Loaves and Fishes and Love Bombs

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F_Osheta

When I shared with a girlfriend that my family is giving love bombs on our roadtrip from Boston to LA, she chuckled into her burrito.

“Your family is always doing big things. You’re such a big thinker.”

I warmed to the compliment, but felt unsettled at the praise.

This is just who my people are: big thinkers, grand dreamers, terrific schemers. My husband and I are those annoying visionary type people who see things as they could be and paint pictures of wholeness where there is none.

It was only natural, then, for us to look at 11 days of togetherness–visiting our favorite cities and meeting people doing good work–and assume we’d help in whatever way we could.

For you see, we’re also incredible meddlers.

And then, there are our children: pastor’s kids sussing out ownership of their faith but finding themselves at weird places in their spiritual journey. My oldest loves Jesus, tolerates people, and wants to see the end to injustice but he doesn’t want to be a pastor so he doesn’t think there are any options for him.

On this road trip, we wanted to disarm the mysticism of ministry.

Since not everyone is called to forge the way but we’re all called to walk in the Way of Jesus, we hoped that introducing him and his siblings to a variety of average people doing amazing things would quiet his anxieties. We also wanted to cultivate an attitude of generosity since, as a moving ministry family we might be tempted to just take–take the well wishes, take the hugs goodbye, take the roadtrip care packages of oreos and capri suns, take the gift cards for Starbucks and books for the road from Amazon.

And, just like Jesus who loved people all along the way, especially those walking in the margins, we needed to teach them that we care for people as we go because compassion needs no appointment and love flourishes best when it’s among the wild flowers.

So we sat down to plan our 11-day road trip.

Eleven days. Eight Cities. Six Love Bombs.

Today, we give the first one: art supplies for an inner city church plant.

Thursday, we’ll give face towelettes and sanitary products to a church cleaning up and making over the homeless on Valentine’s Day.

Friday, we’ll give office supplies to a support group teaching non-violence in Rochester, NY, where homicides are at an all time high.

We’ll surprise a foster mom in Illinois with a love bomb of Mother’s Day epicness.

We’ll make our way to New Orleans during Mardi Gras and give journals and pens, socks and toothbrushes, to a grassroots, minority-led organization that restores dignity to women in the margins: women struggling with addiction and women who are HIV positive.

And finally, we’ll make our way to Texas to see my family and then to Phoenix, to bless another foster Mama.

This is the plan and, while I’m so proud of my family for our adventure in generosity, I’m struggling with feeling inadequate.

For weeks, I’ve been researching these lovely shalom seekers and for weeks I’ve familiarized myself with the pain of their community. But I’m struggling because it doesn’t feel like enough. My family showing up with a box of donations does not feel like enough.

It feels small and insignificant and too many times I’ve prayed, “Jesus, I want to do more for them, give more to them. But I’m just a stay-at-home mama with big dreams for whole cities. What can my value-size pack of toothbrushes from BJ Wholesale really do? How can it make a difference?”

I think this is the paralyzing trap of scarcity we all fall into. When we look at the giant, foreboding machine of injustice, we feel small.

We feel like that hour mentoring a youth doesn’t really change his unstable home life. We wonder if the box of clothes given to the crisis pregnancy center matters. We think, “Surely there’s more I can do than talk to a homeless man about his needs while you hand him a cold bottle of water on a hot summer’s day. Surely!”

While there are so many big, annoying visionary wave-makers who start shoe companies and build community gardens, there are more of us: mamas in the middle, singles in the center, women with big hearts and average resources.

We’re tempted to feel small, so we think small. We scarcely think of the needy because we feel impotent to help. We buy into the lie that big problems require big solutions.

But maybe, big problems just need big faithfulness. Maybe that foreboding machine of injustice in our cities, in our county, in our world, needs to meet the foreboding image of a woman harnessing whatever resource she has, loading it up in her slingshot and hurling it right into its spinning cogs.

I wonder if, when I feel like our love bombs are not enough, I can take a note from the boy with bread and fish.

