Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Lemonade Season

Lindsey Smallwood

Yesterday my family ran a lemonade stand to raise money for legal aid for immigrants with people from our church.

Photo Credit: ACLU

Photo Credit: ACLU

I shared this on Facebook:

We're doing this in love for those in prison, those separated from their families, those living in fear. I feel sad and angry and I've prayed and given and wrote letters but I just find myself wanting to do more. The world as it is is not the world I long for, not God's dream of righteousness, peace and justice.

As with almost every other time that I’ve sought to do good for someone else, I found that in the end, it was doing good in me too. Here’s how:

1) I stood up for something that matters to me in public.
It’s vulnerable to stand next to a sign declaring that you believe so strongly in something you’re willing to raise money and talk to strangers about it. To be sure, it’s no where near as vulnerable as living in fear of arrest or being separated from your family. But it took some internal work to consider how other people could react and if I was willing to face opposition. Clearing that hurdle felt important, and has opened me to the realization that it’s not only possible but worth doing.

Chris Smallwood, legendary lemonade maker

Chris Smallwood, legendary lemonade maker

2) I taught my children about how to use their lives for justice.
We had some great conversations this week, as we talked about why we were raising money and what we would do to help. At the park yesterday, my five-year-old very clearly explained to someone that love is helping people when they need it and immigrants need help. They colored signs and squeezed lemons and talked to people. As we were leaving, my four-year-old wanted to know why we were only helping immigrants. “What about the people who don’t have a house or people who are hungry?” My five-year-old replied “Maybe we could help them tomorrow!”

3) I asked for help - and people showed up.
Kevin gave us lemons and Linh let us use her table. Gary gave us his juicer and Molly shared her lemonade container. Sally and Angela and their families baked treats to sell. Rod and Larah and others stopped by to support us. Coming together to share what we have around a cause that matters unites us in community. I experienced that sense of friendship as a special gift in this.

4) We had important conversations with our neighbors.
Many people were glad to stop and talk to us, to hear about what we were doing and talk about why this matters to them too. For me, many of these kinds of conversations are only held online anymore. It was good to interact with strangers and find a common understanding. I even got to share with people at another local church last night about what we’re doing and received money and support from them too.

5) We raised $220 for the Immigrant Family Defense Fund.
People were really generous and filled our donation jar completely! We plan to send that donation along today and begin thinking about other organizations we might partner with.


There’s something about using your body, your stuff, and your life in service of what you believe. In the digital age, so much of our “work” happens in our heads. We read things online and write things online and send money online and argue online and even pray online.

But there’s a unique and tangible beauty in squeezing lemons on your kitchen counter, smelling the fragrance as it fills your house and knowing that what you’re seeing and smelling and doing is connected to work that matters to you. Sitting on the floor and making posters that you walk to the park and stand in front of is different in important ways from sitting at your computer and writing a post. Conversations with strangers who are juggling toddlers and keeping track of their dogs exist in a more tender space than conversations with strangers in a comment section.


The world as it is is not the world I long for, not God’s dream of righteousness, justice and peace. But today, in the real world where I live, here’s to lemonade season, to being people who don’t just think about what matters to us but move toward justice and peace-making until “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Related Links:

Finding God in Unexpected Places

Lindsey Smallwood

Our summer sermon series at The River Church Community is called Finding God in Unexpected Places. I love this idea - that God might not be where you expect God to be - because for a long time I thought I knew exactly where to find God. Turns out I was thinking too small.

Actual footage of me trying to get out of my Christian bubble. ;)

Actual footage of me trying to get out of my Christian bubble. ;)

Last Sunday I got to add to the conversation with this sermon on what it’s meant to me to experience friendship with people of other faiths. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve learned in these relationships - and delighted by the ways God has shown up in our midst. Also there’s some bits on Wonder Woman, Kim’s Convenience and the tree in our garden that makes me cry.

Making Purple Spaces

Lindsey Smallwood

I spent the last week of June in my sweet spot, serving as the speaker for Maker Camp at The River Church Community. Maker Camp is five days of kids being creative, everything from robot petting zoos and a giant box city, to homemade pasta and learning to write music. My (very fun) job was to lead chapel each morning, where we learned about our creative God through stories, songs, dancing, videos and the occasional pie-in-the-face. Because one of the things I like to make is fun.


The Sunday following Maker Camp, The River hosted an all church celebration, where we invited campers and their families to join us in a service where we reflected on creativity. I preached on what it looks like when the stuff of heaven - beauty and justice and love - meets the reality of our life on earth. I invited us to dream together about creating new ways of bringing heaven to earth, making purple spaces in the world. The link to listen or download the sermon is here:

A couple notes:

  • In the sermon, I mention The Bible Project, a resource I have found really helpful this year. Check out their free video library at

  • I also shared about ways our family and our church is seeking to help migrants at the border. For ways you can join us, check out Global Immersion and/or this NYT article.

Good News/Bad News

Lindsey Smallwood

I’m writing for our church’s blog this week on leftover Easter candy, Prince Harry’s new baby, Rachel Held Evan’s death and the tensions always present when trying to live in reality with hope.

My kids got a lot of candy on Easter this year, so much candy that I had to make a rule about how much they could eat each day. My youngest responded to the new rule in typical two-year-old fashion: a fist-pounding screaming tantrum on the floor.

I calmly responded that if he stopped his fit, there would be a chance for more candy tomorrow but if he persisted, I would just throw it all away. The tears dried up instantly.

Later, apropos of nothing, he told my husband (who hadn’t seen the incident) “Dad, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is no. But the good news is tomorrow.” My husband looked at me, confused, and I explained about the candy.

But then my toddler just kept saying it:

I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is no.
The good news is tomorrow.

In the last couple weeks, he’s repeated these words to friends who came for dinner. The teacher in his Bible class. A clerk at the store.

All over town, Oliver keeps making this announcement. I’ve stopped explaining about the candy and I’ve just let the words speak for themselves. The more I’ve heard them, the truer they seem.

I have good news and bad news.

Isn’t this the way life feels? I find myself constantly navigating joy and sadness, hope and doubt. Reading through my news feed this morning, I was overwhelmed again with sadness at the passing of Rachel Held Evans, a writer whose work and witness have shaped my faith. She died recently of complications from the flu, despite being otherwise healthy, leaving behind a husband and two young children. It seems so senseless and tragic.

But also on my news feed was a video of Prince Harry, who became a dad today for the first time. The joy on his face as he shares his news and exclaims “…how any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension!” is so tender and sweet. 

Good news and bad news is always happening all at once but…

Continue reading at The River Church Community’s Estuaries Blog.