Sunday, December 29, 2013

When All Things Work Together...

When Glenn and I first got married, we decided to start a family tradition of making Christmas about others. We never spend much money on each other..just a few simple items to open Christmas morning. Then we get to cooking. Each Christmas we host a brunch for people who may not be with family or have a place to go on Christmas. The first Christmas we hosted men who were enrolled in the men's program at Rescue Atlanta. It brought us so much joy to provide a special Christmas for them. It made our Christmas special.

Our second Christmas, it was just the two of us for brunch, but we started an additional tradition of Cookies on Christmas. We baked 24 dozen cookies and wrote a bible verse about hope on note cards and placed them along with cookies in Ziploc bags. The plan: to deliver them to our neighbors and to people who had to work on Christmas day. It made a huge difference in the interactions with our neighbors and the people who were working were in complete shock. I think my face hurt from smiling.

This being our first Christmas back in Savannah, we decided to combine the traditions. This year we had two couples along with my mom at our Christmas Brunch. One of the couples were friends we met through the apartment fire earlier this year. Their apartment was one of the ones that was burned and we have kept in touch since then. The other was a couple whom we had never hung out with before. I had met her at a bible study the week before and when they arrived we realized Glenn and been on a men's retreat with her husband. It was such a blessing to have people from different parts of life all converge on Christmas day. There was LOTS of laughter.




Following the brunch, our friends helped write the bible verses on all of the cards for the cookie bags. The verse was Romans 15:13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." I invited my friends to go with me to deliver the cookies around our block. It is amazing what a bag of cookies will do to break the ice and to create conversation. We were welcomed by everyone we encountered. We were invited into one neighbors home in which she gave us each a candy cane. We talked to kids who were outside playing with their new toys. One grandmother saw us and came outside and said, "Now that right there is a blessing." We met a man who was getting on his bike and asked if he could have a hug. We even ventured down the (drug) alley I had dare not walked down until that day and gave a bag to some men in their back yard frying a turkey. They were very nice and very appreciative.

When everyone else left, Glenn, my mom and I went to deliver little stockings to some of our Dream Campaign kids. Someone had blessed us with enough money to buy them each a devotional. 













At the second home, we were able to bless a single mom with a large financial gift because an anonymous person had given an envelops of money to someone who asked for it to go to a single mom. This person immediately asked me if I had a mom it could bless. As a matter of fact I did....remember the single mom from this story? We called her out to the car and reminded her that when she commits herself to the Lord, He will provide. This is a moment I will never forget. The Joy. The tears. The relief. The hug. Knowing that she had not been forgotten. The love of a stranger. The card and its contents came with Joshua 1:9 written on it. We framed a picture of her and her kids the first night in their home as a reminder of all that God had done.


As we drove home we passed out a few more bags of cookies to employees at McDonalds, a  homeless man on a bench downtown, 2 pedicab guys. Their reactions were all different but all priceless.

We got the best gift that day. The gift of seeing hope in others who thought they may have been forgotten. We continue to receive the gifts of neighbors who now say hello because of Christmas cookies. Witnessing God bringing people together at the House of Dreams and filling it with joy and laughter.


It was a reminder that "In all things God works together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Be are humbled by His goodness.

How Great Is Our God.
Blessings,
Morgan

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our Miracle on 34th Street

The first piece of advice we received when moving into our neighborhood was this: "Don't go in waiving a banner. Just be a neighbor for awhile." So that is what we have basically done for the past six months. While we have been active in the community and built relationship with certain families and kids, we have been pretty quiet on our block. We hosted one outdoor movie night which got rained out. We sat outside and said hello to people as they passed our house. We took care of our yard. We felt the initial strain of moving into a neighborhood were some were confused of our presence. We were asked not to volunteer at a local neighborhood center because they felt our ministry presented some type of conflict of interest with theirs. Our sometimes drunk neighbor would occasionally yell profanities at us as we got out of the car. We tried to remain consistent. There were many days when I wanted to say, "what the heck have we done wrong?"



This past week was our own personal "Miracle on 34th Street." All of the praying and patience paid off when God allowed us to see the fruit of investing in our neighborhood. We decided to throw a neighborhood Christmas party. We had no idea who would show up, but we put up a sign in our front yard the week before. We passed out flyers. We told everyone we saw walking down our surrounding streets. The plan? To grill some hot dogs. blow up the outdoor movie screen, make smores and just roll with it.















The morning of our party, we were outside getting ready when our profanity yelling neighbor was walking down the street with his daily purchase of alcohol. I whispered to Glenn, "I really want to invite him but afraid of how he'll respond." (Because so far its only been cussing us out). We said "hello" and Glenn proceeded to invite him.  The man stopped and said, "How are you today? Merry Christmas. Thank you, but I think I'll keep my face on my porch tonight."  As he walked away, with a grateful heart, I was speechless at what had just transpired. That same morning, another neighbor whom Glenn had previously met came over and asked Glenn to show him how to set a mouse trap. Glenn was sitting on the side of our new fire pit and extended an open invitation to hang out by the fire. The man looked up at Glenn in complete shock and said, "You mean you want to hang out with me, neighbor?" It is a moment that is forever freeze framed in my mind. The realization that relationship is desired was shocking to this man.

That night, no less than 60 people came to our block party. There was a Christmas movie, Christmas karaoke, hot dogs, a fire and smores (some made smores for the very first time.) There were lots of kids and a handful of adults. There was laughter and smiles. 














The owner of a neighborhood business even came by.

Our sweet neighbor across the street who was born in her house in the 40's said, "This is wonderful. This is what our neighborhood used to be like when I was a child." A few days later, a man I've never seen stopped us outside and said, "Thank you for what you did for the kids in our neighborhood. That was really nice."

We announced at our party that in January we would be starting a weekly youth meeting in our home on Sunday afternoons (HELP NEEDED)  and that Glenn would be starting a men's bible study. Last night while we were gathered around the fire with some friends, a man who lives down the street came over to make sure he wasn't missing the bible study. He had already started inviting men in the neighborhood.  Now every time we drive down the street or people pass by, they say hello. We are neighbors. We have been accepted by many in this community. This is our Christmas miracle. This is where we can really start watering the seeds that have been planted. We are so thankful for how God has worked in the hearts of our neighbors. We are thankful for the work He has done in our hearts in preparation. We feel like we've grown so much as well.

