like turning toward other young families and co-creating & committing to a set of Rooted, Woven, Extending, Cultivating practices.

Our MIGRATION from cultivation primarily through our gathering to include cultivation through experiential training in community with others is the richest, most transformational environment there is to be found by The Father, to be formed into the image of Jesus, and to practically join His Spirit in what He's already doing in the East Bay & beyond.

Our EXPANSION is in regards to our paid staff.  We are seeking to build a lean, diverse, focused staff of coaches & equippers who resource and guide the holistic cultivation of our community.  Currently our staff is made up of Jer (Full-Time Directional Leader) & Elizabeth (Half-Time Worship Leader).  Our hope is that by January, 2014, we would be able to expand our team to include an additional staff person who will bring perspective, experience, & diverse gifting into our migration.

Don't let this MIGRATION & EXPANSION happen to you.  Join in the process through prayerful presence & courageous generosity.  Please join us at our gatherings over the next couple of weeks (7/21 & 7/28) to pray with & over The Open Door Community and the East Bay & Beyond.