When Jesus looked out and saw the 5,000 people following him to the other side of the sea, desperate for wholeness, confident that he had their healing in his hands, he turned to his disciples and asked the logical question: where shall we buy food for them to eat?

Jesus appealed to their natural thinking, the way problems have always been solved. But he also knew he was going to solve their big problems with smallness so he waited and watched as the disciples figured out the cost and then blanched at the enormity of it all. “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them.”

Crisis. Hunger. Unrest. Inequality. All pressed in on them–the brokenness of this world put on display in a crowd of people in need of bread and The Bread.

Until one disciple had eyes to see a small boy and his small offering. Until one disciple married this great need with his knowledge of the greatness of Jesus’ love.

“There is a lad here who has five loaves and two small fish.”

This is how I feel today, hours away from giving a small love bomb, wishing I could outfit this children’s ministry with curriculum and prizes and trainings for the workers. I only have five notepads, several reams of construction paper, pretty pencils, and a box of crayons.

But I believe Jesus will multiply that small love bomb and the five others to follow it, just as he did when he sat the people down and prayed over the offering of a little boy’s lunch. As he distributed the small offering it multiplied into a greater blessing wherein every hungry person was satisfied and there was food left over for days.

This is a more love-spun solution, a bigger stone to lodge into the cogs of brokenness in the world, and it is the way I want to approach our #FromBostonToLA roadttrip and our journey to love on the way.

I may have big dreams and a small offering, but I follow a remarkably resourceful God.

I just need to remember that God performs big miracles with small hands and that, when He’s finished, we will all be satisfied and there will be love overflowing.

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Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore is an Anabaptist-y, stay-at-home mom right in the thick of moving her family from Boston to Los Angeles . She's passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. At the top of her bucket list is dance in a flash mob—all the better if it's to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" or Pharrell's "Happy." Catch up with Osheta on her blog, Shalom in the City.
Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

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Osheta Moore
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  • Bev Murrill

    Lovely to read you again, Osheta. I think you’re a Love Bomb all by yourself. Just walking in to a room people feel the love… just reading what you’ve written, it pours out everywhere. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings… you’re gonna move mountains and change nations, no doubt about it.

    • Oh, Bev! You bless me everytime we meet online. Thank you so much and I will work hard to remember truth and not give into insecurity.

      • Bev Murrill

        It takes time (ask me how I know.. chuckle) but if you stay focused, there will come a time when insecurity no longer holds sway on anything you do. xx

  • Christin Babcock

    Welcome to Rochester!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Christin! We’ll be there on Friday.

  • This is beautiful. Thank you for the reminder. It’s so, so, so easy to fall into the trap of believing I can’t solve the world’s problems and so therefore I can’t do anything. Thanks for the gentle push to get out there and do what I can, no matter how “small” it might be.

    • Yes! You’re so right, Jenn. It’s a very easy place to slip into and it’s very easy to feel shame when we don’t do “enough” but really, what’s enough? In an insatiable world or more, more, more- what’s enough? That’s the question I have to ask myself often and when I look at it that way, it seems futile to strive for enough- so I want to be content to give what I have, with a cheerful heart, and from a place of love- I think that has more impact than the elusive- “enough”.

  • I love this. I think getting overwhelmed and even wanting to give more (which is great) just ends up blocking us from giving. If I can’t fix everything, why bother? Also, giving what you can and leaving room for others to participate is powerful. Your kids will get so much from this experience.

    Thank you for sharing. (Also – I just read your bio and I have to say everytime I get off an airplane I feel offended that there isn’t a dance flash mob waiting for me! They seem to happen all the time on Youtube, right?) I would LOVE that!!)

    • RIGHT, Heather! Where are the flash mobs when I need them like after a flight, or a really fun shopping trip, or a lovely afternoon in the park- Youtube has wrecked reality for us all!

      I do hope this experience is good for the kids, I really do, but I have to trust that God is going to even take this small offering to my kids and multiply in their lives. That’s kinda his jam- working with us to create beauty in this world- so I have to trust that he’ll make something beautiful in their lives and personal walks with him through our road-trip with a purpose. Thank you for commenting and I’m praying blessings over you to day.