ALL Glory and Honor to God :)


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When a House Becomes a Home

Six months ago I pulled up in front of a house in a neighborhood I had always avoided. To be honest, two years ago I would have double checked the door locks while passing through. (Why do we do that?) As my husband and I walked through our potential location of The Dream Campaign, I was skeptical. The house was infested with fleas, the walls were grungy, there was dirt and dust EVERYWHERE. There was a lingering odor of pets. The fireplace was falling apart, the kitchen floor was cracked. I was overwhelmed by what I saw and my vision of what could be was foggy. Glenn was sold before we ever walked in the door. He had been praying and God had answered. Once again, I was feeling like a Debbie Downer. Questions immediately flooded my mind: Would this be a good use of funds? Could we make a difference? Would we be accepted? Did we have what it would take to make the house a home?

The short answer was: no. We did not. Fortunately, this has never been about US and more about what WE as a community could do together. I remember sitting on a dirty floor with flea bites, scrubbing baseboards stained with the color of neglect. Tears fell down my cheeks and my heart screamed, muffled by the walls of my chest at how hard this journey had become. Exhaustion laced with bitterness threatened to choke any amount of hope I had for what this could be someday. Like still framed photographs, images started to flood my mind of the little girls who were playing patty cake in our front yard the first day we walked through the house. A few days later, two neighborhood boys showed up and asked if they could help us move in. These kids. They were the reason we were there.

The past six months have been filled with hard work, sweat and a rainstorm of tears, but we have seen the rainbows following the storm. God has provided every penny needed to become operational as well as surrounded us with incredibly generous friends and supporters who have truly been the hands and feet of Christ not only to us but to those we serve. The walls have been painted, kitchen floor has been replaced and a table with chairs now sits in the dining room where kids can gather for family meals. A community fire pit is being installed next weekend as a landing spot to engage our neighbors. A slab for a basketball court is being poured to welcome the dunk of the wandering basketballs being bounced by teenagers on our street every single day. 

Praying on their own before a meal
Students helping out and learning new skills through mentoring
Some of our dreamers.
Decorating the House of Dreams Christmas Tree
Telling Riddles after Thanksgiving Dinner at The House of Dreams
We  hear lots of sirens and gunshots from time to time. We read the crime reports each day and mourn the issues that plague our neighborhood. We grieve the fallen world we live in, but it can no longer shake the peace that is deep rooted in knowing that this house is a home to many. This is a place of beauty. A place of peace. A place of acceptance. A place where dreaming is encouraged. We now have children who play and laugh in our yard. We held hands with students and friends and shared all that we were thankful for at Thanksgiving. In January, we will start having a weekly youth group/Bible Study on Sunday evenings for our neighborhood kids. Two of our students have been promoted a grade level just in this first semester. It is a JOY to work with them. Smiles and laughter have been abundant.

Recently, an out of town friend came to spend the night. She asked several times if her car was going to be safe parked in our yard. It was a warranted question, but it made me smile. It allowed me to see just how far my heart had come.  I no longer think of those things because...this is a ministry house but it is our home. We are neighbors. This is our neighborhood. We are a part of something bigger. So as we are often serenaded late at night by a neighbor who has a tight grip on liquid courage and often yells profanities at us, we continue to extend a hand of love.

In the words of Mr. Rogers, " I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’'ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.  So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’'re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? 
Won’t you be my neighbor?  Won’t you please, won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor?"

Dreams Come True.

This is just the beginning. We have tons of  exciting stuff on the horizon for 2014!!!!

From our Home Sweet Home to yours, 
Mi Casa, Su Casa,
Morgan

If you would like to financially support what we do, please click HERE.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Your Best Isn't Good Enough

There is one group of people in our country that I feel are sorely overlooked and that is the working poor. Our government programs and even assistance from many non profits and churches is set up to cater to those who do nothing versus those who so something.

Let me give you an example:
You are a mother of 4, working as a housekeeper  cleaning hotel rooms, no car, trying to create a life for you and your kids. You bring in about $700 a month. A family member watches your baby for you so you can work. You live with your sister and her 5 children in a 3 bedroom apartment. You pool your resources so that you can survive. Your sister moves out one day while you are at work taking all of the furniture and leaving you with one day to get out.  You have no where to go. You walk down the street and swallow your pride as you knock on the door of a couple who have recently moved into the neighborhood. They have been loving on your kids and you're praying they can help in some way. You explain the situation and they immediately move into action and within 5 minutes you are moving your only belongings into their house while you figure out the next steps. Shelters aren't an option. No place wants to take a family with a teenage son. The few that will have a waiting list a mile long. The  couples friends cover a week at a hotel for your family so the kids can start school on time. Strangers are dropping off meals and school supplies and the couple shows up early the first day of school with breakfast and gets everyone to school on time. You spend a season moving from house to house sleeping on air mattresses in family members homes. No real place to call your own,  always feelings like a burden to someone. You pay your family members money each week to help out with bills but you and your kids are constantly made to feel like a burden.  All the while, the couple from your neighborhood is picking up your kids and taking them to church. Their friends start doing the same. They even make sure your kids are celebrated on their birthday and have what they need to live as normal of a life as possible. You wish you could do some of these things for your kids but the couple says "You can and you will but right now we want to partner with you and provide some support." You hate to ask for food or diapers but you need them.

There are food pantry programs during the day but when you work it' hard to get there and some are far away and by the time you catch a bus all the way there and back you have spent your entire day off getting one bag of groceries which you have to somehow manage to carry along with your baby's car seat because your family member doesn't watch the baby on your day off. Most places are 9-5 when it comes to providing assistance to you but with your schedule it leaves an almost impossible window of time to get there. As you walk several blocks home from the bus stop in the rain you see lots of people who just sit outside on their porch all day doing absolutely nothing yet qualifying for more assistance than you. In the midst of all of this, your oldest son gets in some trouble and is arrested. The couple that's been helping you shows up in court and talks to the probation officer about your son and the positive things he has been doing. After being locked up for a week, they release him and put this couple on his terms of probation. The couple takes you out to breakfast where they pour into you as a mom in transition. They come up with a plan and some goals. The man across the table says he wants to mentor your son and will pour into him and challenge him on a regular basis. A month later the woman takes you out to lunch to have a heart to heart. You tell her that you don't have any friends and you feel bad for always having to call on them. The woman looks you in the eye and says "I want to be your friend. I see you trying your hardest to provide a life for your family. You are doing a good job and we believe in you." As tears flow down your cheeks she goes on to talk about Jesus and community and caring for one another. She says there are other people praying as well and that you are in it together. She raves about your kids and even says she and her husband will be at their graduation someday. They are with you and you are not alone.

