Alli, according to Ann.
The first one, of many, that came to mind was my beautiful, passionate, all or nothing daughter, Alexandra. She is now 25, but she came into her own through unbelievable tragedy at age 14. She has a maturity of faith and passion that I desire. She has been my teacher.
When she was the vulnerable age of 14, 2 of her dear friends, a few weeks apart and not knowing one another, took their own lives at ages 16 and 14. Something you pray would never touch your child. It was a defining moment for Alli. This propelled her forward in her faith like a speeding bullet, especially benefiting from some amazing mentors in her life at that time and they deserve mention as we needed them… Daniel Eagan, Lisa Baker & Matt Turner. Their friendship, as the MasterCard commercial says, “priceless.”
Since that time there has been no stopping her. She sought the wise counsel of her Grandfather over the years – he was a minister in the Nazarene church. She has the example of unconditional love from her Grandpa and Grandma. She was a beacon of light in her public high school. I think this is where she began to shine as a ‘new kind of Christian.’ i.e. grace-filled, leaving the judgment to God. Her ‘light’ drew kids like a moth to a flame.
Then off to college, Olivet Nazarene University, a Christian, in a very Bible belt, legalistic sort of way, University. This was one of her greatest challenges in a sense. In high school her opinions were valued and her example was appreciated. Here at her Christian school she met with severe judgment at times. She spent a semester in Washington, DC in the American Studies Program, and also interned for a Congressman. Every Tuesday she joined ‘Breakfast with Obama’ on the hill. He was a popular Senator at that time, but beyond that she began to know the kind of person he really is. Her Grandfather was very ill with pancreatic cancer and since he lived close to Washington, DC she was able to spend some quality time with him discussing politics, Obama, policy and Christianity.
Back at school the next two years the political scene was heating up all over the country and her campus was no exception. Like a broken record she heard, “how, as a Christian, can you even think of voting for Barack Obama?” She was able to defend her position in a very articulate and respectful way. Nevertheless, she was like a punching bag at times for those (and there were many) who thought differently than she did. Thankfully, she had some amazing professors (and friends as well) who were her rock and sounding board and enabled thoughtful discussions rather than the narrow-minded, ‘feel like you’re beating your head against a rock’ type of discussion.
In the midst of all this a professor was in the throes of being wrongly pushed out for his position on intelligent design. And Alli, being who she is, cannot not get involved in any injustice. This all made for a very ‘working out your faith’ four years. Of course, the fall of ’08 she wore her Obama t-shirts proudly and was thrilled when her President was elected.
Following graduation she went to work in the inner city of Baltimore with Teach for America. The next 3 years she learned what is like being a minority in the work place. She loved her school, her coworkers and especially her students. She thrived and struggled and thrived and learned and grew in so many ways. She has such passion and an even bigger heart. That’s why it was a tough decision to leave teaching this year. You see, over the summer break she began to volunteer full-time on the Obama 2012 campaign. She threw her heart and soul into it as she does with everything and quickly went up the volunteer ranks. For a time, this 25-year-old girl was interviewing 50-year-old men at Starbucks to see if they were volunteer worthy. She loved it!
In August she was offered a paid position as Regional Field Director on the Campaign. So, she did not go back to the classroom this fall. She is now working pretty much 24/7 and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy her job as much as she does. She has always wanted to make a difference in the world. I believe she has been making a difference since she was young and clearly that passion and desire has not waned.
She has bright and thoughtful views and is willing to share them with those who respectfully want to dialog. Unfortunately for her that seldom has been true for other believers. But that’s ok. Her light draws and that’s all that matters.
Ciao for now.