I'm going to be in a movie. Kurt Engfehr, of Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11 fame, is producing the documentary.
How, you may ask, did I find myself on the radar of such an acclaimed film editor/producer's radar? Ha! I know him. Yes. I had another incarnation when I was just plain old Claudia Hawthorne, 20 year old student. We went to Henry Ford Community College. I was there because I'd dropped out of high school and my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Wilson, found out and begged me to go back. He said he'd give me a scholarship to college if I did, only I had a "D" grade point average--1 point something or another and nobody would let me enroll except for the community college, and only on academic probabtion. I had to maintain at least a "C" average or they'd kick me out. I'm happy to report I got a 4.0 grade point average that semester, and most of the others.
Kurt was there because he didn't have a college fund. He had to work to pay for classes, and he could only take two at a time. Both of us were a little older than the average beginning student, but at that time, lots of people went to community college of all ages. We even had a few seniors in the mix.
I'd decided to study film and television production because I've always loved story, and film and television are great storytelling vehicles. So we met as starry-eyed film folks. Oh, we were so innocent back then.
Then reality hit. I went to live with you know who--the abuser--and started having the first two of many babies. I went on to marry Ken and be depressed for many years. Kurt went to Chicago and then to California where he eventually discovered (to his horror) that he was the lowest rung on the ladder to Hollywood fame. He worked at the worst job, at the worst hours, at the worst television network and made almost no money. He was depressed for many years.
Welcome to LIFE!
I found out Kurt was co-producer of Farenheit 9/11 when I watched the movie and noticed his name on the credits. Can't be too many Kurt Engfehrs in the world. I found him earlier this year on Myspace. It was quite an ordeal finding him, but I wanted to congratulate him. I told him about my books. He told me about Eat the Poor. I laughed and said, "I am the poor." And the rest is history.
Kurt came by last Thursday and we filmed. Just he and I in a car, going to the 'hood where I spent my first six years of life. You should see that place now. It was once hailed as a model for low income homes, and now it's a mostly boarded up, cracked out, nightmare. It was a little sad going back. It made me see very clearly how I never really had a chance. And how by God's grace I've beaten every odd that determined I'd fail at everything.
I think the best thing about our ride and time together, beside the lunch we had at Big Fish, was when he asked me how so many Christians (he is NOT feeling right-wing, Republican Christians) hate the poor. And I got to tell him about the lowly Jesus, who came to earth with nothing, had no place to lay his head, and loved the poor enough to say that when we remembered, "the least of these, my brethren", we've remembered Him. Kurt doesn't have faith. I've found faith in the midst of all my suffering. It's not third world poverty, and many third world people, with the basics of life, are very happy. No, I've had good ol' American poverty. But I've also had Christ. He didn't deliver me from the food stamp card that I both bless and feel is the bane of my existence. Or He hasn't delivered me yet, but He's been with me.
At the ACFW conference, during Lisa Samson's Published, not Popular workshop, she said such powerful words of exhortation that tears streamed down my cheeks and I did some real business with God. I told God that I'd write no matter if I never got out of poverty, as long as He took care of me. Though He knows I want to rid myself of that blasted food stamp card.
God told me that it is not the Food Stamps that feed me, but it is He. That's kind of mind blowing to all you welfare reform advocates. Now, keep in mind, I do work. I make money as an author, but the symptoms of both my "disorders" are so servere that I can't work a "job" outside of my home right now. I've felt so guilty about this. My mother raised 8 kids on welfare. I'm second generation welfare--although I don't get money, I do get medical and food stamp benefits. It hurts me to work so hard and still be eligable. But even when I worked a good job (the best I'd ever had)with my family size I still qualified for foodstamps. This is as good as it's gotten for me.
So God says it's He that provides, food stamps or no. It is always He, and will always be He, and to let it be His business where the provision comes from. So I can rest assured that God is with me. And that's what life here is about, meeting God with what ever you have or have not. I don't understand why some suffer. I don't understand why some have and some have not. It's complicated. Far more than some work and some don't. Kurt is exploring these things in his own, razor sharp witty way. But I got to bring a moment of grace and witness to his life.
And God will bring the increase.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit. Theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Matt. 5:3