  • Anne-Marie

    Osheta, so lovely. And amazing for your kids to walk with you into places of need and not close your eyes or pass quickly by. Jesus went out of his way to find those places and people. And I love the link to the loaves and fishes. Trying to figure out which loves, which fishes and what crowd or issue can be a trick! But I love that you remind us that He blesses and multiplies. Thank you!

    • You’re welcome and thank you for your encouragement. It’s not easy trusting that a few small loaves can feed thousands, but my job is to just offer and watch him do miracles. I’m praying for you today to figure our with which laces, fishes, and crowd need your big faithfulness today.

  • HBurns

    How glorious is this Osheta! I love you and your family’s heart and hope that we can hear an update about your lovebombs. I know you will have the best stories to share with us. Just so brilliant… xo

    • I Hope some good ones come from this experience- not just for me, but for my kiddos too. Thank you for following our story so far and I promise to share more of our love bomb journey.

      • HBurns

        Can’t wait… go well on your journey xoxo

  • Maria

    Osheta, thank you for your honesty. I’m a recent college grad and I feel inadequate. I come from a poor family and I have not been able to save up money for a car or for my family to help me purchase one. This has made me feel like a burden to others. I feel like if I had a car I’d be able to do more for God and his kingdom. It doesn’t help that I am now unemployed searching for a job. I know that I shouldn’t allow this to stop me from reaching out to a community but it has. Thank you for pressing the power of small things! Especially the Lord’s ability to multiply!

    • Oh, Maria! My heart is so full from your comment. You should never feel like a burden- don’t let that lie keep you from leaning in the truth that you are a remarkable woman- you’ve accomplished so much- graduated college even though you come from a poor family?!?! Girl! That’s huge! HUGE! Yes, there are some things we can do with more resources, but the resources aren’t what change the world, it’s our willingness to love with everything we have that shakes the very foundation on which injustice stands! Oh, friend- know this: God sees you. He knows your needs and the passions that smoulder just beneath and the people who will be FOREVER changed because they met you, Maria. I believe that with all my heart and I’m praying for you today. I’m praying that God will meet you and be enough for you, that he’ll direct you to find a job that is joyful and sustainable, that you know your irreplaceable function in the Kingdom and that you know that you are loved. Wholeheartedly. Because, it’s true! Shalom, sister!

  • So good. So encouraging for the rest of us who also have big dreams and small offerings. Thank you!

    • I’m glad you are encouraged, Cindy. You are a significant part of God’s plan of wholeness for this world and I’m praying you feel empowered and led into those good deeds of love.

  • Chifonne

    “But maybe big problems just need big faithfulness.”

    So powerful. Beautifully written, Osheta!

    • Agreed!

    • That’s my favorite insight from this post too, Chifonne! Thank you so much.

  • I can’t get over your heart, Osheta. Your other-heartedness. You are moving across the country, but you are wanting to bless others. How much do I love that?

    Also: you are so not *just* a stay-at-home Mama. I hear a preacher and a pastor, a writer and an activist.

    May you be ridiculously blessed as you move and give of your best.

    I am loving your voice.

    • I’m loving writing for this community, Idelette. There are so many other-heartedness women here. I’m grateful to share my story. Thank you for your benediction over our move, I hope it’s a fun time of reconnecting on the our road-trip.

  • Traveling mercies, Osheta. I love the way you see this journey. And everything about your big-thinking, small-appreciating heart.

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  • pastordt

    Oh, how I love this, Osheta!! And that line that everyone has mentioned is the one I highlighted, too: But maybe, big problems just need big faithfulness. YES. Thank you so much for pushing my mind into new places, helping me to pray for an increasingly generous spirit and for a spirit of creativity to figure out ways to do ‘love bombs’ in my own world. Just wonderful!

  • Carla Saulter

    I so relate to this feeling–of not being able to do enough in the face of so much injustice and so much need. Thank you for this word. And, good luck on your journey!

  • Bob Peters

    Your imaginary friend may be resourceful, but to use my image of bread (above), you’re still required to give me a photo credit. “Photo: Bob Peters Photography (UK)” would do just fine.