Monday, May 14, 2012

Our Crazy Blessed Life

When we took our engagement pictures, we used the term "Crazy Blessed" in some of them.....oh how incredibly true and prophetic that was. A short 6.5 months ago, I never would have imagined my life being exactly like it is in this moment. I'm so thankful that God doesn't always let me in on what He is doing, because I would probably screw it up and greatly alter the path He has for me.  I almost stopped doing youth ministry. I said I was finished. And today... I can't imagine my life without the kids at Rescue Atlanta.

Saturday, I had a Birthday BBQ at my house. We had about 20 kids there. We opened the front door and the back door and it was almost like the cartoons with kids literally running circles around and through our house. I didn't worry about dirt or a mess being made. They were having a blast. There was tons of laughter, football, croquet, and my favorite part.....dreams being created. We set up a back drop and took pictures of all of the kids holding up their dreams for the Dream Campaign.  For my 31st birthday I wished to raise $1200 to start the process of helping inner city kids dreams come true. We are over half way there with 18 days left, so if you haven't had a chance to check it out...please do...every little bit helps. I am believing that we will hit our goal.

I was blessed to be able to take 2 sisters to the Aveda Institute of Atlanta where one of their dreams was granted. They spent the day shadowing students there, learning about a career in cosmetology and receiving a free hair treatment. It was awesome to see them smile. You could almost see their mind racing with ideas and dreams. That is the whole goal. They tasted a tiny part of what could be and are motivated. Here is a video of them reflecting on their experience.

And this is a picture of us after getting our "hair did" :)

This was one of my greatest birthdays ever. I feel like I've FINALLY found that niche in my life where I am incredibly passionate about something. Incredibly. I go to bed and wake up motivated and excited. My phenomenal husband made my birthday extremely special. I tell ya, I thank God every day for blessing me with a man who loves me far greater than I could ever hope for on this earth. He brings out the best in me, loves me when I feel unlovable, believes in me and is an incredible spiritual leader in our home. Thank you Glenn Paddock for sharing this CRAZY BLESSED life with me. As amazing as it already is, I feel the best is yet to come. I love you!

For His Renown,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A New Sense of Freedom

I am resting in God's goodness and reminded of His faithfulness today. Yesterday was one of those milestone events in the Paddock Household. As many of you may know, my husband, Glenn, has an incredibly testimony of God's grace and redemption. Click here to read: Glenn's Story.

To sum it up, Glenn had a radical coming to faith, but even after God saved him, he had to pay for the consequences of his past actions. He did some actual time in jail...actually he had violated the terms of his probation and a few months after becoming a Christian he actually went and turned himself in. Thankfully after serving a short sentence the judge ordered him to finish his sentence by completing the program at the Old Savannah City Mission. Although his "time" was done, he still had 3 years of probation left.

Well...the limitations of that probation meant we always had to have a travel voucher if we crossed out of the state lines. We couldn't leave the country. Always had to call in. Always had to pay. Well...yesterday Glenn called to find out what the final balance was on his payments and after he was told he paid it off. Then he said, "when is my probation finished?"  (He had been thinking it was May 15th.) That's when the officer said..."May 7th, that's today. Your probation is over today. I'll start your paperwork." I think Glenn heard the angels in Heaven sing for a moment.

I came across the office and gave him a long hug as tears filled my is finished. No limitations. Freedom. And because it was a first offender's charge, his records will be wiped clean. It will not hinder him. I have never seen my husband smile as much as he smiled yesterday. We went out to dinner last night to "Celebrate" and I will never forget him saying, "I feel like a whole man again."

I am letting you into this personal moment of ours because it IS part of our testimony. It is a day in our life. God has used it to remind me of the fact that Christ wiped our slate clean. HE gave us ultimate freedom. And while there are times when we have to pay the consequences of our actions, at the end of the day, if we accept Christ as our Savior, the One who paid our debts.....we are free.  I am thankful that God allowed me to see it in a different light to tangibly grasp that feeling of "my chains are gone, I've been set free" through my husband's eyes.

I also share this because I know there are people in this world who have messed up and are having to live out the consequences of a past life. And I'm sure there are days when it feels like you're never going to be able to live out your new life in Christ. I'm sure my husband would tell you to hang on. And that every bit of his life, good decisions and bad, all led him to this point. I also know he would tell you it has all worked together for the good. It is his testimony.  Every day, God is using him, to pour into the lives of other men who are walking a path that he once did through the Urban Training Institute.

Thank You God for your faithfulness.......and for allowing us to walk this exact road because we know it is for YOUR renown. I am so thankful for my husband. I am so proud of my husband. And I am loving the look of confidence and freedom in his eyes. It is amazing.

Please keep us in your prayers as we serve each day to make a difference in the lives of people God brings into our path. Please check out one of those ways here by reading about The Dream Campaign and discover how you can be involved in making a huge difference by helping dreams come true.

For His Renown,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

I'm quickly approaching my 31st birthday and gifts are becoming less and less important while making an impact is on the top of my wish list. It's no secret that working with the inner city youth at Rescue Atlanta had pretty much captured my heart these days. I grow to love these kids a little more everyday and grow attached to them every week. We are becoming a family where we can say hard things in love and laugh together at the same time. We've had a consistent group that has started coming every week and we are slowly but surely seeing some changes in kids lives. I got to have a conversation with a 10 year old a few weeks ago about what it means to be a Christian and this past week one of our students drew us a picture to hang in our office after attending a Man Up Conference a few weeks ago.

We started asking our kids about what they dream of doing and their answers reflected the lack of dreams. It bothered me....a lot....and I knew that we were supposed to do something about it. I made up a little informational sheet and at the bottom they had a few questions:
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
2. What are 3 things you've always wanted to do or places you've always wanted to go?
3. What do you want to learn more about?

I told them if it took the entire class time to come up with 3 things that was fine, but they weren't leaving til they had 3 things on paper. I spent some time coaching them on examples of dreaming, brainstorming, thinking out side of the box. When I read over their papers after class my heart was very tender. We have some kids who have never been on a boat. Some wanted to ride a horse. One young man wanted to go to an NFL game and learn how to be a coach. Another young man wants to go into business. We had students who want see Africa, learn more about missionaries, try different food from around the world. I was seeing their dreams on paper and my heart almost leaped out of my chest. Many of these are doable. Many of these are attainable.

My mind automatically started racing. The first phone call I made was to the Aveda Institute which is a cosmetology school. One of my girls loves to do hair and wanted to learn about schooling. The lady at the school was SO nice and immediately responded in a positive way. So I now have plans of taking two young ladies to the school in a week where they will be given a tour, shadow a student, informed about that career, and receive a complimentary hair service before they leave. When I told the young women about the opportunity they couldn't wipe the smile off their face.....I saw it....excitement....hope....

So in honor of my inner city kids and kids I have yet to meet. I have created "The Dream Campaign". My birthday wish is to raise $1200 to help at least one dream for each kid come true. Some I can set up for free, others will cost money. I have a webpage with a short video about it and a place to donate. Check it out here:The Dream Campaign

I hope you will consider supporting this and spreading the word. There is no better birthday gift than to know that kids lives are being impacted in a positive way.

Much Love.

For His Renown,