You finally scrimp and save up enough money to get a place of your own but it literally takes everything you have to put down the first months rent and then there are the utility deposits. The family member you have been staying with is furious when you tell them you can't pay them anything this week because you are trying to move into your own place. They don't care that you need a few more days you need to get your stuff and get out... Now. You call the only people you know to call and you hate to because you don't want to feel needy and you don't want to ask for one more thing of them. But you remember what they have said. They immediately come with an SUV and get you moved into the new place thanking God that its a holiday weekend and you still have water in the new place at least for a few days because you don't quite have the deposit for it and the gas. All you have is clothes and the air mattresses the couple bought you, but its home. The couple shows up later with groceries and pizza to celebrate the first night in your new home. They tell you that there are people all around he city who are working to help them furnish the apartment. That it' going to be ok. You celebrate your own space for 24 hours because you quickly realize that on your income you can't afford to pay the rent, utilities and feed your family. You have to invite your mom to move in because you need the extra income. While you don't want to repeat a cycle, you have to do what you have to do. However, this time you have plans. You have dreams. The couple has told you not to give up on being a CNA. The money is better and your kids need to see you follow your dreams. You believe you can do it. They believe you can do it and are committed to making it happen. They have other Christian adults pouring into each of your kids. For the first time in a long time you actually have hope. You are seeing Gods Word in action and so are your kids. You know that anything is possible with God and you are not alone.


This is a true story of a family we have been working with through the Dream Campaign.  I tell it not to point to us but to point to the power of God and the power of authentic community. Everything we do is because our supporters make it possible for us to live a life of availability. If you have given a dollar to us or said a prayer for The Dream campaign, these are the types of life changing stories you are a part of. It is a perspective on loving your neighbor and the question: how far are you willing to go? It is also to provoke thoughts on "the working poor" and what support we provide to those who spend every day trying their best to make enough only to find its not really enough. How can you choose compassion? What is God calling you to do? 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Innocence Lost....No, Stolen.

Last weekend, Glenn and I made a whirlwind trip to Atlanta in order to receive training from StreetGrace on a very heartbreaking topic. It is one that has become a conversation not only in Christian circles but in our world. The topic was on what is now being referred to as DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking). I used to hear this term and think that it was something that happened somewhere else and there was not a whole lot we could do....until now.  It may hit closer to home than I ever could imagine because I think we know a young lady in Atlanta who may be involved in this horrific crime. So we went....for her and for other young people like her and for those who may be at risk.

Here was a statistic that knocked the breath out of me:

DMST is a part of Human Trafficking which is estimated to generate $32-$39 billion annually.
Ok.....remember that number: $32-$39 Billion a year.
Now here is some perspective: 
That is MORE than the yearly net income of McDonalds, Google and Walmart COMBINED.

One of the takeaways for me was the fact that although people are working towards rescuing these girls and women, there needs to be a HUGE emphasis on prevention so that more are not added to that number. That is where programs like The Dream Campaign come in.

It happens to kids in the inner-city as well as the gated communities. No socio-economic class is free from risk.

So, what can we do?

Well first, pray. Pray for those innocent precious children who are victims of this crime.  And pray for those who have been rescued and are facing a life time of healing and therapy.

Second, educate yourself on the topic. This is a "hidden" crime that is happening right under our nose. Atlanta is one of the top cities in the nation where this is happening, connected by an interstate system to the other major cities. Savannah sits on the map between many of them. It's here in our city as well. It could quite possibly be in your neighborhood.  

Third, if you have children, know what they are doing. So many of the victims are being LURED by people who they meet online or in the mall and other public places. Know who your child is talking to and hanging out with. It IS your right and responsibility as a parent to stay informed. 

Fourth, consider investing in the life of another youth as a mentor. There are many children/youth who get lured into this because someone pays attention to them. Someone offers to love and take care of them. Someone makes them promises that become something very twisted. Someone offers to fill a void which often has to do with the lack of an involved parent.

Above all, NEVER believe that this is something that is CHOSEN by the victim. It can be tempting to say, "they knew better than to go there and do that this and that." While poor choices may have landed them in a situation to be prone to this...no one chooses the outcome. 

I hate to lay such a heavy topic on you, but you can't be effective towards ending something if you don't know about it.

So, what will you do? You can't unlearn it.

If you are interested in investing in the life of an at-risk youth, please visit our website to learn more about us and volunteer opportunities.

If you would like to receive more information about future training on this topic, please email me: morgan@helpmedream.org

If you would like to support our ministry financially as we proactively work to engage students on prevention, give them the tools to navigate this issue and provide them with mentors who will be positive and consistent, click here: Donate.

This is a war against our children and we need to be prepared to fight it. It's happening....in some of our own backyards.

Becoming Battle Ready, 

Morgan



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Never Say Never

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" Ephesians 3:20 The Message (The Key Verse for The Dream Campaign)

I never thought I'd be typing this update. It has been a little over a year since we started The Dream Campaign. It has been one of the most exciting, stressful, amazing adventures I've ever been on. At times we felt like we hit a dead end. There were lots of closed doors and open windows. Today was one of those days we have prayed for since the beginning.

In the beginning, we were going to try to keep our organization school friendly, meaning we weren't really going to propose it as a Christian organization so that we could get into schools and places where maybe they wouldn't let us in otherwise. One of our dear friends and mentors, Pastor Kenny Grant...yes, I'm calling him out....challenged us on that. He really kind of bluntly said that God can do anything and we should be bold. This seemed to be the theme of many conversations and after praying about it, we decided to take his advice and be bold - that this was God's ministry and HE could get us access to the places HE wanted us to serve. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

Fast forward....last week our local missions pastor and I met with a principal of a local inner city high school. I told him about our program and he was very interested. He said that we needed to go through the school board and get the appropriate clearance, but that he wanted it in his school. I took Glenn to meet him earlier this week and he shared his testimony with him. After hearing it, the principal said, "Will you pass a background check?" We said...we thought so..(never really sure with Glenn's past..it is sometimes the consequence of past actions) but we wanted to be upfront and honest with him so that in case anything was flagged, he didn't think we were trying to be sneaky. He said he appreciated our honesty and would say a prayer that it all worked out. I left him with a 6 page proposal for the school including our bible verse and God was all through out it. We went to the school board and filled out the appropriate paper work and got finger printed. We waited...and today....we got the call we have been waiting on. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

The principal left a voice mail that said, "I just wanted to call and let you know that you AND your husband have both been approved to volunteer at our high school. We are so excited that you chose us and we are looking forward to working with you. Please call me as soon as possible." I could sense his smile through the phone. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

I immediately had tears of JOY. I called Glenn and shared the exciting news and when I got home I walked straight to him and hugged and sobbed because these are the moments when God is made famous. ONLY God could get us in. ONLY God could redeem the past and use it for good. ONLY God could jump the hurdles that we thought would be too high. ONLY God could use two broken vessels like us for His plan and purpose. Humbled does not even begin to describe our feelings. Grateful. Thankful.  Nothing is impossible WITH God.

