“They’re having a party,” the youngest boy says in a rushed, breathy voice.  “And we’re invited.  It starts at 8:00.  Like right on the dot of 8:00.”

I’m cleaning the kitchen when he makes the announcement and I’m  in no mood for a late night party in the cul-de-sac.  My arms are elbow deep in the sink and the counter is twelve inches deep in dishes.

“Are you sure it’s a party?” I ask him.  “For what?  It’s a Tuesday night.”

“Graduation!!!” he says.  “I think somebody graduated from school.”

I sigh into the sink after he’s run back out the front door, but even in the sighing I know where I’ll spend my evening.

And so, at a few minutes after that 8:00 on the dot,  I find myself in the cul-de-sac with twelve children and only fifteen sparklers.

 After dinner, when the sky is still ribboned in shades of pink, we stand in the cul-de-sac at the end of Avent Circle and watch our kids wave sparklers.

The Man makes small talk with the kids’ mama and I make small talk with the oldest girl.  The girl holds the lighter and she is busy doling out the sparklers, lighting each one as she passes them around.

The boys are in the middle of the road, tossing a Nerf football, and the air is so thick I can scarcely breathe.  It’s stale, hot air, the kind ripe for rain with no rain in sight and the mosquitoes swarm in their own sort of heat.  I feel dirty standing on bits of broken glass and cigarette butts out here in no man’s land, but the kids are howling in laughter so I pull up a piece of sidewalk and stay.

“I can’t feed them in the summer anymore,” I hear her say to the Man.  The mama is talking, and from my piece of sidewalk, I can hear every word.  “They’re getting older and I just can’t do it.”

I shuffle my feet and busy myself with my baby and I sigh another heavy sigh.   The awkward, in-need-of-things conversations still make me feel queasy and inadequate and uncomfortable so I retreat to some place inside myself, etching across my mind the things I hear and see and smell.

Well, we can’t feed them all summer either, I think to myself.  I’ve already fed them two meals this week.

I swat mosquitoes and watch the Man enter into the places I’ve not yet learned to go.  He’s good at compassion and kind words and all the things I’m not.

After long, hard minutes pass and the sparklers are spent, the mama and the Man run out of words.

And I gather my babies and run home, my heart cracking under the pressure of poverty that now had names and faces.

  That sparkler party changed my life. The fifteen sparklers and twelve children and the mama with too many mouths to feed rocked my nice little life on the prettiest little street in my neighborhood.

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The harsh reality that this mama could not afford to feed her kids for the ten weeks of summer break coupled with the crushing fact that Jesus had invited us to have a front row seat into their lives turned my life upside down.

How could we possibly feed this family all summer long? We couldn’t. It was plain and simple.

We spent hours round our farm table talking out all the ways we could help the poor.

“Let’s just put it on Facebook,” I’d said. “Surely someone will help us.”

So we did.

And y’all can I tell you something? Jesus sent people from all over our city to help us feed the family down the street.

He sent so many people and so much food we were able to feed eight families for three months and with each sack of groceries delivered, He began to break our hearts enough to hold the poor.

And somewhere amid all the heart breaking, we stopped referring to them as the poor. We began to call them our neighbors. And when we began to call them our neighbors, something broke loose in us.

We began to make plans and dream dreams and see every person that crossed our path as our neighbor.

When we thought of holidays, we no longer thought only about our family. We thought about our entire neighborhood.

When we went to the grocery, we thought about who else could use an extra gallon of milk.

When evenings got cold, we cranked up the heat and considered the friend three doors down. Was she warm enough?

The thin line from being the poor to being our neighbors had snapped and when it snapped Jesus had pinged open a whole new way of living.

He had turned our serving the poor into loving our neighbors.

And because we love our neighbors, we move to serve them.

March

Lori Harris / Posts / Blog
Lori Harris is a Southern born, Texas-missing girl, who is rearing her six kids in a neighborhood some would call the ‘hood. She and her bi-vocational husband have planted Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount on the wrong side of the railroad tracks where poverty runs deep and racism even deeper. She coordinates a city-wide MOPS group, passes out PBJs to the neighborhood kids, and brews coffee just to make the house smell like Jesus. She writes at loriharris.me.
  • Kris Camealy
    http://kriscamealy.com/

    Lori, I can’t read this without weeping. Every time, and I have read it already many times…Jesus continues to astound me with how He multiplies not enough into more than enough. he doesn’t ask us to come with a trunk full of groceries, or a wallet full of cash. He takes our small asks, our tiny mite-sized offerings and transforms it beyond our imagination. I wonder why I still hesitate to come to him with what little I have to offer, why do I sometimes hesitater to ask Him to multiply it? If He has shown me anything, it is that HE is always enough, and when we ask Him, He never fails to provide.

