Category Archives: Stories

popcorn

Jude’s New Friend, Arturo

It’s Spring Break in Kansas City – that means our street is filled with games. And, because our house has a nice porch, we spend a lot of time out there, which means we get to meet a lot of the kids as they come and ask if we (yes, Jenny and me as well as Jude and Jesse) can play. (Mostly, the kids were talking about playing on the boys’ toys in the front yard).

We said, “You bet!” with warm enthusiasm, secretly hoping to learn a few Spanish words as they played.

And then came Arturo (not only that first time, but again the next day). Arturo speaks no English, but seems to understand us when we talk. He’s 3-ish, like Jude. And, to boot, Jude and Arturo both think it’s hilarious to eat popcorn like a puppy from a bowl. They were laughing so hard at each another (again, neither one of them being too fluent English speakers – Jude knows his words pretty well but sometimes still says them too fast for others to understand). So, they laughed…

When Arturo ran out of popcorn, he yelled, “Mas _____ (I forget the word he used for popcorn.” I think we filled his bowl three times. Jude’s too.

We went through a lot of popcorn and didn’t learn much Spanish.

A Short Letter to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback RE: the Elimination of Food Stamps for Poor Children

A Short Letter to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback RE: the Elimination of Food Stamps for Poor Children

Dear Mr. Brownback,

I learned today that you, my Kansas Governor [for other readers: Sam Brownback (Rep.)] have eliminated food stamps for children who are American citizens yet whose parents are not.

First, I feel this shows a complete disregard for many of the people you’ve been called to care for. Are you showing preferential treatment against some American citizens simply because their parents come from places you don’t like or who have a different color of skin, perhaps?

Second, for me as a Christian person, Mr. Brownback, this totally shows your cards – that you care more for economic stability of an empire rather than caring for the poor, for CHILDREN who are now going to go hungry. I’m rather surprised that a man of your status and office seems unable to handle two tasks at once.

Mr. Brownback, is the American Dollar worth that much more to you – so much so that you’d rather see a child go hungry than “look” like you support illegal immigration (which is a supposed threat to the American economy)?

— Written by a concerned citizen who now finds himself living next to the children whom you’ve chosen to deprive food.

Benjamin Vineyard
Kansas City, KS

A Letter About Moving to 28 S. 17th St., Kansas City, Kansas (January 17, 2012)

Dear Friends and Family,

 

One man’s “don’t worry about tomorrow” has become a grace in Jesus received. Another family’s “tomorrow will have enough cares of its own,” has trickled, watering a decision.

Jennifer, Jude, Jesse, and I are moving to 28 S. 17th St. in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kansas City, Kansas, (in the Prescott community we’ll live in) is a place experiencing some neat revitalization. Everyone we’ve met bursts with pride for the home. Jenny, the boys, and I are excited to move into the neighborhood, participating in life together.

Our friends, Scott, Stephanie, Karis, and Luke, had moved to the Prescott community a year and a half before. They sensed a call from God to immerse themselves in a community that had felt abandoned in some regards, maybe by “wealth flight.” They sensed a call to practice the ways of Jesus in a new but also very ancient kind of way. As I understood it, the call was related to the necessary practice needed in today’s church communities to practice a new way of life together because the old one has overshadowed parts of Jesus and neglected parts of the call to discipleship.

Inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s call to a needed “new monasticism,” praying imaginations began to imagine what this “new monasticism” could look like and how it may be helpful to practice. A guy named Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove wrote a book on the phrase and came up with these twelve pieces of a new monastic life:

12 Marks of New Monasticism

1) Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.

2) Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.

3) Hospitality to the stranger

4) Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

5) Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.

6) Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.

7) Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

8.) Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9) Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

10) Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.

11) Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

12) Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

(These words come from The Simple Way and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. They aren’t statements from Scott, Luke or Steph, but we resonate with what’s written here.)

My imagination has become very excited by the invitation into a similar way of life with Scott, Luke and Steph. I don’t know what will come of it, but we’re going to enjoy the exploration.

We always knew the invitation was open – you know, to come move into the neighborhood with Scott, Steph, Luke, David, and whoever happened to be living there. It remained a jested, unspoken possibility since the day they moved into their house. Seeing the most of a whole block empty and ready for new families, 28 S. 17th St. was always “our house.”