On the hard day, I have prayed for moments like this. And I think it is just the beginning. The local housing authority has ASKED us to submit a proposal to do a Dream Campaign program in the local housing projects...starting with one of the most troubled. When we did not get into the apartment complex months ago..I was so confused as to why God was shutting those doors. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

I never imagined a year ago that we would be living in an inner city neighborhood in Savannah. A place I always drove around prior to living here. I never imagined we would be working with homeless families. I never imagined the joy that the kids would bring to my heart. I never imagined what my heart could feel when Glenn and I shared silent glances as we were serving along side of each other. I never imagined a church that would be so supportive. I never imagined experiencing the body of Christ in such a sweet way as people joined together to meet needs. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

I know a year from now, I'll be typing a similar blog about the incredible things GOD is doing. I don't know exactly what is ahead but I'm excited. God is calling together an army of people to bring light into darkness. To bring hope to the hopeless. To bring love to the hurting. To bring truth to the lost. To bring encouragement to the worn down. Nothing is impossible WITH God.

THANK YOU for your encouragement, prayer and support. We will need more of it as the days approaching will greatly increase the number of kids we are working with. 

If you would like to learn more about mentoring and our program, please email me: morgan@helpmedream.org

If you would like to support us financially, please use this link to give: DONATE

And more than anything....please continue to pray. We so appreciate you standing the gap!

Thank you, Pastor Kenny, for loving us enough to speak truth to us that day.

WITH God.


Blessings, 
Morgan

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Future Gang Member.

Yes, this is for you. The one who is highly anticipating or carefully considering the day you join a gang. Or wait, maybe you have already gone through your initiation.
Maybe you are the kid who throws up gang signs in all your Facebook pictures or refuses to wear a certain color....

I wanted you to think about your little sister or someone you would consider very close to you. Now imagine looking down at your phone and getting this text message from her: 

"All 3 of us are fine, but I just want to let y'all know what happened... At about 10:50 last night, we almost died from an attempted carjacking/murder. At a stop sign about 3 blocks from campus, 3 men approached our car, and one pulled a gun and shot at My husband through the window. The bullet entered through the window around his shoulder/elbow, passed through the cab, and hit the interior frame between the windshield & passenger window at about eye level, MIRACULOUSLY missing both of us. (Pieces of the bullet were found by the cops in my seat) it was only by a MIRACLE from GOD that it missed us. My husband has over a hundred tiny cuts over the left side of his face & body, (from the glass exploding) but nothing severe, and his hearing seems normal. I have a few cuts on the left side of my face, and  the baby was untouched. I was VERY shaken (and still am) but we are alive and ok. 

Those are the main details, and ill fill in more later. God was protecting us in every detail, and we are so thankful to be alive. Please pray for us as we process through this emotionally & legally. We love y'all."

Did you catch that? There was a BABY in the car. I have a feeling if this was your sister there would be hell to pay. So why is it ok to do it to mine? Do you so desperately need to be accepted into this organization that you find it worthy of potentially taking someone's life? An innocent person? A person who gives monthly to help kids just like you have the chance at finding a different path? A person who would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it? 

What were you feeling that night when a car approached the stop sign and the two older men sent you towards the car with a gun as they split and walked away? Was it power? Fear? Abandoned? 

You are looking for family? Someone to have your back? Kiddo...that's not gonna meet that void in your life. Family.... Is not the right word. 

At the end of the day everyone is watching his own back and you may wake up one day paying the consequences of not only your actions but everyone else's.  You may think its funny to beat up an innocent kid and get it on video but the scars you are leaving on them inside and out will be on you! 

You see... All this territory, earn you way in, beat your way out, all about you and your boys stuff..... That may make you feel like you belong... For now. But at some point you'll be throwing deuces and you will stand before the ultimate leader. The ultimate judge. And this time... There will be no probation or parole. It's a life sentence ... An eternal sentence. You will answer for what you have done on this earth. 

This is real life. You are living for today for the moment but there is a much bigger picture. 

I don't know what your reason is for wanting that lifestyle. Is it to belong? Because a parent walked out? For protection? Because its all you know? Power? 

I'm sorry if the circumstances of your life, pain of rejection or fear or the lack of role models have pushed you to this place but let me throw you the life jacket before you drown or cause someone else to. 

There is a different way to experience ALL of those things you so deeply desire....His name is Jesus. 

He is the ultimate leader. He is your way out. He is your way in. He offers an army of Angels to protect you. He has more power than you could ever hope to achieve. He has a big family. And here's the kicker...no one has to die for you to be a part of it. That's right.... Because He already has..... For you.

See he knew you would be where you are today long before you got here and he knew the price you would have to pay for the sin that is in you. He loved you so much that he took that sin, wore it, died on a cross in your place. But he came back to life. Many may die for you, but who has been resurrected? 

That is what you call mad love... And he offers you the opportunity to walk in a life of peace in the midst of turmoil, love in the midst of hate, truth in the midst of lies and a true family where people help each other do life one step at a time. 

The bible says: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

You know the crazy part? My sister would welcome you into this family. Because forgiveness lives here. 

You have to choose the path YOU will take. No amount of pressure can MAKE the decision. But I just wanted you to have the facts and know... There is a different path. 

Praying for you.
Morgan 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Chasm Between Head and Heart

Tonight, I find myself stuck in a chasm between what my head knows and my heart feels. I spend a lot of time sharing stories about what we are doing. Most of the time there is a need that is filled by generous people and we rejoice. Although today was filled with some of those same stories. I am overwhelmed with frustration and sadness. My marriage probably mirrors many in the sense that my husband is a much more logical thinker than me and I have to wade through emotions before I get to the place of reason because I FEEL so strongly. Today is no different.

I put a post up earlier and took it down but after stewing over it, I feel like if I'm going to share our journey, I need to share the reality of what we do on a daily basis. Good times and bad times. It's all part of the story. Any  good book has a dilemma which is what makes the solution so good. 

 We were told we have to press pause on our involvement with a local tutoring program because there was some concern of a conflict of interest in our involvement since we have a separate non profit that works with youth in the neighborhood. Should this not be the exact reason why we partner? Are we once again faced with the issue of competition rather than unity? We thought we would support by providing volunteer help with their program that focuses on tutoring and we would do our program in a different time slot that focuses on leadership development and mentoring. Need I mention that we LIVE in this neighborhood as well?