    I am so grateful for your words, my friend. So grateful for how you point me to Jesus. XO

    March 16th, 2015 11:04
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      no words, Kris.
      Love you so.

      March 16th, 2015 14:04
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  • Pam

    Lori I love how Jesus reveals His plan. I’m trying hard to listen so I don’t miss what He has planned for me and how I will love my neighbor.

    March 16th, 2015 12:51
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Praying with you Pam. Keep being intentional about how you see your world- your eyes will catch a glimmer of what Jesus is doing in your place.

      March 16th, 2015 14:03
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  • Bri McKoy
    http://oursavorylife.com/

    This was so beautiful. Thank you, Lori. A good word to start the week!

    March 16th, 2015 12:56
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Thanks Bri! It took us about 2 years to really be able to lean into intentional neighboring and I’m so grateful Jesus was longsuffering with us!

      March 16th, 2015 14:03
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  • Joy B. Rudolph
    http://joybrudolph.com/

    Lori, girl, I’m a new neighborhood, as you know. And man, what a dichotomy it is. Trying to figure out hot to love the rich and the poor who literally live steps from each other.

    March 16th, 2015 15:36
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Oh Joy, I know exactly what you mean. Praying for you and your hubby as you embrace this next leg in your journey. Jesus knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and keep your eyes and your heart open!

      March 16th, 2015 18:15
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      • Joy B. Rudolph
        http://joybrudolph.com/

        Thank you, friend.

        March 20th, 2015 16:37
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      • Mitch
        http://zxsnrzjbpzx.com

        There are some atgnotien-trabbing deadlines on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

        March 9th, 2017 0:01
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  • Karrilee Aggett

    Girlie – you know how much I love this, friend! –How much you spur me on to search out my own neighbors – both across the street, across town, and across the world!

    March 16th, 2015 16:19
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Thankful for your heart Karrilee! You spur me on, friend. I imagine you’re the perfect neighbor!

      March 16th, 2015 18:14
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  • Leah Adams
    http://www.leahadams.org/

    Lori, as always, you challenge me. This is the Lori version of the loaves and fishes, isn’t it? I love it.

    March 16th, 2015 16:34
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      And Leah, you’re becoming quite the regular, aren’t you? Thank you- I absolutely believe this my loaves and fishes story. <3

      March 16th, 2015 18:13
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  • Traci Rhoades
    http://www.tracesoffaith.com/

    Lori, This line… And somewhere amid all the heart breaking, we stopped referring to them as the poor. We began to call them our neighbors. It makes all the difference when they become people to us! I always enjoy your writings. Thank you.

    March 16th, 2015 17:34
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment our hearts shifted, but I think it was simply a slow slide. Thanks Traci! You encourage my writer’s heart.

      March 16th, 2015 18:12
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  • Jamie S. Harper
    http://www.jamiesampieriharper.com

    I want to live like this. I pray that the Lord would expand my territory to do so. Thank you!

    March 16th, 2015 23:24
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Praying with you Jamie! I pretty confident that Jesus will honor your prayer. <3

      March 17th, 2015 0:33
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  • Shannon Evans
    http://www.agreatparade.com/

    Every time, girl. You just bring it every time.

    Love this so.

    March 17th, 2015 2:22
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      Shannon- you are something awesome. Glad you and I have connected. So. Glad.

      March 17th, 2015 11:30
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      • Lilly
        http://endewomwphe.com

        Para mi el mejor equipo que he tenido hasta los momentos. La combinación perfecta entre CDMA para la Transmisión de Voz y EVDO para datos. La conexión via Wifi impecable. Un micro de 800 Mhz RAM y ROM de 512 Mb para mi opinión un equipo con muy buena relación ProeVc/ialor. Los comentarios que veo por aquí. es básicamente que los usuarios no saben usar el equipo, o los servicios que ofrece Movilnet.

        March 9th, 2017 0:04
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  • Jolene Underwood
    http://www.joleneunderwood.com/

    Just beautiful Lori. Thank you for blessing us with these words and such a touching story. Girl, Amen.

    March 17th, 2015 14:22
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    • Lori Harris
      http://loriharris.me/

      And Jolene, I your heart friend. Love the way you open your lives to so many families- you live Jesus commandment to love your neighbor so well.

      March 17th, 2015 15:27
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  • Kamille Scellick
    http://www.redeemingthetable.com/

    Lori–one of the things missing in my life is being able to sit with you at your farm table and experience life on your street. I am encouraged by how you share the gritty parts of your heart and how Jesus transformed them. Thank you for loving like he does, and more importantly…for seeing your neighbors as more than their socioeconomic position. That is what Jesus does–sees us. I love this about you & your family.

    March 17th, 2015 21:05
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  • Josie
    http://zuyusaneb.com

    That kind of thkniing shows you’re an expert

    March 8th, 2017 21:41
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