Crazy Making Ironies

Sometimes things can get so nutty! A couple of years ago our city council passed an ordinance that placed a Federal ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent in our city jail. So now anyone who is picked up by the police is screened by an ICE agent. You don't have to be convicted or guilty of anything, just brought in for whatever reason and you are screened for documentation.

A couple months back a friend of mine refused to sleep with her abusive ex-husband when he brought the rent over. He got angry. She got scared and threw a plate at him. When the police got there he was bleeding and she wasn't so they took her away as the agressor. It didn't seem to matter that he had a history of domestic violence. So my friend spent the night in jail. There were no charges brought against her and the case was dropped.

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Equipping- having the right tools

" Get the right tool," my dad would often yell when I would try to use the back of a screwdriver as a hammer or my nails as tweezers. It was easy for him to say. He had a whole garage full of tools. I was just grabbing for whatever was closest and quickest to get the job done.

Last night when I pulled into my carport I was assaulted by the most vulgar graffitti covering the whole wall in front of me. The kids upstairs have been a problem in the neighborhood for awhile. Everybody has been complaining about them. I haven't seen an adult come or go from the apartment in weeks. Last night it became clear that I couldn't put off a conversation with them any longer.

I hauled myself up the stairs, stepped over the little board to block the dog, and entered the living room filled with two bunkbeds and the backseat of a mini van acting as a sofa. Five teenagers stared at me as I sat down on the "couch", a dog on each side of me. "Who's going to paint downstairs and when?," I said, skipping over any chit chat.

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Wrapping, Tea and Apples

One incredible part of my job is that I am often a bridge or link. At Christmastime that usually means that I am the connection between those that have the gifts and those that need the gifts. The best way that our community has figured out to bridge this is through The Christmas Store. Those that have the gifts bring them to one location that we set up like a store. Those that need the gifts are invited to come and shop, to pick out the gifts that they want to give their family. There is music and crafts for the kids and volunteers gift wrapping. It is a great day for our community.

It wasn't always like that though. The first two years were a lesson in putting others first and learning to serve one another. There was jealousy among neighbors and sneakiness and tricks to get the best stuff. One year we even had a full blown fist fight. This year instead of trying to serve our neighbors, we brought them in as partners. Neighborhood leaders were on the planning committee. They had lots of feedback and suggestions from years past. They worked for three months setting up processes, selecting families, and developing systems that were fair and honoring. We had a vision of what we wanted the Christmas Store to look like and we worked toward it together.

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Stand With People this Season

Hi everyone,

I wanted to share some of my experiences with you as my community celebrates together this holiday season. So, I sat down with Peter at to discuss the holiday season and how to connect with others. I encourage you to stand with someone who might simply need you near.



Grateful To Be Together

A friend of mine shared with me that Thanksgiving is special for his family because it was the first American holiday they celebrated after arriving in the United States.  He talked about how grateful he was to finally have his family here with him after having been separated for several years while he worked to bring his wife and two children from Guatemala.  

Most of my neighbors are from Latin America.  Many have told me laughing, that they don’t like turkey but they like Thanksgiving.  My neighbors are good at celebrating.  They are good at getting all the family together to eat.  And they are good at giving thanks.

This morning my next door neighbor mentioned how grateful he is for his job as he loaded his lawnmower into his pick up.  Last night one of my former students was sharing with me how hard it’s been now that the construction work is so slow.  “But I am so thankful that gas is cheap now, that’s a good thing.”  He must have mentioned this three times in the course of our conversation.
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Alleys, Scars, and Day Laborers

It is amazing to what lengths we will go to avoid seeing what is hard. This morning on my way home from my run I thought about going down the alley. I like to pass through that way every once in awhile to check out what’s going on. The alley is a bit of a “behind the scenes” look at my neighborhood. When I walk down it I can see which crews are active by the graffiti. I have a chance to notice whose landlord is not keeping things up. Sometimes I can tell if a family has to live out of their garage. Walking down the alley is one way I take the temperature of how we’re doing as a community. This morning though, I didn’t want to run down the alley. I didn’t want to know what’s going on. I didn’t want to see graffiti. I didn’t want to notice furniture discarded in the alley.

Yeah, but what about immigration...

Early this morning I saw a Latino man pulled over by the local police. I just caught a glimpse of him as I drove past, but it was enough for my mind to capture his look of total fear. My heart sank as I tried to play out what his day would look like.

In our area now we have a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent in our jail. I don't know if this man was driving without a license and I don't know that the officers impounded his car and took him in, but if they did, what I saw this morning was the start of a deportation. Now, I know the arguments about following the law and paying the consequences for our actions etc. I am for following the law. However, I am also for laws and systems that are just and make sense.

There is currently no way for immigrants who are here without papers to make things right and the system for new immigrant workers to come is very, very limited. In fact, it does not allow for the number of workers we need to enter the country.

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Speaking of Faith

Tomorrow begins the Jewish High Holy Days. I have never paid much attention to Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur but late last night, somewhere between Bakersfield and Costa Mesa, I found myself intrigued by a young rabbi, Sharon Brous, speaking about atonement on NPR's "Speaking of Faith".

I think what struck me most was the way she spoke of her love for the scriptures. She shared how the liturgy of these holy days leads one on a journey from considering personal sins to sins of our community in the world. I felt challenged to consider my own life and relationships and to wrestle with my group's (whether that's Americans, whites, privileged OC kids...) history of oppresion in the world.

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Losing Margin

So I haven't blogged in forever- just one sign that I'm losing the margin in my life. The good news is that I know the signs. A few years ago I couldn't recognize when I was spinning out until the breakdown. A few signs that it's time to reel things in:

- the clumps of dog hair on my floor- seems I can't take the 10 minutes it would take to vacuum

- I don't read before bed- just flop down exhausted

- no groceries in the fridge- mounting eating out bill

- my dirty car

- the make up bag in my car- I've put my make up on while driving every day this week

- the pile of newspapers next to my desk- I'm out of touch

Please tell me I'm not alone! Where do you need to reel it in?
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Do You Really Love Your Neighbor?

Here are some wild ideas: making a difference in the community; listening to what your neighbor has to say; doing what God really asks us to do. MIKA community development corporation seriously address these questions and issues. Do you?

Watch as Crissy Brooks inspires, encourages and teaches us that the opportunity to serve and minister is literally right outside your door.


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I love our world- the sights, noises, and flavors of it all. I've found the best way for me to make a difference globally is to be rooted and engaged in my community. Every day is 1 more adventure in loving God and loving my neighbor.