And the issue is not even my biggest frustration...it is the fact that in the way in which it was handled we literally were called into a meeting in the middle of tutoring and not given the opportunity to say anything to the kids we were working with which A) made it look like I walked out on a boy in the middle of tutoring him after I had told him I would run home to get index cards for flash cards and B) made me a liar to the little girl who asked me if we could please play UNO today after homework. These are kids with whom we have been trying to earn trust, practice consistency and build relationships.  So honestly...I'm battling anger, frustration, resentment and all things ugly tonight.

My husband however, so simply and truthfully said..."Morgan, this is not our battle, it's God's."

Why does He always have to be right in those moment? Sometimes I just want to feel what I feel. I got mad. Defensive. Shut down. And now I'm having to confess that in those moments of reaction, it's usually because he's right and the chasm between truth of head and feeling of heart is one of the most painfully honest places to reside. 

I wish I could program myself to respond accordingly in those moments. To so simply and boldly proclaim that God is in control without a skip in my step. I know the more I grow and practice walking by faith and not by sight the more natural that reaction will become and some days it feels like I am bringing up the rear in that race.  I also know that those same deep feelings of frustration with injustice are the same deep feelings that drive me to act on behalf of those who do not seem to have a voice, are not being heard or are simply tired of trying.

Sometimes our strengths are also our weaknesses. That same burning adrenaline in my chest at the end of our meeting today is similar to the rush of passion I get when God's people unite and serve and meet needs in our community. It is the flood of joy I got today in taking two sweet girls to pick out a brand new pair of shoes so they could start school tomorrow (all they had was flip flops) and that does not meet dress code.

It's the bittersweet feeling of having to say goodbye to a precious family we have been serving at a local motel but knowing that we were able to impact them in such a way that the one thing the kids had to do before leaving was see us to say goodbye. Glenn and I were able to pray with the mom and encourage her in a step of faith she needs to make in taking care of her family. She told me the 12 year old told her I was her "sister."

It's the stirring I experience when I stand upstairs and look out on our neighborhood and see innocent children in the midst of a community filled with gangs, drugs and absent fathers. It's the strength I feel in knowing that God has placed us here to carry out a vision that HE has put in our hearts to share His love, grace and truth. 

We desire to be seen as team players, not the enemy. We hope to support our community and its people in any way we can.  

I am praying that God will continue to renovate my heart to reflect Him more every day. It is a daily refining process but my hearts greatest desire is to be more like Him.

We were doing ministry before this little snafu and we will continue to do it despite it. It does not hinder our current ministry efforts and future plans. Families are being served. Kids are being loved. Students are being mentored. Stomachs are being fed. Children are being clothed. We will continue to be obedient to God's call on our lives and thank you for standing in the gap with your prayers and encouragement.

Sorry Glenn, You were right. ;)

Blessings, Morgan

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Two weeks ago, I was on the verge of burn out. I was exhausted physically, mentally, spiritually. Looking back, I can't even tell you why, I just know that I felt like I wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear for a good long while. I felt like everything I did was wrong, everything I said was wrong. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with what was before me.

I went over to a friends house and confessed all of this and she told me she was going to hold me accountable for "soul care." I basically needed to make sure I was taking care of me and my heart while pouring out on a daily basis. Then something happened that totally blew my mind and changed everything. A family showed up on our doorstep...homeless.

Glenn and I had been talking a lot about boundaries and even a sign or something we could put on the door to signify when we were open for "Dream Campaign" and when we were just having family time. I think I was focusing so long on how to keep people from invading our space 24/7 that I missed the point all together.

When a mom with 4 small children is looking to you to help them in the midst of crisis, you just go into action mode. You don't think and analyze, you just act. We knew that the task was bigger than us and we had to put the needs out to the church..not the church building, but it's members. In the past 12 days people have served, donated and made the following possible.

1. Provide groceries for 2 homeless families in need
2. Provide monthly support of diapers and wipes for a 10 month old
3. Provide a hotel room for a homeless family of 5
4. Provide clothing, new underwear, socks and shoes for 2 homeless families (8 children).
5. Provide financial support towards several meals
6. Provide financial support towards a fun afternoon for 2 homeless children to Monkey Joe's
7. Provide tickets for children to a baseball game (2 of the 3 had never been to a baseball game before)
8. Provide finances for gas to transport family around for a week to meet needs. (we literally spent over $200 just in gas the past 12 days) and even cover a ride here or there.
9. Provide sound bible teaching and love through children's church
10. Provide board games for kids stuck in a hotel room as well as other kids in the neighborhood
11. Provide a tremendous amount of school supplies for the start of the year
12. Provide resources to wash and store laundry for homeless family.
13. A precious boy who does not have a Dad got a great godly role model/mentor.
14. Provide incredible prayer support and encouragement
15. Provide support for us as inner city missionaries to have the flexibility to meet these needs

And that is just scratching the surface.



This past week has been one of the more busy and demanding weeks of my life, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. I wish I could adequately describe what its like to give a child a pair of shoes who had no shoes. To give a teenager a bag of boxers who had no underwear. To give a pack of uno cards to children stuck in a hotel room all day. To drop kids off at their first day of school with a smile knowing that their physical needs were met. To witness a 10 year old read the bible to you and recount what he learned in kids church. To encourage a mom that she is not a failure but a loved daughter of God who is NOT forgotten. We have the best job in the world.....and we could not do it without God's provision...many of which is people.

In the midst of a crazy week, I made sure to take time to read, date my husband, study God's Word, laugh and cry. It was when I stopped trying to protect and guard that I found freedom in the "unforced Rhythms of Grace."

I spent an hour of uninterrupted time with God on Sunday night and here is how He spoke to me:

"Throw yourself into this work for Christ." 2 Timothy 2:1

"This is a large work I've called you into. Don't be overwhelmed by it." Matthew 10:41-42

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now. Don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:33-34

"Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." Matthew 6:31-32

"Walk with me. Work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 12:28-30

I'm not gonna lie, there were definitely moments this week when I was like, "Ok God...this is so far outside of what I was expecting to come across my radar today." The second night we were helping support a homeless family, one of my dear friends and missions pastor leaned over to me at church during a worship song and said..."This is God's message to you and Glenn."

Here is the line that stuck with me:
You have called me higher, You have called me deeper, and I'll go where you will lead me Lord.
You can hear the whole song Here.

Sometimes it feels like we've jumped into the deep part of the ocean and now God is saying...put on the scuba gear...we're going deeper. But you see things in the depths that you can't see from the surface and it's really a breath taking, beautiful thing.

