Every Friday, Lisa Jo Baker offers us the opportunity to free write for 5 minutes on a word she provides. No editing. No over thinking - just writing. This week our word was "view." You can check other writings here.
I remember this book by Edith Wharton (at least I'm pretty sure that's who wrote it) called Room with a View. It's the first thing I thought of when I saw our prompt word today.
The view from my room includes a city neighborhood. We aren't exactly downtown, but we are definitely not in the suburbs either.
I have a pretty good view of my neighborhood because my dog and I walk every day around its environs. This area started out as a blue collar type neighborhood. Most of the houses look very similar - box type ranches built in the 50s. If you went inside, you'd probably find the layouts inside to be similar too.
There are big, old shade trees in yards and lining the streets - which is really nice when you're walking in the summer.
This area used to be full of young families or retired couples. Over the past decade - we moved in here about 12 years ago - things have changed.
I still see a lot of children, but they often come from broken homes. Small children play on curbs, dangerously close to cars that zoom by too fast, too carelessly.
My big fluffy dog is a kid magnet and they all run out to pet him, to hug him, to chatter at me. Often, there are no parents around. They are alone. At the age of 6 or 7 years old.
I knew there were kids that were neglected in our town. I knew that. But now I have an almost daily view of it.
And it breaks my heart.
We've had kids at our house all day long and I have no idea who their parents are. I tell them we are going to eat lunch and they'll have to go home, only to look up to see them hanging on my front porch, peering through the windows.
I keep boxes of popsicles in my freezer and gallons of lemonade in my fridge to pass out. I've passed out pb&js to eager hands.
My boys are older now and many of the friends they had when they were younger now roam in packs further afield. But we still have visitors. The little boy across the street often comes to my house.
It seems like he and his sister are just as happy to see me as my boys.
I'm not judging these kids' parents. I have no idea what their lives are like - maybe they work weird shift hours or just simply don't have the tools to parent their kids like they need to. I don't know. I just know the view from my window shows me a great need.
I've prayed that we could move, but God never seems to okay it. I've prayed about how I can help because to be honest, the whole thing makes me feel overwhelmed. God has shown me over and over again that what He requires of me is that I take note of them.
Instead of sighing and hurrying along with my dog, I stop. Instead of telling kids who come to my door to go away, I welcome them. I talk. I smile. I listen. I care.
My boys have learned to listen and to care, too. They've learned that not everybody gets to grow up in a home with two parents that love them and are able to take care of them.
Sometimes, the view from my window hasn't been very pretty, but every day, God gives me the opportunity to make a difference - even if it is a very small one. That's a view I can be happy with.
~ Blessings, Bronte