January 2019 – Sade Adeyemi
January 2019 – Chantel Aquart
December 2018 – Bill Walker
November 2018 – Frank Bailey, Jr.
My name is Frank Bailey, Jr. and I CRAVE to make the world a better place by teaching life skills through plant cultivation with Grow Orlando. We hire disadvantaged youth and teach them how to harvest their seeds of potential and become Stewards of Creation. While cultivating food and taking our students through classes of finance, personal and professional development, I didn’t know (but soon found out) was that my organization CRAVE’d for me to be a better person with the tact and foresight of a leader still packed away in my own seeds of potential. As I hack and strike at my internal earth to plant my seeds of potential, I uncovered people and programs that embraced my torrential struggles of breakthrough and nourish my CRAVE for growth with cultivation tips – and what a trip it’s been. Here’s a snapshot of CRAVE how it’s impacted my life:
When our spiritual formation gathers
Fellow leaders join me in our spiritual place
A place of vulnerability and love in peace
Knowing our latter lives will rise in grace
We center our souls in the Spirit of Trust
Hoping our scattered minds will collect themselves
And through each other’s joys and pains we find unity in growth.
What a blessing for God to invite the Universe to conspire in His favor in our lives for the betterment of others
Collectively going through professional transformation
And like good samaritans
Our path is intertwined with supporters CRAVEing to see us grow and succeed
Finding time for us in their busy lives to satiate our CRAVE for a better world
My samaritan’s name is Tom,
And our talks grow peace and calm in the mindstorm of my entrepreneurial pursuits.
It suits my cause to change lives through food,
He extends his arm, and helps me pursue stronger connections with game-changing relationships
He equips, converses and strips down the barriers I once faced alone,
Where one was weak, we are strong.
I thank Michele and the CRAVE board for buying into the success of people like me who want to see a better world,
But must first unfurl the embetterment of self.
With you, we are receiving:
Clarity in strategy,
Reassurance in individuality,
Abundance in opportunity,
Virtue in community, and
Eternal love through the family culture created through CRAVE.
Ask, and you shall receive.
I asked for wisdom to carry out God’s deeds here on Earth and I was sent CRAVE.
I pray for love, peace, and purpose for you, dear reader
And I hope you consider Making CRAVE a part of your future.
P.S. If you don’t believe in God, it’s okay
I’ve found equal ground
I believe God is Love, so if you wish you can switch all of the words that say God and change it to Love.
Blessings to You.
Crave Is My Church
My parents raised me in church.
Potluck Wednesday suppers where mayonnaise was the primary ingredient of every dish. Ladies with big hats who smelled of rose water and hugged too tightly. Fearlessly exhausted Sunday school volunteers who tried to make ancient, strange stories relevant. Playground time, butter cookies in tin cans, and parents who talked too long in the parking lot.
Church was a gift. It was intimate, safe, and above all it was loving.
Thirty years later, I long for these gifts, but our fast-paced, YouTube soundbite, UberEats life enhancements are hard to enjoy served up with mass shootings, genocide (still), and a painfully polarized nation.
I don’t want to “go to” church anymore. I want to be church. I want my home to be church where we feel intimate, safe, and loved. I want our family to be a light to others — whether it is our neighbor, a teacher, an employee, a refugee from Venezuela, or a youth in Naivasha, Kenya.
Here’s the hard truth I try not to think about: I can’t give my kids the intimacy, safety and love of a faith community the way my parents did. I have to do it another way, because the very thing that grounded my being doesn’t seem to anchor us anymore.
Here’s what I do know we need:
Divine Wisdom and Experiences
Especially the miraculous life-giving and faith-developing stories of God and God’s people, contained in (especially for me) the Bible. Also, in equal measure and power, the Koran, the Torah, Harry Potter, Star Wars, This Is Us, Instagram posts from The Rock, and other inspired God-breathed art. Sunsets, walks in the woods, hope in the face of everything lost, puppies, babies, and really old people in love.
The kind of community where people struggle with faith. People who lead incredible life changing projects and admit to having no idea what they’re doing. People who sometimes cuss at their kids and sometimes channel the Holy Spirit in perfect measure. People who are further down the road in work, marriage, citizenry, parenting, and caring for elderly parents. People who still struggle after all these years to really understand forgiveness. People who can patiently and vulnerably explain something I don’t understand. People who are willing to do the gut-wrenching work to mourn together when life royally inexplicably sucks and party together until the sun comes up when life is miraculously and inexplicably is amazing.
Without effort, I will live my life with people just like me and miss Heaven completely. I need to know others who make me nervous or scared or mad. Not just serve them, read about them, and pray for them, but have a relationship with them. This will allow me see and experience and believe that I am them and they are me and God is alive and working in all of us. Socio-economic differences, political differences, racial differences, generational differences, religious differences — there is a lot that may seem to separate us. But the whole world, not only who or what is in my immediate circle, is God’s creation and I need the courage and encouragement and introductions to be in and love all of it. I desperately want to learn that, do that, and most importantly model it for my children.
Attending church without these three things (wisdom, community, bridges) becomes poor stewardship and a waste of time. If our church isn’t doing these three things, then I don’t need to “go to” church. But, for the sake of my soul and the sake of the world, I do need to be church.
Crave is where this happens because these Leaders who join in share divine wisdom, engage in real community, and embody bridge work. They are connected to their source, to one another, and to their purpose. I am so grateful to be pastored by these young Leaders who have dedicated their lives to changing the world. By simply being in their company, God is changing me.
If any of this resonates with you, your life, or your faith journey, then let’s grab a cup of coffee and consider what’s next. God is obviously up to something good.
Michele Van Son Neill