If you would like to support us as missionaries or the work of The Dream Campaign, this is our fundraising website: http://www.gofundme.com/HelpUsDream, but more than anything, we appreciate and love your prayers. If you are interested in volunteering or being a mentor please email me: morgan@helpmedream.org

Blessings,
Morgan

Friday, August 9, 2013

The more things change the more things stay the same.

The more things change the more they stay the same. Ever heard that phrase? I've always associated it with something negative such as "two steps forward, two steps back." 

I've been thinking of this phrase in different terms lately. What if it meant there being an unchanging thing in the midst of constant change?

When change and chaos swirl around you and you don't have a center to come back to, it can leave you a hot mess. This past week has been one of change and chaos swirling around me and around those we work with.

Part of the reason we moved into an inner city neighborhood was because we wanted to be a place of refuge and source of consistency to kids who may not have that in their own life. This week when a family found themselves homeless, many members of the body of Christ worked together to help meet needs and provide that example of peace and consistency in the midst of change.

On Thursday nights when we (The Sunshine Girls) go into the strip clubs to minister to girls, we are being that example of consistency. Lately we have entered into a season of change with the girls, their location, the level of communication, etc. 

I am feeling very strongly that The Lord is calling us as the church (collective) to press in to Him, work together and display that in an ever changing world... One thing remains the same... The love of Jesus. 


I am thankful that I can depend on Jesus as my Rock and center of all... A place I can return and retreat. I know I could not do it without Him.

What about you? Do you feel like life is spinning around you and you are grabbing for something... Anything to hold you up? Hold on to Jesus. He is THE SAME... Yesterday, today and forever.

Blessings, Morgan


Monday, August 5, 2013

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like These

When my husband rolled over and said "Someone tried to break in our house at 2:15 am," I should have known it was going to be one of those days. We were pet sitting for a friend and the alarm company had called our landlord who had relayed the message to us. I threw my hair in a ponytail and with hands shaking attempted to throw on whatever clothes I could find. A thousand thoughts were running through my mind. Thankfully, whoever it was did not succeed and our home was safe. We decided we would go out for breakfast since we were up with our boy "A."

Somehow in that conversation we ended up taking him to Monkey Joe's to get out some energy and have some fun. Such JOY on his face.

I spent most of the day making phone calls trying to find a place for his family to stay. They were going to be completely homeless at 8 pm tonight. Every call ended the same...."we can put their names on a waiting list." It was infuriating to know that to many it was going to have to be ok for a Mom and her 4 kids to be on the streets tonight.

As the hours ticked away, it became more pressing. I did the only thing I knew to do....call on the church...both as a collective body and individually. I have to tell you....if you knew the amount of people working all around the country to care for this family in need...you would be amazed. We have been left speechless at the generosity of those who have done everything from send board games to purchase underwear. And tonight some men lived out their call to "Choose Compassion" and purchased a week at an extended stay for the family to buy them some more time at a safe place. They provided groceries, love, laughter, support. So many others were involved in making that come to pass.

When we went to pick up the family and reunite them with "A", it was a moment I will never forget. Pure joy. Joy that only comes when all is right with the world. The siblings were so happy to see each other. "A" had gone from crying tears of worry for his mom being held in an embrace. When we got them all settled, "A" said he wanted to come home with us for a few more days. I saw the look of sadness on the mom's face and I sat down with her and said, "You've really missed him haven't you?" She simply nodded. I knew in that moment I had to do the hard thing and tell him he needed to stay with his family. They needed each other. It was evident that he was an important part of this family unit and there was an element of laughter and joy that everyone else needed.

I praised God for this insight and then grieved all the way home. I had come to really love this little boy and we had some really special moments. Times of bible study and bedtime prayers. The night before he had asked me for a bible and wanted to look up a bible verse . He read it to us and little did he know it was our Dream Campaign verse: Ephesians 3:20 " God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" 


Last night we said our bedtime prayers together and tonight as I folded up the pull out bed and put the sheets in the wash, I found myself grieving the absence of him in our little family. I knew it was right. Now we continue to offer the family support in getting them set up for school and hopefully transitioned into a more long term housing solution. Please continue to pray for this family. I finally got around to that shower about 9 pm. I gathered "A's" belongings to drop off to the hotel tomorrow. I don't know why God allows us to bear the heartbreak of loving kids the best we can to send them back home again. I know it is an honor, but it hurts. But then I think....did God not do that with His own Son?....for us?

We live in a flawed world, with flawed systems. God has equipped us to take care of one another. To bear one another's burdens. I think if we would all try to do that a little better.....we would see a tremendous difference in our world. The blessing comes in giving. I can assure you that as tired and weary as I am, my heart is abundantly full.

Thanks again to those who have helped, are helping and will help in the future. We are the BODY of Christ...all hands, arms, eyes and ear are so needed.

This was the last picture "A" took on my phone....had no idea it was there until after I left. I treasure it.



Blessings,
Morgan

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Things Just Got Real.

Shortly after I hit send on yesterday's blog, there was a knock on the door. There stood one of our precious girls and her mother. This was part of the family of 12 that was supposed to move into the 2 bedroom house yesterday...only....one half of the family moved without the other. The mom got home from work and found her children including a 9 month old left behind with the water turned off. She stood on our doorstep and said, "Ms. Morgan, we don't have anywhere to go." I can't even tell you which thoughts passed through my mind first...probably a mixture of nausea, panic and compassion. Yes, we live in a big house. Yes, we have an extra room, but given our background of homeless shelter work, we also have a healthy dose of reality. We knew that letting them move in with us would fix a temporary problem but would potentially create an even bigger one. I told her to let me make some phone calls and I would get back to her soon.

Everything went in slow motion after that. I sat on the couch with Glenn in silence...eyes locked. We didn't have to say anything, we were both trying to process our role in this part of the story. I finally broke the silence with, "What are we going to do?"  He knew as well as I did that at 6:30 on a Friday, we weren't going to be able to get her into a shelter and the thought of sending those kids to the shelter broke my heart. Our biggest dilemma is that we have commitments this week that will make our time at home sporadic and not knowing much about the family, we were not comfortable leaving them here alone.

I called back and asked her if she had ANY family here in town they could at least stay with until Monday when we could get someone in an office. She said she found an extended family member they could stay with until Monday but they had all of their stuff they had to move out of the house. I told her I would back my SUV up to their door and they could load it in and we could at least store their things. A family of 5's belongings fit in 2 little small loads. No beds. Nothing but black garbage bags and a few boxes. No toys. This was telling of the fact that the kids had probably been sleeping on a floor. The mom was trying to process, "Where are they going to go to school? Can they start school on time?"

We loaded them in the car and took them to a family members home in another very rough part of town. I told her that her son (who was at a neighborhood kids birthday party) could stay with us for the weekend. I'm not even sure that he knows they have moved out and no longer live there.