I don’t remember what flipped, what turned the jest into a real interest. But, like a lot of things, it happened like rain hitting you when a storm starts up: at first you can count the drops and measure them, saying, “Oh, these are big drops, better get inside.” …and soon you can’t tell one drop from another, you’re just getting soaked. We found ourselves just getting soaked with ideas and triggers for moving into KCK, a couple houses down from Scott, Steph, and Luke.

One large drop was when Luke came over to our house on Dearborn St. He was giving Scott and Steph some space – I think Karis was just born. So, he came over and we spent time together. Without much hesitation, he said matter of factly, “You know… if you guys ever wanted to move into KCK, we sure think you should and we’d do anything to help you out with that.”

Jenny paused and replied, “Wow… that’s neat – we were just talking about that yesterday; it’s been on our minds for a while now. It’s been more of a dream for sure, not really feeling like something we can do, but…”

…and there it went. The big drop.

Moving like this is the kind of decision that needs time to percolate; it needs time to turn into a rich dark roast kind decision instead of a watery, light brown, hastened thing.

We waited. We thought. We prayed. We thought, “I don’t know how…” We heard, “How about this ____?” We replied, “Well, yes, that would be VERY helpful.” We thought; we prayed… We volleyed, “But I don’t know…” We heard, “How about this _____ too?” We said with a period at the end: Yes, that will make it work.” Most of these blanks were filled by the love of friends.

Making the house transition work was only part of the consideration. I mean, I’ll lay it out on the table. This is not an embrace of poverty and it isn’t too radical: we’re moving into a dream house of sorts.

But like I said, the house wasn’t the only consideration. Jenny and I needed time and space to think and pray through the details of what our move would mean. And, along the way, we sensed it – percolating desire, passion, and stamina to participate in community life and mission together. Jenny and I felt our hearts being kindled with ways we could participate in life together with a community of friends who desire to help one another pay attention to God, express rhythms of the Kingdom of God as best as we know it… Things like that.

And Jude and Jesse?

We’ve checked into the schools; they’re legit.

What really set things in stone, making it all feel like this was a good deal, was a Prescott Community Christmas Party in a hundred-year-old renovated fire station. There we met others who were participating in life together, wanting to better and love the community, who were ordinary folks, very ordinary. We felt at home, and, after moving a few boxes around, will very much so be.

That’s part of the story.

Special, never-ending-friendship-thanks to Scott, Stephanie, and Karis Eberlein, Luke Kammrath, and John and Sara Kammrath. The generosity inspired within you by Jesus has made paths straight for my family.

God Keeps Guiding | We Keep Being Opened to Listen
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Ben, Jenny, Jude, and Jesse.

For Pictures of the House, Follow This Link: (Link)

For a “Prettier” Version of This Letter, Follow This Link: (Link)

A Christmas Festival – Parkville, MO (A story to share.)

A Christmas Festival – Parkville, MO

We went to a Christmas festival in Parkville last night. The experience exceeded anything I could really imagine. It was like everything was designed from a dream I had and hard to tell if this was the dream or the real thing.

As we descended the hill into the little town, we could see a movie playing: Charlie Brown’s Christmas. It was playing on a projector screen right at the T intersection that marks the center of the Parkville downtown. Continue reading

The Man I Want to Be Like

I’m sitting in a skin doctor waiting room this morning. It’s my 30th birthday and Dad’s genetic code really likes me.

I look around the room, people watching – something Jenny, my wife, taught me how to pull off pretty sleekishly. (Yes I made that word up.) I see a lot of us fair skinned types. Also, two men in tan slacks and nice polos, three women dressed for perfection, and then the guy I want to be like. He’s in a button up plaid shirt, dark turquoise at that, that he stopped buttoning three from the top. His face, weathered has that expression on it that says, I’m deep in my own thoughts here; it’ll take me a second to get out of them to engage in a conversation with you, but I would if you wanted to.

Why this guy? His whole presence speaks volumes: I am comfortable with the person I am. I don’t care much for your opinion or first impression. I’ll care about you, just not that junk.

He’s got to be 80. Even sporting sideburns and Levis. He doesn’t care what 80 is supposed to look like. I like that.