I have no idea what the future holds for this family or the role in which we will play. But I do know that until a family showed up on our doorstep, I thought we had a plan, but it got real. Although true to some degree the suggestion to call someone else became frustrating. Here's why: when business hours end. When you have resources. When there is no one else to call. We may be that call. We may be the ones that have to help. We may be the ones that have to put the words of the bible into action:

  • He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done." Proverbs 19:17
  • "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13
  • "He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." Proverbs 28:27
  • "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35
  • "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18 T
The problem with this is that it does not say..."Agencies that deal with the poor." It says  "He, You, ANYONE."
I'm not condemning anyone. I'm trying to process this all for myself and just asking the question: What is our role? Are we exempt from helping because of our fears? Concerns? I'm not sure I want to have to answer to God for that one day.

Taking it one step at a time. Praying for extreme discernment. Please continue to pray with us.

Blessings, 
Morgan

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Eye of the Storm

"3 shootings, 2 teenagers dead."
"Runaway Teenager last seen with older man in drug house."
"Family of 12 moves into 2 bedroom house."
"Kids eat their first meal of the day at dinner."
"Baby living on chips and candy."
"Traffic stop leads to capture of 3 armed felons, AK 47's, semi automatic hand guns, pictures of police officers and drugs at a house one street over."

These would be the headlines of our week. It has been incredibly heavy. Honestly, I have felt numb at some points, not to mention exhausted. I was telling a friend today, "How do I not feel burdened? Broken? How do I rest in the midst of such chaos?" I can't "unlearn" what has been learned. Casting our burden and cares onto God is the answer, but I struggle with how exactly that practically plays out when the chaos of brokenness continues all around us." This has been a defining week for Glenn and I as well. Trying to figure out how to nurture our marriage and take care of ourselves with boundaries and rest. We have also had to try and  make some final decisions about the Dream Campaign and about really focusing in on putting down roots in our community, committing for the long haul, digging in and cultivating relationships.

It's funny how in the midst of crime, heartbreak, coming to the end of yourself every day and tears, we feel peace. Our purpose has never been more clear than it is now. We are here to be a light. To be an instrument of peace. To be shalom. To be consistent. To be brave. To be the hands and feet of Christ.

I personally, have never been more dependent on or thankful for the Holy Spirit. The level of discernment and peace He has provided has been incredible and I know that we are here, and we will continue to be here because of Jesus. 

I am so thankful for the body of Christ and the support, prayers, encouragement and love we receive. Y'all are teaching me how to care for myself as well as others. The week has been heavy with heartache but with equal blessings from friends who choose compassion and walk with us on this journey. When you are in full time ministry....this is sometimes the hardest thing to do and lack of it leads to burnout. God did not call us to be saviors. He sent HIS son as a Savior to all. We are simply willing vessels. Chipped, broken and held together by the grace of God.

Sometimes it feels like we are in the eye of a storm. Everything is swirling around us chaos, yet with Christ we can have peace. We pray that our home will be a place of peace in the storms currently plaguing our neighborhood.

At the end of the day...God is Sovereign. He sees. He cares. He provides. 

We cherish every prayer and you help combat the heaviness of the situations by fighting back with the covering of prayer. We feel it. We rest in that.

If you would like to help support the work that we are doing in inner city Savannah with families in our community, please visit: Support the Paddocks

Here are the links to our neighborhood news stories:

Keep Praying,
Morgan

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It Starts with Me: My response to "The Verdict"

Some of you will stop reading the moment you see the topic of this blog, but I would encourage you to read it in its entirety. It is not at all what you think. I have avoided sharing my thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case 1) Because I did not follow it closely and can not speak to if the man was really guilty or not 2) I don't like controversial debates 3) Emotions have been way to high to be rational 4) To be honest...a lot of people already assumed they knew what I thought. Why, you ask? I'm white. There was an enormous amount of racially targeted comments and assumptions made with the verdict of this case. Let me preface the following with the fact that any loss of life is something to grieve. Any loss of a young life is reason to be outraged. But I want to have a voice for what I truly feel is heartbreaking about this whole scenario.

To be honest, the day the verdict was read, I had no idea it was happening. I was at my mom's house on a Saturday night playing cards when I realized what was happening. For those who do not know, we moved into an inner city neighborhood a couple of months ago.  We are one of the few white people who live in the surrounding blocks. We have been called, "Those white people" by some of our neighbors. We get looks all the time like, "What are they doing here?" Other neighbors welcome us with open arms. We realize that moving onto our corner was a shock for some. I've been told by a man on a bike, "Be careful out here" when walking into the house late one night. I've watched numerous drug deals happen from our window or back porch. It does not bother me to have a different color skin from my neighbors. But it made me nervous when the verdict was read.

Why? Because people were irrational. As I pulled up to our house I got a text message from my mom that said, "Not Guilty." That walk to my front door went in slow motion. I immediately started seeing posts on Facebook about the "White" man. How people wanted to riot and murder. $#%^ the "white people." Did the color of my skin suddenly dictate everything about me? In that moment...yes.  The most heart breaking thing of all was that most of this talk was coming from kids. Teenagers. Many of whom probably didn't watch the case but jumped on a media and cultural bandwagon of extremely high emotionally fueled responses to a situation. These are kids we have worked with and considered our own, but in that moment, we were the enemy. 

As we laid in bed we listened to gun shots going off in our neighborhood. I looked over at Glenn and he said, "It's probably going to happen for awhile tonight." I read and responded to some of the comments I saw but realized it was so much bigger than what I could speak to. What could I do? Had we taken 10 steps back?
It scared me to think that kids were so quick to jump on a bandwagon not of justice but of hate and revenge. Would this be the course of their life? When would they decided that they had a choice and could choose peace? Would we be effective where we lived?

My heart was heavy. My heart was broken for a generation. My heart was grieving for the families. 
I realized that this all exists because we live in a broken world. A world and a people who need to be reconciled one to another and to God.

In an extended time of silence and scripture reading the next night I was raw with God and He led me to this passage, " Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look......All this comes from God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.  God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.  God has given us the take of telling everyone what he is doing.  We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them." 2 Corinthians 5:21 (The Message) I shortened it for this blog, but encourage you to read it in its entirety.

This was my answer clear as day. Because we live in a broken world, we will face persecution, judgement, injustice. Our assignment is to be in the business of reconciliation, one to another and one to God. I have been incredibly disheartened by things I've seen posted by those in the Christian community. Do you not read the same Bible I do? Some of you are only fueling the fire of division. I read a comment on FB recently by someone who said, "Are you going to be Kerosene or Comfort? 

If we are called to be peacemakers it has to start with us. Our future generations are watching how we handle our daily life and our responses on a larger scale.

Forgiveness is the ONLY thing that will breed an eternal difference in these kids lives.
At the end of the day its not about our skin, it's about our heart.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.


Blessings, 
Morgan

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In the Thick of "It"

"In the thick of it"....that seems to be the phrase that I've heard more than any other when people talk about where we are living. We've heard that our street starts the more rough part of the neighborhood. We've been told that the corner where our house sits has always been known as "The" corner for drug activity. Most of the time when people come to our house they say, "dang..you live in the hood."

In the thick of "it." What is "it"?

"It" probably refers to...lots of crime, racism, drugs, prostitution, etc.  The kind of place you don't want to find yourself lost after dark, alone. "It" is the place where many people will drive out of their way to avoid. "It" is the place that maybe 2 blocks from your house but you've never been there. "It" is the other side of the tracks. "It" is where I live.

While "It" carries many negative connotations, "It" is beautiful. "It" is filled with smiles of children. Children who still play outside until it's dark. People in "it" all know each and sit out on their porch and wave hello. "It" is filled with much history, heritage and hope. "It" is strong. "It" is bold. "It" is pretty transparent. People in "it" don't really hide behind lots of money or big houses.  In "It" people don't apologize for who they are. Maybe the best thing of all is that Jesus lives in "It." I seem him everyday.

"It" doesn't need or want your pity. "It" is filled with talent, personalities and possibilities. "It" is the place many churches will serve for a weekend or a week on a mission trip, pat themselves on the back and forget about the rest of the year.

What "it" needs is for people to stop avoiding it and proving them right about everyone else. "It" needs consistency. "It" needs love. "It" needs neighbors and people to buy the abandoned houses, renovate and move in. "It" needs diversity. "It" needs to no longer be "it" but a neighborhood.  

"It" is my home.

Funny how where any of us live could be someone else's "it." Where is your "it"?

I would encourage you to visit. Drive through. Pray. See. Act.

I'm reading the book Radical by David Platt. This made me think:

"The price of our nondiscipleship is high for those without Christ. It is high also for the poor of this world.  Consider the cost when Christians ignore Jesus' commands to sell their possessions and give to the poor and instead choose to spend their resources on better comforts, larger homes, nicer cars and more stuff. Consider the cost when these Christians gather in churches and choose to spend millions of dollars on nice buildings to drive up to, cushioned chairs to sit in, and endless programs to enjoy for themselves.  Consdier the cost for the starving multitudes who sit outside the gate of this contemporary Christian affluence."

If you read the same Bible I do, we all have some serious thinking to do.
I have to fight against these thoughts everyday myself.
God is using "it" to teach me, grow me and humble me.

Blessings,
Morgan




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hiding In Plain Sight

I rented a movie with this title a few nights ago. It was about a family who had fallen on hard times and were living out of their car. There was this struggle with God about never leaving or forsaking them and it wasn't until a school teacher had to bring his student "home" that they were discovered and needs were met. The title has been on my mind since then...."Hiding in Plain Sight."

It has been a super busy month for the Dream Campaign. I will post an update on all of the ministry taking place. Just in the past month we have come into contact with about 80-100 new kids and their families. Our block is filled with kids playing in the streets, while drug deals and other things happen around them. I've seen it. It keeps me up at night to wonder what else is really going on. How many of the kids we work with are "Hiding in Plain Sight?"

But this got me thinking even more. How many people in general are "Hiding in Plain Sight?" Co-workers, family, friends, people sitting next to me at church? How many people are fighting a battle within or difficult circumstances that walk in front of me everyday that I may never know about?

How often do I do it?

Just yesterday I was struggling pretty bad internally and I sent a few girlfriends a basic "pray for me" text message. But that was it. There are days when I don't know how to express the deepest places in my heart. There are moments when I can't make sense of the chaos I see or how I'm even supposed to help. There are situations where I have fear and doubt and feel ashamed at my lack of faith and trust. There are days when I am screaming inside, yet slap on smile and face the day. To be honest...in those moments...I'm afraid to be seen. I'm afraid of what people will "think" or afraid they won't understand. I'm afraid my life will be misrepresented in a conversation somewhere along the way like a game of telephone. At times I can be a broken person hiding in the shell of my skin and no one knows.

Except God.  He always knows. He always sees. He always understands. And some days that is enough. And if I'm honest, other days, I need Him to be able to reach down from Heaven and physically hug or wipe my tears. But I believe He does that through others. I believe He uses other people as vessels to be his hands, feet and even hugs. But how can that happen if authenticity in relationships does not exist. If we don't allow ourselves to be seen?  I feel like that tension exists because we are human. We are broken people loving other broken people. Because sin is our nature. It's easy to mask gossip as "prayer requests." It's easy to judge another person without examining our own plank...even when we have the best of intentions. It's easy to be concerned with ourselves rather than carry another's burden.

It's called Community. We all need it. God created us for it. Being authentic is sometimes difficult because we want to remain hidden. It feels easier, but it takes a lot more work to hide than to be seen.

I have some incredible people in my life, but only I control how much of me is seen.

In the meantime, I'm glad that even when I don't feel it....God sees.

Are you hiding in plain sight? Do you want to be found?

Guess what...you already are.

Psalm 139


139 Lord, you have tested me,
    so you know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
    You know my thoughts from far away.
You know where I go and where I lie down.
    You know everything I do.
Lord, you know what I want to say,
    even before the words leave my mouth.
You are all around me—in front of me and behind me.
    I feel your hand on my shoulder.
I am amazed at what you know;
    it is too much for me to understand.
Your Spirit is everywhere I go.
    I cannot escape your presence.
If I go up to heaven, you will be there.
    If I go down to the place of death, you will be there.
If I go east where the sun rises
    or go to live in the west beyond the sea,
10 even there you will take my hand and lead me.
    Your strong right hand will protect me.
11 Suppose I wanted to hide from you and said,
    “Surely the darkness will hide me.
    The day will change to night and cover me.”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to you.
    The night is as bright as the day.
    Darkness and light are the same.
13 You formed the way I think and feel.[a]
    You put me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because you made me in such a wonderful way.
    I know how amazing that was!
15 You could see my bones grow as my body took shape,
    hidden in my mother’s womb.[b]
16 You could see my body grow each passing day.[c]
    You listed all my parts, and not one of them was missing.
17 Your thoughts are beyond my understanding.[d]
    They cannot be measured!
18 If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand.
    But when I finished, I would have just begun.
Blessings,
Morgan